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Meet Samantha Altieri of Balance with Sam in Cambridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Altieri.

Samantha, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In May of 2013, my health and appearance were at an all time low. I had just finished graduate school, where sleep, a balanced diet and exercise were mostly non-existent. I was uncomfortable. My clothes didn’t fit anymore and I lacked understanding of what it meant to be “healthy.” My reflection was not one that I was proud of but truthfully, I didn’t know how to fix it and I didn’t intend to learn how to do so. Shortly after graduation, I received a comment from someone I had held very close to me. We were out together riding our bikes, when she said to me, “Wow Sam, you’re a lot more athletic than you look.” At first, I didn’t quite realize what she meant. Was it a compliment? Was it criticism? I wasn’t quite sure, but I processed her statement for hours afterward. I kept repeating it in my head and the more I said it, the more pain it caused me. At first, I felt sorry for myself. I blamed it on genetics. I blamed it on everything but my own actions. I told myself, I couldn’t be fit or healthy or skinny or all the things society wanted me to be. I told myself that I would never be “that girl.” Later that evening, it finally dawned on me: I had a choice. I could either accept those words and continue down the unhealthy path or I could take control, prove her wrong and make a change. I decided to choose the latter. Those ten words were exactly what I needed to realize that my appearance, my health and my physical capabilities did not match the woman I knew I was on the inside. I made a promise to myself to take back control, change my body and regain a sustainable healthy lifestyle. It has been almost five years since that day, but I remember that moment like it was yesterday because it lit the fire to my journey.

At first, “being healthy” meant one thing to me: to lose weight and to be skinny. I associated my worth to the number I saw on the scale each morning. My pants size, my waist size and my ability to rock a bikini defined me. It was an ongoing physical and mental battle, one that I lost many times, but I was willing to do whatever it took to get to the place called “skinny.” After two years of consistently exercising and eating healthy, I had lost about 15 lbs. (for reference: I am 5’2”… so it made a big difference on a short frame like mine). My two year “fitness anniversary” also happened to be around the time when a gym friend asked if I wanted to workout together. Admittedly, I was scared to say yes because I thought I would make a fool of myself, but I finally agreed. It was the first time I incorporated heavier weights into my routine, as I was previously scared of lifting anything over 10 lbs. in fear that I would get “bulky.” The workout we did together was tough, but it was one I will never forget. I left the gym that night with a rush of empowerment, confidence and for the first time in my life, a desire to go back and do it again. It didn’t take long before I was hooked.

From that day on, my focus gradually shifted from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be strong. I became less obsessed with reducing the size of my body and more excited about gaining strength and chasing performance-oriented goals. Lifting had become fun and somehow had turned into something I really looked forward to and enjoyed. Over time, I desired to be stronger, faster, more capable and eat in a way that nourished my body. I made my health a priority and it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I came to acknowledge that the best investment we can make in ourselves is in our health. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we surely can’t help other people. And the sooner we take action, the better off we will be and the longer we will live.

This shift in my mindset led to lots of conversations with friends and family. The more conversations I had, the more open I became to asking myself big questions about my purpose, my passions and my lifestyle. And that’s when a few daunting questions surfaced: What if my love for lifting weights and getting stronger was exactly how I could give back? What if I could use my physical and mental transformation to inspire others, to empower others and to help them get strong and capable and build confidence? What if I left my career in architecture for this new road? What if I started my own business at 26? They were crazy ideas. They were insane actually. So naturally, like anyone would, I stayed in my comfortable space and I pushed the questions aside. I continued ignoring the possibilities. But, guess what happened? They kept resurfacing. They kept nagging. A few months of wrestling with myself wore me down. Eventually, I said to myself, “You know what… why not? What’s the worst that can happen? If this doesn’t work out, I can always go back. I can always re-route.” And that’s when I decided to stop resisting and just go for it. I started an Instagram page, I started a website, I got my personal training and nutrition certifications and I started helping people. When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing, but I focused on two things: telling myself that I could do it and reminding myself of why I was doing it. Making that decision was scary, uncertain and left me very vulnerable, but I haven’t looked back since that day and I am so incredibly grateful I took that leap of faith.

My jump into unknown territory was made possible by the confidence and self-assurance I acquired by lifting weights. Lifting has done so many things for me but most importantly, it has helped me discover my purpose and realize that I don’t have to go down a traditional path to be successful. I love what I do, I love the people I work with, I love being an entrepreneur and I love the flexibility that accompanies my work. I am happy, fulfilled and I am so grateful I opened my heart up to those big looming questions and started my own online training and nutrition coaching business, Balance with Sam. My mission is to inspire others by setting an example. I want to connect with and help as many people as possible. I want people to know that they can do it, too. Connecting with and giving to others makes us human — we are hardwired to do it, as it gives us meaning and purpose. Having the opportunity to help and make a direct impact on people every single day is the biggest blessing I can imagine.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Balance with Sam – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am the owner of an online training and nutrition coaching business, Balance with Sam. I work mostly with clients online but I work with some clients in a hybrid setting (a mix of in-person training sessions and online accountability/nutrition guidance). Working in an online format with clients allows me to work with anyone, anywhere and offers convenience, responsiveness, flexibility and affordability. With this new way to coach, I am able to empower my clients with more accountability and support than I ever could in-person. I primarily work with women ages 25-40, who are looking to get stronger, gain confidence, change their bodies and loose fat. I specialize in body recomposition (toning up), weight loss, as well as lifestyle and habit changing such as developing a workout regimen and understanding proper sleep, hydration, recovery and nutrition habits. I emphasize a balanced approach to health and fitness as a lifestyle and firmly believe in the importance of the 80/20 rule. In addition to owning my own business, I also teach group classes at Boston Sports Clubs and train clients in person.

I believe that we should practice what we teach and preach. I am the coach but it’s important to know that I do share similar struggles with most of my clients. We are all human, after all. The main difference between me and my clients is that I understand and know the best ways to manage these challenges, whereas most of my clients need me to help them manage theirs. I have lots of roles in my business: I am a coach, a trainer, a mentor, a listener, a motivator and an accountability buddy! I workout with my clients. I follow the same habits I work with my clients. I am right there with them, playing on the same field. I just have a bit more experience, a bit more time in the game and lot of mistakes that they can learn from. That’s exactly why I love what I do.

What role has luck (good luck or bad luck) played in your life and business?
I feel very lucky, but “luck” happens when we have resilience, a positive mindset and we are open to new opportunities. When we position ourselves in places where opportunities are abundant, that’s when we thrive and succeed. When we have mentors, guides and coaches who have already accomplished our goals, that’s when we gain valuable insight and become more successful. Those that know me, know that I am enthusiastic and I am a positive energizer. I pour my heart into what I do. I lean on my mentors. I am passionate. I love to uplift, motivate and be a positive light for others. I enjoy taking risks, although, I have failed many times. But despite all of my failures, I would always rather take a risk and fail, then to not take the risk and never know what could have been.

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