Coloradans have a reputation for being in shape. It doesn’t seem surprising then that Denverite Emily Schromm—health and wellness instructor, CrossFit coach, and founder of personal training business Unleashed Fitness—won Women’s Health Magazine’s Next Fitness Star contest last week.

Schromm, who previously worked as a Starbucks barista and starred in the Washington, D.C. season of Real World, spent years searching for a way to feel better about herself—and discovered her passion at the gym.

“I found this really great, beautiful, awesome lifestyle,” she says, “and I knew I had a way and a platform for others to do the same.”

That philosophy is different than most fitness gurus. Weightlifting makes up the core of her regimen, and she advocates for more pounds with fewer reps—the opposite of a typical workout for women.

“It seems like a man’s world, but it’s such a place for women,” Schromm says of weightlifting. “I see how it translates into my clients’ lives, the confidence it builds. The muscle it builds in a really sexy way, not a gross manly way.”

She also swears by the paleo diet, which cuts out dairy, grains, and processed food.

“People don’t really know what to eat,” she says. “We’re worrying so much about calories that we’re forgetting about eating good food.”

Schromm didn’t expect to become the Next Fitness Star, but she’s excited to have Women’s Health Magazine as a platform to spread her ideas.

As the winner, she’ll be featured in the January issue of the magazine as well as star in her own DVD series. Schromm will also receive a marketing and promotional plan to expand her business, though she’s already built up a significant audience with her “21 Day Challenge” videos, which provide one fitness tip or move per day and cost $21.

Her signature moves are the burpee box step and the dumbbell thruster (the latter combines a squat with an overhead press). Yet she emphasizes that perfecting certain exercises won’t necessarily lead to general fitness.

“You have to get uncomfortable,” she says. “Getting uncomfortable is how you change your body.”

Sign up for the next 21 Day Challenge, beginning on August 25, at Schromm’s website,