Coach Amanda’s Personal Fight Against Lupus

Amanda May, one of our newest coaches at RaceStart, also happens to be one of the most authentic people that I’ve come across. She radiates positivity, confidence, and is passionate in everything she does.  Recently, Amanda shared that she was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus  (and subsequent diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis). Her story truly moved me. I would watch her train and think, “that’s one bad-ass woman…athlete…person”.  Amanda’s just one of those people that makes you want to DO better. BE better- whether it’s in the gym or just be a better human. She believes in people and genuinely wants to support other athletes and their goals.

mobility for olympic lifting
I have not known Amanda very long, but these are just some of things that I admire about her. I strongly believe that it’s so very important to surround ourselves with others who inspire us….who make us want to be better.  Based on that reason alone, I knew Amanda was going to be an amazing coach and addition to our RaceStart team – Along with her long list of credentials:

  • USAW Level 1 Certification
  • USAW LWC Referee Certification
  • 5 years competitive Olympic Weightlifting experience
  • State titles in three weight classes
  • Wisconsin Weightlifting State Record Holder
  • Collegiate swimmer

olympic lifting coaching milwaukee

Read about Amanda’s journey and her diagnosis in her own words….

“It’s Lupus Awareness Month! Every year I like to take some time to think about my life since my diagnosis (and subsequent diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis) in 2010. What. A. Trip. There have been a lot of tough days / weeks / months since then – but more importantly, there has been so much good that has come of it.

I was diagnosed right after my freshman year of college. I have always been very active in athletics, so when I could barely make it through swim practices in college, I knew something was off. I was swimming my slowest times in meets since 8th grade club (yep, you read that right). By the end of the season, I had gained weight, was losing hair by the handful, and was constantly running on E no matter how much sleep I got. When I went home for the summer, I began to get increasingly sore. Every workout felt like I was having a heart attack. My athlete mindset told me that I was just out of shape; that I had to push harder, and the soreness was a good indicator that I was making progress.

Finally, one morning I woke up to go to work and thought I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move anything except slight movements of my head and hands; just enough to get my phone to call my parents for help. We immediately started the process of figuring out what was wrong with me. Luckily, being 19 at the time, there was a lot of urgency around finding an accurate diagnosis. It takes 6 years on average for most people to get diagnosed with Lupus – it looks like a million different things depending on the symptoms and blood tests on any given day. I was lucky to have only one misdiagnosis of a very rare form of Leukemia (my poor mother) before they diagnosed and started treating me for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. My main systems involved in my SLE are skeletomuscular, cardiovascular, and respiratory (fun fact: my pleural cavity was full of fluid for such a long period of time before treatment that each of my lungs is about ¼ scar tissue – there’s a reason I REALLY hate cardio!). I was formally diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis about six months later.  It took about two years of treatment after that to have more than a handful of days straight relatively symptom-free.

I have had some bad flares that have lasted months since my diagnosis, and my daily “normal” is nowhere close to feeling 100%. As a result, I have learned not to take my good days for granted, because they’re probably numbered. I am impulsive when it comes to travel and experiences, because there may come a time when I don’t have that luxury. I lift heavy things competitively, because at one time I was told I would never be an athlete again.

milwaukee olympic weightlifting

But there are some really horrible days and chunks of time, and I definitely get frustrated a lot. Every dropped jar, every time I physically cannot open a drawer much less get dressed (shout out to Matt for crushing the caretaker duties), all the days that the barbell must take the backseat… I can get pretty down, BUT… I never feel bad for myself. And I never think “why me”. There are people out there suffering a lot more, with less support and fewer resources. There are so many people dealt far less fair hands. I am surrounded by strong, inspiring humans who spend their days overcoming the odds. I am lucky to have had a quick diagnosis, a rock-solid team of doctors, and a support team like no other.

If you want to learn more about Lupus (and some really exciting new R&D!) head to, and as always, take a minute today to thank your body for all the cool things it does when it’s functioning normally.  Physical activity and a [mostly] mindful diet have been huge for controlling my symptoms… Never take the things you have control of for granted!”

~ Amanda May, Wisconsin Weightlifting State Record Holder, Coach

Thank you Amanda for sharing your story, being vulnerable, and giving us perspective.

Coaches like Amanda are an encouragement, and commit their lives to helping others achieve their fitness goals – no matter the obstacles they face.

Take a look at our exclusive discounts on memberships this Spring for new members and students .

Athlete of the Month – Ciera

If you are new to the gym and have seen Ciera working out, one might easily assume she has been training like this for years. If you aren’t a “rookie”, it’s easy to forget that Ciera started group training at RaceStart only 7 months ago! Her dedication and results along the way is extremely impressive and true to her character. Ciera brings a mix of positive energy with little bit of sass in everything she does. Our classes would not be the same without her charm and wit.

She is a friendly reminder that life’s much more enjoyable with a smile on your face 🙂 The team at RaceStart would like to thank Ciera for being apart of this gym community, all the smiles that she’s brought, and for paving the way for new athletes. The roles have switched, and now the new athletes look up to her – hoping that they too can lift that weight, do those pull ups, and some day get those double unders.  I’m so proud to announce this month’s Athlete Of The Month is Ciera! Learn more about Ciera and her fitness journey below. Congrats!

Ciera and her homies

Occupation? Marketing Harley-Davidson

Tell us something we may not know about you? I was on a water ski team called the Lauderdale Aqua Skiers when I was growing up. I did everything from climbing water ski pyramids to skiing in the ballet line! I forgot how much strength and balance it took to pull myself out of the water on one ski and climb to the top of a human pyramid! I am working on my strength and balance in class and I’m excited for summer to get back into water skiing.

When did you start personal training at RaceStart? June 2016, time flies when you are sweating and having fun!

Main reason for joining RS?  I moved to Bayview in June and was looking for a gym that was not your typical go on the elliptical pretend you were working out and leave an hour later after watching bravo at 4.5 mph sort of gym.

What were your thoughts after you completed your first RaceStart workout?  I thought everything hurts and I’m dying! I could barely get out of bed but I wanted to go back for more workouts….surprisingly! The overall atmosphere and the bubbly personality of Antonette made it seem like I was a part of the family the second I walked in the door. I tried to come as much as possible when I first started so it felt like I was constantly sore but now I’m in a routine of going in the morning and at night some days. I learned quickly that the lacrosse ball is your best friend!

What is your fitness background?  I am not a runner, I never was growing up and never will be. I have always said, “Why run when you can drive?” I have always loved outdoor activities such as golfing, water-skiing and snowboarding.

“The fastest way to FUN!”

What’s your biggest fitness accomplishment since you started here?  Overall my biggest fitness accomplishment is utilizing the barbell in general. I have always been scared to pick up a barbell in a gym- However, now I have gained so much experience with the attention and training Antonette gives me. I have really enjoyed watching myself grow in terms of how much I can lift. I also never thought in a million years I could get my arms to pull my body up to a bar and by utilizing a resistance band I have been able to work on my kipping, aka fish out of water ability!

Has RS affected your life at home, at work, with friends, family life, etc? Yes, working out and eating healthy is a common interest my team at work shares. We rely on each other to stay healthy throughout the day and exchange healthy recipes between each other. Being part of this gym is not just about the workout it is also about building new friendships with people who enjoy the same lifestyle as you. I never thought I would gain so many friends just by joining a gym and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

What results have you seen since your first RS workout?  The results are endless even after complaining the whole way … especially when you see how much you have progressed since you started. I actually feel like I have muscles and I don’t shy away from pushing myself weight wise since I know I can do it!

What are your future fitness goals?  In the short time I have been with RaceStart I have dabbled in things I never thought were possible. I want to keep working on goals such as kipping, push ups, double unders and the list goes on.

What is your most memorable experience with RS?  I think my most memorable experience is deadlifting more than my body weight and still managing to say, “OMG this is so heavy” while I almost passed out!

personal trainer milwaukee
Deer in headlights 😉

personal training milwaukee

Dead-lifting almost double body weight and still talking-Impressive 😉

What advice would you give to a “Newbie” or someone considering joining the RaceStart family?  Make sure to wear shinguard’s for the first year (box jumps getcha everytime), try everything once, Ditch your Boyfriend for a lacrosse ball and when you think Antonette isn’t watching you….she really is so lift that weight!

Fill in the Blank

  • I like…socializing (this is obvious for anyone who knows me), making people laugh, going on new adventures, anything outdoors, traveling and a nice box of wine from time to time 🙂
  • I eat…grilled ceasar salads, Mexican food, tomatoes and cucumbers are my jam!
  • I do…whatever it takes! With a complaint or two mixed in there.
  • I am…excited to see what is in store for me on my fitness journey to come!
  • To be fit is to be…“the struggle is real”

October 2016 Athlete of the Month

“And though she be but little she is fierce”

alli-box-jumpAre you familiar with this quote? This is our Alli! She ALWAYS has a great big smile across her face with every rep, every round, and EVERY WORKOUT! She might joke that her arms feel like they are going to fall off, but she NEVER complains! I always tell everyone that “Whatever you put into your workout is exactly what you will get out of it”...and Alli pushes herself EVERY TIME!

When Alli was a “newbie” at RaceStart I can honestly say she was afraid to step out of her shell. Now I see her pushing herself to new levels every day- This way of thinking is now automatic and she’s beginning to see what she’s truly capable of.
It’s so important to remember to smile and just have fun, and that’s something that Alli brings out in all of us! She is so fun to be around, and really challenges you to push yourself harder in class. She might not admit that she’s competitive, but I beg to differ. Alli has been attending our 5:30A.M. classes as well as our night classes- Training 5 days/week, and 3 of the days she trains 2x/day. It’s safe to say that you have reached “rockstar status” 😀
Alli, I’m proud to announce that YOU are our Athlete of the month!

You have come a long way to receive this honor. Only those who are truly deserving are rewarded with “AOTM”. With that being said, some months might not have an “ATOTM” – but over the last few months I have .as you really stepped it up and your hard work has not gone unnoticed! Way to go! You have now taken on the roll to help encourage and empower others.

nose, cotton ball, bucket

(Allie usually does not dress up like a “dead bug” for her workouts, this photo was taken during the RS Halloween Event)

AOTM Survey:


Tell us something we may not know about you?
I am obsessed with my dogs. They rock.

When did you start training at RaceStart?
June of this year

Main reason for joining RS?
To find an enjoyable class experience that made me want to be go to the gym.

What were your thoughts after you completed your first RaceStart workout?
Everything hurts and I am dying. Also my arms are going to fall off. All in all I really enjoyed the group setting and how welcoming Antonette was, I didn’t feel pressured into doing anything I didn’t think I could do. 

What is your fitness background?
Running and swimming. Also that embarrassing stage in my life where I thought it would be fun to be an ice skater and I got stuck wearing a fuzzy lion costume at my first performance in front of hundreds of people.

What’s your biggest fitness accomplishment?
Lifting weights in general, I’ve always had a fear of how to properly do it.

Has RS affected your life at home, at work, with friends, family life, etc? (underline all that apply)
I would say all of the above. It has made me a more conscious grocery shopper and avoid the free terrible food at work. My friends and family have to put up with me talking about how my arms are going to fall off but find it amusing.

What results have you seen since your first RS workout?
I can lift much more than when I started and I think more about what I am putting into my body. Going to the gym also relieves stress that builds up at work.

What are your future training goals?
To be able to do a pull up with no band as well as do ropes for 20 seconds and not want to die.

What is your most memorable experience with RS?
When I wasn’t fully awake in the morning class and face planted over my kettle bell. Also the time Antonette was riding on top of the sled stacked with weights while Bryan pulled when I can barely pull 50 pounds.

What advice would you give to a “Newbie” or someone considering joining the RaceStart family?
Do it! The classes have a great structure so you don’t do repetitive movements day after day with no results. I also don’t dread going to the gym and everyone is so welcoming it feels like a little family.


Fill in the Blank

I likeBeing outside, traveling, and hanging out with friends.
I eat(I feel like I shouldn’t honestly answer this question… joking). I have my weak days but mostly try to eat on the healthier side i.e. salads, canned tuna (I know this is gross but I can’t get enough), sweet potatoes, sushi
I doYoga, running, snowboarding, and water sports?? I don’t know how to answer this hahah
I amConfident and excited to see what I will be capable of doing in another year!
To be fit is to beDetermined, motivated, and perseverant