Athlete of the MonthSeptember

Amy Strainer

Career: CFO Stahly Engineering

Years at FireTower Athletics: 2

I enjoy the fact that you actually don’t have to be an athlete to attend.

I am coming up on 40 years old, and have lived in Helena almost my entire life.  I grew up being the least athletic person and was always the last to be picked for anything sports related.  I was skinny, and in the 80’s and 90’s skinny was all you needed.  I didn’t participate in any competitive sports, eating whatever I wanted and wandering the neighborhood with my sister was the only exercise I completed.  I looked healthy on the outside, but was far from healthy on the inside.

I left Helena for college in 2001 and promised to never come back.  After living in Bozeman for about 7 years while obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, and returned to my hometown in 2008 and haven’t regretted a day since.  I completed my Master’s in Business Administration in 2009 from the University of Montana, but remain a Bobcat fan.  I have two daughters Ava (17) and Giuliana (9).  My husband, Mike, works the majority of his time in Big Sky/Bozeman as a carpenter, leaving the girls and I home alone during the week.

I have worked at Stahly Engineering for the past 11 years, as the Accounting Manager, adding Human Resources Manager and then the CFO in 2017.  Work has always been a priority for me, working a lot of nights and weekends to get whatever they needed done.  My work has always been very satisfying as working with numbers is one of my strengths.

Prior to Ava getting her driver’s license, my afternoons and evenings were spent chauffeuring kids from one activity to the next.  I was the Parent Teacher Organization President in East Helena for six years, which took up the remainder of our free time.  I got used to being on the move from the time I woke up until the time I went to sleep.  Taking time for myself was never important to me and it showed in my fluctuating weight and figure.

I started CrossFit in December 2019, after being persuaded by my coworkers and being determined to put myself higher on my priority list.  I had been discussing joining the gym which was located right out my office window for some time.  My biggest excuse was being an unathletic, burned out, selfless, basically single mom during the week, and where would I find this time and energy?  Not to mention my main weaknesses include speed, strength and agility; combined with childhood trauma of being last to be picked.  My former coworker was the first to join and had significant progress and gains.  He was a natural athlete, and I certainly do not associate the word athlete with myself but he assured me anyone can do it with modifications.  I remained skeptical.  When Nick joined mid-2019, he was more athletic than me but similar in the “has room for improvement” category.  Who am I kidding?  I started from ground zero.  Watching Nick’s progress for his first couple of months combined with my youngest telling me it was time to join – I went for it, signing up for On Ramp before even trying out a class.  I was intimidated to walk thru the doors, but committed and for the first time in a long time I had one hour per day that I didn’t have to think about anything except trying to do impossible math.

The thing I like most about CrossFit is the 4:30PM class is at the same time as the Kids class.  From the beginning, Giuliana and I have been CrossFit buddies.  It’s been very convenient to hand my daughter over to Jay for an hour while I work out.  (Sorry Jay, I know she’s a pain!)  Once I started to see some gains, my oldest wanted to join as well so I was able to fluctuate the times of the workouts.  During the weeks, it became OUR thing and we hated every minute of it together as a family.

I enjoy the fact that you actually don’t have to be an athlete to attend.  Don’t get me wrong, I observe people doing some very impressive things but the only person I need to compete against is the person I was yesterday.  I’ve been doing CrossFit for almost two years, still can’t do a strict pull-up however I can do two kipping pull ups in a row.  I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’m more capable mentally and physically now than I’ve ever been.

The gym was located next door to my office, so convenience was certainly a perk however I haven’t had an issue making it to class regularly since the move to Montana City.

“That’s what she said” jokes are my favorite, and they are usually very appropriate for CrossFit.  You can always count on me to show up with a sense of humor, profanity and a tank top with a sarcastic phrase.

Lastly, the best thing is the support I receive from the gym for just moving is motivating.  All of the coaches and members are so supportive of each other, the atmosphere is like nowhere I’ve ever been.  I’ve experienced every emotion behind those doors, and it’s the people that keep me coming back for more.  The biggest critic is myself, to myself.

A typical day used to not be a thing for me, but thanks to a teenager with a drivers license, COVID, my new fascination with social distancing and enjoyment of staying home it has started steadying itself out.  I start my day with at least 8 hours of sleep, preferably 9 or even 10 when I can get it!  I wake up around 6AM, get myself ready and wake up G around 7.  She grumpily gets ready and we are out the door by about 7:50AM to get her to school by 8AM.  I’m basically late for everything that I do at this point, and have learned to embrace that – as long as I planned for it.  I get to work around 8:20AM, and at work I sit at a desk for 7.5 hours until 4PM on most days when I leave to pick up G from school and head to the 4:30 class.  Once we are done, we head to whatever kid activity we have planned or go home to make dinner, wind down and go to bed.  I like to get my daughter to sleep by 9PM or she’s a beast in the morning.  I’ve also been told to sleep when your kid sleeps, which has been the best parenting advice ever, and when she goes to bed there is no reason to stay awake so I head that direction myself. I’m pretty much a champion in the sleep department.

As you likely notice, I don’t mention anything about eating breakfast and lunch because eating is one of my biggest problem these days.  I get wrapped up in things easily, then I forget to make sure my body is properly fed until it is too late.  I need to make sure to plan lunches from prior evening dinners, as well as bring myself lots of healthy snacks to work.  Carbs are my favorite food.  If you are looking for me, you can usually find me at work, the gym or sitting next to a warm loaf of bread.

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