For the First Time a Mental Health Professional Wins America’s Favorite Trainer Award; Signaling Importance of Mental Wellness



“We’ve all experienced the toll of COVID and the past year and a half, and we’re seeing broad awareness of the importance of mental health alongside physical and emotional wellness. Darlene’s win is a reflection of this broader national need.” Daniel Freedman, Co-CEO of BurnAlong

Today, July 20, 2021, BurnAlong, a leading online health and wellness platform, announces that Coach Darlene Marshall has been voted “America’s Favorite Trainer,” marking the first time a mental health professional has won the annual contest. This reflects the tremendous impact of the pandemic on mental health over the past year, and the transformative role mental health professionals are playing in people’s lives.

“It’s validating for a perspective on fitness that is based in wellness and wellbeing and taking care of the whole self,” Darlene said on her win. “That view is foundational to my whole approach to wellness and fitness. I’m the only personal trainer in the world to have a Master’s degree from UPenn in Positive Psychology. To bring the science of wellbeing into fitness and see people so strongly react to it in an industry that can typically lean superficial…it’s a sign that we are all looking for something deeper, especially in the last year and a half.”

To honor Darlene as this year’s grand prize winner, BurnAlong is making a $1,000 donation per her direction to the Travis Manion Foundation, which designs programs, training opportunities and events to support military veterans and their families.

The “America’s Favorite Trainer” competition celebrates the work of holistic wellness instructors and their impact on hundreds of thousands of lives, across nine core categories, and reflects wellness trends across the country. More than 100 instructors across physical, emotional, and financial wellness categories were nominated, receiving 1,000s of votes and 100s of supportive comments. Voters ranged from high school students to seniors, representing the diversity of users across BurnAlong, and come from employees at companies spanning government, healthcare, retail, sports, tech, and finance.

“BurnAlong extends our congratulations and gratitude to Darlene Marshall and the America’s Favorite Trainer category winners,” says Daniel Freedman, co-CEO of BurnAlong. “We’ve all experienced the toll of COVID and the past year and a half, and we’re seeing growing awareness of the importance of mental health alongside physical and emotional wellness. Darlene’s win is a reflection of this broader national need.”

Johns Hopkins University researchers estimate 26 percent of American adults (aged 18+) suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year; annually, 18 percent of adults (18-54) experience anxiety disorders and nearly 10 percent experience a depressive illness for any given year. During the pandemic, the number of those experiencing mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, increased to nearly 40 percent in 2020.

With limited in-person treatment options in the past year, the demand for virtual mental health support, such as the classes offered by Coach Darlene on BurnAlong’s platform, surged. Specialty categories, including mental health support, stress management, mindfulness, meditation, sleep, and more, grew to a total of 29% of the classes taken via the BurnAlong app. To expand access to critical mental health support, BurnAlong recently partnered with the National Register of Health Service Psychologists and their network of more than 10,000 health service psychologists to offer clinical mental health classes to BurnAlong members.

In addition to the overall winner, nine category winners spanning adaptive fitness, financial wellness, nutrition, medical wellness categories are celebrated for their impactful work throughout the past year:

America’s Favorite Adaptive Fitness Instructor: Megan McCuen

America’s Favorite Cycling Instructor: Sean Sanders

America’s Favorite Dance Cardio Instructor: Jessica Salman

America’s Favorite Financial Wellness Instructor: Erin Gore

America’s Favorite Medical Wellness Instructor: Christine Conti

America’s Favorite Mental Health Instructor: Darlene Marshall

America’s Favorite Mindfulness and Meditation Instructor: Akai Jackson

America’s Favorite Nutrition Instructor: Aimee Ricca

America’s Favorite Strength Training Instructor: Monte Sanders

America’s Favorite Yoga Instructor: William Kelley

You can learn more about BurnAlong, and the impact we are making with our instructors on America’s wellness by visiting


BurnAlong ( helps people – ranging from new mothers and children through to seniors, and everyone in between – achieve their health and wellness goals, working with leading employers, insurers, municipalities, non-profits, and health systems who provide BurnAlong for their employees, members, and patients. BurnAlong brings people online access to more than 10,000 live and on-demand classes taught by 1,000+ instructors, teaching live and on-demand wellness classes across more than 45 categories – from traditional fitness to nutrition, financial wellness, adaptive workouts, chronic conditions, and more – for the entire family. People can take classes alone or live with others where they can see and hear each other for added social motivation.

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