Amber Bowman continues to amaze with astounding achievements

Originally published on Women Talk Sports:

For an individual as accomplished as Amber Bowman, the calendar year of 2017 was one where she found new and inspiring ways to make her mark in the world of sport. While Bowman has worn many hats in her sporting odyssey, from trainer to women’s ice hockey competitor, entrepreneur to world champion firefighter, the most relevant may be the one of role model.

Continuing to add to a superlative legacy in competitive firefighting, which was established six years earlier when Bowman, a member of Central York Fire Services, became the first rookie to win a world championship, the achievements to follow were just as breathtaking.

Garnering a 22nd world championship in Louisville, Kentucky, the hometown of Muhammad Ali, it was a fitting backdrop for a competitor like Bowman, who like Ali, is truly the greatest of her sport. With a body of work that also mirrors the incredible legacy of Michael Phelps, who has 20+ medals in Summer Games competition, Bowman has firmly entrenched herself as an iconic figure integral to the early mythos of competitive firefighting.

Bowman (center) enjoying a 22nd World Championship at Louisville, Kentucky. Credit: Bronko Habjan

Breaking the two-minute mark in the women’s individual race, part of Bowman’s legacy has also involved shining in team play, another facet of competitive firefighting that she has dominated. Combining forces with the compelling Carla King Penman and Jalene Kara Cartwright in years past, they have represented the benchmark in women’s team competition, establishing standards with every victory that current teams aspire to emulate.

“Yes, it was exciting to win this past 2017. I not only broke my personal record; I broke the 2:00 mark at Worlds which has only been achieved by one other female. Every victory is different, and each one since the first means that much more to me as I never know when my last race will be.
The females are getting stronger and faster which is amazing for the fire service and women overall. I love how this sport brings out the best version of each person as they try and achieve their own goals.”

Undoubtedly, the road towards such glories represented the character that makes Bowman such a venerated figure in women’s sport. Suffering a tremendous setback, attributed to a hose pack malfunction at Bowman’s first FireFit Competition of the season, defending her title would require going the extra mile, as she needed to win to qualify for the Canadian Championships.

As the path towards the Canadian nationals championships took place in her home province of Ontario, involving stops east of Toronto in Oshawa, along with Canada’s capital, Ottawa for the Canadian National FireFit Championships, she not only maintained tremendous composure under such pressure, she excelled under it, displaying the qualities that make her a world champion. Considering that one of Bowman’s maxims is ‘We do not have to perfect physically or nutritionally, we just have to be better than we were yesterday’, her triumph in Ottawa was the embodiment of such a profound philosophy.

In between her qualifying race weekends, Bowman sandwiched in a visit to Yukon Territory, accepting an invitation to Camp Ember. Such an event was testament to Bowman’s dedication in helping provide the confidence for women to achieve their goals. Camp Ember served as an educational opportunity to allow women the opportunity to acquire valuable skills towards become a firefighter.

The chance to be able to win another world championship in 2017, simultaneously representing the pinnacle of achievement while adding to a proud legacy that is truly once-in-a-lifetime, it is only part of what makes Bowman one of the most tremendous female athletes of her generation. That sense of pride is accentuated by the fact that Bowman has also paid it forward, serving as a sponsor for nine women, enabling them to engage in competition or pursue their studies.

Having laid a winning foundation for the sport, while contributing towards the exciting possibilities of an empowering future ahead, it is a privilege that Bowman has never taken for granted. Absorbing every momentous instant, appreciating the opportunity that her peak performances allow a dual role built on inspiration, there were even greater moments in the unfolding narrative of Bowman’s most memorable year.

Complementing such a remarkable run in Louisville was a highly notable achievement that would launch Bowman into unprecedented territory. For those who had been unfamiliar with her splendid body of work, Bowman gained new acclaim with her appearance on the highly popular Dr. Oz show in December.
Among more than 1,000 hopeful applicants, Bowman emerged as one of four successful candidates, vying for a chance to win the prestigious prize of being one of two victorious trainers.

The origins for this newest odyssey in Bowman’s incredible sporting endeavors also took place south of the border. Appearing at a convention which took place in Salt Lake City, Utah during the summer of 2017, which was sponsored by USANA, it served as the spark. For Bowman, the products distributed by USANA have become an essential component to her daily routine. Worth nothing, the company has not only earned a reputation for providing the highest quality micronutrients, there is even a toothpaste which features vitamins.

Bowman, one of four finalists for the Dr. Oz Trainer Competition. Image obtained from:

First learning about the opportunity for the Dr. Oz competition at said convention, submitting a video, along with the completion of an online form, Bowman’s charisma and empowering persona definitely shone. As a side note, this is not the first time that Bowman applied for an opportunity to appear on the small screen. Along with former Toronto Furies teammate Erika Vanderveer, the two applied for the chance to be participants in the inaugural season of Amazing Race Canada.

By early November, Bowman had been the recipient of life-changing news. Advised that she was among four finalists, including Julie Briggs, Cookie Miller and Sergio Rojas, it had launched this tremendously fantastic firefighter into unprecedented popularity, becoming a household name.

Although Bowman, who majored in Exercise Science at Ohio State University (where she played Division I hockey for head coach Jackie Barto) had always been dedicated to peak physical condition, the launch of her Fit by Fire enterprise in 2013 was born out of necessity. Conceived as a personal training service which would help finance the cost of competition, Bowman definitely held a solid series of credentials.

From occupation in Florida where she trained Major League Baseball athletes, along with employment in former NFL wide receiver Cris Carters FAST program, Bowman had even worked as an elite trainer for Canadian Forces Base Borden. Serendipitously, CFB Borden would serve as Bowman’s first exposure to firefighting, as she trained numerous members of this brave and noble profession. Encouraged to complete annual fitness test, it marked an exciting new chapter for Bowman.

Running parallel to her career as a firefighter was the chance to rekindle her love of hockey. Competing in the budding Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Bowman initially skating for the Brampton Thunder, where Bowman called Winter Games gold medalist Cheryl Pounder her defense partner. Moving on to a pair of other clubs in the Greater Toronto Area; the now defunct Burlington Barracudas and the Toronto Furies, Bowman would also appear in the Clarkson Cup playoffs. Among her teammates with the Furies, Amanda Shaw would also follow the route of firefighter after hanging up her skates.

Bowman in her Fit by Fire paraphernalia. Image obtained from:

Although Bowman is no longer in the professional women’s ice hockey ranks, she remains active in the game. From stints as an official to competing at the Senior A level, capturing an OWHA championship, Bowman has also incorporated facets of her training philosophy in Fit By Fire, to blend into effective workout strategies for hockey players.

As a side note, Bowman has also worked as an instructor for the Aurora Panthers junior team, with an emphasis on skills development. Part of a team consisting of 22 female coaches, providing instruction to over 600 young players, it represents Bowman’s passion to empower and encourage young females to follow their dreams, incorporating confidence on the ice and cultivating positive life-skills off-the-ice.

“I enjoy connecting and empowering these teams and clients. Everyone has their own goals and dreams. I am just a little piece of their journey to help them show up as the best version of themselves.”

Bowman’s best version of herself was definitely evident as she was one of Dr. Oz’s Trainers of the Year, the other victorious trainer being Cookie Miller. Announced on January 10, 2018, it is the type of achievement that is destined to make this year even more memorable for such an accomplished individual. The chance to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with an incredibly remarkable person such as Dr. Oz is one that is reciprocal, as Bowman has found great motivation.

Collage of images obtained from:

In an era when women are starting to make significant inroads in all facets of society, helping to shape their own destiny while their positive attitude and indomitable spirit can spur the pursuit of others ambitions, Bowman is truly a real-life Wonder Woman. While the rich narrative of her athletic career holds the potential for so many more great moments ahead, the achievements of 2017 have served as her finest hour, demonstrating what makes Bowman a world-class athlete and person.

“The entire process of the show and contest has been very humbling! I have been supported by people from my early childhood years to people I see daily. The love and support has been overwhelming at times but I could not have won without everyone helping.

Dr. Oz is an amazing individual who truly cares about his viewers, staff and individuals on his show. Hes funny and lives a healthy lifestyle which is admirable. I cannot wait for the journey ahead and hope to educate and empower each one of you to achieve your health goals and dreams for 2018!”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”