We Love Her: Amanda Fink Mandell Pt. IV
- "Transformation" -
January 2016: 6 months until my wedding. That fire that I ignited by beginning my fitness journey turned into a bright burning flame that just wanted to keep growing. I was in it to win it! I jumped on the Classpass train with enthusiastic optimism, excited to explore all types of workouts. My routine was 4-5 classes a week. Monday-Thursday, Fridays off, and Saturday morning yoga class near my apartment for relaxation and rejuvenation after a long week. I figured out that what worked best to get my daily rhythm going was an 8am class in Manhattan, relatively close to the Flatiron district. Since I would be going straight to work from my workouts, a gym with a shower facility was a must for me.
At the beginning, I needed to learn how to wake up early. I was definitely a lover of the snooze button, but I had to train my body and mind to resist the urge to stay in the sheets! I turned to UFC fighter Ronda Rousey for inspiration, knowing how badass she must have to be as such a competitive athlete. I knew that she must be so dedicated and focused to achieve all that she had accomplished. On top of that, she had written a book about focus and motivation, so why not start there? I am a strong believer in books about self-help and the power they have to motivate. Reading about Ronda Rousey’s path to success on her extremely difficult journey helped me learn that she had to dedicate much more than a hour a day to working out. As my mantra, I adopted the hashtag #beastmode, which is defined by Google as "when the times get desperate and something clicks in your mind, the time space continuum, and you simply perform without consciousness a feat that is worthy of legend.” This would be my rallying cry! So when my alarm went off I got up, put on my leggings of armor and got myself moving. It wasn’t long before I found myself enjoying that feeling of waking up before the city was hustling. I loved having another life before my work day had even begun.
After trying novelty classes like hip-hop yoga, spinning class in a pool, and trampoline workouts, I found some classes that I fell in love with. High intensity circuit training, pilates, barre and cycling. Trying so many new styles of classes began to shape my new fitness identity. Connecting with teachers where I could feel their passion for their craft was really the draw for me, and discovering what I really enjoyed kept me incredibly motivated. Seeing the results and feeling my body change, and experiencing the energy I could sustain throughout the day kept me wanting more. The variety and the repetition each week was keeping my commute, my body and my mind excited for the new life I was creating from 8-9 every morning. When I pushed myself hard enough, my mind was clear and focused on the task at hand. Whatever was happening outside of class was not yet my concern. In life - and in New York in particular - the pace is so fast that you find yourself thinking about two hundred things at once. Whenever I felt my drive was wavering I turned to more tangible role models - teachers I could follow on social media for everyday affirmations and then seek them out for a class. This was how I met Ally Love. Her magnetic personality came through in her stories, and I knew I wanted to meet her. Strong women who knew the strength of their bodies and minds were my spirit animals.
Giving myself one hour to be still in my mind while moving my body felt like a gift to myself. I allowed myself to be completely present. That was what I had been missing in my life for the last few years. Obligations from work, family, friends and life in general had gotten in the way, and when I rediscovered my authentic self through fitness, I was very emotional. I had let so much time pass me by. When I stopped pursuing acting and got a desk job I thought I was ok, and I was. But when I took dance, yoga and spinning classes that made me push myself to tears, I remembered that I deserve and need this in my life to not only feel that I am being cared for but also to care for myself. I needed to feel that despite all of the time and effort I was devoting to other people, my own life was just as important. I had cared so much about the happiness of others that I had forgotten about self-love. My authentic self craves creativity, joy and play. Listening to music in a dark room, eyes closed, while dancing on a bike filled me with such joy and excitement and helped me believe that when I left that room I would be a better person. I can give more and receive more. I felt incredible.
By Amanda Fink Mandell
This is the fourth installment in Amanda Fink Mandell’s “We Love Her” series. Love Squad’s “We Love Her” series takes a deep dive into the personal fitness journey of a guest writer, in weekly installments told over the course of several weeks. These narratives will get real and open as they talk about life-changing events and personal obstacles that were somehow overcome through fitness, exercise, and both mental and physical wellness.
If you are interested in contributing a personal story of your own as a part of our “We Love Her” series, please email email@example.com !