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Fitness buff shifts focus to competition
Yuma's Amanda Butz is a woman who knows fitness. She not only teaches others how to get ripped but competes in several body building competitions each year around the country. She and her husband Richard Butz travel the body building circuit together and have an impressive collection of trophies for their trouble - more than 30 altogether.
It would seem Butz would have to be an extrovert from birth to be able to stand up on stage in front of a large audience of peers and judges, but that was not the case.
"I was very shy," she said of her youth. "What's really weird is that I can get up on stage and do anything. It is almost like acting. If you are really shy you can get up on stage and kind of let loose and become a different character."
Butz said she didn't have a problem being in front of a crowd as long as she wasn't forced to say anything
"As long as I didn't have to talk, which I've just recently become more comfortable doing. I am a lot better at speaking and am more outgoing, but when I was younger up on stage is where I felt more comfortable."
Butz's mother was a traveling nurse, so she moved constantly and attended 14 separate schools. Butz didn't like constantly making new friends, and turned to athletics.
"I began lifting weights in seventh grade and got my first gym membership when I turned 15 years old. I moved around a lot and everywhere I went I was still able to workout, (whether) it be in my bedroom at home, school gym or public gym, and I never had to depend on anyone but myself to be there."
Butz said sports gave her a release from her shyness.
"I got involved in sports as soon as I was able to and started off with basketball and volleyball, and then I got into track. I was a multisport person. I would always do as many sports as I could and ended up joining the football team at one high school because they didn't have a volleyball program."
Butz said she wasn't able to play in the games but was involved in other aspects.
"I helped them do the drills and I got to be the mascot, a badger. It was hilarious because (the other team) thought I was a guy so they would chase me around to try and beat me up not knowing I was a girl."
Butz's athletic skill landed her a spot on a university level team while she was still in high school.
"My senior year I joined the female rugby team at Oklahoma State University," she said. "I don't think they knew I was in high school. I don't know how I got there, I just went to practice every day. It was funny."
Butz came to Yuma in 2001 to follow in her mother's footsteps.
"I was a certified nurse's assistant right out of high school and I tried to get a job," she said adding the medical profession wasn't right for her.
"I found fitness to be my passion."
It was during her stint at a local gym that Butz would meet her future husband and the father of her two children.
"I met Richard at 4th Avenue Gym when I was working at the front desk," she said, adding she overcame her shyness very quickly. She even popped the question to him.
"I proposed to him in Vegas and got married. I wasn't going to let him go."
Later, after giving birth to her children, Butz and her husband opened Healthy Butz Fitness Club in the Foothills, but they were forced to close it down in March.
"I am traveling a lot more and Richard is traveling with me, so we made the Palms RV Resort the new home for Healthy Butz."
Butz spends a lot of time traveling to and preparing for competitions.
"I am trying to get as much exposure out there as possible, and last year I did one competition a month starting in March, and right now it looks like I am on the same route. These are big shows and are a lot harder than what we started off with. It was a hobby, but now it is a career and is what I want to do."
Butz begins preparation for the competitions days in advance. That includes applying several coats of a paint that bronzes her up for the spotlight on stage.
"It is a very long process. We start a week out building up a base. I have to do a lot more color than most people because I am so fair-complected and I don't tan beforehand, so I do a lot of painting. The day before, I paint sometimes seven coats."
Butz said she doesn't want to be washed out by the competitors next to her on stage.
"It looks easy but it is hard. You have to make it look easy. In the figure competitions, you have to tighten up your muscles but make it look feminine. You have to make sure you are tight all the way from your feet to your shoulders, but everything above that has to look relaxed."
Butz said it takes a lot of practice to look really good while standing next to other people who also look really good.
"There are so many tricks we have to do. When we are facing the curtains, the back side of us has to look just right, and it's tough."
For now, Butz plans to keep competing and growing stronger. She will also be launching a new clothing line called Tribe Fitness this summer.
She currently offers a variety of workout classes at the Palms RV Resort. For more information, call 342-3546.