Fitness Unarmed: Armless Body Builder Inspires. {Video}

Via Jennifer S. White
on Oct 26, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

National-level body builder Barbie Thomas wows competition despite having no arms.

Barbie Thomas lost her arms at two and a half after climbing a transformer near her home and having electricity go through her hands and out her legs. Doctors amputated both arms and didn’t think she would survive. She did—and her winning attitude will inspire anyone.

Thomas cites her parents as the sources of her positive attitude

“I was not allowed to be negative and say I can’t do something,” she told, holding the phone between her ear and her right-hand shoulder, which is more substantial than her left side.

“I was always taught to focus on what I can do, not what I can’t do,” she said. “It probably has a lot to do with my personality—I can’t imagine being a negative Nancy all the time.”

And although no one expected Thomas to live, today, at 37, she has accomplished what was once regarded as the impossible: Thomas is a competitive body builder and model.

“I thank God I am alive,” said Thomas, who now lives in Phoenix with her two sons, aged 13 and 17. She uses her shoulders as arms, which her children call her “nubs.””

Watch an interview with Thomas:

Thomas uses her feet and shoulders to help her successfully manage daily life. She was even a nursing mother.

“I did have to pick my therapist’s brain to help with a few things with the newborn baby,” she said. “But the second one was a piece of cake. I had to kind of prop them up on a pillow and lay next to them as a holder when I nursed them. I could hold them the right way in my lap by using my leg when they were a little older.” 

Thomas says that in her intense physical fitness routines, she’s more dependent on her legs and upper body. She says that her “core is pretty strong.”

Her regimen—both with nutrition and exercise—is grueling for most, but Thomas thrives on challenge, especially because she knows it sends a strong, positive message to others.

“I realize it inspires many people, and not just those with physical challenges,” she said. “Follow your dreams and keep pushing and where there is a will, there is a way. We all have our own stuff to deal with and our own limitations and handicaps. Mine are just more visible. There’s always someone else out there who has it worse.”

Want 15 free additional reads weekly, just our best?

Get our weekly newsletter.


Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She's also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.


3 Responses to “Fitness Unarmed: Armless Body Builder Inspires. {Video}”

  1. Sky says:

    Truly inspiring. Reflecting on the mind and the powerful messages we may send ourselves. Belief delivers actions. Thank you for sharing. Much love, Sky

  2. Thank you, Sky. So glad you found it as inspiring as I do. Much love sent right back.

  3. Sandy says:

    WOW. No excuses from now on! Thanks for posting this!