Middlebury mom takes fitness to a whole other level

MIDDLEBURY — For most people, regular exercise is one key to quality of life.
For Amy Buxton, exercise is a way of life — and she’s preparing to showcase the benefits of her labors in competitions throughout the state and beyond.
Buxton, a 38-year-old mother of three, recently took part in her first fitness competition and plans on entering many more.
“I’m hooked,” the Middlebury resident said during a recent interview. “I’m going to keep going.”
Fact is, Buxton has always been committed to physical fitness. She made workouts part of her daily ritual, first at home, then as a member of Middlebury Fitness, which she joined around two years ago. Her workout ethic was outstanding, and she soon decided she wanted to share her love of fitness as a personal trainer, earning her certification in that field.
Her dedication and results started making an impression on friends and fellow gym-goers.
“A friend approached me and asked if I had ever thought about competing,” Buxton recalled. “She planted that bug in my ear, and gave me a little push.”
That push prompted Buxton to ramp up an already vigorous workout schedule in anticipation of entering her first competition — in the “figure” category — at the Green Mountain Thaw held in Brattleboro this past March 13.
She found a coach – Plattsburgh, N.Y-based Larry Roberts — who advised her on the best exercise and dietary regimens to get her ready to compete.
It’s an itinerary that includes two workout sessions per day, featuring cardio (elliptical machine and stationary bike),  multiple sets on her gym’s Nautilus machines and free weights. Buxton focuses on making her body lean and healthy looking. Through judicious use of weights, she can sculpt her body to give it the symmetry and tone that the judges are looking for.
“Things can change on a daily basis,” she said of her specific exercises. For example, she boosts her weightlifting regimen as she gets closer to competitions.
It would be an understatement to say that Buxton keeps a busy schedule.
After 45 minutes of cardio, Buxton proceeds through her workday as a personal care attendant with Addison County Home Health and Hospice. When she’s done with work, she goes back to the gym for around an hour of weightlifting and some more cardio. Then it’s home to make dinner.
“It’s definitely a challenge to find balance at times,” she said. “It requires planning. All of my children (ages 13 to 19) are active athletes, too.”
Fortunately, her children have all reached an age where they enjoy being independent.
“If my kids were younger, there is no way I could do this,” she said of the fitness competitions.
Her food intake is based on a daily allowance of proteins, carbs and fats that is set by her coach.
“I eat a lot of lean protein (like skinless chicken breast), oats, sweet potatoes and rice cakes,” Buxton said.
Though she must closely watch her sugar and sodium intake, she doesn’t have to completely deprive herself of “sinful” foods like peanut butter, eggs, and even the occasional sweet roll. It’s all about maintaining a balance of food intake, which has allowed Buxton to get to a very respectable 13-percent body fat — a figure that’s misleading, as one would be hard-pressed to detect any fat on her lean frame.
When starting out, Buxton had a number of competition categories from which to choose. There’s bikini, fitness, figure, physique and full-on body building. She chose to specialize in the “open figure” category, in which contestants are judged on aesthetics, muscularity, posing, appearance and overall presentation while on stage.
Contestants are divided by height. So she competes against others who are in her range of 5 feet, 4 inches tall. Each entrant, attired in a basic posing suit, does a series of quarter-turns to showcase physique and appearance.
“They constantly keep turning you in different spots,” Buxton said of the judges’ desire to see each competitor from multiple angles.
She’s learned to adjust to the scrutiny. She knows there are times when everyone’s eyes are fixed squarely on her.
“It’s way out of my comfort zone,” she admitted with a smile. “You do get a little tense.”
But it’s paying off.
Buxton took fifth out of nine in her category in her debut at the Green Mountain Thaw competition. She will appear in three more competitions this spring, culminating in a June 4 event in Worcester, Mass.
In fact, she has decided to go for her “pro card,” a credential that would allow her to compete at an even higher level. She will need to enter more competitions and score some better finishes in amateur fields to earn her pro card.
“Everyone has been very supportive,” she said of her family.
“Every time I see a change (in physique), it is a positive step and something that motivates me to go forward.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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