What 5 Philly Fitness Pros Eat for Lunch

Local fitness instructors show us—literally, with pictures—how they fuel up midday.

brown bag lunch


You know the saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen”? Well, we took it to heart and asked five Philly fitness pros (who all have stellar abs, if I do say so myself) what they pack for lunch. And, man, did they give us some serious brown-bag-lunch inspiration: From sesame-crusted salmon to turkey roll-ups to taco salads, these personal trainers and fitness instructors are eating well.

If you’re looking to replicate their healthy eats, the takeaway that I gathered from them is this: Pretty much all of them said they like for their lunches to be high in protein and healthy fats, most of them paired protein with a side of veggies or fruit. Spinach popped up on a few of their plates, and you’ll note that not a single sandwich made the cut—or any starches really, aside from a sweet potato. Check out their photos and more details about their lunch routines below, and watch the brown-bag-lunch inspiration flow in.

Shoshana Katz, general manager and instructor, Body Cycle Studio

“I’m all about leftovers. Cooking once and eating two to three times makes life so much easier. So when I make my meals, I always make enough to last an extra day or two, especially when I know I am going to have back-to-back clients and classes, and no time to make lunch in between.

“One of my favorite things to make is my healthy version of a taco salad. I use one pound of ground turkey or chicken breast, half a red pepper, half a yellow pepper, mushrooms and onions, and I sauté everything on low heat with some olive oil. I season the dish with paprika, cumin, garlic powder (or fresh garlic, if I’m in the mood to chop it up), red pepper flakes, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper.

“When it’s all cooked up, it makes four servings with about four ounces of meat in each serving. And if I’m really hungry, it makes two servings. I throw it over some raw spinach and toss in half of an avocado. The avocado makes the salad creamy, so I don’t always need dressing, but if I do want some, I put some Maple Balsamic by Appalachian Naturals on top. It is seriously delicious and there are literally four ingredients in it! If you really miss the taco shell and need some crunch, I like the Sweet Chili Corn Tortilla Chips by Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks. They taste like Cool Ranch Doritos. No kidding. Try them and you will absolutely agree.”

Brian Maher, owner, Philly Personal Training

“I’m pretty busy and I don’t have a lot of time to cook complicated meals that involve a lot of work, so I like for my meals to be as simple as possible. My lunches usually consist of a protein and one or two vegetables that take no more than 10 minutes to prepare since I’m not a very patient cook. For lunch today, I had 12 ounces of salmon, a bag of cooked baby spinach, a sweet potato, and a glass of water (which usually ends up being two glasses). That may seem like a lot to most but being as active as I am and being that I weigh about 225 pounds, I need more calories than most. I usually vary my proteins and veggies from day to day, but I particularly like this lunch because it gives me a lot of protein, essential fatty acids, iron, potassium, and a ton of vitamins which give me energy to get through the day.”

Gina Mancuso, founder and personal trainer, CoreFitness

“My favorite go-to lunch is a turkey roll-up. It’s fast, easy, tasty and a quick shot of protein. If I’m really on the ball in the morning, I’ll wrap it up with whatever is in the fridge—tomato, avocado, cucumber slices. But if I only have five seconds to grab lunch and get out the door, I just take the turkey as is, right from the package, add an orange or banana and a handful of cashews, and I’m fueled for a couple of hours. The Hershey’s Kiss? Yup, sometimes that makes the plate, too.”

Holly Waters, owner, Fitness Alive

“Because I eat on the go—standing, riding my bike, in my bathing suit, you name it—I refuel with very simple foods that I know will keep me going. Inside my bag today? I’ve got a grapefruit, a bag of baby carrots and cauliflower, some almonds, two hard boiled eggs and a Greek yogurt. (Also pictured: my dog Franklin’s nose.) In case you can’t tell, I eat non-stop throughout the day.” Editor’s note: A few days ago, I ran into Holly in Rittenhouse, and she was quite literally running and eating at the same time.

Perry O’Hearn, owner, Philly Phitness

“This is one of my lunches that was made by Grad Hospital-based Hen House Foods. It’s sesame-crusted salmon on top of shaved zucchini, red pepper, radicchio and grilled mango with a sherry-lime vinaigrette. I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a go-to lunch for everyone, but I like it because it’s light, high in protein and healthy fats, and gives me some light veggies while providing a bit of a crunch, which satisfies my urge for a cheat meal.

“I’ve been using Hen House Foods to make all of my meals, except for breakfast, for around seven months now. Between my unpredictable and long, 14 to 15-hour work days and my inability to cook anything that even resembles something tasty, it was a no-brainer for me. Hen House Foods owner Maddie Henigan makes my food healthy, tasty, and easy for me to transport to and from my house, which is great since I’m constantly on the go and often eat five to seven meals a day.”

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