Amanda Kloots on body image, exercise, pregnancy

It Figures is Yahoo Life’s body image series, delving into the journeys of influential and inspiring figures as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.

For The Talk’s Amanda Kloots, moving her body daily isn’t a chore — it’s a necessity.

After she lost her husband — Broadway star Nick Cordero, who died due to complications from COVID-19 in 2020 — then new mom Kloots sought out exercise as a way to cope.

“I had to do something to move my body and at that point in time, because it was COVID, you really couldn’t go anywhere — so I jumped rope every single day,” the actress, dancer and fitness instructor tells Yahoo Life. “Exercise has always been a saving grace for my mental health, for relieving my stress and anxiety and bringing me joy and happiness.” It’s why she’s now partnering with Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel to create simple exercises for caregivers.

But working out hasn’t always been about the physical and mental health benefits, says Kloots. When she was coming up as a dancer, she felt pressure to maintain a certain look, and used fitness “as a way to lose weight or stay in a certain weight range.”

“A lot of times my costumes were next to nothing — bikinis or little outfits,” she explains. “You’re on stage and in front of a lot of people and it’s hard to maintain great body positivity. It was a constant struggle to stay in shape and to not feel competitive against other girls and what their bodies look like. Also, as a dancer, as a performer, you’re looking in the mirror so much more than a normal person on a daily basis — you’re constantly in front of a mirror, checking a costume, checking your makeup, checking your hair, and you’re constantly looking at yourself. So it really is hard.”

A shift came during her pregnancy with son Elvis, now 3. “I was so amazed by the way our bodies, as a woman, grow and change, and then grow another human being,” she says. “It really helped me reframe what a beautiful body is. I always had in my head that I had to be a certain weight, that there were certain foods that I couldn’t eat, but it just made me appreciate life and the body that I have and how strong it is and how much it can give me.”

As a single mom out in the dating world, Kloots says she has no patience for critics who talk about what she should or shouldn’t wear now that she’s a parent.

“I don’t like when anybody sits on their couch and judges somebody else about their choices in life,” the Fit for Christmas star says. “If you feel a certain way about what you should wear then you should definitely wear that and feel wonderful about it. And if another woman feels a certain way about what you should wear, she should wear that and feel wonderful about it. I don’t really accept any kind of judgment or shaming in my life.”

The same goes for cosmetic enhancements. “I love Botox,” she says. “I’m not afraid to say that. I think that this is a personal choice for people and if it’s something that you want to do to make yourself feel great — who am I to judge anyone on their personal choices for their body, or their face? The world is hard enough. I think that we just have to work harder on being kinder to people, in my opinion.”

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