We’ve been captivated by the Olympics this week, so what better time to chat with a former Olympic sprinter than now? Samantha Clayton is the head sprints coach of the women’s track team at Pepperdine University and an ACE and AFAA certified trainer. She also co-stars in BeFitin90, where you can get a free 35-minute workout any time.
Beyond her fit credentials, Samantha is married to retired Red Sox world series champ Royce Clayton, and they have triplets plus one—all under 9 years old! Talk about a busy mom. Here she shares her journey to fitness after gaining 70 pounds with her multiples pregnancy and what it takes to keep her family active!
Interview with Samantha Clayton
- FBM: How did you connect with sports as a child?
- SC: Being from a single-parent household of four girls, sports were not an option; it was mandatory! My mom decided that all four of us would do sports. I was always incredibly fast and captained both soccer and field hockey teams. I was spotted by a British team coach at a hockey match at age 15, and he invited me to race at a local event. The rest is history. I was a part of the Great Britain National Junior Team within weeks, winning my first European silver medal at the junior championships. The Olympic games in 2000 was a proud moment for my mom (since I had made the team!) and when my sister made the 2002 and 2006 games, she was overjoyed.
- FBM: How did that shape you?
- SC: Sports has given me many lessons that I have transferred into both my personal and professional life. It taught me how to be a true team player, how to be a leader and, most importantly, it gave me an understanding of how to truly believe in myself, set goals and be dedicated to self improvement. The only downside is that I am competitive in everything I do. There is no such thing as a relaxed game of tennis in my house!
- FBM: Tell us about your pregnancies and how you dealt with staying fit before, during and after.
- SC: My husband and I decided to start a family shortly after I tore my hamstring in 2001. Our thought was that I would not be competing for a while, and I would have plenty of time after to prepare for my second Olympic Games.Nature however had other plans and I spent the next two years dealing with fertility issues. I believe that my athletic do-whatever-it-takes attitude helped us to overcome our problem, and I became pregnant with my first little boy.
- Early in my pregnancy I was scared to move for fear of miscarrying, but after the first trimester, I started exercising regularly; hiking doing aqua aerobics and light resistance training. I worked out a few days each week and enjoyed eating an occasional not-so-athletic-conscious diet.
- My son was born in January, and I almost immediately began training for the Olympic trials, which were scheduled for August. I only gained 19 pounds and was back to my pre-pregnancy body within weeks.
- My incredible training program at Velocity Sports Performance Center in Colorado got me in tip-top shape. Training for three hours a day doing sprints and weight training in between breastfeeding meant that my diet had to be packed with calories to keep me and my son healthy. I retired my spikes that August and started teaching a boot camp and personal training athletes, wives of athletes and moms in my neighborhood.
- My second pregnancy with triplets was very surprising, and a whole different and difficult journey. My son was only 12 months old, and I was put on precautionary bed rest at 20 weeks! Imagine an athlete in bed! I ate a 4,000 calories-a-day diet provided by Sunfare foods. No exercise for months. I gained just under a whopping 70 pounds and measured a 58-inch waist.
- The journey back to fit and toned was a long, slow process. I started with walking with my fancy triple stroller with extra board attachment for my toddler and started what became well known amongst my friends as the “closet workout.” I’d do a 10-minute session using dumbbells—10 exercises, 10 quick reps of each. I would do it in the morning, in the afternoon and before bed, and if I needed to escape in a moment of madness from three screaming kids and a terrible twos toddler, I’d put them in their crib and spend my quick 10 minutes doing some stress-relief exercises. I started this only after I found myself hiding in the pantry eating stress-relief cookies! A few months of that and no weight lost made me act like an athlete. The selfish feeling we moms get when we spend 10 minutes alone often results in poor eating; I transferred that into workouts.
- I started back teaching Spin and boot camp classes at the gym, and within 15 months of hard work, my almost pre-baby body returned. (I understand it will never be without the mommy wounds of stretching and skin not as tight, but I am strong and healthy.)
- FBM: How do you incorporate fitness now as a family?
- SC: Fitness is me! I am a walking breathing activity! From hikingwith our dogs and discovering new trails on our bikes, fitness in my family is a lifestyle. We enjoy playing games of tag and relay races on the beach girls vs. boys!
- My husband loves yoga, and I love to teach the kids yoga moves. And with my job as a track coach while my kids are in school, there is no shortage of working out opportunities.
- My husband was a pro athlete, and together we try to provide opportunities in the community to share our love and passion for sports and a healthy lifestyle. I have taught numerous free exercise classes and sports clinics, and my children are always involved. Through the Royce Clayton Family Foundation we have built little league baseball fields in Texas, provided equipment in Los Angeles and led a literacy campaign in Arizona.
- FBM: What advice do you have for other moms?
- SC: Making time for you is the best gift you can give to your child! Putting your body on the top of your to-do list will set your kids up for success. Lack of time is NOT a good enough excuse! Just 30 minutes a day makes a difference toward making you healthy and increasing your energy level. Lack of funds is NOT a good enough excuse; through Lionsgate films and YouTube, I have a led a free 90-day fitness program online that requires only 30 minutes a day on five days of the week!
- Not used to working out and feel like you’re not fit enough? Through Herbalife, I led a doctor designed 24-week program called 24 Fit that is perfect for a brand-new exerciser. As you progress, you can increase the difficulty, and it’s only $49 for the entire program.Lead your family by example, set small achievable goals, and don’t commit to crazy diets that will have you yo-yoing all over the place…Use portion control, and get active. If you absolutely hate exercise, then play with your kids—jump rope, play hop scotch, have jumping-jack contests, play tag. If you’re moving, then you’re losing (weight)!
A big thanks to Samantha for sharing her road to fitness after multiples with us! Love her ideas for getting active with the fam, although jumping rope isn’t my idea of fun! Hehe. —Erin