Dash of Trainer: Ariana Palma

arianna palma insta 2

Move over Kayla Itsines, there’s a new trainer in town whose story is just as inspiring as her Instagram. That trainer is Ariana Palma, and you better believe she can squat heavier than you. I was lucky enough to speak to Palma about how fitness and nutrition have impacted her life, and how she intends to help others from here. Do you have twenty minutes to be inspired?

Can you give me a quick background about yourself?

Hey hi! I’m Ariana Palma. I’m 21 years old and I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. When I’m not in the gym (which is rare) I’m most likely working or in school. I really enjoy dancing, cooking, and being outside; you could say I’m extremely active. I own a business with my best friend Jayme called Fail Forward Fitness. Fitness has been my passion for a few years now and I plan to continue making a difference in others’ fitness journeys as well as my own forever!

How did you begin your fitness journey?

Long story short: My second semester of my freshman year I came back from winter break. The night before classes started up again, I decided to step on a scale after a long few weeks of holiday binge eating. It read 220. I’ll never forget how that made me feel. I was super disappointed I had let myself become so inactive and unhealthy. Being only 5’3”, I was playing with the borderline of obesity at that point. That moment I told myself I was going to make a change no matter how hard it would be. And I did. By the end of the semester I lost 60 pounds and continued to lose another 20 by the end of summer. 80 pounds [had been] lost from a completely new lifestyle of dieting and regimented cardio. Awesome right? Yes I was happy about it, but I did not have the healthiest habits. I was not aware of the importance of nutrition or different methods of training. I strictly counted calories and would run miles and miles each day to compensate for the little food I put in my body. That winter of my sophomore year, I hurt my knee and was not able to run for a few weeks. I was devastated because if I missed a run, the guilt hit me hard. The gym was part of my daily routine, so I decided to begin using weights to get my blood moving. From then on, it was history. I absolutely fell in love with lifting, and have been  [in love with it] ever since. I dedicated the next year learning everything I possibly could about different methods of training as well as nutrition. It was not long before I noticed big changes in my body due to muscle development – the results were incredible. Although it was hard for me to accept weight gain, I had to remember lean mass may weigh more, but looked better. I decided to take my training a step further and eventually become a certified personal trainer to help others experience this as well. To this day, my fitness journey still continues. I constantly set new goals for myself to keep me motivated and challenged. I will always have the drive to create the best version of myself I can possibly be.

Ariana Palma
Photo via Palma

When did you decide to become a trainer?

I actually started out as a Zumba instructor before I began lifting. I still teach classes every now and then — it’s just too fun to give up! But I became a personal trainer because I really wanted to make a difference for others trying to reach their goals. I also really want to show people that the gym can be enjoyable and fun, and not a difficult chore. I was not motivated to become a trainer for the money at all. I do this because I love hearing people tell me that they’re so proud of what they’ve accomplished and that I could be a part of that. Holding people accountable to their personal fitness goals helps them tremendously. I never hesitate to help my clients, or even my friends, because the personal satisfaction I receive is almost indescribable. Training others gives me just as much as I give them, no doubt.

Do you have any specialties?

You could say my training style is bodybuilding. That’s exactly what I work toward every day, building my body. Although I’m open to all methods of training, bodybuilding would be my favorite, and the one I’m most knowledgeable about. I actually love calling myself a bodybuilder. I’m proud of it.

Ariana Palma
Photo via Palma


You’re so young and have already accomplished a great deal. That’s something to be really proud of. What tips would you offer to someone else who is trying to break out into the fitness world at a young age?

Work hard. Care about people. Never settle. That’s truly it. There’s no secret. Just do the damn work, put your heart into what you do for others, and always be hungry for more.

What’s the best piece of fitness advice you’ve received?

Trust the process. Your goals are not going to happen overnight, although that would be nice. You have to trust that your hard work and what you do every day will pay off. Maybe not soon, maybe not right away, but it will. Fitness is a process; you must work toward it and be patient.

Best advice you can give?

The best advice that I can give is to Fail Forward. I named my business after this phrase. In life, failure will be inevitable, but giving up is not. You don’t chose to fail, you chose to give up. So whenever you do fail, move forward. Never let it take you backward. Learn from it, and grow.

Ariana Palma
Palma with her business partner and friend, Jayme Earhart.

What’s your go-to workout move?

That’s tough. It depends on the muscle group. For shoulders, it would definitely be lateral raises. For chest, an incline dumbbell press. For legs, probably hip thrusts or a standard squat. I’m always creative with my work outs so I always switch it up week to week – super important! I love massive drop sets or super sets!

What’s the best way to contact you for training inquiries?

Please do! The best way to get in touch with my business partner, Jayme Earhart, or myself is to email us: [email protected]. We have a Facebook page, Fail Forward Fitness, or a website, www.failforwardwithus.com, that would definitely give you any other information you would need! We offer training and diet programs for all fitness levels and goals!

Finally, you should check out Palma’s Instagram, @apal_fitness, if you’re not inspired yet (which is impossible). In the fitness profession, it is very easy to come by trainers who don’t care and just want you to pay them to yell at you. You are just a client, and your goals are like all of their other clients. You’re a 45 minute slot on a Tuesday night who can only squat 20lbs.

Palma is on the exact opposite of the spectrum. When she tells you she believes in you, there is no doubt that she means it. Everyone has a unique fitness journey, and Palma is beyond receptive to that. She’s a burst of sunshine, but has no problem telling you when you need to work harder.

Palma summed it up the best; fitness is a process and your goals aren’t going to happen over night. The stakes can be high and the road is most certainly rough. But, if you want a cheerleader, coach, and friend throughout the process, drop Palma a line.

For more Fitness features, check out our articles here.

What do you think about Ariana Palma’s fitness journey and advice?


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