How Oberlin College’s President Stays Fit: Tire Flips, Workouts With the Football Team

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Ms. Amber, 53, was not always so fit. Her weight gained over the years, especially after giving birth to three children in 2007. “We took a family vacation to the Grand Canyon and I couldn’t ride a mule because of the weight limit,” she recalled. She said going through a divorce a few years ago inspired her to change her personal health priorities.

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She joined Weight Watchers and hired a trainer to develop a workout that felt fun rather than a chore. A former high-school athlete, she said she craves intensity, variety, and competition. Her trainer tracks her time, weight and number of repetitions so that Ms. Amber can measure progress and try to beat her marks.

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When she started out, she never dreamed she’d be able to do pull-ups. It took him two years to complete one. Now she cranks out a set of weighted pull-ups.

Ms. Amber lives on campus, and going to the gym at any time is an advantage for the president. It took a few months to adapt to the 3:45 a.m. alarm, but she said it’s the rare time she can almost guarantee no one will need her. “I know I’ll never work harder for the rest of the day,” she said.

In two and a half years she has lost 90 pounds. She said her blood pressure is low, a high-school knee injury barely bothers her anymore, and she’s inspired her kids to adopt an exercise routine.

She stays accountable by sharing workouts on her Instagram feed @fitprezcta. “The student DM asked me to join him in his workout,” she said. During the depths of the pandemic, she hosted Virtual Presidential Boot Camp And a tire flip competition, where participants received T-shirts with the words “My President is stronger than yours”. Ms. Amber did not win, but overturned 18 times in 60 seconds. She hopes to host the Olympic-inspired Presidential Games on the campus later this year.


Ms. Amber warms up with a 1 to 2 mile run on her home treadmill. She reaches the campus gym at 4:55 am for her hour-long workouts, six days a week. Mondays and Fridays are cardio-focused and include interval training. She can do seven rounds of eight exercises, such as tire flips or battle rope, performing each for 45 seconds with 15 seconds of rest. Between rounds she can run or jump rope for a minute. Some days she throws in the boxing interval circuit, doing four-minute jabs, crosses, body shots, hooks and leg kicks.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are devoted to heavy lifting. A workout may include step-ups with a 40-pound weight, sumo squats up to 60 pounds, 25-pound dumbbell curls, 95-to-135-pound squats, pull-ups and squats with dips.

She calls Wednesday and Saturday her peak-performance days, as the workouts combine cardio and strength and she’s trying to break previous records. The Climb, a 45-minute, nine-exercise workout consisting of a 3% incline at-mile treadmill run, five pull-ups, a 200-meter row and 200 jump-rope revolutions, has become one of her favorite fitness benchmarks. . In her first attempt, in December 2020, she managed to complete three rounds. She can now take about seven rounds.

She uses Sundays as an active rest day and will run 4 to 5 miles at a pace of 10 to 11 minutes per mile.


advice: “You can outweigh the results of your exercise,” she said. “you have to be careful.”

Visit: Ms. Amber has been following a vegetarian diet for 27 years.

Accountability: She credits Weight Watchers with helping her lose her first 60 pounds. To stay on track, she’ll email her trainer a list of everything she eats each day. “It makes you think twice before grabbing a tub of ice cream, knowing you have to accept it,” she said.

Breakfast: Three-egg white omelet with spinach, tomato and cheese, plus plain, nonfat Greek yogurt and blueberries

Lunch: Tempeh with Air-Fried Zucchini, Brussels Sprouts and Cooked Kale, Onion, and Chickpeas

dinner: Red Lentil Soup with Fried Tofu and Vegetables

Travel Strategy: “I look at hotel and restaurant menus to know when and where I’ll eat out and know I’ll have healthier options,” she said. “And I always pack my NutriBullet.” Protein shakes are a staple on the road and at home when she can’t cook. She snacks on nuts, hard boiled eggs and cheese.

Sneaking: Cheese Pizza and Tostitos

necessary gear

Device: Crossrope Weighted Jump Rope ($100); Zelus 12-Pound Weighted Vest ($40); RDX FL4 Boxing Gloves ($44); TRX Suspension Trainer ($190), and an old tractor tire (free from the scrap heap)

Apps and Gadgets: Fitbit Sense ($200 on sale), MyFitnessPal and WW, Weight Watchers’ app

Apparel: Gymshark Leggings and Shorts ($30-$35), Noble Leggings ($90) and Shefit Sports Bra ($65-$75)

sneakers: Nike Air VaperMax ($200) for running and Nike In-Season TR9 ($75) for cross training


Ms. Amber has 42 workout playlists. “Music is a big part of my workout experience,” she said. “If the right song comes out, I can give more.” Apache’s “Dyes Ira (feat. Black Praise)” has been his theme song this year. Her current playlist includes:

“Moon Dance,” by Kuki Kawai

J. “ATM,” by Cole

“Why do you always hate?” (featuring Drake and Kamaiah), YG. By

“Winner’s Circle,” by Anderson. Paki

Yes, You Can Do Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are tough. But this body-weight exercise can be mastered with the right training, said Boston-based strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle. “Many people think that pull-ups are all about arm strength, but you’re actually using the muscles of the upper back,” he said.

Pull-ups work muscles known as the scapular retractors, which help to open up the chest and shoulders — muscles that become hunched over from the average sitting computer desk job. Exercises like…


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