Leading by example: Guy St. Amant gives his all in workouts

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Special Sections editor

When Guy St. Amant teaches a workout class at the YMCA Southside, he does every squat, every bicep curl, every chest press right along with his students.

But while those learning how to “Body Pump” or working on their abdominals and legs in a bootcamp-like session may only hit the gym for one or two hours a week, St. Amant is doing every move with every class he teaches.

“I don’t miss a rep (repetition),” says St. Amant, 30, who has been at the Y since 2009. “I do everything with them.”

In addition to those grueling workouts, some of which he does twice in one day, St. Amant runs. Three times a week he clocks between 4 and 10 miles.

But running, he says, isn’t a chore, it’s “therapeutic.”

“It’s where I catch my breath,” says St. Amant, whose busy schedule certainly could cause one to run out of steam.

The Redemptorist High School and Baton Rouge Community College graduate is enrolled at LSU, tackling 19 hours of classes in his junior year. When he graduates, he plans to continue for a law degree.

St. Amant says running, which he’s done since his track days at Redemptorist, provides stress relief.

“It gives me time to think about the week that’s coming or to not think and just concentrate on running,” says the U.S. Marine Corps veteran, who spent eight years in the military, including two tours of Iraq.

His last four years of service were spent in New Orleans, where he trained Marines in martial arts, water survival and marksmanship. He also taught body composition, which was training for Marines to get back into shape.

When he got out of the service, a job at the gym just seemed a natural fit.

So when he’s not at the Y or running or hitting the books, St. Amant is probably spending time with 2-year-old daughter Brooklynn or “relaxing” doing something physically active, like participating in the New Orleans Ironman, an endurance test that includes a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

That might seem extreme, but probably not when your day job includes teaching Body Pump classes – a full-out 55-minute session of strength training choreographed to music.

“It’s a lot of reps, about 80 per song,” says St. Amant, noting there’s about eight workout songs in the mix.

You do the math.

But, St. Amant says, don’t be intimidated if you’re not ready for such a session. Everyone can get fit, he says, if they’re willing to work at it.

St. Amant’s advice for those heading to the gym for the first time or the first time in a long time:

  • Start slow. Accept that everyone has a starting point.

“Don’t jump in too hard too fast.”

  • Get assessed.

“A health club or trainer can give you a starting plan based

on where you are now.”

  • Pay attention to your body.

“If you’re taking a class and you get tired, stop, reset, then

join back in.”

  • Get away from the TV as much as you can.
  • Eat right.

St. Amant follows the paleo eating plan, said to mimic the diet

of our caverman ancestors and includes lots of vegetables,

berries, nuts and lean cuts of meat.

“I follow that 80 to 85 percent of the time,” he says, adding that “you have

to give yourself a little reward at the end of the week to keep yourself going.”

  • Eat until you’re content, not until you’re full.

“Don’t stuff yourself.”

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