Q&A With A Fitness Guru

When you’re just getting started at the gym or trying yet another low-carb diet, you might feel overwhelmed by the demanding world of fitness and healthy eating. The experiences and advice some gym fanatics share can feel useless or in some ways, plastic. It’s difficult to determine whether or not you should trust some of the tips these online gurus share.

However, when you hear the personal journey of one of these fitness mentors, their advice feels a lot more authentic, and Amanda Tarantino is as real as they come. The New Jersey based trainer gave me an inside look on what it’s like in the high-maintenance world of fitness and nutrition.

The 21-year-old gym-enthusiast studies at Montclair State University, where she will graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in business. Tarantino started her journey to fitness as a young dancer at a school called Dance Dimensions. Based in her hometown, Tarantino began choreographing and instructing at the dance school back in 2015. She continued her fitness career behind the desk at Retro Fitness, a popular chain. After taking some time off, Tarantino returned to Retro in early February and has been a personal trainer there ever since. She even calls their Tenafly, N.J. location her “home gym.”

Less than a year ago, the gym guru stepped up her presence in the fitness world after  entering a bikini competition held by the National Physique Committee. Tarantino shared the nutritional recipes, workouts, and other healthy choices she made in preparation for the big event on her professional Instagram account (@amandatarantinofit). She also shares more of her personal life and growing fitness career on her YouTube channel, Amanda Tarantino. On a one-on-one interview, the personal trainer gave me the inside scoop about her experiences, health tips, and future plans as she continues healthier living.  


Q: When did you start to really get into working out and going to the gym more?

A: I've been working out since I was like 15-years-old, but I got really into it when I was 19, so it was my sophomore year of college. I was going through the whole typical freshman year, I was partying a lot. I didn’t like how I looked. I didn’t like how I felt. Something just triggered it one day. I realized it's just living your normal life and going to the gym once or twice a week, so it was my sophomore year when things flipped.  

Q: Why did you decide to become a fitness guru?

A: There were all these things I was learning along the way and figuring out as I went along. So I wanted people starting out to have an easier time than me. I want them to be able to figure it out earlier. So I thought if I had the resources, I might as well give it out to everybody and provide.   

Q: Can you describe your favorite workout routine?

A: My favorite workout routine would be a full day starting with deadlift. I like it because you hit every single muscle. They make you feel like the toughest person in the entire gym because you’re just landing weights on the ground—it’s so much fun. With deadlifts, you can go into hamstrings, backs, and incorporate a lot of muscle groups into a full day. I’ll go into Romanian deadlifts and incorporate a bit of lower back.      

Q: Why did you change your diet and what types of foods to you eat now?

A: You really don't see the results if you don't change your diet. I realized it at the same time I started going to the gym more. I also track my macros, which means everyday you’d eat a certain amount of carbs, proteins and fats. I tracked that for a really long time—I was going to the grim, making sure I hit certain numbers. I don’t do that anymore, but it made me conscious of everything I’m putting into my body. I’m constantly craving peanut butter, and I know if I don’t have that many fats or calories left in the day, I go for powdered peanut butter instead of the real thing. There’s always those substitutes that fulfill those cravings without going overboard.

Q: What’s your favorite snack or meal?

A: So I know this isn’t super healthy or anything, but every night before I go to bed, I have a rice cake with peanut butter and jelly on top with a small piece of dark chocolate. And that’s how I end my day, like, “alright, no more food after this, this is your last thing.”  

Q: What are some of the personal benefits you’ve seen from going to the gym regularly?

A: It’s kinda turned me into a more productive person. Nobody really has time for [the gym], it's something you make the time for. I’m very efficient at scheduling out my day because I can’t get through my day without going. It’s not, “Well, can I get to the gym today?” but, “When am I going to get to the gym today?” And when I start my day with the gym, it just helps direct the rest of day a little better. I end up getting a lot more done than I would have if I had just rolled out of bed.

Q: What are some of the benefits you’ve seen from just having an overall healthier diet?

A: You’re gonna see it in every single thing that you do—in your skin, in your energy. Like, I don’t drink caffeine at all. And there’ll be days when I’m working from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm. It has a lot to do with the whole foods I’m eating, they really get you through the day.     

Q: What advice do you have for someone who feels insecure about going to the gym?

A: The number one think you have to remember is that no one is looking at you. Literally no one gives a shit about what you’re doing. Most of the time, if someone is looking over, it’s because they’re interested in what you’re doing or they want to offer advice. If you go and ask someone for help, they're going to be so flattered. It’s one of the two things. No one is going to judge you.  

Q: What direction do you see your career as a fitness guru going in?

A: I was very unclear about my future for a really long time. I’ve realized in the past few months what I actually want to do. I was certified as a personal trainer last May, and I’m now working as one, and I want to continue doing that for a very long time. I’m actually applying for an undergraduate program at Montclair that’s for nutrition. I would eventually become a registered dietitian further down the line hopefully. I want to eventually open up a private practice where I can combine personal training and nutritional counseling. I want it to be a place where people can go and reach their goals.

Photo provided by the author