By Jonathan Schroeder
Superman can fly. Spiderman has spidey sense. Amber Brueseke (BS ’07) has four kids and can deadlift more than twice her body weight.
Brueseke will tell you that she doesn’t consider herself to be a superhero or “Wonder Woman;” but for more than 32,000 people who follow her on Instagram, she might as well be.
She is the brains (and brawn) behind “Biceps after Babies,” a personal training regimen designed to help moms (and dads) reach their fitness goals while balancing the adventures of family life. On any given week, Brueseke helps around 70 people with anything from nutrition coaching to workout tips, all while embracing her already busy role as a wife and mother. But Brueseke says that, for her, fitness and motherhood have never really dwelt in separate realms.
“When I grew up, my mom was an old-school aerobics instructor,” Brueseke recalls. “I remember going to the gym very young while she would teach classes. You had to be fourteen to go the weight-room at the YMCA where she taught. So when we turned fourteen, my mom took us into the weight-room. She showed us the equipment and the weights and that’s when we started learning how to lift.”
Mom by Day, Nurse by Night
Despite her early introduction to fitness training, Brueseke came to BYU as a biochemistry major. After a semester of heavy chemistry classes, Brueseke decided to change her major to pre-med. She took a previews to medicine class, where she met her husband, Taylor. After several months, Brueseke decided to apply to the College of Nursing.
“I loved the nursing program,” she explains. “It gave me the chance to help people, to work with medicine — and it gave me the flexibility I wanted to be a mom.”
After graduating from the nursing program in 2007, Brueseke began working on a neuro-surgical intermediate care unit while her husband went to med school at Penn State. Brueseke would take care of the kids during the day while her husband studied and he would take over while she worked the evening shift.
However, that all changed when the Brueseke family moved to California so her husband could start working on his residency.
“When you go to residency, you don’t get home at 5pm every night” Brueseke adds. “Often my husband would work 80 hour weeks. We couldn’t switch off like we had done before. That was when I decided I needed to do something else. So I switched my focus back to fitness.”
Brueseke had already been attending fitness classes, thanks to a friend who invited her to take classes with her at a local gym. Upon moving to California, Brueseke began teaching Group X and Zumba classes. Within a few years, she also added Body Pump, Body Combat, and CX Works classes to her teaching repertoire.
How a Quest for Killer Abs Lead to a Killer Following
After five years of teaching fitness classes, Brueseke came to a realization; she wanted abs.
“I’d had four kids, I’d been a fitness instructor for five years, but during all this time, I’d never gotten to the point where I’d had visible abs!”
So Brueseke set out on her goal to becoming a six-pack-ab Momma. To help encourage her, she created an Instagram page “biceps.after.babies” to share her progress with her friends. Brueseke’s posts really resonated with young moms in the fitness community. In less than two years, her page gained more than 32,000 followers.
“People started approaching me saying ‘Hey I’ve seen what you’re doing; can you coach me?’,” Brueseke remembers. “So I started coaching a couple of friends, who then told their friends, and it kind of snowballed from there as people got results.”
But if you’re hoping to discover some magical secret behind Brueseke’s impressive social media success, you might be disappointed.
“I honestly didn’t do anything crazy,” Brueseke shares. “I was myself and I posted the things that I was thinking, feeling, and doing. I think the biggest thing that I hear people say to me is that I’m relatable; like I’m them. I understand what it’s like to be a mom, I understand what’s required of being a mom and trying to balance that with your fitness goals and your family.”Brueseke says that also tries to go out of her way to post things on her page that go beyond just the weight room.
“I try to share not just fitness stuff but also things about my life and the struggles I have. I really strive to have really quality content; instead of me just posting pictures of my abs, I would rather post something that’s going to help you learn and inspire you to reach your fitness goals.”
Mom, the Body-Builder
Thanks to her Instagram account, Brueseke works with around 70 clients in any given month. However, she says her top priority is still being a mom. She gets up early every day to work out before her kids wake up for school. While the kids are at school, Brueseke answers emails, works with clients, and works on her own fitness goals. After school she then makes time to run her kids to anything from gymnastics meets to soccer practice.
A daily schedule like that is enough to make any mom cringe. But Brueseke says that one of the keys to her success lies in her own backyard. The Bruesekes have a shed behind their house that doubles as a mini-gym; complete with a power rack, bench press, and everything Brueseke needs to train.
“One of the things that we love about having the gym at our house is that our kids get to see us lifting,” Brueseke explains. “They come out to the shed with us and they do pull-ups and chin-ups with us; they know the names of all the lifts. We even started working squats, technique with them; we let them do what mom and dad are doing. It also means that I can come inside and check up on them anytime they’re home when I have to work.”
Weight-training has also become a special bond between Brueseke and her husband. Last November, the two of them entered their first power-lifting competition, as a couple. Every Saturday morning, Brueseke and her husband train together, each helping the other push their fitness to the next level.
How Nursing Helps in the Weight Room
When Brueseke first entered the BYU Nursing program, she never imagined that she would eventually be working as a personal trainer. Luckily for her, Brueseke’s nursing degree (plus her experience working in the hospital), have given her a lot of useful skills that she can now use to help her clients. Not only does Brueseke have a far deeper understanding of anatomy and physiology than the average fitness trainer, but she also knows how to better interact with her clients.
“A big part of being a nurse is that you’re there at the bedside the whole day,” Brueseke explains. “You’re not popping in and out like the doctors are; you’re there with the patient and with their family and you develop a rapport and a relationship. I think those relationship building skills have helped me immensely.”
But Brueseke says that perhaps the most valuable lesson she learned from nursing was how to prioritize her time.
“They’re always on you in nursing school about learning how to prioritize your patients and making sure you’re attending to the most important things first. The techniques I learned in nursing school have helped me prioritize where my time is spent so I can get everything done that I need to.”
So whether she’s running the kids to school, responding to client emails, filming an Instragram video, or in the weight room maxing out on bench press; you can be sure that Amber Brueseke is doing her best to stay on top of things. And although she may deny it, for her family and clients, she’s the best kind of superhero there is; the kind that inspires others to do better.
Do you have an interesting job or career? Let your peers across the country know how you use your nursing degree. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your news may be included in a future blog post or an edition of the college magazine.