Yo, what’s up ya’ll?! I want to talk about sustainability. And not in the eco-friendly sense, although that’s super important too. I’m talking about sustainability in this career. In my last post I talked about how I had some interesting curveballs thrown my way this past fall. I was having a nagging pain in my right soleus (AKA calf), which eventually found its way up into my knees and down into my ankles. At first I assumed it was just a bit of tendonitis and DIY-ed it with ice and stretches, which helped a little but after about a month of this nagging pain getting in the way of dance classes and auditions I found myself in physical therapy for a soleus strain. Physical therapy was eye opening for me. We spent a lot of time working on movement efficiency and sustainability. I’ll get more into this in future posts because the topic of injury and the shame that often surrounds it needs to be talked about. However, as I was going back and re-listening to conversations I’d had pre-PT I was struck by the magic of a particular conversation I had with Amanda Snyder because if anybody understands what it means to live sustainably it’s Amanda. Amanda and I went to college together and hadn’t spoken in years prior to this reunion conversation. I hope you enjoy.
Becky: I’m always so intrigued by people who have businesses that are truly businesses other than their artistic endeavors so how do you find the personal training journey impacts your artistic journey? Do they cross or…
Amanda: Definitely. Definitely they cross. I feel like I decided to become a personal trainer and I decided to do the online training because I was sick of bartending. This was when I was not in a good place in my life and I was miserable over literally everything. But I’ve become so much more than just a personal trainer. I consider myself a lifestyle coach, actually. And I decided to become an online trainer because I wanted to have a job that I could take with me everywhere I go as an actor. I didn’t want to have to quit a job and then come back and bartend again. It really happened when I came back from being away for 9 months and I was just like ‘oh my god, I don’t want to be doing anything else but acting. I hate this city. I don’t wanna be here. I hate bartending and I hate the people. What if I do something else that I like? What if I pursued only things that I like?’ And then of course I had expectations of how it would go as a personal trainer. I thought I would be able to immediately quit bartending and never bartend again and then I found that working for a company, a gym, you don’t really make that much money unless you make it a full time job, which as an actor isn’t possible. So then I was like ‘okay let me try the online training thing.’ And again, I had expectations of how it would go… it didn’t go exactly as planned and there were frustrations with that at first before I had a mindset change and realized life never goes exactly as planned. Anyway, I’ve learned a lot…Not that you shouldn’t have goals. It’s important to have goals and it is important to set yourself up for success but having such high expectations for things is just a way to make you miserable when it doesn’t happen because life is never going to go as you plan it. We don’t know the future. As cliche as it is you really just have to learn how to be happy in the present moment and be happy in your every day. Like right now, us having coffee, this is my life right now. Learning to love your every day. What do I do every day? I wake up, take a shower, I work out…whatever it is for you, whatever it is for each person, that is your life right there. And auditioning is a part of that, right?
Becky: If you choose it to be.
Amanda: If you choose it to be. And working a 9 to 5 if you choose it to be. If you chose that because you wanted a stable job and a stable career…learning to find the beautiful moments in every single thing. There are beautiful moments in everything. And knowing that we can’t control the future. And again going back to what is in your control? Very little. But if we can focus on those things, about what is in our control…What’s in my control? I feel really good when I work out and I eat healthy. And when you’re in those moments, really living in them and not worrying about what’s gonna happen next or what happened yesterday. And being grateful for those small things. I’m grateful that I can brush my teeth. I’m grateful that I have a comb and I can brush my hair. And so going back to your question, the fact that I have these conversations on the regular about mindset and being in the moment with my clients really does impact me as an artist because a successful actor is just reacting, is just living in the moment and honestly reacting to what’s in front of them. So yeah, I think it has a positive impact.
Becky: I think it’s so cool that you became a personal trainer. I am so glad I went to school for musical theater and I’m so glad I grew up dancing but something that schools don’t necessarily shed light on is being a whole person and having other interests. Everyone tells you work hard in your art, take all the classes you can, watch movies, go see shows, immerse yourself in that world but if you have other interests, absolutely pursue those interests as well.
Amanda: I personally think it will make you all the better artist. And I find that as I get older, the people I hang around with…I feel like I’m hanging around less musical theater-y, actor-y people [because theater] can be all they talk about sometimes…and why is that all we talk about?
Becky: There’s a whole other world out there especially in this day and age that really, truly needs some love and attention.
Amanda: You’re right, I think it is good to have other interests and I think it definitely makes you, in my opinion, a better actor as well. Like, how can you live as a character in this world…this person that you’re playing is not an actor. They’re just a person living and if you don’t have any other experiences or interests other than singing and dancing and acting then how can you truly live as a barista or whatever it is you’re trying to portray. I think people maybe even take working on the craft thing too seriously sometimes. But then maybe I’m acting bitter because…maybe not bitter. I feel this way and then sometimes because I feel this way I’m like ‘do I not love it enough?’ But I do. Every time I’m performing again I know that there’s nothing like it. But I definitely have fallen into that trap of thinking ‘do people love this more than me?’
Becky: But that goes back to the whole comparing thing. Which goes back to this, the social media thing, because so much of that ties into comparison of other people. And I think it’s a life long process. I think if you find someone that’s like ‘no, I never compare myself to anyone…’ I think that person’s probably not being a hundred percent truthful with you. But it is a practice of being aware of it and reminding yourself…
Amanda: It’s all just a practice.
Becky: It’s so funny because everyone that I’ve talked to about this says the same stuff. We all feel the same way, have the same hopes for ourselves and our friends but it’s a taboo subject. It doesn’t get as much public attention [as it deserves].
Amanda: Yeah this is something I deal with as a trainer as well: practicing a sustainable lifestyle and moderation. That’s not exciting. People are like ‘that doesn’t really interest me, practicing moderation.’ Look at how moderately this person is losing weight! Look at how sustainably, slowly but surely… but that is the reality of life I think and again, so cliche all this stuff, but everything is a journey. All of this stuff is a journey.
Amanda, thank you for your openness and willingness to discuss your journey with me. And thank you universe for bringing this conversation back into my life at the most magical moment. You can find Amanda on instagram @trainwithamandajane. Join me the next few Saturdays for a more in depth look at injuries and how sustainability is important to the healing process. Ta-ta for now!