Darla O'Brien


Certified Exercise Physiologist, Personal Fitness Trainer, & Educator.

To Darla O’Brien, owner of Designer Fitness and developer of the Motion Empowered System for fitness training, it’s all about her clients’ fitness results. “There is nothing more satisfying than working one-on-one with a person and seeing them flourish through exercise,” she says. Since founding her boutique fitness studio more than 20 years ago, her personal touch, extensive credentials, real-world experience, and undeniable results have made her a leader among professional personal trainers.

Credentials & Certifications

Twice nominated as “IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year”, Darla has more NCCA-accredited certifications than any other fitness professional in the State of North Carolina. Darla’s certifications include:

Darla O’Brien maintains more than a dozen nationally recognized certifications.

  • Cooper Institute, Certified Personal Trainer

  • Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer

  • Certified Exercise Physiologist

  • Certified Personal Trainer

  • Certified Group Exercise Leader

  • Certified Medical Exercise Specialist

  • Certified Personal Trainer

  • Certified Weight Loss Specialist

  • Fitness Nutrition Specialist

  • Certified Women’s Fitness Specialist

  • Youth Exercise Specialist

  • Performance Enhancement Specialist

  • Senior Fitness Specialist

  • Corrective Exercise Specialist

  • Certified Personal Trainer

  • FiTOUR™ Educator/Instructor/Personal Trainer

  • Certified Functional Aging Specialist
  • Master Member, IDEA

With her specialized and intensive education Darla has developed an unmatched base of knowledge in human fitness training – in fact, so thorough is Darla’s understanding of human fitness that not only does she receive referrals from medical professionals, many of her clients ARE medical professionals.

Learn More About Darla’s Extensive Credentials & Certifications

Wisdom Through Experience

All the knowledge in the world is useless unless it is matched with the appropriate experience. Over the course of her years in fitness, Darla has combined her extensive education and knowledge into an unequaled understanding and practice in her field.

Applying her skills to a diverse cross-section of professions and personal experiences, she quickly spots underlying musculoskeletal and postural problems and works with her clients to correct them.

Past Clients Include

  • professional golfers

  • professional baseball players

  • cancer patients

  • pre- and post-surgical patients

  • musicians

  • dancers

  • senior citizens

  • doctors

  • runway models

  • race car drivers

  • and others…

I was impressed by the depth of Darla’s knowledge about the workings of the body and how posture is an essential component of Pilates, proper exercise, and basic good health. Balance and alignment are key (elements of) her program…
Dr. Alissa S.

Fitness Results Through Customized Training

Each body is unique: The appropriate fitness regimen for a golf pro might not be right for a ballet dancer…and that is why Darla focuses only on individuals and small groups. Each client who trains with her receives an initial evaluation so that Darla can determine an appropriate emphasis for that client based upon individual characteristics, idiosyncrasies, needs and goals. The result is a exercise and movement plan specific to the individual.

Over the years, Darla’s unique approach has evolved the Motion Empowered System (ME System™) for personal fitness training. Because every person’s body is unique and each person makes different demands of their body, each ME System solution is ideally fit to the individual.

Read More About the Motion Empowered System

  • ACSM Health & Fitness Summit: Pre-conference for Exercise is Medicine® Credential 2016
  • ACSM “Exercise is Medicine” Pre-Conference Planning Session, Las Vegas NV 2012
  • University of Kansas, MBA Essentials, “Decision-Making in an Uncertain Environment” 2012
  • AFAA Personal Training 3-Day Workshop 2009
  • Peak Pilates Tower Intensive Workshop 2006
  • Harvard Medical School “Lifestyle Medicine 2015: Tools for Healthy Change”
  • Harvard Medical School “Active Lives: Transforming Ourselves and Our Patients”
  • State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota A.A.
  • University of Florida, College of Medicine “Exercise Rehabilitation of the Spine”

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