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Help ‘Challenge’ Champ Emily Schromm Become The ‘Next Fitness Star’

The fierce competitor is in the running for a special honor from Women's Health magazine, and she needs your vote!

Rarely does feared “Challenge” champ Emily Schromm require a helping hand (she’s sitting pretty with a 5-0 elimination round record). But the fitness guru is in the race to be Women’s Health‘s Next Fitness Star, and your vote could ensure she’s a winner.

Schromm, who first appeared on “Real World: D.C.” in 2009, was plucked from a pool of thousands of buzzworthy personal trainers as one of five semifinalists fighting for the magazine’s honor. The winner will be the face of Women’s Health’s next DVD project — and if you ask us, there’s nobody better than Em, whose Unleashed Fitness personal training business is booming.

See what Schromm told us about her path from “Real World” to present day, watch her pitch to be the Next Fitness Star and vote for her daily from now until August 1!

WomensHealth Terry Doyle/Women's Health

How were you selected to be a Next Fitness Star semifinalist?
I’ve been a trainer for three years, and I have a couple of clients in Denver that brought it to my attention. It was an opportunity to take at-home workouts to the next level through your own DVD series, and that’s sort of what I’ve been doing with my 21 Day Challenge online. But I wanted to make my demographic bigger, so I randomly applied, and they told me a week later that I’d been selected.

What would it mean to you to win?
I’m definitely not the typical Women’s Health person — I have bigger muscles, I’m a strong woman with traps and very CrossFit-quadzilla legs, but that makes me even more excited to reach people of all different shapes and sizes. I’m very adamant that every girl should be able to do a pull-up.

You told Women’s Health that “Real World” was a turning point for you with respect to fitness. How so?
This isn’t sexy at all, but I noticed acne, and I didn’t know that that was triggered by my diet. Other people on social media noticed it, too, and it was pretty harsh. The second thing was when I was on “Cutthroat.” I was fit and pretty good at eliminations, but I could feel how I wasn’t that strong. I could skate by with my size, but I felt like some things were too hard that shouldn’t be. That was my wake-up call. So when I moved to Colorado after, I sort of went on this journey to find myself. I used myself as a guinea pig, tried different diets and workouts and finally found something that really worked for me. My acne went away, my stomach issues went away and I got strong and toned and lost a lot of body fat percentage. I was like, I have to figure out how to get this lifestyle — the Paleo lifestyle and the CrossFit lifestyle — to the masses. Whether you’re at a CrossFit box or at home, that style is way more fun and intense.

This summer marks five years since you filmed “Real World.” How have you changed?
I was this lost puppy in D.C. Should I go into social reform? Work for a nonprofit? I was even thinking about picking up and moving to Africa. But I have found such beauty through this competitive lifestyle, and I’m able to inspire people along the way. This is my life’s passion.

emily-schromm-main Terry Doyle/Women's Health

What are the first things you say to a new client?
You have to make a specific, tangible goal — I want this size pants, or to fit into this size dress or do 10 pushups. Then, assign a game plan. What can you commit to? Accountability is so key — find a trainer, program or partner.

Your social media followers know you love bacon. What’s the obsession?
People love it, but people have learned to hate it. It’s not that I eat a pound of bacon a day — well, I do — but it’s a symbol of the discussion of why we think fat is bad. I’m such a believer of fat as fuel if it’s the correct fat. That Time magazine article about butter was so fantastic. Also, if you start eating real food and stop eating chemically processed, low-calorie stuff, your body feels better, you perform better and you sleep better.

What’s the best part of training?
The other day I was coaching CrossFit, and this girl had a certain weight on the bar and she was like, “There’s no way I can lift this.” And I was like, “Yes you can — do it!” We both looked at each other and had this intense moment. She’s this 35-year-old mom, and she just got this look of passion and threw that weight over her head and started screaming, she was so happy. Doing things that people didn’t think were possible — I get to see that every day. I’m really lucky.

Would you do another “Challenge?”
It’s the hardest thing to say no to. I would love to do a “Duel.”

Which girl is gonna take “Free Agents”?
Laurel. It’s a no-brainer. The only girls who could give Laurel a run for her money are Cara, Heather Cooke, Sarah or myself.

Photo: Cedric Arnold