06/30/2023 12:15 AM By Lisa Anderson
Coaches & Mentors
Amber Toole
Amber Toole
Story by Taylor Strickland • Photo by Joshua Jacobs


Fitness Studio Owner Cultivates Positivity

“It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”

That is the advice licensed fitness instructor Amber Toole was given on her wedding day, and it’s a maxim that has held true over the course of her life.

Educating for Health

Amber is the owner of The Training Toole, a fitness studio and personal training center located at 3887 SE Lake Weir Ave in Ocala, Florida. She got into fitness training while working at a gym in high school, after filling in for a trainer and teaching a class for the first time. “It really lit a fire in me to want to start teaching aerobics.”

After high school, Amber got her ACE fitness certification and started teaching aerobics, now called group exercise, in college. She started The Training Toole in 2002 while teaching physical education at Forest High School. “I started training people before and after school, and it just grew from there,” she says. “I got super busy, and I quit teaching high school, and I went into doing The Training Toole full-time.”

Her goals have shifted since opening The Training Toole studio in 2016. “One of the biggest passions I have in this is education,” Amber declares. “My really big, huge goal is I want to get to open a massive facility where we actually help people with all aspects of their health.”

Amber’s dream facility would have a meal-prep company on-site to help people fulfill their nutritional needs, a fitness center, and a life coaching course to aid in physical and personal development. It would also have massage and physical therapy options. Her short-term goals involve mentoring the next generation.

“What I’m working on now is helping to coach up and train other fitness professionals to grow my business and for us to get in a larger location than we have now,” Amber says. 

The Training Toole offers a personalized training experience that tailors health and workout plans to the individual. Amber notes this philosophy stems from all the positive coaches and mentors she had growing up, particularly her high school physical education teacher Mrs. Woodruff. “She motivated me and was always so positive about things I was doing, and I was like, ‘I want to be a P.E. teacher.’”

A True Ocalan

Amber is a transplant from Vidalia, Georgia and studied Physical Education and Health at Georgia Southern University. She moved to Ocala in 1999, out of love for Florida, and secured a teaching job while at an annual job fair held by the Florida Department of Education called The Great Florida Teach-In. There, she met the late Principal George Tomlin and was offered a position at Forest High School, where she taught P.E. for eight years. 

“I’ve been in Ocala for more than half my life,” Amber says. “It’s my second home.”

She met her husband Rick after moving to Ocala. He is also a transplant and business owner, and Amber affirms he’s a huge source of support and guidance in her life. “He’s so great at separating feelings from business,” she says. “I learn a lot from him.”

Overcoming Challenges

At one point in her life, Amber didn’t want to own a studio, because she thought it would be too stressful. She is very pleased she changed her mind. “You can’t be great in life, if you don’t have challenges and you aren’t forced to grow,” she observes. “In life and in fitness and in your health journey, if you stay in your comfort zone, you’re never going to go to the next level.”

Health is important to Amber, not just on a professional level, but a personal one, as well. “I have watched people I love make not great decisions according to their health, and it has shortened their lives,” she says tearfully. “I don’t want that to happen to me, and I don’t want that to happen to other people I love.”

It’s especially hard for her to see those she loves and cares for make poor health decisions, when she has the knowledge and expertise to help them, which is one of the things Rick has had to help her overcome when dealing with clients. “Not everyone wants to be helped,” Amber admits.

Other sources of support are the networking group Mastermind, where she receives advice from professionals in related industries, and her team at The Training Toole. “I have amazing women who are part of my team,” Amber says. 

Despite the emotional labor Amber expends as a mentor, she believes she was meant to serve others by sharing her health and fitness wisdom. “This is what I was called to do,” she confirms. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Trainers at The Training Toole understand health is more than just losing weight, and they cultivate a positive environment to allow people to thrive. “I get the most compliments about how nice and kind we are,” Amber says. “We’re going to give that guidance and it’s going to be non-judgmental, because we’re here to help and we want to coach you.”
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