by Len Lear
Over the years, I have heard it said by people who eat a typical American diet, including medical doctors, that those who eat a vegetarian diet — and certainly an even more strict vegan diet (no meat, seafood or dairy foods) — cannot possibly get enough protein and variety in their food to live an energetic, physically active life.
Well Amandah Povilitus definitely disagrees with this commonly held belief, and her exhaustive lifestyle makes a pretty good case for her argument. Povilitus, 32, who coached softball at Germantown Friends School in 2014 and was an assistant 6th grade teacher at GFS during the 2014-2015 school year, is one of the city’s most highly regarded personal trainers.
Among other work, Povilitus is a personal trainer at Flywheel Sports in center city and teaches cardio classes at Everybody Fights in Philadelphia. Her class, “Road x Strength,” is a combination of intervals on treadmills and floor work, with or without weights.
“I have been asked constantly throughout my life (about how a vegan can get enough protein),” Povilitus told us last week, “and I am happy to report that it is very easy to eat an adequate amount of protein while following a vegan diet. In fact, most of us consume way too much protein! For example, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This equates to 46 grams for the average woman and 56 grams for the average man … and 82 to 136 grams daily for an elite athlete in training.
“Personally, I easily meet, and sometimes exceed, the amount that I need every single day. Nearly all vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds, grains and other vegan foods contain protein; many contain quite a bit! For an example, my normal breakfast on a busy day contains anywhere from 45-65 grams of protein. I make a Power Bowl, which consists of a tofu scramble with beans or lentils, a ton of vegetables like Brussels sprouts, spinach and broccoli, half an avocado, a dollop of hummus and healing spices like turmeric and nutritional yeast.”
Povilitus grew up in Archbald, Lackawanna County, before moving to Philadelphia in 2005 and has lived here ever since. She spent one year at Wilkes University in Wilkes Barre before transferring to Temple University in 2006. She graduated in 2010 with honors with a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Elementary Education and a minor in Public Health.
Povilitus became a vegetarian when she was just 11 years old and a vegan shortly thereafter. Why? “As most children do, I loved animals. The moment I realized that the meat on my plate was the flesh of the animals that I loved so much, I stopped eating meat. Once I learned about the horrors of the dairy industry, egg industry and the industries that use animals for food, clothing, and entertainment, I immediately went vegan.
“Originally, my reasoning was strictly about the animals and what I believed to be morally correct. As time went on, I discovered the health and environmental benefits that come along with eating and living this way, so now I like to say that my reasoning is for the animals, for my health and for the health of our planet.”
Povilitus landed her first fitness job in 2009 with Nike Running and “absolutely loved it!” From there, she started teaching group classes at local gyms, leading run clubs, doing personal training and coaching high school softball before deciding to leave her teaching career to go full-time with fitness in 2015. She has been an indoor cycling instructor at Flywheel Sports since 2013. “I wake up every day excited to go to work because I love what I do!”
But the hardest thing she ever had to do “was to leave the career I went to school for (and all of the time and money I put into my education and will be paying out for a very long time). I would wake up every day hoping for a snow day. The hours were long, pay wasn’t great, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I just didn’t love being a teacher.
“I taught fitness classes before and after teaching, and those were the parts of the day that I looked forward to. So, after a lot of thought, I finished the school year and didn’t go back. I decided to quit my ‘real job’ and just go for it. Sure, everyone gave me a hard time about it at first because at the time a career in fitness didn’t seem realistic, but it is easily the best decision that I have ever made. I wake up every day energized and excited to teach my classes and to help my clients reach their personal goals …
“I am constantly told that I am always in a good mood, although I simply choose to be that way. I recently had a pretty awful day and had multiple people thank me after my classes for being so happy and motivating (not even knowing what type of day I had dealt with). All of us are dealing with issues throughout our day, but how we react to them is our choice. We always have a choice! Kindness goes a long way.”
According to Andrew Fick, district manager of Flywheel Sports, “Amandah is a great Flywheel instructor because she is committed to her best in each class. She has been doing this for several years and still puts so much effort into curating each playlist … The amount of care and time she invests in her riders pre- and postclass, inspiring them to get stronger and achieve their wellness goals, that’s what truly sets her apart.”
For more information, email Philadelphia@flywheelsports.com