By Ryan Comer, Sports Reporter
How does one take the jump from University of Utah student working on a master’s in audiology to nationally-recognized and award-winning fitness instructor?
Simply move to Los Angeles and make it happen.
That’s exactly how it worked for former Weber High cheerleader Amy Dixon (née Hansen), who vacated her spot in the audiology program at Utah to be with her husband and pursue her dream career as a fitness instructor in 2000.
Dixon has since become a fitness icon, starring in three award-winning fitness DVDs and serving as the spokesperson for Reebok, Special K cereal and Just Dance 2014, Nivea Cosmetics and Seattle’s Best Coffee. She is currently a consultant for Gatorade and Propel.
Dixon’s accomplishments have helped her to be featured in magazines and publications including Women’s Health, Shape, SELF, Health, FITNESS, Better Homes and Gardens, Marie Claire, Variety, In Touch Weekly, US Weekly, American Fitness, Shape Germany, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and the IDEA Fitness Journal.
She has also made television appearances on The Today Show, ABC News, E! Entertainment Television, Good Day LA, Custom Fit, Exercise TV, Your LA, Fox News, Inside Edition and MTV and is considered a Master Trainer and international program developer for Schwinn® Cycling, BOSU®, GRAVITY®, and SHOCKWAVE®.
Recently, Dixon won the 2015 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year award, which “recognizes an individual who is a certified group fitness instructor and demonstrates strong leadership skills through community and industry involvement and whose superior instructional abilities and influence as an instructor motivate active and underactive people to commit to healthy lifestyles.”
IDEA is the world’s largest association for fitness and wellness professionals.
“This award is a huge deal,” Dixon said. “It’s like winning the fitness Oscar is what it is.”
Becoming a fitness instructor has always been an aspiration for Dixon, who grew up watching fitness celebrities on television and engaging in their workouts. Dixon always thought she could be a fitness instructor, although not to the level she’s ultimately achieved.
After graduating from Weber in 1994, Dixon enrolled at Weber State with the intent of becoming a secondary education teacher – not necessarily because she really wanted to, but because it was the career many around her had chosen.
“My brother, my mom, my sister, my dad – every single one of my friends was a school teacher or a nurse,” Dixon said.
Dixon figured she would become a cheerleading coach and teach group fitness on the side.
The first day of orientation at Weber State arrived and Dixon found herself doing something she never did – sitting in the back of the classroom.
“I’m not a front-row sitter, but I was hanging back,” Dixon said.
Within moments, Dixon knew what she had to do. She stood up, walked out and immediately changed her major to exercise physiology.
Four years later, Dixon graduated. But then she found she couldn’t use her degree, so she started taking classes at the University of Utah and was eventually accepted into their master’s program for audiology – a program that only admitted six people.
Then Dixon’s husband, Jeff, who graduated from Utah with a degree in film study, got an internship in Los Angeles.
Dixon knew in that moment that once her husband left for Los Angeles he could never come back, because coming back would be perceived as a step down.
So Dixon left as well, dropping her master’s degree and moving to Los Angeles to be with her husband and continue pursuing her career in the fitness industry.
After arriving in Los Angeles and beginning work at a gym called Bodies in Motion, Dixon was introduced to fitness icon Misty Tripoli who then introduced her to another fitness icon, Petra Kolber. Kolber eventually hired Dixon at Equinox, a high-end global fitness chain.
Dixon was later introduced to fitness instructor Jay Blahnik, now the Director of Fitness and Health technologies for Apple, Inc. Blahnik personally recommended Dixon to the IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Selection Committee.
“I have known Amy for over 13 years, and have had the privilege of working closely with her presenting at fitness events, developing fitness programs, shooting exercise videos and serving on industry committees,” Blahnik’s letter of recommendation read. “Amy is an incredibly gifted professional, and one of the most talented people in our business.”
Dixon credits much of her success to Blahnik, who she saw 10 years ago while attending an IDEA convention all by herself. Dixon saw Blahnik walk in with “20 amazing people behind him.”
“I sat there and thought, ‘Jay’s the man. I will do anything I can for him and I will be on his team,’” Dixon recalled. “It took time, but it got to a point where he trusted me implicitly and would always put my name forward for things… he always is paying it forward and is just an incredible person.”
Dixon’s brother and current Weber High girls basketball coach Mark Hansen believes the Instructor of the Year accolade is impressive particularly because she was able to achieve it despite coming up short as a finalist for the same award in 2014.
“She had that goal and has been able to accomplish it,” he said. “She’s very dynamic and very much a go-getter. I’m very proud of her.”
According to Dixon’s mother, Nancy Hansen, Dixon’s ability to accomplish so much since moving to Los Angeles is indicative of how her whole life has been.
“She was always the type of girl that was doing many things all at the same time,” Hansen said. “Her friends would say, ‘I don’t know how you can do all that many things’ because she was cheerleading, she had an office in young women’s and with her schoolwork and she was working and it just seemed like she was always able to keep it all going and accomplish everything she set out to.”
Even Hansen is astounded by all the achievements.
“I knew she had a lot of ability but it amazed me actually what she was able to accomplish,” Hansen said. “I don’t even know about a third of what she’s done.”