Tonja Davis is an incredible fusion of geek and fitness enthusiast. She’s not only worked in technology and for one of the biggest business names in the geek world, she’s also taken her own struggles with with chronic illness and injuries – in her own words, “If there’s something you can break, I probably broke it!” – and turned them into programmes to help those whom the mainstream fitness industry neglects.
The business born of the fusion of these loves is Action Hero Fitness, a comic book-themed body and health coaching business that aims to help geeks struggling with fitness. Tonja levers web technology and even online-enabled game consoles to run coaching sessions for people whose health issues prevent them from going to gyms or outdoor fitness courses.
When she appeared on the 2009 season of Australia’s The Biggest Loser, the red-haired, red-gloved, hooded Emazon cut straight into not only her trainees but also the audience. Emazon demanded nothing less than everything from the contestants in short, sharp sessions that took them so far out of their comfort zones that they could barely remember what comfort meant. And a lot of folks watching at home weren’t sure just what to make of this fierce being.
It’s easy to be shocked or intimidated by that sort of intensity, but it’s just as easy to forget that Emazon, known to friends and family as Emma Barbato, was putting just as much effort into drawing her contestants out of their former selves as she was into challenging their physical limits. Emma has been working to help people overcome their conflicts with themselves for twelve years now, including helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault find or rediscover their strength.
There was no way that chatting with Emma wasn’t going to be bloody interesting, and while she mightn’t sport that crimson hair colour any more, she is no less energetic and focused than when she first made us couch-potatoes sit up and take notice! We talked about Emma’s career up to now, her plans to take her STAND program to Saudi Arabia this year – and even about how our modern culture encourages us to dislike ourselves in order to get along.
So much strength in there. What happened to it? Where’d it go? My only objective was to get it back out again.
– Emazon on training a contestant, The Biggest Loser Australia Series 4