AMBER/ GRAND RAPIDS/ YOGA & MINDFULNESS INSTRUCTOR/ YOGI
This week we are high-fiving FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight: Amber Kilpatrick. Amber is a yoga and mindfulness instructor who also has experience with weightlifting, hiking and many other athletic sports. She believes in getting out of the stereotypical mindset that our bodies have to live up to a certain standard and talks about how to begin to love yourself where you are at. A big thank you and high-five to Amber!
What is your fave way to train (running, yoga, CrossFit, weightlifting, dancing…)?
I am obsessed with moving my body, investigating it’s potential and trying new things. Whether through hiking, intuitive body movement, Zumba & dance, weightlifting, or yoga - the ability to move and grow is not something I take for granted. I’m curious about what I can do physically and how my brain can grow when I enter new spaces of activity.
How did that become your thing?
Activity has been a part of my life since I was a child. Growing up on 80 acres I was constantly outdoors, hiking through the forest, climbing trees, running across fields, and learning how to work and care for the land. Come high school, it turns out I was a pretty darn good athlete, so I played all the sports! As I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered my tendency toward anxiety (and yes, I am a yoga and mindfulness instructor!) still continues to be my “work”. Options and changes in my fitness routine keep me feeling healthy and well, while also fulfilling my need for options and newness.
How has training physically changed you mentally or emotionally?
Active Amber is Happy Amber. When I commit to being active (see list above) I find it so much easier to get into my mindfulness meditation practice. Once the energy of my body has been expressed, I can better sit with myself. Sitting with myself, watching my thoughts and worries, and learning to ‘gentle’ myself through the onslaught of mind activity is very likely my greatest ‘physical’ accomplishment to date.
What is the mantra in your head that you hear most often when you train?
Throughout the course of my life I have met, befriended, and loved many individuals with limited abilities. I’ve also served in and traveled to countries where resources are limited and life is hard (by American standards). When I workout, train, run, lift, or shake in a yoga pose I tell myself, “do it for those who can’t”. Now let me be clear, this is not a pity mantra, Not. At. All. It serves as my reminder that I have an able, strong body, and I need to use it and its power to my best ability. As a channel for energy. A vehicle for change. A way of honoring.
What do you love most about your body?
My sweet, sweet body. She’s been so patient with me. I so badly wanted her to be something else for most of my life. The usual list of, “I’m not a victoria's secret model so I must not be good enough” type thoughts. As a woman influenced by social messages and a male-dominated society, I too saw my body as an object, a thing, for a very long time. But thank God(ess) for time and wisdom. And i don’t know if it’s just time & maturity or a combination of time+maturity+watching my body do awesome things, but I really, really like my body now. My body is no longer an object for ownership or outside opinion. It is 100% my temple and my home. It’s softer than it was in my 20s, and it’s showing the signs of life lived, but damn I look at myself in the mirror and I truly love who I see. I believe this new perspective also comes from the ability to be with myself in those quiet (yet still difficult) mindfulness meditations. Where I get to watch thoughts, and tired beliefs and ask myself, “do I want to believe this anymore”? New beliefs, make all the difference.
If you have worked with a coach, what’s the most important lesson you learned from that person?
I have worked with many coaches and mentors in my lifetime. High School coaches, personal trainers, dance instructors, yoga teaches etc. Each offered their own values and pointed wisdom. But my favorite lesson came from my High School track coach, Mr. Bowling. I had just disqualified our team from a winning relay against a rival school because I was wearing a necklace (jewelry wasn’t allowed on athletes back then). I was devastated. Sobbing. Feeling like an absolute schmuck. Mr. Bowling took me aside and said, “Amber, you don’t have to carry all this weight. There are people on the other side of the world who have no idea who you are. And the people who do know you - love you.” This perspective helped at the time and it’s still something I come back to. While it would have been great to win, I was also a person and a teammate of character. The other side of the world was not impacted by my disqualification. Disappointment was the only real consequence. And in the end, I was still loved and supported by the people who mattered most.
What is your fave nutrition tip? Or if you have tried a FiTONIC product, how do you use it in your day?
I’m pretty simple and low fuss when it comes to food prep. Give me FiTONIC Fit, almond milk, a frozen banana, and some peanut butter! Blend, drink, go!
If you could tell only one thing to every woman who is struggling in her fitness journey, what would that be?
“Be softer with you, you are a breathing thing, a memory to someone, a home for life.” How I wish these could be my original words, but they come from one of my favorite poets, Nayyirah Waheed. The struggle cannot be overcome with more struggle or more resistance. To make it through there is a necessary gentling, a balance of effort and ease. Or as Nayyirah puts it a ‘softness’ with a respect for the life we carry inside ourselves.
What goal are you going to crush next??
Rock climbing has been calling to me lately, and I’m also going to run on a more regular basis (can anyone recommend some awesome West MI-based 5ks in early 2019?)!! Plus, (unrelated) I’m going to participate in a backpack expedition on Isle Royale this summer! Gotta get ready to carry a 60lb pack for 8 days!
BIG thank you to Amber for being our FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight!
You can connect with her on:
Do you know someone who should be featured on our FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight?
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