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Laeann Amos-Reed always wanted to write a book. When she finally made her dream come true, she decided it was going to be a self-help book about weight loss, because she’d dropped some weight in the past. She got to work on the book and as she came closer to publishing it, Amos-Reed found out she was pregnant. By the time her work was ready to come out, she had given birth to a son, and what she looked like before A Complete Guide to a Sexier, Healthier You came out in 2014, was not what she looked like after the fact.

“I was so embarrassed,” she said. “I didn’t want to do any book signing. I didn’t want to do any of that because I didn’t look like the image on my book. I think I did one or two events and maybe a few boot camps, but I was literally ashamed of how I looked.”

On top of that, Amos-Reed’s mother had fallen ill and needed spinal surgery. She traveled home to Florida to help her mom out and in the process, got away from healthy eating habits. Eventually, she would go to her family reunion, and a photo of her with her kin gave her yet another reality check. Her weight had gotten far out of her control at more than 220 pounds.

Four years later, the 34-year-old mom, Atlanta-based on-air fitness personality, trainer and brains behind GYMNI Athletics is in her best shape ever. She’s lost 84 pounds and become a major figure in health and wellness. So how did she do it? A lot of hard work and determination, and proving her detractors wrong. Check out Laeann’s story.

Courtesy of Laeann Amos-Reed


MadameNoire: How were you able to turn things around when you decided it was time to make a change?

Laeann Amos-Reed: So the starting point was I went home for a family reunion close to the end of the summer. In my head, mentally, I still thought I looked one way. The clothes that I wore were pretty much leggings, tights and things of that sort. So in my head, being that I could still fit in them, I thought that I was still the same. When I went home to my family reunion and they took and posted photos on Facebook, I didn’t even recognize myself. I was like, “Oh my God, who is that girl?” So that was kind of my aha moment: “Ok, Laeann, it’s time to stop playing and get back serious.” What God took me through is each and everything my clients went through. So now I can relate to my clients and everything they go through. Like, you know how you’ll lose five pounds and then you’ll turn around and celebrate and by celebrating you’ll turn around and put on an additional 10 or 15? I went through that a few times. Losing the weight, it didn’t happen overnight. I started in the summer of 2014. It’s 2018 now. I’m down a total of 84 pounds. It was a lot, a lot of hard work.

What kind of hard work as far as the physical would you say you had to do to get to this point?

I started in my neighborhood. When I was growing up my parents would say, “Go outside and play.” I used that. I decided I was going to go outside and go walk. I would walk like a half a mile away from the house in the very beginning, and I would have to do it again, which would get me to a mile because I had no other way to get home, I walked away from the house [laughs]. So after that started getting boring, I started to increase the distance until I eventually got up to eight miles total. So I literally started out just in the neighborhood, and then I tacked my eating. I took out all the bread, I took out the juices, the sodas — anything that wasn’t protein and veggies I pretty much did away with it.

Courtesy of Laeann Amos-Reed

How did you end up getting involved in competitions from there?

Because somebody told me I couldn’t do it. I had friends that were in that world and I used to go to the competitions, but I never really had any interest in doing it. I just enjoyed seeing it. And then one of my girlfriends was like, “How are you writing a book? You’re not going to be able do this. I’ve been competing for nine years.” So I think she said it out of spite because I had put out a book and she didn’t. I’m really not sure. But that is what made me want to do it. Because it stuck with me, this idea that “You’re not going to be able to.” Her ideal for me, being in the fitness industry, was to cater to African-American people, and I could be the motivation to get them to get up off their behinds and get active. And in my head, I’m like, I’m not settling for that. I think my personality and the way that my packaging and everything is put together, I think I could reach all audiences. So that actually got added on to my to-do list just because. She doubted me and thought I wouldn’t be able to. So I did.

How was it training for a competitive bodybuilding show compared to your usual regimen? 

The entire training process, I want to say, is one of the most extreme things I’ve ever thought of in my life to do. It helps you to learn your body fast. When we get ready for shows we get ready in the least amount of time — maybe three months. But that’s training consistently. Six, seven days a week. That’s two hours of cardio — cardio in the morning, cardio in the evening. So for a normal person it’s like, “Oh my God, I’m not doing that.” But because I had the drive in my head, somebody telling me I couldn’t do it, I thought, “Maybe this is the extreme I’m going to have to take to get the rest of this weight off.”

How did you then end up teaching cycling?

I’ve been teaching cycling for five or six years. But I’ve been taking it for a while. So when the opportunity came around I was like, “Well, I already know how to do it. Whatever certification I need to have, I’ll do it.” With me teaching cycling and being able to do the things I’ve been able to do, I’ve had the chance to work with different celebrities like Usher, Angela Simmons right after she had her son. Which is one thing I really liked, two moms both trying to get back in shape for the work they do.

At this point, when it comes to fitness, you’ve done it all. You train others, you’ve been in competitions, you teach classes, you’ve lost the weight. So what keeps you motivated at this point? 

What keeps me motivated is that I’m not satisfied. And I think within the fitness industry, once you get to a point where you reach a goal, it’s like, what are you going to do next? I don’t think anybody likes to feel stagnant or like they’re doing the same things over and over without reaching and setting new goals.

I know you said that your mom had spinal surgery and been ill, but she has definitely bounced back. I know that she also lost a great deal of weight with your help. Were you training her? 

Yes! In the beginning I was just over her nutrition because she still had her nurses and her therapists coming out to help her with her walking. But the funny thing is, the time frame of my journey is the time frame of hers. She moved up here for the first three years to be with my son because that is her only grandchild. And my house is my house. So whatever I cook? You’re either going to eat it or you’re going to get up and do your own. But everybody in my house, when I’m in competition prep, you’re in competition prep too. Or you’re going to have to figure out how to go get whatever yourself because I’m not going to get myself to go do it. So with that being said, my mom would use my brother or my husband to go to the store for her to get her snacks. And eventually she would talk me into doing it as well. I would go to the store and be completely embarrassed. I’m walking around talking about health and fitness with a cart full of snacks that I knew I was going to go home and probably end up munching on too.  So with helping my mom and changing all of that, I eventually got her down 68 pounds before she decided to go and have her weight-loss surgery. Now, I’m not against weight-loss surgery, however, you still have to stay in the gym. You still have to watch your nutrition. And you may still need a trainer to either be approved by a doctor do the surgery, or to even maintain it.

I think God meant for us to go through it together because it kind of brought us a little closer. But I was also able to see if I could take what I learned and use it on a family member. Because when I first, first started my journey, six to seven years before now, I was brainstorming everything and I asked myself, “What is my purpose and what is my route?” I thought about it for some time and realized, members of my family were suffering from things that could have been prevented and I was afraid their health would reach a point where it would get worse. They didn’t really know the necessary steps to take in order to make a lifestyle change. So I said to myself, God took me from being small all my life and then all of a sudden I blew up. I had to bust my butt. When I tell you a cried so many times? I went through depression. I went through all these things to get this weight down. And even though I’m doing work to help people worldwide, the starting point was to help my family and show that if I could do it over a course of three to five years, then why can’t you do it? And not to point the finger, but to show that it is possible.

What advice would you give to moms working to get back to a body they’re comfortable with or who are just getting started and are doubting themselves and the time they have to commit to their journey?  

I would say, make a journal. Which is one of the reasons why in my book there are parts where I ask the reader certain questions and they have to write them down. That worked for me. When I kept a journal of how I felt that day, or how I made it through my workout, in the next couple of weeks if I fell short, I could go back and remember what I did. So start there and get out of the adult mindset. Put your mindset back to that of a kid’s. When kids are super active they generally keep their weight down. And that’s one of the things that as we become adults, we forget. Go outside. Go for a walk. Go look at nature. Do anything that takes your mind off what is stressful for you. Working out, whether it’s in the gym or outside is an escape. It gets you away from whatever is bothering you in your everyday life. So write in a journal, find a friend as an accountability partner, and use your child as your weight. I have a mommy and me workout where you use your child’s bodyweight as your weight for exercises. So it’s little simple things you can do that involve your kids and what you’re doing. My son thinks working out is fun. He eats tuna straight out the pack. I don’t know what 4-year-old does it, but it’s probably because of what he sees us doing around the house. So those little things could help you and motivate you. Once you start seeing results you want to keep going. It becomes like an addiction. “My body changed this way. If I keep going how is it going to change next?”

Be sure to follow Laeann on Instagram and through her website, GYMNI Athletics. And if you haven’t already, check out the rest of our Fitness Fridays profiles

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