Orange business owner takes 3rd in bodybuilding competition

  • Amanda Ponusky does reps on a lateral pull-down machine at the Orange Innovation Center Fitness Club. Recorder Staff/Matt BurkharT

  • Amanda Ponusky, of Orange squats with a barbell at the Orange Innovation Center Fitness Club Tuesday. Ponusky, who was once about 300 pounds, now about 150 pounds, began body building about two years ago and now works out an hour a day, six days a week. She recently placed third in her first bodybuilding competition at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Amanda Ponusky, of Orange squats with a barbell at the Orange Innovation Center Fitness Club Tuesday. Ponusky, who was once about 300 pounds, now about 150 pounds, began body building about two years ago and now works out an hour a day, six days a week. She recently placed third in her first bodybuilding competition at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhart

  • Amanda Ponusky of Orange poses at the Orange Innovation Center Fitness Club Tuesday. Ponusky, who was once about 300 pounds, now about 150 pounds, began body building about two years ago and now works out an hour a day, six days a week. She recently placed third in her first bodybuilding competition at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Amanda Ponusky of Orange grimaces as she works out on a pull-up machine at the Orange Innovation Center Fitness Club Tuesday. Ponusky, who was once about 300 pounds, now about 150 pounds, began body building about two years ago and now works out an hour a day, six days a week. She recently placed third in her first bodybuilding competition at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Amanda Ponusky of Orange, who once weighed about 300 pounds — now about 150 pounds — began bodybuilding about two years ago and now works out an hour a day, six days a week. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 7/25/2016 11:21:48 PM

ORANGE — Wedding photographs often serve as treasured keepsakes. For Amanda Ponusky, they were a wake-up call in 2009.

Ponusky had always been “a healthy girl, but larger,” but it took seeing photos from her special day to convince her to make a change. Her diet and lifestyle had spiraled out of control and she had ballooned to roughly 300 pounds.

“I was crushed. I was happy on the inside, but I just didn’t like the outside. So, I started fad diets, trying this and trying that,” she says. “It really took till 2012 to get a grip on my life and say, ‘Enough is enough. I can’t do this anymore.’”

This story may be difficult to believe for someone looking at the chiseled 35-year-old (now 150 pounds) working out at the OIC Fitness Club in Orange, less than a month after placing third in the Figure Division of a bodybuilding competition at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Ponusky said the Figure Division consists of women posing for judges to show off their muscle definition and physique.

She also participated in the competition’s “Transformation Division,” which she explains is more of an opportunity for bodybuilders to tell their personal stories.

“It was the best experience of my entire life. It was an adrenaline high like I have never felt. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done,” she says.

Ponusky, a hairdresser who owns Country Styles by Amanda, says she works out six days a week, taking Sunday to rest. She also works with an online fitness and nutrition coach based in Montana.

Ponusky is now a familiar face at the OIC Fitness Club at 131 West Main St., where gym manager Lee Rowe has been along for the ride.

“It’s been fun to watch,” he says while Ponusky lifts weights in another room of the gym. “For the most part, she’s in a great mood all the time, which makes it easy. She’s just happy and bubbly, all the time. When she first started out, she was quiet and timid.

“She’s probably the most chipper person we have in here, day in and day out,” Rowe adds.

Ponusky said people at the gym have become family to her and they signed a congratulatory banner when she returned from the competition. The banner now hangs in her hair salon. She is interested in entering more competitions in the fall or winter but wants to first explore the possibility of getting surgery to remove excess skin that got stretched when she was overweight.

Ponusky’s journey truly began in 2012, when her doctor recommended lap band surgery. Ponusky says this helped her drop the first 50 pounds and she carved off the rest with hard work and a responsible diet. She is quick to say lap band surgery is not a cure for obesity, but rather an aide to get started.

“I have felt better at 35 than I ever did in my 20s. It’s the most intense feeling. Like I tell everybody, ‘Age is just a number,’” she says. “Just get out and do the work because, I’m telling you, it’s so worth it. And just the endorphins you get from working out is a high.”


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