Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more. Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook!
Name: Amanda Dale (@thisfitblonde)
Occupation: Personal trainer, nutrition coach
Status: Happily attached 🙂
Diet: The main “diet” I follow is intermittent fasting, whereby I eat for eight hours per day followed by a 16-hour period of fasting. When I eat, I am very regimented on weekdays (ordering the same lunch from Squeaky Clean Cafe every day). On weekends I allow myself a nice treat, like a burger and fries or a sushi dinner, but I still maintain my fasting hours.
Training: Functional training (CrossFit, circuit, high-intensity interval training) four times per week, 5km run 1-2 times a week, and hot yoga once a week.
Q: You grew up doing gymnastics but it came to a sudden halt. What happened?
A: I started doing gymnastics really young and it was just always a part of my life. I competed to State Level Seven in Illinois, where I grew up. One day I suffered a major lower-body injury on the uneven bars that not only broke my bones, but also broke my spirit. I was too scared to continue advanced tricks after that and fear is the one thing that will destroy a serious gymnastics career.
What sport did you go into next and how did that go?
From there, I decided to try springboard diving – it’s like the gymnastics of the water! I dove throughout high school, but discontinued once I went to university because my team (University of Southern California) was Olympic-level competitive and, well, I was not. 😉
And then you stopped competing in sports altogether.
I went to university over 3,000km from where I grew up, and I wanted to use that time to “reinvent” myself in this new environment – I wanted to create an identity outside of just being an athlete or a competitor. I definitely enjoyed my college years, where the most athletic activity I did was get competitive in a game of beer pong.
What re-ignited your passion in sports again?
After college, a friend of mine asked me to run a fundraiser 5km with her – and I finished it in 24 minutes with no training. That’s when I figured, heck, what would happen if I actually trained for this Hence I got into triathlon on the recommendation of a friend and competed in that sport at the Olympic distance and Ironman 70.3 level for four years.
When did you finally decide to “retire” from competing in sports?
After four years of being a sponsored triathlete and working and going to graduate school full time, I was exhausted and burnt out. I decided to focus on running, which was the part of triathlon I loved the most, and I qualified and ran the Boston Marathon. After that feather in my cap, I felt like I could “chill out” a bit on competing and just focus on my other loves, like teaching Spin, doing CrossFit, and practising yoga.
You’re now a personal trainer. How did you get into this?
I started personal training in 2006 in graduate school as a way to earn money above my piddling TA salary – but I realised quickly that it was going to become a career for me. I finished my second Masters in 2009, started my boot camp and personal training business in Los Angeles that same year, and never looked back.
As a trainer, what are some of the challenges you face?
I always joke that to be a good trainer, you have to be an even better psychologist. Most of my clients know how to work out; they just need the motivation and challenge to keep pushing beyond their (often self-imposed) limits. My job can be exhausting at times – I give every ounce of positive and
upbeat energy to my clients and sometimes find it hard to save some for myself and my loved ones. But honestly, I am lucky – I get to see people change and improve their lives every single day, and I can wear sweatpants to work to boot.
What are your fitness goals now?
At 35, I am running less and lifting more than I ever have in my younger years and I love that balance. I work out smarter rather than harder, and I am more time-efficient in the gym when I exercise. My fitness goals now are to balance flexibility and mobility with strength and power, and to stay injury-free. I feel that it is my duty to my clients to “walk the talk” and actually stretch, take rest days, do yoga, and maintain a healthy weight in addition to maintaining a high level of athletic performance.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
I am mostly happy with my body and I am grateful to be able to say that – I know a lot of women can’t. I think that when I am thriving – which for me means sleeping well, working out regularly, and eating clean nutrition – I can’t help but love my body, because it looks its best when those things happen all at once. I also started taking much better care of my skin and hair when I reached my thirties, which makes me feel confident and beautiful because I feel like I have nothing to hide.
Do you get any comments about your body?
Every now and then I’ll get a comment about my muscles – sometimes good-intentioned (“Oh I love your arms! But I wouldn’t want mine to get quite so big.”) and sometimes completely rude (“Don’t make me do too many squats because I don’t want my thighs to look like yours.”). But on the whole, I usually get comments about looking fit and strong – which I appreciate and love.
What are some misconceptions of fitness in today’s society?
I think that people still – even after decades of fitness going mainstream – think that the ultimate goal of getting in shape is to look a certain way (or more specifically for woman, to be skinnier or smaller). I wish people would consider the holistic aspects of fitness. I am always challenging my clients not only to observe their bodies, but also their diets, their hydration, their sleep patterns, their bowels, their coping mechanisms and stress levels, and their day-to-day happiness.
One of my first questions on my intake form is, “When’s the last time you woke up feeling healthy and well?” As fitness professionals, we need to do more comprehensive wellness education and less “before and after” photos of bodies or muscles.
Who is your fitness inspiration?
I have always admired Dara Torres, 12-time Olympic medal-winner and the oldest woman to ever swim for the United States Olympic Team. Even at age 51, she is constantly taking on new fitness challenges (she recently started teaching bar method, something she had never even tried before age 50) and serving as a body-positive role model for women of all ages.
What are your fitness philosophies?
I have so many – just ask my clients. I am constantly throwing idioms at them (such as, “the only bad workout is the one you didn’t do” or “effort is more important than performance”). But most importantly, I believe that fitness is for everyone. We as humans were born to move, and moving should feel good. So if it doesn’t, it’s time to take a hard look at your lifestyle and habits and decide where you need to make some healthy changes.
I am also a strong believer that fitness and health look different on everyone – and judging whether someone is fit or well based on how his/her body looks is through a very narrow – and more often than not, inaccurate and offensive – lens.