“Like most young girls I did dancing (tap and jazz) at an early age. I completed the exams as far as I could. In New Zealand at that time, there was not much you could do with dancing, so I decided to become an aerobics instructor. I became a certified aerobics instructor at the age of 19. Although it was not dancing, it gave me the chance to be creative with warm up routines. I ended up teaching at Club Physical Gym, where I still am today. As an aerobics instructor, I learnt anything new that came about. I taught Step, Circuit classes, Tai Bo (kickboxing), did full-on Boxing as well (fully trained), New Body (movement with small hand weights), Flex or Pump (weight class with barbells), Sculpt (toning with hand weights), Slide (like step but using a slippery surface where you slide from side to side), Spin (on bikes), Pilates – pretty much everything that was available, I learnt it.
I taught at the Gym part time and taught all types of classes, right up till my first child, at the age of 39. I had a bit of a break to look after my baby and started to get back into teaching about 6 months after giving birth. I noticed that I was getting more injuries from weight-bearing classes. Even though my form was good, my body was telling me that it didn’t like it. I didn’t listen to my body and continued with most of these classes. I did start to cut down on more high impact classes, but stuck with the weight-bearing ones, until my second child, at the age of 42.
After teaching Essentrics for 3 months, people would come up to me and say ‘you have lost so much weight’. I was shocked as I still weighed the same, BUT what had changed was the shape of my body. Yes, I was still the typical pear-shaped Kiwi, but I was standing taller and gave the illusion of lost weight. Plus, the type of eccentric training means the muscles are elongated, again making you appear thinner.
I continued to teach Essentrics, along with a few barbell classes, when in 2013, I started to have major issues with my knee. I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis - from many years of doing weight-bearing exercises. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, so it’s from ‘wear and tear’. I was told from the specialist to stop all weight-bearing classes and that I would be certainly looking at a knee replacement within the next few years. This led me to give up all classes apart from Essentrics. I was and still am determined NOT to have a knee replacement.
The more I taught Essentrics, the more levels I did, the more exams I passed, the more I wanted to learn. In all my years of instructing, and previous examinations, I have learnt more about the anatomy through Essentrics. To this day, 4 years later, I still find myself learning more about the muscles in movement. I have learnt the more you move, the less pain your body is in. I have learnt that even when my knee is painful with the osteoarthritis, if I don’t keep moving and using it, it gets worse. So many people, as soon as they have a diagnosis, give up, they stop moving, when this is the worst thing they could do.
I understand that my knee is likely to get worse, but I believe that through Essentrics I can avoid this operation.
Amanda Sterczyk is a Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM), an Exercise is Medicine Canada (EIMC) Fitness Professional, and a Certified Essentrics® Instructor. She offers in-home personal training in central Ottawa. Amanda specializes in helping older adults maintain and increase strength, flexibility, and mobility. No fitness goal is too small, in her opinion.