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Angela Manuel-Davis on How Exercise Has Transformed Her Spiritual Life

Angela Manuel-Davis on How Exercise Has Transformed Her Spiritual Life

Angela Manuel-Davis, a former member of the USA Track and Field Team and a renowned fitness coach, is revolutionizing the fitness industry with her unique approach to training. As the co-founder and chief motivation officer of AARMY, she combines physicality and spirituality to create a transformative experience for participants.

We talked to Manuel-Davis about her belief that fitness is not just about aesthetics, but about unlocking one’s true potential and living a purposeful life. With a focus on coaching rather than simply instructing, AARMY stands out by helping individuals realize their inherent value and purpose. For Manuel-Davis, fitness has not only strengthened her body but also deepened her faith as she fearlessly embarked on a path that merged sport and spirituality, guided by a higher calling.

So tell me a little about AARMY.

It’s a fitness brand where we fight for and with each other for our best lives. I like to describe it as communal connective fitness. It’s an opportunity for me as a coach to marry sport and spirituality, to take advantage of physicality in the sense of putting my athletes — we call every participant an athlete. If you have a body, you’re an athlete — so being able to put all of my athletes through these challenging exercises or movements, where they can be broke open spiritually, emotionally. And that is my opportunity to pour  love and goodness into them, and really take advantage of this opportunity for a re-wiring to happen.

I like to think that you come into the experience one way and you get to leave a better version of yourself. We get to reinforce that you were created in purpose, on purpose, for a purpose. We get to reinforce that your dreams are valid. We get to reinforce that you are equipped for moments such as these.

The idea of marrying spirituality and fitness is pretty innovative. What misconceptions have you found that people have about the connections between the two?

I don’t know that there are necessarily misconceptions, I just think that people need to make it more of a specific priority. For me, the aesthetics of physicality has never been the priority. There is something so much more powerful that we can do in that moment.

At the end of the day, my belief system is that our body is what houses our gifts and talents. And really the point and purpose of getting strong in your body is to live the life you were intended to live. I just have a very specific intention behind the vehicle that fitness could be.

How do you keep that prioritized?

For me, it’s a lifeline. I have two kids. I know that I want to be around for my kids and I know part of me being around is me being healthy. I have two boys who are athletes. I married a world championship gold medalist. I ran track professionally. So for me, being healthy and being energized is a way of living. It’s a way of life that is mandatory for my day-to-day with my family.

But I get it. I get that it’s hard. The only way that I knew how to get through the isolation of the pandemic in recent years was to find a way to stay strong in my mental, spiritual and emotional state and physicality. And what I do allows me to do that while staying in community. That’s one of the things about connective fitness that I think is so beautiful.

The connected fitness piece was imperative for me and I think that can be motivation for people who are in the season, where they feel so overwhelmed and not motivated. Just know that, “Hey, well, if I can just find a group of people to train with every day, that’ll hold me accountable to continue to show up.” That breathes life into you in a different way.

There are so many options out there for people looking to take fitness more seriously. What sets AARMY apart?

It’s the coaching. There’s a difference between being a coach and being an instructor. I was an instructor for years. An instructor is someone that gives cues, “and one and two, and now we’re doing this.” A coach is someone that just has this ability to reach in and pull out your greatness. And I think what differentiates us, is that we’re coaches. We’re not just in it to give good workouts, but we’re really in this to help you see that you are created in purpose, on purpose, for a purpose. It’s a different intention. I won’t say bigger. It’s just a different intention.

What sort of impact has fitness had on your own personal spiritual journey?

It has really deepened my faith. I pioneered this style of coaching, where I do marry sport and spirituality. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone do that to the degree in which I do. And that is a scary thing to step out and do something that hadn’t been done before in the way that I’m doing it.

So it just deepened my faith. I was going to these functions and hearing, “No, you need to say this, you should be saying that, speak to that.” It seems so unprecedented to talk about the things that I began to talk about. It wasn’t normal. I had to trust it and I had to believe that I was being directed and guided in a bigger way. I needed to be obedient to the call. That outweighed it for me, that outweighed whether people were into it or not into it, it outweighed whether people would be offended or turned off by it, it outweighed it, me just honoring the call on my life and being obedient to that moment. And so it really, it deepened my spirituality and my faith.

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