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Fitness Inspiration: Amanda Northrup

Focusing on being the best version of herself has allowed this fitness fanatic to overcome life’s challenges.

Fitness Inspiration: Amanda Northrup

At just four years old, Amanda Northrup suffered a quadruple amputation due to a delayed diagnosis of meningococcal meningitis. Now 34, Northrup has never let this stop her from living a full life. Northrup fell in love with fitness at age 14, working out at home with a Cindy Crawford fitness DVD. She continued exercising on and off over the next few years, but it wasn’t until she signed up to compete in a "Ms. Wheelchair Pageant" three years ago that she took her training program to the next level. She nabbed "First Runner Up" and "Miss Congeniality" at the competition. Northrup's platform for the pageant centered around improving fitness and health for people with disabilities. “It isn't just about looking good, it’s about feeling good. If you feel good, that changes how you see the world and how you feel about yourself. It gives you some power, and you don't feel so powerless.”

Northrup works out for about two hours a day, often in the full-size gym in her house. Her workouts include a variety of activities, from CrossFit to yoga to HIIT training and swimming. And she never lets her disability stop her from trying something new. “I’ve modified different pieces of equipment so that I can use them. Just about anything you can name, I’ll do it!” That includes using kettlebells, tires, and TRX, among others. (Check out her tire pull video below!)  

Although she’s unsure if she can put on enough muscle due to her scar tissue concerns, Northrup is currently training for her first wheelchair bodybuilding competition. “Any competition, whether it’s bodybuilding, a 5K, or an Ironman gives you a focus that you can working towards.”

Northrup admits she has battled with depression to the point of having suicidal thoughts. But rather than relying on medications, she uses exercise and a healthy diet as an outlet. “I think when people experience trauma we’re not really taught how to deal with it. When you survive something, you're left with an energy and you don’t know what to do with it.” Working out, she adds, is something positive she can put her energies toward. “It’s always how can I become stronger and feel better about myself. Having a disability is very hard, but fitness has changed the way I see things and see myself.”

But her biggest motivation to keep pushing forward is her 6-year-old daughter. “I don’t want her to see me sitting around and feeling sorry for myself. No matter how bad it’s been or how low I’ve been, I tell myself, ‘You have to get up.’ You need to find a point and go towards it.”

A working abstract artist, Northrup says she finds a lot of similarities between fitness and art. “With both, you have to make something out of nothing. That's what I've done my whole life—no matter how bad or hard it's been, I've always gotten up and achieved something.”

Northrup’s latest goal, which she has been working towards for the past two years, is to open her own gym. “I think public gyms can be their own worst enemy. They say, 'Come to our gym,' but when you go there, you don't feel comfortable, you’re not welcomed, it’s not an inviting environment. I can offer something better. I can offer a place that says, ‘Come here and work out.’ I don’t care what you wear or look like. My focus is for everyone to have a place where they can work hard and achieve their goals.”

Get some motivation to tackle a tough workout today after watching Northrup's home video where she's doing a tire pull to build strength.

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