Our Athletes of the Month for September are Amanda and Donald Barnes! Meet one of the fittest couples in their fifties you will EVER meet! Sorry we had to give away their ages, but C’MON! Talk about FIT GOALS. Donald recently leveled up into our 750 workout club and Amanda isn’t far behind.
They also recently took on our last nutrition challenge and absolutely crushed it. Talk about taking good to GREAT! Their journeys haven’t come without their struggles though. Amanda faced a life threatening health scare at the end of 2018 and the doctors cited her lifestyle of fitness as a lifesaver. The doctors continue to advise her to keep exercise a central part of her life. These two make exercise a morning routine at our 6am classes and are as consistent as the sunrise. If you’ve gotten up that early, you’ve surely seen them in the gym. Amanda and Donald, Thank you for being such an awesome part of our FitTown family! Check out their story below…
THE BARNES FAMILY, IN THE BEGINNING: We met at work in WPB, FL when Donald moved down from North Carolina to take his first job out of college and Amanda was working at the same engineering firm in her first job out of college. After a secret workplace relationship we were engaged and married in 1994. We moved to Jupiter Farms in 1996, had our first son (Brian) in 1998 and our second son (Eric) in 2000. In 2016 we moved to Tequesta. Both boys are currently in college, Brian at Florida Polytechnic University and Eric at University of Central Florida. Donald is a real estate developer for a national home builder and Amanda is an engineer for Town of Jupiter Utilities.
JUST FOR FUN: Donald enjoys hunting anything that walks, swims or flies. He also enjoys water sports, free diving, and boating. Amanda likes to exercise, read, spend time with family and friends, go to musicals and movies, and cruise down the River and Intracoastal on the boat.
THE EARLY YEARS OF FITNESS: Donald spent most of his childhood running wild in the backwoods of NC and developed a passion for wrestling in high school, which he continued in college (Go Pack!). Amanda was a gymnast as a child, which led to cheerleading in Jr. high school, dance team in high school, and cheerleading in college (Go Canes!).
FITNESS BEFORE FITTOWN: When Donald first moved to Jupiter he coached wrestling at two different high schools along with middle school baseball, then got into combat sports, until the injuries outweighed the enjoyment. Fitness has been a central part of Amanda’s life since college, step aerobics, weight lifting, long distance running (marathons), P90X, and then she discovered CrossFit at the gym where Donald and the boys were training Jiujitsu, and she loved it! In time, Donald joined Amanda at CrossFit in Ron and Shari Ortiz’s backyard in Jupiter Farms. When we moved from the Farms to Tequesta we joined FitTown at the invitation of Stuart Gordon and Deb Daly.
OH THE MEMORIES WE HAVE MADE: Donald’s memorable experience of first starting CrossFit came in his first month when he did Murph, unpartitioned, with strict pull ups because he didn’t know how to kip yet. It took him two weeks to recover from rhabdomyolysis and was able to straighten his arms out again. When Amanda first started step aerobics, in college, the gym she went to was adjacent to a bar with a glass partition, so while her friends were at happy hour drinking it up, she was sweating it up at the gym. Kind of weird set up looking back on it…
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND MILESTONES: Donald- 38 minute Murph, bar muscle ups, ring muscle ups, consistently beating the workout caps (this wasn’t always the case), and cleaning up his diet (thanks to Danielle and Andrew). Amanda’s most memorable fitness accomplishments are running two full and two half marathons for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of her previous boss, who has exceeded the doctor’s predictions for remission! She also feels very accomplished at FitTown when she finishes a workout and realizes she hung in there with the youngsters surrounding us! (We are old so stop lapping us, Taylor!)
FITNESS GOALS: Not having Dubs is a constant aggravation for Donald but his goal is to maintain a fitness level that allows him to do what he enjoys outside the gym, which is usually tough on the body. Amanda would like to improve technique on the ski erg and get handstand push-ups back.
STRUGGLES AND OBSTACLES: Years ago Donald ruptured a disc in his lower back which required surgery and months of daily rehab before he was able to walk without the aid of a walker. That really sucked. After pretty intense rehab, a focus on core strength and proper lifting technique has kept him mostly out of trouble. The big struggle today is realizing that he is only competing against himself and not the guy working out next to him.
In December 2018, Amanda was surprised (and so were the doctors and nurses) when she was diagnosed with a blood clot in her right leg (DVT) and blood clots in both lungs, especially after just having done a grueling burpee workout that morning. Thankful for God’s protection and provision (He used Amy Mattessich to save her life. Thank you, Amy!), she is alive to tell about it! The past year and a half has been a process of learning how to manage her heightened tendency to clot and going through vein treatments to improve leg circulation. The doctors attribute her lifestyle of fitness to surviving this life threatening condition and one of their orders is to keep exercise a central part of her life.
We spend most of our non-work lives together because we still enjoy each other’s company (take note of that, youngsters) so there is constant, non-nagging accountability. We cook for each other (and clean up for each other) and work out together so when either of us gets lazy or piggish, the other is there for a gentle course correction. This mostly comes in the early morning when the alarm clock goes off and only one person immediately gets up… In the gym, it is usually Amanda telling Donald that he is lifting too heavy or Donald telling Amanda that she should lift heavier. It is a great partnership. And there are those rare occasions when Donald will smack something unhealthy (usually pretzels) out of Amanda’s hand! 🙂
PERSONAL GROWTH & DAILY HABITS: We are pretty simple folks. Most of our personal growth comes from spending time reading a collection of old books written around 2000 years ago mostly by some fisherman and religious fanatics. It keeps us grounded and motivated to become better people. Good stuff and still relevant today. FitTown 6:05am FTX class is a daily habit Monday thru Saturday, followed by egg whites with veggies by Donald for breakfast, makes for a great start to the day! Worship on Sunday mornings is a weekly habit for us.
Amanda’s Motto: “I never regret going to church, Bible study, and exercise.”
MOTIVATIONAL ADVICE FOR THE COUCH POTATO: Start today. The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago but if you can’t do that, then plant it today. Everyday you should be preparing for the fight that you don’t know is coming (Donald’s motto). This could be an injury or sickness or an actual fight but everything you do is either getting you ready or making you less ready so get up and start moving now. And when you don’t want to work out, do it anyway. You don’t always have to be setting a new PR, just show up and move. Sometimes you just need to get out of bed and get your heart pumping. Amanda and I often say, “you never regret it” but this only comes after we are finished.
THE BEST OF FITTOWN: For us, and probably everyone else at FitTown, we are drawn to the coaches, the members, and the facilities. We like the detailed instruction, encouragement and correction that we get from the coaches. Technique keeps us safe which is hard to maintain when we are tired and not thinking straight so watchful coaches are important to us. It is also good to get an occasional word of affirmation during a burner (and sometimes Danielle claps, which Donald really likes!). Then there are the other members. Big egos and big heads are pretty common in most gyms but we have not found that at FitTown. Everyone seems to celebrate each other’s accomplishments, which is refreshing. And the facilities are spectacular; not much more to say than that.
THANK YOU AMANDA & DONALD for being in the FitTown Jupiter Fam!