Be a Farm Fitness Fanatic

Resolve To Get Farm Fit

Pamela Smith
By  Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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South Dakota farmer Amanda Nigg is on a mission to push farmers to better physical and mental health through online workout programs and her Farm Fit Training business. (Heidi Hoy)

When Amanda Nigg and her family lost their house to fire in 2020, she could have fallen into a funk. Instead, from the ashes, the South Dakotan found a new resolve and built a hot new business offering fitness programs.

She calls the enterprise Farm Fit Training, and she goes by the handle Farm Fit Momma. You may have noticed her sassy posts on social media channels such as Twitter or Facebook. Her fitness business caters specifically to farmers and those in the agriculture industry who have a desire to make a commitment to their own health. (Full disclosure, this author signed up and has been participating in the program since September 2021.)

Nigg's program includes virtual workouts and nutritional training custom-tailored to individual clients. There's also an online community that supports the effort. Podcalls serve up additional information on things like the specifics of how to eat to shred fat through exercise to protein rich snacks you can take to the tractor cab. Over the past few years, she has teamed up with companies such as John Deere, Titan and Salford Group to offer special fitness efforts.

Wait, don't farmers already work their tails off laboring in fields and furrows?

While there's no question farmers today put in long hours and work hard, the physical effort is not what it once was, Nigg observes. "Hours in the tractor, sprayer or combine cab, and behind the desk doing crucial numbers crunching are taking a toll. We're working hard, but a lot of it is sitting," she says.


Let's face it, many of us also eat like we've stacked hay in the loft all day long after we pulled an all-nighter helping a threshing crew. Nigg helps trim the fat, literally. She orders participants to throw away the scale and concentrate on moving the body while fueling it appropriately.

Members get exercise programs tailored to their abilities sent virtually with video instructions on how to do the movements. Nutritional coaching is based on macronutrients, which doesn't take food off the plate as much as keep consumption balanced in terms of protein, carbohydrates and fats, with consideration given to meeting individual goals (weight loss, muscle building, toning, etc).

Wellman, Iowa, farmer Brandon Freel wasn't overweight, but he'd started to realize that "busy" had become an excuse, and daily exercise was lacking in his life. Getting to a gym in his rural area wasn't convenient either.

Nigg's exercise program utilizes an app that delivers and tracks workouts via phone and/or computer. Combined with a real live coach to guide progress, it has been just the ticket to keep Freel motivated.

"I knew yo-yo diets weren't working long term. I decided to make my health a priority again and make time to get back in shape," Freel says.

"There's a lot of stress in agriculture, and I had to find an outlet to relieve that so it didn't boil over into other aspects of life," he says. What he's found is even small changes pay back in terms of increased energy. He also works as a Pioneer sales associate. His efforts have already paid off. He says throwing bags of seed and muscling chemicals has become much easier.


These kinds of testimonies keep Nigg motivated, too.

Farming and agriculture were never on her radar growing up a town girl in western Nebraska. She figured she'd move to an even bigger city. She attended the University of Wyoming, graduating with a minor in health promotion. Later, she got a graduate degree in radiation therapy at Weber State University.

She worked at a cancer facility in South Dakota and then sold insurance to farmers for a decade. She met her farmer husband, Louie, on a blind date.

Today, the couple is raising two sons and crops on their fifth-generation farm, near Sisseton, South Dakota. Motherhood, driving tractors and carrying meals to keep the farm crews going is a full-time job, but there was a calling to do something more.

The year 2020 -- with a house fire and COVID -- reset Nigg's priorities. "I decided life was too short to do anything other than what you were put on this earth to do. I'm a firm believer in that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it," she says.

She'd always been into fitness, and her first attempt to engage the ag community was an online challenge to do one simple yoga move called a plank. Think of holding a static push-up position. Miracle of all miracles, more than 800 farmers signed up to participate. Similar successful challenges on social media solidified the thought that there was a hunger for fitness help and information. She took the next step and got her professional trainer and nutrition certificates, and did a mentorship with another trainer to keep perfecting ideas before launching her business in 2021.

At the same time, the pandemic shutdowns were driving people to explore what they could do from home. Nigg says the online fitness community exploded during this isolated time, but the need was already well in place for rural America.

"I found my purpose in serving an amazing community (of agriculture)," she explains.

Social media has helped her Farm Fit Training community grow quickly. "You can connect with so many amazing individuals across the world and not just in your area," Nigg says. "Whereas starting a business locally depends on support from just that base, taking the business online helps reach your ideal audience and connects you with the right individuals that are wanting change for themselves."

Her goal is simple, she says: "I want to change that stigma of 'I can't' work out or 'I don't have the time' to 'I can,' she says.

"I understand what it's like to be in the middle of nowhere with no means to work on your physical health. Mental health and physical health are intimately connected, and this program is more than a workout or a diet. I'm teaching a lifestyle that helps people cope in healthy ways," she says.


Want to get started on a healthier path? Here are four tips from Amanda Nigg, owner of Farm Fit Training:

1. Make a consistent time in your day to do some type of physical activity. In the cab or field? No problem: Do some stretches. Any movement is better than none.

2. Track your food intake. There are free online tools that help with this. Be honest with portion sizes.

3. Remember that nutrition is 80% of any program, and the rest is exercise. Just as a tractor or truck needs the right fuel, so does your body.

4. Find a fitness partner to support your efforts, and hold each other accountable.


-- Follow the latest from Pamela Smith, Crops Technology Editor, by visiting the Production Blogs at… or following her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN


Pamela Smith

Pamela Smith
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