To say Barbie Thomas is inspirational is perhaps an understatement.

As a two year old child, she had an unfortunate accident with a electricity transformer, which meant that her arms had to be amputated, at the shoulder.

It was touch and go at the time whether she would survive the trauma, however several years later she is a married mum, and a fitness competitor!

Here is the interview with Barbie, which was typed by her for me, with her toes! There is no stopping this lady…..

Phil Burgess: You talk about what happened as being the purpose which God must have put you here for? Tell us more?

Barb Thomas: I absolutely believe that God allowed me to live after my accident when I was 2 1/2 years old because He had a purpose for me and for my life!  

I believe that my story, my life, and the ability I have to help others in more ways than I even realize is why I am still here!

Phil Burgess: Do people treat you differently when they realise that you have no arms?

Barb Thomas: Sometimes they do.  Some people don’t know how to react. Some people immediately start trying to help me, and some pretend to not notice.  

For the most part though, people treat me like they would treat anyone else. I think I have a way of making people comfortable when they realize it.

Phil Burgess: To somebody who doesn’t really know, what is involved in competing in a fitness competition, what is it’s format? What is your typical routine?

Barb Thomas: Alot of hard work, dedication, dieting, and sacrifices are involved in preparing to compete in a fitness competition.  

The format of the competition for a fitness competitor is basically two rounds: routine and physique comparisons.  

The routine round is where each contestant does a two minute max routine, consisting of dance, many times tumbling, strength moves and flexibility moves.  

The comparison round is where each “class” comes on stage together and does quarter turns together so the judges can compare physiques.


My routine this year is a little under two minutes and consists of dance, jumps, flexibility and strength moves. Being that I hurt my knees when I was tumbling, I am not including any in my routine this time around.  It’s not a requirement anyway…lucky for me!

Phil Burgess: Who has been your inspiration in the sport of fitness competition?

Barb Thomas: Jenny Hendershott and Adela Garcia are athletes in fitness who I look up to, and they have both been very supportive of me and my fitness endeavours.

I hope to be as good as them someday!

Phil Burgess: How did you get into Fitness competing in the first place?

Barb Thomas: For several years, I read about all the fitness competitions and competitors in the magazines and dreamed of doing what they do!  

I finally decided, with the help and support of friends and family, to enter my first competition in spite of the fact that many people thought I couldn’t or shouldn’t.  

I’ve always been one to make it a personal challenge to prove people wrong any time they tell me that I can’t do something.  I think I’ve succeeded!!

Phil Burgess: What titles have you won, what are  your three most favourite victories and why?

Barb Thomas: I’ve competed in a dozen or more competitions over the years, but I’d have to say that my favorite “victory” was about a month ago!

I didn’t win the fitness category, but I did place 5th.  Unfortunately, because the judges really don’t know how to judge me, I’ve always been placed dead last, whether that meant, 16th, 2nd, or 1st (when I was the only one.)

However, this time there were 6 ladies in my class, and I took 5th!  It may be a small victory, but it’s still a victory to me!!

However, this time there were 6 ladies in my class, and I took 5th!  It may be a small victory, but it’s still a victory to me!!

Phil Burgess: How do you train? What exercises can you do?

Barb Thomas: Obviously, I’m not able to train certain body parts.  I pretty much have to stick with lower body and core.  

I like to mix it up a lot though!  I can do any exercise for lower body that anyone else can do, with the exception of deadlifts, anything requiring dumbells, and free weight squats.  

I like to superset my regular weight sets with plyos, step-ups, abs, lunges, etc.  I don’t like standing around between sets!  Let’s just call it active rest.  

I also like to get outside and use the bleachers for an awesome workout.

As far as cardio goes, besides running bleachers, I use the treadmill, elliptical, and stepmill.  Routine practice also gets my heart rate up there pretty high!

Phil Burgess: You must have a really strong core, how do you train it?

Barb Thomas: I use my core more than most just by having to function the way I do. So yes, my core is exceptionally strong!  

I do the same things for core as anyone else!  Again, I mix it up instead of just doing the same ab exercises every time.  There are so many to chose from and so many variations!  

Phil Burgess: What are your goals for 2012?

Barb Thomas: For 2012, I am just excited to step onto a national stage for the first time!  I’m competing in May at the Jr. USA Championships. I think it will be a great experience!  

I realize that I may not place well, due to the fact that there are three mandatories that I am unable to perform in the routine round, but I am excited just to be participating!  I’ve been qualified many times to compete nationally, but I just never did it.  

This time, I feel like I’m ready, and I’m going to go, do my best, and have fun!!  I’ve also been invited to be a guest performer at a show in Alabama in September.  That will be motivation to keep in great shape when I’m done competing for the year!  

Phil Burgess: What skills would you say that you have that a person with arms wouldn’t?

Barb Thomas: Again, I’d say that my core strength and balance are better than many “armed” folks.  Also, most people who perform a kip up use their hands to get them up, but not me!!

Phil Burgess: What do you do as a job?

Barb Thomas: I’m a stay-at-home mom (I’m just not home all that much it seems!)  I also do some modelling and motivational speaking.

Phil Burgess: What is the biggest lesson you have learned?

Barb Thomas: I’ve definitely had to learn to love myself the way I am! I’ve also learned that my attitude and belief in myself play a huge role in my success as well as how others see me.

Phil Burgess: What’s the stupidist question you have ever been asked?

Barb Thomas: I try not think of peoples’ questions as “stupid,”  but let’s face it….they aren’t always very well thought out!  

Once, when I was out running, a man actually pulled over and got out of his car (mind you, he had just seen me running!  He also scared me a little.)  This was all because he wanted to ask me, “How do you run with no arms?”  I replied, “Dude! You just saw how I run!  You don’t need arms to run, and I DO have legs!”  

“How do you run with no arms?”  I replied, “Dude! You just saw how I run!  You don’t need arms to run, and I DO have legs!”

I also get asked some other strange and personal questions. Most times, I don’t mind answering them because I know people are just curious, but there are times when I feel like it’s none of their business.  I just try to be as nice as possible;)

Phil Burgess: What is a typical day in your life?

Barb Thomas: I’m typically at the gym in the morning and again in the afternoon or evening.  

In between gym sessions, I do what every other wife and mother does!  I do laundry, clean up the house, run kids here and there, do the grocery shopping, doctors visits, run errands, plan and prepare meals, etc.  

Of course, I also get on Facebook and answer a lot of messages, and I also happily take the time to do interviews like this one!

Phil Burgess: Where do you live?

Barb Thomas: I live in a beautiful city in Arizona, where the sun shines most days of the year and there’s always something to do!

Phil Burgess: Finally, If you could give advice to anyone else who has or is coming to terms with a severe physical disability what would you say?

Barb Thomas:  Love yourself, believe in yourself, and learn to focus on the positives instead of the negatives.  

Remember, there’s always someone in worse condition than you.  Be thankful you still have life and that you CAN do anything that you put your mind to!! “Can’t” is NOT an option!

 Be thankful you still have life and that you CAN do anything that you put your mind to!! “Can’t” is NOT an option!

Thanks for the interview, you’ve just inspired another person in me.

Connect with Barbie here.