In celebration of Women’s History Month, we asked trainer, run coach and Brave Body Project Co-Founder Amber Rees to share her experience as successful female trainer, run coach and motivator. Read our interview below to get the scoop on her love of training, what inspired her create a welcoming space for runners of all abilities and (of course) her favorite ways to incorporate Vital Proteins® collagen into her daily wellness routine.
Lively: What Inspired you to get into fitness?
Amber Rees: I’ve been coaching and teaching for about 10 years. My certifications include TRX, personal training, AFAA group fitness, VDOT Run Coaching and RRCA Certified.
I came from very athletic family, but chose to do theater and dance, so I went against the grain. When I got to college, I gained the famous freshman 15, and eventually mustered up the courage to find the gym my tuition was paying for. I ended up becoming a gym rat in college. I fell in love with it. Like every early 2000s person, I fell in love with The Biggest Loser. After I moved to New York City, I started working first at the front desk at Barry’s, then eventually became a trainer.
L: What do you love most about coaching/teaching?
AR: The connections, the relationships, and helping people fight the good fight to achieve their goals. That’s the reason why we ended up creating Brave Body Project.
L: What is Brave Body Project?
AR: Our mission is to create “A space for people to connect and celebrate their strength through fitness, body empowerment, and the pursuit of living a brave life.”
We [myself and Lindsey Clayton] started Brave Body Project seven years ago. We felt like there was a really empty space in the fitness scene where we wanted to bridge the gap between kale salads and happy hour and finding a way to normalize not always having a six-pack, and instead make fitness relatable. I think that kind of helped me dive into my why for I’m a trainer and why I do what I do.
“I think that a big lesson we, as two girls who are runners that are not the fastest, most elite runners, have learned it that you don’t have to be in the front to be a leader, you can lead from anywhere,” adds Clayton. “I feel like that has helped us really find our niche.”
L: How does Brave Body Project cultivate community?
AR: Primarily, we provide run coaching now. We first started as fitness blog and then realized you cant really make money doing that. So, we put our brains and theater backgrounds together and started using our performance skills, alongside our training skills, and did online workouts. Since then, we completely pivoted into run coaching. Our virtual community has been really awesome. We have runners globally that do our virtual run club and they all cheer each other on.
L: How do you fuel your workouts?
AR: I’m pretty basic—I eat real food to fuel my workouts. Before a run, I’m an oatmeal or peanut butter toast kind of girl. I focus on hydrating throughout the day—drinking a lot of water and electrolytes—and eating a good solid meal. (Sometimes that’s pizza.)
L: What’s your favorite workout?
AR:A Combo of running and strength training is ideal. For me, running is my number one. It’s a workout that’s very individual and personal but can also be really connective and interactive with other runners. It challenges me in a way that’s physical and mental.
L: What mantra keeps you going during a tough run?
AR: For me, I tell myself I get to do this. On days, especially now when it’s SO cold, the last thing I want to do is put on 80 layers to go for a run. I remind myself that I’m lucky my body allows me to do it.
L: As a woman in the fitness space do you feel like there were any obstacles you had to overcome?
AR: I think being a woman in the fitness space, especially in the category of strength training, everyone has decided that men should be the first person to go to. If a person wants to build muscle and get stronger, it’s often assumed man is the one to seek out. And, women are often put in the category of dance cardio. So, I’ve found that it’s important to alway showing up and proving that you’re capable by your actions.
L: What goals do you have for the upcoming year?
AR: A big goal is to continue to run coach and build our base of amazing runners, running races and completing them. I want to host more Brave Body Project virtual runs, and I hope to run the Chicago Marathon in the fall.
L: What are your gym bag must-haves?
AR: I love my Puma run shoes. I also use a Garmin or Suunto watch to track my runs. If I’m going out for a run, I need to have my playlist figured out beforehand. And in the summer, my hydration vest is key to my success.
L: What is your favorite Vital Proteins Product?
AR: I’ve been using Vital Proteins® Collagen Peptides for years. It’s so easy and simple to throw into my routine. I’ll either put it in my coffee or add to my water and electrolytes.
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