A writer, editor and coach, Amanda Fletcher is a breathwork practitioner with a degree in kinesiology who specializes in creative nonfiction.
A 2012 PEN America Emerging Voices (EV) Fellow, she went on to manage the fellowship for five years, from 2015 until September of 2020, when EV was forced into an indefinite hiatus due to the pandemic. As program manager, Amanda cultivated all aspects of this vital literary mentorship based in Los Angeles—from the selection of fellows, professional mentors and author evening hosts, to the production of the EV podcast and all events, as well as social media management, outreach, administration and budgeting—and she successfully revitalized the extensive alumni network. She also co-produced the 2021 WeHo Reads virtual reading series for the City of West Hollywood.
In 2021, Amanda recommitted to her personal coaching practice, HALO Holistic Wellness.
Prior to working at PEN, Amanda was a long-time ACE certified personal trainer for individual clients and group classes. She was also a writer and editor for AfterParty Magazine and previously worked with a global nonprofit where she helped young chief executives tell their stories. An active member of the LA Lit scene, Amanda has facilitated writing workshops and breathwork classes for at-risk communities, assisted women writers with their projects in progress, and continues to guide clients through grounding, physical movement.
Amanda continues to work on a book about breaking her neck in a diving accident.
A prolific travel and freelance feature writer, her work has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Orange County Register, FAR & WIDE, Beautytap, and many more. Originally from Canada, Amanda lives in Los Angeles and is available for all of your writing, editing and coaching needs.
My Wellness Journey
I grew up along the Niagara Escarpment, not far from Niagara Falls. We did a lot of hiking. My Nan used to haul me and my cousins around on the bus. Armed with snacks and Twist Tie bags full of Kool-Aid, she'd pull the cord and we'd be ejected onto some unknown street, adventuring our way home. My first favorite sport was climbing trees. Kicking around Lake Ontario was a close second. I was being raised by women–aunts and cousins, moms and grandmoms. Then my mom got remarried. She moved us into a house full of men and I spent the next few years trying to get excused from gym class, afraid of my body, what it could and couldn't do, unsure how to live inside it. For the first time, I was acutely aware of the difference between boys and girls. I knew I was lacking.
When I found my way back to fitness, it was through a sexualized lens. I had learned—like so many women do—that I needed to look a certain way in order to have value. Exercise wasn't about being well; it was about fitting into a size 2. I terrorized myself for many years, trying to measure up. I started smoking so I wouldn't eat, I used drugs. I severely restricted what I ate, then I binged and purged. I spent hours on the treadmill, the ski machine, the elliptical, all so that I could check some worthiness box, prove to myself that I mattered.
Guess what? It didn't work.
If anything, my worth became even more tightly wound up in my appearance. It was all I had. I couldn't see beyond the mirror. I was afraid to even try.
And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During six months of chemo, I learned that binge drinking and yo-yo dieting are two of the most prominent risk factors for breast cancer in young women.
My body had finally decided to fight back, and I was forced to listen.
I went into treatment for my eating disorder and eventually, I got sober. Part of that process was me stepping away from the gym. I needed the time to re-evaluate my relationship with my physical self. I started writing more, taking breathwork classes. I went outside. I noticed things. Like how much my mental health was affected by natural movement, not just within me, but all around me. I started to realize how interconnected all of these practices are, that Mindbody wasn't just a name for the software we used at the gym.
I started to love myself a little at a time. Human beings are amazing. I'm a human, so that must mean I'm amazing, too. The realization was a revelation. Everything shifted, continues to shift. And it's hard, but it is also glorious.
I wish everyone could know what it's like. Even if just for a moment.