We asked the 24 Hour Fitness personal trainer and former collegiate athlete why she competed for a chance to compete on the U.S. Olympic Team.
As kids, we’re told to dream big—to go after a goal and stop at nothing to achieve it. Many kids, especially those involved in sports, dream of going to the Olympic Games and competing. For some, this dream becomes a reality, but for others, life, injury or other factors can get in the way.
In June, the United States Olympic Committee and 24 Hour Fitness teamed up to host in-club tryouts, looking for The Next Olympic Hopeful among everyday fitness fanatics and athletes. Many tried out, and some moved on to the next round for a chance to compete for a spot on Team USA.
On August 25, viewers watched nearly 100 dreamers train hard and perform their best on a USOC production two-hour special, “Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful,” which aired on NBCSN. After 120 minutes of sweat and suspense, we found out who made the final cut—including one of 24 Hour Fitness’ own trainers, Amanda Alvarez of Renton, Washington.
Alvarez will vie for a spot on the U.S. Skeleton Team. (Skeleton athletes speed head-first down a fast track on a sled that’s not much more than a T-shaped frame.) We asked Alvarez why she tried out and what it was like to get the news.
24Life: What inspired you to go through the 24 Hour Fitness in-club tryouts for “The Next Olympic Hopeful”?
Amanda Alvarez (AA): My boss slipped the flyer in my box at the gym. I talked to my manager and my trainer and they both told me to go for it. I first started training with my trainer at 24 Hour Fitness, Chris Gire, to get ready for the U.S. Olympic Trials for triple jump, so they all knew how important a chance like this was for me.
24Life: Do you have a background in sports or were you a high school/collegiate athlete?
AA: I competed in soccer, gymnastics and track and field throughout high school and then track through college. I started at Seattle Pacific and after qualifying for nationals in triple jump my freshman year I transferred to the University of Hawaii, Manoa and made it to NCAA championships for triple jump. Now I am a power lifter and was preparing for nationals in October when this opportunity presented itself.
24Life: Tell us what was going through your mind during tryouts—and how did it feel to find out you were selected?
AA: I didn’t really have much time to think during tryouts! I was told what I had to do, and I did what I could and hoped for the best. I was at home when I found out I made it. I re-read the email four times to make sure it was real before running into the living room to jump on my boyfriend and shove my phone in his face. I was so excited I nearly cried! It was honestly so surreal it took a while to truly sink in. When it did, I started planning my training with my trainer.
24Life: Have you always aspired to represent Team USA, or was the in-club tryout a spontaneous decision?
AA: I have always wanted to go to the Olympics. First, I wanted to go for soccer. Then in college it changed to track and then I was waiting for my next chance. I was born to make it to the Olympics and compete for Team USA.
24Life: This entire experience can be very overwhelming and emotional—the visit to the Olympic Training Center, the athlete mentors and coaches who will assist you. What are you feeling and thinking about this step in your journey to become “The Next Olympic Hopeful”?
AA: I’m so ready for this. Every time I hear them talk about being an athlete and what it was like to walk out during their first Olympic experience I can just see myself there. I am ready to show them what I can do.
24Life: How important is fitness in your life?
AA: Fitness is one of the most important parts of my life—competing and improving and being better every day. I have been training for powerlifting since last September. Powerlifting is competing in squat, bench and deadlift. My coach, Chris, has added in a lot of accessory work and corrective movements to keep my body healthy and balanced. He’s done an amazing job with my training. We’ve been training together for about two and a half years. Since April or May I have added in a lot more volume training, as working at 24 Hour Fitness has provided other opportunities to compete.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Amanda Alvarez