Amanda Bingson, is one of the hottest athletes right now. The 25-year old hammer thrower recently posed nude for one of ESPNs six (6) Body Issue covers, to share her story of being a Track & Field athlete and message that athletes come in all shapes and sizes.
As she prepares for the World Championships in Bejing next month, we wanted to know what positive aspects have come out of doing the ESPN cover, how she trains, who inspires her and more. I had the honour and pleasure of chatting with Amanda earlier this week. Talking with her was easy and comfortable, and felt like we’ve known each other forever. Perhaps it was the bond we created when we discovered our mutual challenge of chronic tight calves, and the never ending goal for a little “jiggle”.
Athletes come in all shapes and sizes and I am proud to announce that I am one of the covers of @ESPN the Magazine's 2015 edition of The #BodyIssue. I am honored to represent for Track & Field and the Hammer Throw. #TrackNation #NikeWomen #NYAC #Olympians #RoadtoRio #USATF #BetterForIt #LikeAGirl #plusmodel #plussize #beautybeyondsize #iamsizesexy #nobodyshamecampaign #curvesahead #effyourbeautystandards #curves #honormycurves #HammerThrow #unlv #bodypositive #nobodyshame #ThrowLikeaGirl #TeamUSA Thanks to #ESPN Photographer: Peter Hapak
What has been the best thing since posing nude for ESPN’s body issue?
The best things that have happened so far are the interest in Track & Field, people are starting to remember that it’s an actual sport and it just doesn’t happen every 4 years at the Olympics. It’s also all about timing and me coming out and being a “plus size cover model” or “plus size individual” is definitely a great thing because body acceptance is starting to become a topic of conversation, which is something we definitely need.
What can advertisers and the media do to support more body diversity in fitness & athletics, so that this becomes more mainstream?
I think it’s kind of sad how it’s such a shock to people that I did pose nude, was taking part in this and that I’m so confident being 210 pounds. To me that’s surprising because it shouldn’t be a shock factor. For us (American) as a culture, we have been so progressive in everything as far as inter-racial marriages back in the early years and now we are getting into the LGBTQ community and how we are supportive of that and religion, ethnicity and culture, everything imaginable. We’ve been so progressive and accepting, except for the body image, and it’s so silly and I just don’t understand it.
I think advertisers need to be more open minded about it, I know they are in the business of selling an image but overall they are so closed minded to what they think people want to see, because it’s been that way for so long. They are initimdated showing off different body types.
Dove has been so pheonomenal in their campaign in using different body types and they’ve had a great outcome.
I get that it’s hard for advertisers to be pioneers because of all the blowback they don’t want, and I understand that it’s all about selling and making money. But advertisers need to be more open minded and go back to the drawing board and ask what do people really want to see.
Let’s switch gears and talk about your training.
We understand that the hammer throw doesn’t usually have many spectators because it’s often played off, the in-field. Is that because you’re at risk of hitting one of your fellow athletes?
We are actually the safest event. Javelin throwers stab the long jumpers all the time.
Everyone is scared of us but technically we actually have the least amount of injuries.
#TBT at the 2012 Olympic Trials. I'd just graduated college, I didn't do well at the NCAA Championships, did not meet the "A standard" to qualify for the Olympics and was not expected to make the team, but I still had a goal of making it to the Games. I nearly gave up on my dreams, but decided to give it another "throw". I went into the Trials relaxed with no pressure and ended up shocking everyone -including myself. The Olympics was my first international competition and I quickly learned a minor setback is preparation for a major comeback! #amandabingson #roadtorio #goingforthegold #motivation #throwbackthursdays #teamusa #rio2016
For larger events such as the Olympics and World Championships, you are required to play on the in-field. As I’ve taken in some of the Pan Am Games last week, I’m realizing not only will you have spectators, but you’ll be sharing the field with other athletes. How do you not get distracted and maintain your focus in these situations?
I love when it’s a big crowd, it’s noisy like a concert and everybody is having fun. I want you to be loud and obnoxious and crazy and start the wave, I love that. But as soon as I step into the ring, I take a pause at the beginning of my throw, exhale and that’s when I get into my game mode. I block everything out because at that point nothing else matters other than my throw.
Do you work with a sports psychologist to help you channel and become focused?
Absolutely. Sports psychologist and nutritionists are finally getting the recognition they deserve. I think it’s so important that everyone talk to one, because it’s all mental. If you’re having a bad day in real life, it’s hard to leave it out there, it’s hard to do that. I talk to my sports psychologists(Traci Stadler) 3 times a month. At first I thought I didn’t need one, “I’m perfectly fine” and I’m stuck in my ways, but when I first started talking, I realized it helps. A lot of people think that if you need a sports psychologist, you’re not strong enough to handle stuff. No, you have friends that you vent to, this is just me venting to someone who is not biased and can look at it from a different perspective.
For amateur athletes, we know we are competing against ourselves. As a professional Olympic athlete, does that approach still hold true, or do things change when representing your country and you have sponsors?
My coach Greg Watson was phenomenal in helping me with this. When I started at UNLV, he told me not to worry about the team because it’s such an individualized event. Obviously you want your team to do well, the team to bond and excel as a team, but it is an individual sport. He said to me, “you’re here for you, don’t worry about everybody else, you just worry about you” .
How many hours a day/week do you train?
I train 3-4 hours a day of physical throwing/lifting labour, 5 days a week.
On top of my training, I have an hour of rehab to prevent injuries, *knock on wood*, haven’t had a career ending injury, I meet with my chiropractor and get massage therapy a couple times a week. For the record, because everyone says “poor baby, you have to get a massage“, THEY ARE NOT FUN! My masseuse who works with USATF is phenomenal. The first time he worked on me was so deep, I was miserable. My calves are like rocks and he worked on them for 2 months before I finally got some jiggle.
Do you train on a periodization schedule (where you build and peak) that includes a taper before the World Championships next month in Bejing?
Yes, I do train on a periodization table. I have a body reaction about a week after I start a new program so it’s all up and down and we’ll change the program depending upon how my body reacts but usually about my 4th training day into the program I’ll hit a peak. The day before I compete I’ll do about half of my program.
Is the hammer throw (Track & Field) just for young folks, or can you compete in it at any age?
Oh it absolutely goes all the way up, we (USATF) have our Senior Championships and one of my good friends is 67 years old and she is still competing in the hammer throw. It’s something you can continously do all the time and all through the ages because it is a low impact sport. You don’t have to be throwing 80 meters to do it, as long as you get it out of the cage and are having fun, it’s a good time.
Let’s shift gears again and talk motivation and inspiration.
Who who inspires you?
Everybody inspires me in different ways. Recently on Instagram, I asked people to post their definition of strength. One young girl who was diagnosed with cancer, used her Make a Wish to make a video for others, to know what to do and help others. That inspires me because it’s so selfless. This girl has gone through so much and in the end she is thinking of others.
I find my inspiration from everyone out there who is trying to make it, live their dreams and not give up. It makes me want to do better. I have been given this thing where I don’t have to have a boss and I’m living my dream of being a professional athlete. This is amazing, and there is inspiration all around me, and that helps me continue to do what I’m doing and help out others in any way I can.
PHOTO CONTEST GIVEAWAY! Who wants a free autographed copy of my ESPN the Magazine "The #BodyIssue" cover? Well then show me YOUR definition of strength. Upload a photo to show me what you describe as being "strong". I'll pick my five favorite posts. Rules: 1) You must follow me on Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook. 2) Use the hashtag #TeamBingson #fanfriday
What advice do you have for someone wanting to unleash their inner athlete?
When you think of an athlete, you think of someone who is strong, independent and confident. I think people need confidence to be an athlete, so find something that suits you and if there isn’t something that fits you per se, MAKE SOMETHING. You had people who could do lots of power cleans and then climb a rope, now you’ve got Cross Fit. If you like something and you’re good at it, there’s probably a whole group of people interested in the same thing, you’re not the only one. Being an athlete is seeing what you want and doing it. Be confident.
What’s your favourite way to cut loose?
Going out to the river, grabbing some beers and listening to some country music with friends.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
About the Author:
Krista is the Founder of Born to Reign Athletics, a blog + portal website dedicated to motivating, educating and celebrating plus size women who unleash their inner athlete as a means of living a healthy life. She is an award-winning multi-sport athlete in triathlon and indoor rowing, and is recognized as a global leader in plus size fitness and athletics.