Agriculture, Specialty/Niche December 01, 2023
Amanda Nigg parlays her passion for fitness into a thriving business.
Amanda Nigg is a helper.
Most people would cringe at selling supplemental health insurance policies door-to-door to farmers.
"I loved selling farm-to-farm," says Nigg, who farms with her husband Louie near Sisseton, South Dakota. "It was so different every day. One day, I would be wearing mud boots, and the next day, I would be greeted by a llama." She also derived satisfaction by ensuring payments to customers who suffered from maladies such as cancer.
These days, Nigg brings the same moxie to her online fitness business, FarmFitMomma.
"It's about helping clients to excel, to be an unstoppable version of themselves," she says. "When I look back at every career choice I have made, it has been about helping someone."
Yet, sometimes helpers even need help.
Stripped to their skivvies. March 19, 2020, started the same as any other workday, with Nigg dropping off one of her sons at daycare. She picked up her ringing cell phone to hear a terse message from Louie.
"Our house is on fire."
Nigg raced back to find that the raging fire had consumed their house and was threatening to move into a nearby field. To prevent this, firefighters blocked off the house and moved adjacent soil with an excavator so the house would collapse on itself.
"We walked away with literally nothing," Nigg says. "My husband just had the boxers and shirt that he wore when he climbed out the master bedroom window. I just had my gym clothes on."
The Niggs' house was insured, although challenges arose. "When you actually have to collect, it's a whole different negotiation process than when you are just paying premiums," says Nigg.
Meanwhile, Nigg started schooling her two sons at home as COVID-19 began shuttering schools nationwide. All this took an emotional toll on Nigg.
"I wasn't suicidal," she says, "but there were days when I looked in the mirror and cried."
It's here where helpers moved into the Niggs' lives, such as Charles Baron, co-founder of Farmers Business Network. He helped spread the word of the Niggs' plight online. This was magnified by online influencers, including one who started a GoFundMe page for the Niggs.
"We had insurance coverage, but it did not pay for six months," she says. "During that time, we were trying to juggle things and find material for our new house. We had farmers who we had never met send us stuff."
Nigg also turned to her lifelong interest in fitness during this troubled time.
"Working out really helped me work through stress," she says. Afterward, I would often sit in silence and process what I was going through."
Helping again. This reflection time inspired Nigg to help the agricultural community through an online fitness program aimed at boosting physical and mental health. It's rooted in a May 2020 online planking challenge Nigg issued that attracted over 800 North American farmers. Planking is an exercise where the body mimics a plank, supported only by feet and arms.
"At the time, I did not realize how instrumental it was, but our [agricultural] community needed something like that during the pandemic," she says. "It was super fun. We had farmers planking on tractors, cows, even bison."
This experience also spurred Nigg to obtain certification as a fitness coach. Once completed, she launched her Farm Fit Training website (farmfitmomma.com) on February 5, 2021.
"I wanted Farm Fit Training to be different from anything else in the fitness space," she says. "There are workout programs that get you started, but after that, you don't know what to do."
Nigg or her two coaches initially meet with clients to assess what will motivate them, she says.
The program includes 15- to 25-minute daily fitness sessions that include weight training and planks. Proper nutrition is key, as she stresses clients eat a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
"We make subtle tweaks that benefit their nutrition profile," she says. "We had one client who liked white bread who we switched to 100% whole wheat bread," she says.
Mindset is also key.
"Many fitness influencers don't tap into that aspect, so we do a lot of education about why we are doing these steps."
Physical fitness can also shift mindsets. "Even 30 seconds of planking each day helps," Nigg says. "If you do that daily, your mindset will change. It becomes a habit."
Accountability is another program pillar. The Farm Fit app helps motivate clients by creating a community user space, she says.
Thus far, Nigg has 250 agricultural industry clients. She's currently negotiating with agricultural companies to develop group employee fitness and nutrition programs.
"This gives employees space to be the best version of themselves," she says.
Nigg looks back with satisfaction on how Farm Fit Training literally rose from the ashes.
"I was one of the top five [salespeople] in the nation selling insurance," she says. "There wasn't a need to start this. But when our house burned down and COVID hit, it was an aha moment to steer me in this direction." ‡
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