Amanda Kloots Talks About Life as a Single Mom and Multi-Hyphenate
Amanda Kloots is always on the move. A woman with many passions, she balances several roles as a mom, dancer, fitness instructor, author and actress, to name a few. But her favorite role is that of a creator, and it’s been the driving force behind several of her initiatives—from creating her own line of prenatal fitness classes during pregnancy to finding new passions after tragically losing her husband to COVID-19. The Bump caught up with her to talk about how she balances all her projects, how she’s balancing her motherhood journey and how she’s keeping her husband’s memory alive for her son.
Lauren Kay: I follow you on Instagram, and you’re always in motion, moving from one fabulous project to the next. How are you doing these days?
Amanda Kloots: I’m doing okay. Career-wise, life is wonderful and thrilling. I’m getting to do some super exciting things, dream-come-true things. I absolutely love all my jobs and I’m lucky for all of them. And then life-wise, I’m a single mom. I feel pulled in so many different directions. Being home alone with a 3-year-old, well, it’s a lot. It can be very hard sometimes. I miss having a partner in my life, I miss sharing life with somebody. But I’m not rushing anything. Day to day my emotional range is anywhere from crying my eyes out to being so very happy—on a daily basis.
LK: You lost your husband Nick to COVID in July of 2020 after a multi-month battle, which you documented on Instagram. We were all so invested in his recovery, and since his passing, your and your son Elvis’s journey through grief. You recently shared that you just celebrated your two-year tennis anniversary, a sport that has helped see you through these tough times. Can you share how you started playing the game?
AK: Tennis was something that I had always wanted to do and always found excuses not to—I didn’t have a coach, I didn’t have a racquet, I didn’t have a court to play on, and so on. And then after Nick died, I was chatting with my best friend, who happens to be in school to become a therapist. She said, “What can you do that has no ties to Nick or your past life? A hobby, or just something different.” I said, “Well, I’ve always wanted to play tennis,” and she said, “That’s it!” And it turns out it was literally the perfect thing for me, because I love being active. Moving my body and working out always makes me feel better, even when life is going great. And tennis skirts are cute and you always feel better about yourself when you put on a cute tennis skirt! It also really challenged my brain. I had to be on a court for an hour and think about something else. I could close the door on grief for a moment while I focused on what my arm was doing. In the beginning, it was an hour of my day where I didn’t think about what happened. Now I love it—I played today. It’s so rewarding in any kind of fitness or sport to see yourself grow and get better. I finally feel like I’m getting better.
LK: I love that you found a new passion. You’re a fitness guru and remained outspoken about moving your body, especially while Nick was in the hospital. I’ve never seen anyone wield a jump rope better than you. How did you find fitness and how did you come up with your jump, dance, tone method?
AK: I was touring with shows and that’s when it started. When you’re doing a show, you really don’t have anything to do during the day. I started going to hotel gyms and that’s truly when I started to like fitness. I thought it would be fun to teach it but was really nervous because I wanted to be a good teacher. And then I had an opportunity to start teaching at a gym called Body by Simone. It was dance-based fitness and they hired me. It was perfect because it was a dancer’s workout and I just fell in love with teaching. I loved helping people, and being in front of a room leading a group of ladies felt like performing. It was a great side hustle—I was able to have a Broadway career and I created a way to stay in shape and maintain my endurance and stamina through fitness. I just fell in love with it.
I had this idea for a jump rope class and a jump rope workout class that nobody was doing or had done. The Broadway show I was working on closed, I was going through a divorce and I just felt like my life was over. I left the gym and decided to start my own business. And with that, my jump rope class was born. And it was by no means a success at first! For the first eight months, nobody cared. I started getting press because it was unusual, and then slowly but surely, New Yorkers started to come, and then the class was selling out and with a waitlist. It was so thrilling. I created my own jump rope a few years later. And then I wanted to expand to other parts of my life that I love, like dancing. I created a dance cardio class that was very authentic to me, basically choreographed dance routines to songs I loved.
When you were taking my class and Britney Spears’ “Work B**/ch” came on, you already knew that combo. I wanted people to feel like they were a backup dancer, but also feel like there were enough jumping jacks in the routine that if you weren’t a dancer, you could still follow along.
LK: I love it—make it fun so you don’t feel like working out is an obligation. Did you work out throughout your pregnancy?
AK: Yes! When I was pregnant I created my prenatal fitness line of classes. I really wanted to help mamas get through their pregnancy in a healthy way. That was so fun and rewarding. If you’re having a healthy pregnancy and can exercise, it’s amazing to realize what your body can do. I loved being in a classroom with 30 women with 30 babies in their tummies. It was amazing.
LK: There’s something magical about pregnancy—plenty of non-magical moments too! What stands out most about your pregnancy journey?
AK: I’ll never forget finding out I was pregnant. Or being in an Uber in LA and feeling my baby move around in my belly. Pregnancy can be very hard, but when you remember you’re growing a human inside of you, you feel like Superwoman. Morning sickness is no fun. My 56-hour labor, also not fun, and sleeping—I could never get comfortable.
LK: I think it’s the universe’s way of preparing you for the newborn stage. Sleeping was so tricky for me—my mind was always racing with the unknown. Speaking of unknown, did you and Nick find out the sex of Elvis when you were pregnant?
AK: Oh, yes. I don’t know how people wait. Nick and I wanted to know asap. We thought it was a girl because of old wives tales like his heart rate was high and what I was craving. Nick was especially shocked when we found out it was a boy.
LK: I think it’s a surprise no matter when you find out! And how did you come up with the name Elvis?
AK: We had just done the gender reveal over Thanksgiving at my family’s home in Ohio, and I was sitting around with my sisters Googling names. I didn’t like any of them! Because Nick loves music, I said, “Google musicians.” The first one I loved was Prince. I was like, oh my god, Prince Eduardo Cordero. That’s it. Nick said “No, absolutely not. Everyone knows that Prince is my favorite artist, I will get made fun of.” I said, “No, I love it, I’m sorry Nick.” And then I said, “Okay, what else?” I loved Elvis: It’s clean, a really cool name and no one uses it. Nick hated it. For nine months he argued with me about it. He sampled it on friends and even strangers and people would say, “Wait, that’s really cool.” Finally we were on our babymoon and he was in the pool talking to a mom whose daughter’s name is Presley. Nick says, “Oh, my wife wanted to name our son Elvis!” And she said, “That’s awesome.” And of course I’m gloating—yes, thank you very much. Later on that night Nick says, “We can name him Elvis. I was just fighting with you because I just wanted to fight with you about it. But I do think you’re right.” That was Nick; he would fight something just to play devil’s advocate.
LK: I love that his name has a tie to music, since it was such a passion of Nick’s and a big part of your life too. Is he into music?
AK: Elvis has such great taste in music. He loves all kinds, and especially something with a beat. If he loves a song, he immediately gets a psycho smile and asks me to play it over and over again. He’s great about hearing something once and the next day remembering the pitch and the melody. It’s amazing. And a little scary, but secretly I love it.
LK: What are you cherishing at this very moment in motherhood?
AK: Elvis is really into dinosaurs, all day, every day. I grew up with sisters so it was Barbie dolls and princesses. Being a boy mom is pretty shocking, but it’s so fun. I am a total Monster Jam fan and I run outside on Thursday mornings to see the garbage trucks. I think you’re always invested in what your children love and do.
LK: So true Amanda! You mentioned your siblings. I know when Nick was in the hospital, your brother and sister Anna really rallied around you. You grew up in a big family. What were the lessons you received from your siblings or fondest memories from childhood?
AK: Oh, it was the best. When I think back to my childhood, we’d play all day on our street and not come home until my dad called us for dinner. My mom would have dinner on the table, or we’d barbecue in the backyard. It was sprinklers and Dairy Queen and just doing everything together. Church on Sundays and keeping God in the center of everything we did. I mean it sounds sickening idyllic, but it was perfect. We were each other’s best friends. And I think if there’s anything that we grew up with knowing, it was love. What I try my hardest to do with Elvis is show him that love. The I-love-you-no-matter-what love. There was always love in our house and I think that’s one of the most important things you can have in your life.
LK: How are you keeping Nick’s memory alive for Elvis?
AK: In every way I can. It’s in the little things, like when I change his diaper I say, “Dada used to kiss you like that.” I don’t think he remembers Nick doing it, but I’ve said it enough times that it clicks. We have a pillow with a bunch of pictures on it and we talk to the pillow before bed. We tell it what we did today and I tell him Dada is always in his dreams. Or I’ll say, “You know your dad used to eat carrots like this” and then I show him how Nick ate a carrot. I just try to incorporate Nick in day-to-day conversation as much as I can.
LK: You mentioned you miss having someone to share your life with (besides Elvis of course). If you could paint a picture of a future you’d love for yourself and Elvis, what would it look like?
AK: My ideal picture would include a third member of our family who’s cool, interesting, kind and funny. Someone who would love taking on the role of being a father to Elivs and loves family. I’m not sharing my life with someone. I love having somebody to come home to, to create memories with. I was always in long-term relationships, so I never really dated. I’m dating for the first time at 40, and what’s hard about it for me is that I like to invest my time in something. But when you’re dating, it’s hard to do that—you don’t know anyone well enough yet and you’re not committed. I miss having somebody in my life that’s important, that I can invest in.
LK: Throughout the many ups and downs of your life these last few years, you have been wildly authentic, sharing the grief but also putting so much positivity into the world. How do you manage to stay positive?
AK: I’ve always been a positive person. And I do think that comes from the result of being in a strong family unit where you feel love and support every day. One morning, about a year into my fitness business, I woke up to something on social media that really rubbed me the wrong way. Even if it wasn’t a direct attack on me, it felt like one. I took it super personally and was upset. Nick was lying beside me and he said, “Don’t worry about this, you’re on a path and you know where you’re going—just keep going.” He talked me out of it and I decided I needed to shift my mood so I immediately started looking at positive thoughts. I posted one that day on instagram, and it’s been six years and I’m still doing it. It started out of being in a negative mindset and flipping the switch.
LK: A few weeks ago you posted about being as multi-hyphenated as you possibly can, and I feel like you really practice what you preach. You’ve had so many lives, from a Broadway star to a fitness instructor, to talk show host and game show contestant. And obviously mom to Elvis and now movies. Woah. What’s your favorite hat to wear and why?
AK: It’s been a lot of fun. A lot. I don’t think I have a favorite hat because they all mean so much to me in different ways. My favorite thing is just continuing to create. I feel like that is when I’m the best version of myself. I love thinking about something and then making it happen. In less than a week I will fly to Vancouver to film a Christmas movie that conceptualized out of a really dark night in July 2020. It’s happening! I’m staring in my first-ever movie. I mean, it’s bonkers to me. I’m on an adrenaline high right now. What I love about being multi-hyphenated is just that you can be, you don’t have to get stuck in a rut. It’s scary to put yourself out there and try new things. I’m not saying that that’s easy, but I find it really invigorating to say that was that chapter, now what am I going to do? Maybe I’ll come back to that chapter someday, who knows. I left Broadway, but if I go back one day, that’s cool. You don’t just have to close doors, you can keep opening them, more and more of them. We hear more stories of people who made it at 40 or started their business at 50—or JLo, who got married at 52.
LK: So true, and such a good reminder for parents who can get swept up in timelines and milestones. Speaking of milestones—you flew with Elvis to Paris to visit your sister. Any tips for traveling to a different country with a toddler?
AK: I was terrified to fly with Elvis to Paris. Terrified. I packed every snack and toy and anything that I possibly could to keep and hold his attention. It was all over within two hours. He projectile-vomited all over me, and he and I sat in dried vomit for the rest of the 10-hour flight. Elvis luckily passed out because you know, after you throw up, you feel like crap. It was the first time he ever threw up. So I would say be prepared for anything, but don’t let it stop you from doing things. My biggest fear was the flight and how bad and awful it could be. But I also knew that it’s 10 hours of my life. And once I get there, then we’re there. I couldn’t let the fear of the flight deter us from seeing Anna. I did it, and I wouldn’t want to do it tomorrow, but I did it!
I have always tried to treat Elvis like an adult. I speak to him like an adult, and there’s a mutual respect between us because of that. I always reiterate how we’re a team and we have to help each other. It’s starting to sink in because he oddly is an old soul.
LK: I love that mentality and try to practice the same with my kids. I love bringing my children places, but I’ve learned to lower my expectations when we travel. But seeing the world through their eyes is pretty magical.
AK: Yes! He still talks about Paris and seeing Auntie Anna in Paris. Whenever he sees the Eiffel Tower, he says “Paris Auntie.” It’s so cute. I don’t remember taking vacations when I was 3, but maybe he’ll remember it.
LK: What’s next for you, travel or otherwise?
AK: Exciting stuff! I have a children’s book coming out, which I’m super excited about. And Anna and I are writing the screenplay of “Live Your Life.” It’s five hours long, so we’re trying to get it down to a normal movie time. That has been very rewarding and exciting.
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