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Inverurie PT Amanda Smith on how fitness helped her through health challenges

Amanda Smith has opened up about her recent health challenges in a bid to inspire people to listen to and look after their bodies.

Amanda Smith hopes that by opening up about her health scare, it will inspire other people to listen to their bodies.
Amanda Smith hopes that by opening up about her health scare, it will inspire other people to listen to their bodies. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Staying fit and healthy doesn’t make us invincible, but it equips us with the awareness and resilience needed to face medical challenges head-on, says Amanda Smith, an Inverurie based personal trainer who is using her own experiences to inspire others.

Positively glowing with health and wellness, it’s hard to believe that just last year Amanda, 51, underwent surgery to remove a 26 cm cyst from her ovary followed by a total hysterectomy that thrust her into the menopause.

Now fully recovered, Amanda hopes that by bravely sharing her story, it encourages people to listen to their bodies and look after them so that when the worst happens you have the mental and physical strength to overcome any challenges.

“I began noticing subtle changes in my body, despite my consistent fitness routine,” says Amanda.

“Thanks to my awareness of my body’s normal function, I recognised that something was not right and I decided it was time to seek medical advice.

“My proactive approach to health, driven by fitness, was crucial in identifying the problem early.

Inverurie personal trainer Amanda Smith.
Amanda Smith hopes her story will inspire others to stay attuned to their bodies. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

“If not for my heightened awareness of my body’s signals, I might have dismissed that anything was wrong and delayed seeking help.

“It’s important to stay attuned to your body, even for those who consider themselves healthy.

“Fitness is not just about building strength and endurance, it’s also about fostering a deeper connection with your physical self.”

Keeping fit and the menopause

Amanda says being fit and active undoubtedly helped her to recover from her surgery and has also helped her to manage menopause symptoms like hot flushes.

“Having the total hysterectomy has thrust me into the menopause so I’ve been learning how fitness can help to control some of the menopausal symptoms as well and make us feel better,” says Amanda.

“My consultant put me on oestrogen patches 12 weeks after my operation and that’s when I started experiencing the hot flushes.

“But because I’m so active I feel it’s helped.”

Amanda holding a kettlebell.
Amanda is not only a PT but she also runs free running sessions and mini fitness sessions for staff in care homes through her job at Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Lifelong love of exercise

Although Amanda’s recent health scare has given her a new appreciation of the power of fitness, her journey into the world of health and wellbeing began long ago.

“Growing up, I was always running and playing football with my brothers,” says Amanda.

“I suppose we grew up at a time when you were always outside.

“I was also a championship Highland dancer.”

As she got older, this love of exercise spilled over onto the football pitch at Colony Park Football Club in Inverurie.

The Inverurie PT with workout equipment.
Amanda is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to fitness. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

“My stepdaughter Katie wanted to start playing with a local football club, The Colony Girls,” say Amanda.

“At that point they had about 12-13 girls turning up but one of the coaches wanted to give it up so they asked if I would be interested in taking it on.

“I said yes because anything that keeps kids off the sofa for an hour then I’m up for it.”

Girls’ football coach

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Amanda became instrumental in girls’ football locally.

“I ended up being the manager and coach but I really enjoyed it so I did that on a voluntary basis for about seven years,” says Amanda.

“We worked with the Scottish Football Association to promote girls’ football in the whole of Aberdeenshire so it was great to see the sport grow.”

Amanda Smith.
Amanda is spreading her love of exercise throughout Inverurie. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

After taking a step back from football coaching, Amanda then decided to become a personal trainer.

“I always used to go to the gym and I enjoyed it so much that I thought I could train to be a fitness instructor,” says Amanda.

“So I paid for a course myself and qualified as a level two fitness instructor before going on to do my level three personal training course.”

Outdoor bootcamp sessions in Inverurie

Initially Amanda worked at Energie Fitness in Inverurie before going solo as a personal trainer.

“I love going to the gym but I also love being outside so I’ve started up outdoor bootcamp style classes at Kellands Park in Inverurie,” says Amanda.

“I also started free Couch to 5k training sessions which have been so successful that I’ve kept the group going.

“It’s good to see the positive difference it makes to people.”

Personal Trainer Amanda Smith at her bootcamp sessions at Kellands Park in Inverurie.
Amanda Smith, pictured front, at her bootcamp sessions at Kellands Park in Inverurie. Image: Amanda Smith

Mini fitness sessions in care homes

Amanda is also supporting people to get fit through her role as care services improvement officer at Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP).

“In work, there’s a big push to help staff with their mental health and wellbeing so because I’m a qualified PT, I offered to hold mini fitness sessions for the staff in our care homes and sheltered housing establishments,” says Amanda.

“It’s been fantastic as I make sure it’s a fun workout and they have a laugh too.”

Amanda with students at one of her open air bootcamp sessions.
Amanda loves seeing people progress at her open air bootcamp sessions. Image: Amanda Smith

Looking to the future, Amanda, who lives with her partner Gillian Strachan in Inverurie, is keen to encourage more people to discover the joys of working out.

“I think going through what I did has made me even more determined to help others look after themselves,” says Amanda.

Wellbeing diary with Amanda Smith

What are your three top tips for health and wellbeing?

Prioritise balanced nutrition: A well-balanced diet is crucial for maintaining overall health and wellbeing. I would always advise on these three things when it comes to nutrition – variety, moderation and hydration.

Stay physically active: Regular physical activity is essential for both physical and mental health. You should try and find activities you enjoy so you can stick with them long-term. Mix different types of exercises to keep things interesting.  You can also incorporate activities like yoga or pilates, which also promote mental wellbeing.

Maintain mental health:  Mental health is just as important as physical health. Take proactive steps to manage stress and keep a positive mindset. Also have a support network of friends, family or community groups and ensure you get good quality sleep each night as that can support your emotional and physical health.

How do you like to de-stress?

I enjoy going to the gym, taking walks with my dogs, spending time outdoors as well as gardening, pottering about fixing things or riding my motorbike. I also tried playing the banjolele but it ended up stressing me out as I struggled to hit the right notes.

Do you incorporate healthy eating into your diet?

I eat a balanced diet and believe in not restricting any foods, but rather enjoying everything in moderation. For breakfast, I have fruit and fibre with sliced banana and a few handfuls of blueberries – it’s my daily routine. Lunch usually involves eggs, as they are quick to prepare – boiled, scrambled, or poached. Sometimes, I opt for beans on toast. My dinners vary and include homemade pasta with chicken or prawns, stir fry with chicken, prawns, or steak, mince and tatties with vegetables, macaroni, or fajitas.

Can you recommend any good health/wellbeing podcasts, books or films?

I don’t have any to recommend, I don’t seem to have time to read or listen to podcasts.

Do you have any daily practices that help with your mental wellbeing?

Yes, playing with my dogs, they are just full of fun and they put a smile on my face every day.

Amanda’s bootcamp sessions at Kellands Park in Inverurie run every Tuesday at 6.15pm. For more information check out her Instagram page @ajs_strength_and_wellness