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Welcome back to our Hottest Trainer competition: our search for NYC's most talented fitness instructor! Over the next two weeks we'll be profiling 16 of the city's top workout pros before you get to vote for your favorites.
Lots of fitness enthusiasts go straight to teaching once they finish college, but Amanda Butler took an interesting detour...via cruise ship. Before dropping anchor at The Fhitting Room, the 29-year-old scored a series of performance contracts with Royal Caribbean after attending Oklahoma City University's dance program. "I performed for thousands of people and traveled the world—it was an amazing experience," the fitness pro told Racked. "On the ship, you could always find me in the gym and usually recruiting my fellow cast mates to do Insanity with me."
That sounds fairly standard, considering Butler's Nebraska childhood filled with volleyball, basketball, and track. "In high school, I was always lifting with the guys and doing agility workouts." Now 30 and living on the Upper West Side with her new husband (sorry, everyone), you'll typically find the Wilhemina model teaching Fhitting's signature HIIT classes in Flatiron and the Upper East Side. "It's my favorite because it's a high-energy, quick-paced workout that's always changing."
Read on to learn more about Butler, from her favorite local dessert to where she's working out away from her own studio.
Describe your training style: Are you a drill sergeant? More laid-back?
I would say I can be a hard-ass, but I can also be your best friend. I want clients to work hard and push themselves in class, but also have a great time. I love to laugh and joke around in class as well as get shit done.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
I would say the biggest misconception about my job is that it's so easy, and just "fun and games." There's a ton of background work and preparation that goes into being an instructor: I spend a lot of time building playlists (because music is everything), programming classes, and doing research by taking classes around the city or studying for other certifications.
What's your go-to song right now for getting pumped up before or during a workout?
I'm loving "Get Low" by 50 Cent. I love hip hop because it makes me want to kick some ass.
Can you share a moment with a student that was truly inspiring?
I have two: The first was when a deaf woman came to my class. I was completely amazed by how well she was able to move seamlessly throughout the class. She was confident, worked hard and read my cues so well. After class, we wrote messages to each other on the white board; I felt so honored and inspired to have her in my class.
The second was when Alan, a 74-year-old man, came to my class. He told me that he could do everything, but he just took a little longer to do it, and he did! He was doing burpees with his chest all the way down to the floor, kettlebell swings—you name it! So now no one can tell me they're too old to take my class!
If I weren't a fitness instructor, I'd be a...
Reveal something that even your most dedicated students don't know about you.
I eat a Levain chocolate chip walnut cookie every Sunday. It has become a Sunday tradition with my husband. At least we split it in half!
Besides your own studio, whose classes do you love?
I am obsessed with Chloe Mackenzie's vinyasa flow at Unity Yoga. She's a former dancer as well, so her classes flow in such a natural way and feel awesome on the body.
What's your favorite cheat meal?
A cheeseburger and truffle fries washed down with an ice cold beer is everything. I am a big believer in moderation. I don't follow a strict diet, but if I indulge, I know I have some sweating to do the next day!
What's your favorite outdoor workout spot in the city?
This may sound a bit cliché, but Central Park. I live one block away and love to run in the park. I get so inspired and motivated by all the New Yorkers I see in the park running, walking and biking. It's a beautiful escape from the skyscrapers and honking cars!
Where can we find you when you're not working out?
At the grocery store! I love grocery shopping—I could spend hours in Whole Foods just wandering the aisles. I cook just about every night and love having a stocked refrigerator. I like knowing what is going into the food I am consuming!
What advice would you offer to someone who is just starting in your class?
Relax, have fun, and take class at your own pace. I'm not here to kill you! I'm here to get you through class and make sure you leave feeling better than when you came in. Everything can be scaled up or down to be challenging for you, no matter what your fitness level is. Plus, I want you to come back to my class!