GGS Spotlight: Artemis Scantalides


artemis1-350x375Name: Artemis Scantalides (NASM-CPT, Certified Kettlebell Instructor: SFG II, RKC II, Black Belt: Kung Fu)
Age: 40
I live in Boston, MA, and co-own Iron Body Studios with my boyfriend Eric Gahan in Needham, MA, a suburb just 8 miles west of Boston.

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
I see Girls Gone Strong as women united by strength, in all of its forms - mental, physical, and spiritual. Being a Girl Gone Strong to me means walking the walk and representing strength (in all of its forms), and helping to show women that:

  1. Coaches, instructors, and fitness role models are human too even though sometimes they are idealized; and that,
  2. Women should love themselves, their bodies, their physical and mental strength, their muscles, and being strong.

How long have you been training?
I have been athletic all of my life. I started studying classical ballet at the age of 3 ½ and I started lifting weights at age 15. I went on to dance for 23 years of my life. I studied at the Boston Ballet, I performed in their children’s cast of The Nutcracker and a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, I went to their summer ballet camps, and I danced through college and afterwards.

Then I hung up my ballet shoes when I was 27 to study Kung Fu. At that time I also became a certified Spin Instructor, which was the start of my career working part-time in the Fitness Industry. I went on to get my black belt in Kung Fu when I was 32. That same year I discovered the magic of kettlebell training and I left my IT consulting job to work in the fitness industry full-time. So, training 36 years and lifting weights 24 years.

How did you get introduced to strength training?
Nautilus and the desire to have arms like Linda Hamilton, HAHA! I’m serious too! In 1991, I was 15 years old and I watched Terminator 2.

I remember thinking how awesome Linda Hamilton’s arms looked and I wanted chiseled, muscular arms just like hers.

Nautilus and StairMasters were all the rage at that time and I had just joined the local YMCA and I couldn’t wait to start using their brand new Nautilus machines because I thought that would get me Linda Hamilton chiseled arms. I mean, who didn't want Linda Hamilton Terminator 2 arms at that time?? Following that, I truly enjoyed lifting and continued to learn how to lift weights beyond Nautilus machines, from dumbbells to barbells to cable machines, and then completely fell in love with kettlebell training when I was 32.

artemis2-350x375What does a sample workout look like for you?

I started powerlifting in September 2015 so for the past year I’ve been training with Coach Tony Bonvechio out of Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, MA with the CSP Women’s Powerlifting Group. My training is a combination of what Tony programs for us, which depends on whether we are training for a specific meet or not, plus a few days of my own kettlebell strength programming. Tony’s programs always include the “big three” lifts - bench press, back squat, deadlift - plus accessory movements.

So three to four times per week I will follow Tony’s powerlifting program and then two to three times per week I will follow my own strength programming with kettlebells. Nothing that takes away from my powerlifting program but something that helps me to keep up with kettlebell training.

In general, get-ups, pull-ups, and some kettlebell swings or snatches are always on the menu, even if it’s a powerlfiting day. On the non powerlifting days I make sure to work in kettlebell military press, kettlebell front squats, kettlebell single leg deadlifts and sometimes kettlebell pistol squats.

When I am training for a meet, what Tony has planned for me takes precedence over anything else.

Warm up is always a combination of Original Strength and mobility, sometimes with some kung fu stance drills mixed in to warm up my hips.

Favorite Lift:
Right now the barbell deadlift. I love deadlifting, and it’s been amazing to work with my coach Tony to refine my deadlift technique. There’s nothing more empowering than picking up massive weights off the floor!

Most memorable PR:
Other than the 24kg press when I completed the Iron Maiden Challenge, the 300-pound deadlift from my very first powerlifting meet (video above). Three hundred pounds is more than two and a half times my bodyweight so I think it’s insane that I could train to lift that amount of weight. At that meet, as I walked out to the platform, my Coach Tony B. looked at me and said, “This is what you came here for today.” I looked at him and replied with a nod, “Yes it is.” His words were all I needed to rip that weight off the floor and hit my goal.

Artemis hitting a big goal of hers, the 24kg press for the Iron Maiden Challenge.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
Lately I’ve been completely obsessed with Maroon 5’s new album V, but in general I like to listen to dance, trance, electronica, and some techno when I train:

  • Wonder (feat. The Kite String Tangle), by Adventure Club
  • Outside, by Calvin Harris
  • Helium, by Chris Lake
  • Beam Me Up, by Cazzette
  • Escape – Original Mix, by 3LAU

Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:

  • Knee Pads (for Turkish get-ups)
  • Leg Warmers (I’ve even been known to wear them in the summer time, haha!)
  • Weight belt

Do you prefer to train alone or with a training partner? Why?
Alone. I’ve always chosen independent sports like ballet and kung fu and enjoy training alone. It’s my time to be with myself, to clear my mind, and to focus on the work. I find a training partner distracting. I don’t like distractions when I train.

Most hilarious pick-up line you’ve heard at the gym:
No hilarious pick-up lines, but when I used to work and train at a commercial gym I had a few men either take my spin classes or buy personal training packages with me just to ask me out on a date.

Most hilarious line non pick-up was once when I asked a man if I could work out with him on the pull-up bar for pull-ups he said, “Only if you don’t do more than me.” I replied with a smile, “I can’t promise that.”

Most embarrassing gym moment:
Not at the gym, but at my RKC Level I kettlebell certification in 2011, I raised my hand and asked Pavel Tsatsouline in front of over 100 people, “What is the Iron Maiden Challenge?” His response in front of over 100 completely silent people listening intently, “If you do not know, then you are not going to attempt it.” The irony is fast-forward to three years—I completed it! Haha!

Favorite meal:

Favorite way to treat yourself:
SLEEP. When you wake up at 4:30 a.m. five times per week sleep is precious, and finding time to get a manicure.

Favorite quote:
“Know yourself.” — Bruce Lee

Favorite book:
I haven’t read a book for pleasure in a very long time. I’m usually reading something that is training or nutrition related. When I did, I loved She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb. However the best book I’ve read recently for nutrition and fitness is Roar by Stacy Sims, PhD. Every woman should read this book.

What inspires and motivates you?
Looking back on where my clients started when they began their strength journeys and seeing where they are at present and how much they have accomplished since then. Also, hearing how I have impacted and inspired people’s lives and their training. How I have motivated them to start lifting weights, to not give up, and to believe that anything is possible if you train for it.

When a client shares this with me, or a social media follower, or a blog reader contacts me or approaches me at a workshop to share with me how I have helped them or impacted them, it always brings tears of happiness to my eyes and it never gets old. This is why I do what I do!

What does a typical day look like for you?  (From waking up to bedtime)

4:15 a.m. Alarm goes off.

4:30 a.m. Get out of bed.

4:30 a.m. – 5:15 a.m. Coffee, pack my food bag for the day, sit down on the couch for 10 minutes to finish my coffee before I get ready for work.

5:40 a.m. Leave for work at Iron Body Studios.

6 a.m. – 12noon/1 p.m. Teach classes and train clients, and if I have time I squeeze in some emails (if urgent), social media posts, my own training, and a second morning meal.

1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Home to shower, eat lunch, work on administrative and marketing tasks for Iron Body Studios or my strength workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift emails, client programs, blog posts. Whatever I can fit in depending on priority before I head back for my evening clients. If I don’t head back for evening clients then I work on administrative and marketing tasks until 6-7 p.m.

4:30 p.m. Head back to gym for evening clients.

7:30 p.m. Head home to make dinner and get ready for the next day.

8:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. A little TV or reading if time.

9:00 – 9:30 p.m. In bed.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
Increased independence and empowerment through strength.

Next training goal:
Short Term: 315-pound deadlift at my next powerlifting meeting in October 2016.

Long Term: Audition for the American Ninja Warrior. For real.

Three words that best describe you:
Passionate, driven, authentic.

How has lifting weights changed your life?
It drove me to change my profession and build a career around it. It made me believe that anything is possible if you train for it, and I see it as one of the elements of the fountain of youth.

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start strength training?
Do not be afraid to lift. It will change your body, your mind, and your life for the better in ways you never imagined!

Feeling inspired?

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