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Hottest Trainer Contestant #1: Lara Hudson

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Welcome to Racked Chicago's search for Chicago's hottest trainer. Over the coming weeks, we'll profile eight smoking candidates who work at local gyms and studios. (Not only do they look amazing in spandex, but if you take their classes, you might someday look nearly as good.) Then, once you've gotten to know everyone, we'll host a March Madness-style showdown in which you get to vote for your favorite. Let the games begin!

All photos Barry Brecheisen

Our first trainer is Lara Hudson, whose program The Mercury Method is literally all about hot bodies—it involves strength training routines in a 98.6 degree room. "My current favorite is Runner's High," she explains. "It's a high-energy routine that focuses on the inner leg, outer hip, core and upper back. And it's set to a pumping M.I.A. soundtrack."

Sounds grueling, but Lara says she thinks of herself as a friendly motivator rather than a drill sergeant, cracking jokes ("some funny, some not so much") and making sure the class really understands each exercise. That said, she's not afraid to get tough when students are slacking. "I remind them, 'This isn't a massage, honeys, it's a workout, so quit quitting and quit your crying!'"

Lara's advice for newcomers: "Always come into a new class with an open mind—no preconceived judgments about the style, the studio, the teacher." She probably knows a thing or two about preconceived notions: Not many fitness instructors spend their free time writing science fiction, but she's published several sci-fi stories, and she's working on a novel and a screenplay.

· The Mercury Method [Official Site]
· All Hottest Trainer 2013 coverage [Racked Chicago]