Adapting and Thriving: An Interview with CrossFit Video games Athlete Amy Bream

Many world-class rivals are die-hard athletes who dreamed about profitable championship titles for years. Amy Bream isn’t one among them. A self-admitted “non-athlete” for almost all of her life, Bream spent her youthful years finding out music reasonably than enjoying sports activities. Nevertheless, when circumstances unexpectedly aligned, she noticed a chance to channel her aggressive spirit into an outlet she seemingly by no means anticipated.

Bream was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD) — a uncommon congenital dysfunction that resulted in lacking nearly all of her proper leg. The decided athlete hasn’t let that come wherever near stopping her, as she’s been a high contender within the CrossFit Video games Decrease Extremity Adaptive division since its inception in 2021.

Bream has positioned fifth, third, and fourth on the CrossFit Video games (2021, 2022, 2023 respectively) and he or she continues coaching and competing internationally. Just some weeks after the 2023 Video games, we had a chance to get her concepts about CrossFit training, the way forward for the Adaptive division, and how you can shock your self with success after first getting your self uncomfortable.

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

Breaking Muscle: You truly began in a boxing fitness center earlier than moving into weight coaching. How’d you begin there and find yourself right here?

Amy Bream: I didn’t used to exercise a lot. Positively not in public or something like that. So I began boxing in 2015. It wasn’t sparring or something, it was extra of a gaggle health type of factor. After which I picked up my first barbell in 2019.

In that fitness center, they began a weight coaching class. It was like useful health, however I began to do some little bit of energy and conditioning. After I discovered CrossFit had Adaptive divisions in 2021, January of 2021 is definitely once I began attempting out CrossFit coaching. I didn’t truly step foot into my first field, although, till the Saturday earlier than I left for my first Video games.

BM: Do you suppose you’d’ve gotten into CrossFit coaching if there wasn’t that avenue to compete?

AB: You already know, that’s a great query. I don’t know, as a result of I used to be content material with the place I used to be and I used to be content material with the fashion of coaching that I had.

An Adaptive athlete on Instagram reached out to me about it and I actually advised him at first, “Hey, no offense, however I’ve seen CrossFit individuals. I respect it, however y’all are nuts. There’s no means.” And he was identical to, “I really feel such as you would reply fairly nicely to it,” as a result of I had been posting about my health journey as much as that time.

He stated, “You could have a few months to coach. What’s the worst that may occur? You’ll be able to attempt it and hate it, and then you definately simply cease.” I spotted that was a great level. I’ve a aggressive character. At that time, I didn’t understand fairly the extent of it as a result of I’d by no means competed in something bodily.

I believe I used to be much like individuals who aren’t in CrossFit and simply have these stigmas of their thoughts of what it was or what it regarded like. You already know, the quote-unquote “haters.” Then I began doing it and I used to be identical to, “Oh.” I perceive why these stigmas are there, however that is nothing like that and I truly cherished it.

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

BM: That does carry up one subject that the “haters,” or the critics, have. They think about ‘CrossFit coaching’ completely different from ‘coaching for CrossFit.’ They’ll say, “The individuals on the Video games don’t prepare CrossFit.” However, do you? Is there a distinction?

AB: I believe there’s a distinction in that, clearly while you’re becoming it right into a CrossFit class, you’ll be able to solely have a lot intentionality at sure issues. It is vitally comparable. You could be the perfect athlete on this planet and go take a CrossFit class and get your butt kicked. As a result of you’ll be able to push to no matter depth stage that you just’re personally at.

Clearly in case you’re an individual that’s simply seeking to usually get a bit bit healthier and also you’re taking a CrossFit class, you’re not going to do it with the identical strategy and intentionality. It’s simple to say, “Oh, they’ve that motion, however I’m going to scale.” In case you don’t have a ability, you really want to place in some further time outdoors of the category to be able to construct it.

You’ll be able to’t realistically count on to study all of those new issues inside an hour class, three to 4 instances every week. That’s simply not going to occur. There’s too many issues to study. So I believe the content material of a CrossFit class is similar to what competing athletes expertise. They only strategy it with a unique intent and so they’ll do extra of that.

BM: Earlier this yr, you turned a full-time athlete. What does that seem like? Are you doing two-a-days six days every week, or what?

AB: It will depend on the season of coaching. Main as much as the Video games, sure, that’s what I used to be doing. And my coaching continues to be not as intense as you’d say for the elite Particular person division. Adaptive divisions are a bit bit completely different. And in addition, what my physique can bodily deal with on my one leg is a bit bit completely different, as nicely. So I’m fairly acutely aware of that.

However I used to be undoubtedly within the fitness center 4 to 5 hours a day, six days every week. It was nonetheless fairly intense. I began at that boxing fitness center for enjoyable, ultimately began working there part-time, after which turned operations director of their three places right here in Nashville. So I’ve carried out that full-time for about six years now.

And I stepped again and went to part-time a great little bit of this yr to make extra room for coaching. As that saved progressing, it turned fairly clear. If I wish to do different issues and attempt to develop my very own issues on the facet, there’s simply no means I can have each. So I made some fairly distinct selections and I used to be truly nonetheless coaching courses there, simply because I like teaching, all through the summer season alongside my coaching. I had given them a heads up that I wouldn’t be returning after the Video games. So yeah, life may be very completely different now.

BM: So now, do you might have an offseason? There’s the Video games and the Open, however are there different competitions you participate in? I do know WheelWod is one. What does your yr seem like?

AB: Technically talking, the offseason is now [September]. I’ll say, it’s a bit bit completely different. There are at all times different competitions you’ll be able to expertise. With the non-adaptive divisions, a whole lot of them are doing the Rogue Invitational on the finish of October. And there shall be ones right here and there, like Wodapalooza and issues.

However these competitions, you care about competing and also you’re going to be in form for it, nevertheless it’s not fairly as intense because the CrossFit Video games. I might say, the season of what individuals see is beginning with the CrossFit Open, normally in February, and also you simply hold progressing by qualifiers to attempt to make it to the Video games. So in case you’re in that loop, it simply will get an increasing number of intense. After which lockdown season is the tip of Might up till the Video games in August.

One factor that I do type of want is that there was a bit bit extra cohesiveness with Adaptive divisions. It’s been my expertise that Adaptive competitions are rising, which is nice. Nevertheless it’s not precisely on the identical schedule because the Video games. So I truly depart to compete in Australia in just below three weeks. And I’m taking a unique mentality. My physique continues to be recovering proper now. I took it as a result of I actually need the expertise and I might like to be in Australia and do all of these issues.

But in addition, a whole lot of the adaptive competitions are in direction of the tip of the yr and the technical non-adaptive division begins up at first of the yr. So I don’t really feel like I’ve a lot respiration room as a result of I compete about each three months regardless. However, once more, for this season it’s working.

BM: In your thoughts, or in your ear, is there a distinction between being known as an “Adaptive athlete” versus “an athlete?”

AB: In idea, I believe there shouldn’t be. I believe, in actuality there’s, if I’m being sincere. And I believe that goes to each side as a result of, if I’m being completely blunt, clearly in case you’re competitions just like the Video games, many of the emphasis shall be placed on the elite divisions and the divisions that carry probably the most consideration, which I utterly perceive.

On the similar time, I’d prefer to see that shift and develop a bit bit extra as a result of I believe the opposite divisions may get extra air time and issues. I believe the athletes deserve that, as a result of I believe that there are athletes which can be simply straight-up unbelievable athletes, Adaptive or not, and they need to have a bit bit extra, I don’t know if the phrase is “respect,” however simply recognition for it.

I don’t suppose individuals even understand simply how good a whole lot of adaptive athletes are. And I’m not even being like, “Oh, I’m so good.” I’m simply speaking the game normally. I’ve seen adaptive athletes kick non-adaptive athletes’ ass. It’s for actual.

BM: I imagine it. Casey Acree flew by, undefeated, and it’s crickets. But when an Particular person competitor did that — first place, first place, first place straight by in each occasion — for positive, it’s noticeable.

[Editor’s Note: Casey Acree is a three-time CrossFit Games champion in the Men’s Upper Extremity Adaptive division (2021, 2022, 2023). In both 2022 and 2023, Acree maintained an undefeated winning streak for a total of 25 events, placing first in every workout from the CrossFit Open through to the Games.]

AB: Sure, precisely. And I believe, once more, while you hear “adaptive athlete,” in case you haven’t skilled it and seen it firsthand earlier than, it’s simple to suppose in your head what the competitors seems like. However they’re not realizing.

It’s humorous, I’m positive you noticed the whole lot with Roman [Khrennikov]* this yr. Unimaginable. I don’t wish to take away from that. All of that was unbelievable. Him doing [jump rope] double-unders. I can’t think about the emotional state that he was in. Being in first place and having to go and present up, and all of these issues.

However the crowd was like, “That’s unbelievable!” Which it was. It was. I used to be watching it on-line and I keep in mind at one level, when Roman completed the double-unders after which went to the sled pull, he put his leg down and was pushing off that one leg to drag. The announcer stated, “Man, he’s actually acquired to watch out about doing all these actions on one leg.”

And I keep in mind simply stopping and considering, individuals truly don’t know. He’s doing this exercise and, if I used to be doing this exercise, it’s precisely how I might be doing it. Double-unders on one leg, they requested me to try this in 2021. We had sled pulls this yr however they didn’t allow us to sit down, so I used to be simply pulling standing up on one leg. Individuals truly don’t know that athletes are competing at a excessive stage and doing all of these items simply as he’s. In order that’s the type of factor I simply want individuals noticed extra, actually.

And once more, in case you’re not uncovered to it, you’re not uncovered to it. So I do perceive. However my level is, in case you say that you just wish to present an area for adaptive athletes, make individuals uncovered to it. You already know? Let’s go all the way in which with it. I’m hoping it simply takes a while, however that it’ll get to that time.

*[Editor’s Note: Roman Khrennikov was the points leader during the first three days of the 2023 CrossFit Games and appeared on track to win the Individual Men title. However, he suffered a fractured foot during the first event of the competition’s final day and completed the remaining two events primarily on one leg, eventually earning third place.]

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

BM: For 2024, CrossFit did say they’re going to have all eight Adaptive divisions compete on the Video games — Imaginative and prescient, Quick Stature, Seated with Hip Operate, Seated with out Hip Operate, and Mental, along with Higher Extremity, Decrease Extremity, and Multi Extremity.

AB: Yeah, and I’ve much more confidence that it’ll change for the higher provided that they’ve made some adjustments, staff-wise. To not say something dangerous on what it was, however I personally know the individual that is entering into the position from a programming standpoint.

I’ve been to different competitions the place he’s been over the adaptive components and it was fantastically carried out. Not excellent, as a result of adaptive divisions are at all times studying and adjusting, and it may be so messy. However so nicely carried out. And so the truth that he now has a bit bit extra management in that provides me confidence.

I’ll say, too, that a few of it’s on the adaptive divisions, as a result of it’s very simple for adaptive athletes to be like, “We wish this, we what this, and we would like this.” For one, I get it, however endurance. And two, be proactive. In case you’re complaining about not having illustration, then you need to be paying to point out up at these competitions and be within the crowd.

You’ll be able to’t complain and never do something. If you wish to see change, be part of the change whereas it’s messy.

BM: So, is Adaptive Teen division going to be a factor in 10 or 15 years?

AB: I might like to see that. I didn’t ever see adaptive athletes once I was a teen. This wasn’t a factor. I’ll say, as messy because it’s been, there’s so many alternatives for adaptive athletes that weren’t a factor once I was a young person. I believe, let’s simply hold it going. Let’s do it whereas it’s messy, even it out, and make room for that sooner or later.

BM: There’s a lot risk on that finish. Proper now, you’re coaching with the East Nashville PRVN team. Are you rubbing elbows with Tia and Shane or is it simply whoever’s round?

AB: Yeah, just about. I imply proper now it’s the offseason so clearly Tia and Shane are in Australia. However yeah, that was an enormous hurdle for me simply because I used to be actually intimidated. My first session with them, I assumed I used to be going to be with one individual that I had met and it was simply going to be this quiet little “are you in form or not” factor.

I present up and their entire crew is there. And I used to be like, “Ho-ly crap.” I used to be doing clean & jerks subsequent to Tia simply attempting to be as quiet as doable. However yeah, that’s been nice.

BM: How does that work, is it simply sharing a fitness center or sharing programming? What’s the day-to-day like in a workforce environment?

AB: That was truly actually completely different than I used to be used to. However yeah, it’s group and workforce programming. For me, clearly it was a bit bit completely different as a result of I don’t have the identical issues as the opposite groups.

After I joined the workforce, each side, myself and them, had been fairly sincere. They had been like, “Hey, we haven’t had an adaptive athlete on the workforce earlier than. So that you’re going to have to inform us, as we go, the way you adapt sure actions.” They’d program for the workforce and I might strategy them and say, “We’re not going to get this motion in a contest” or “I must develop this energy first” or no matter it was, and they might change it for me from there.

As a workforce, you stroll in and clearly everybody’s doing sure actions. They’ll do sure items collectively or everybody’s lifting of their a part of the fitness center. They’ve a workforce of athletes, coaches Shane and Dwight, Nick, and some others. Everybody’s simply strolling round.

It’s not fairly one-on-one essentially on a regular basis and it’s not like a fishbowl impact. However you’re doing all of your exercise and the coaches will strategy you to observe sure items. And clearly no matter questions we now have, we go to them and so they’ll assist regulate from there.

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Extra from Breaking Muscle:

BM: I noticed that you just not too long ago loved studying “The Warfare of Artwork” by Steven Pressfield. Did that click on with you as an athlete or as a musician?

AB: Oh, that’s a great query. Yeah, I might say possibly it clicked with me extra as a musician, however I believe it’s coming from that artistic area. It’s very relevant to something. I’m a really logical human being. In case you inform me to do one thing, OK, however in case you inform me why I’m doing it and the way it will immediately apply to the larger image, then I’m in.

So, as a musician, I didn’t like working towards scales for hours, however I might do it as a result of I felt the method distinction within the lovely, lyrical music I used to be doing that had technical features of it. It was very simple for me to make that connection.

However on the subject of one thing that feels greater image and scary, and depends extra on a quote-unquote artistic sense, I’ll distract myself with, “I’ll return to working towards scales, thanks very a lot.” It’s tougher to have that self-discipline with one thing that’s scary.

For me, that e book simply clicked as a result of, once I learn it, I had plans and I knew that I needed to make adjustments in my job. Just because I needed to make room for coaching. But in addition, I’m doing much more talking engagements and simply issues for myself as, for lack of one other means of claiming it, myself as a model. Simply doing issues that I used to be wanting ahead to, but additionally had been actually scary.

And it’s simple to speak about, however to take a seat down at a pc and make these issues occur was a battle for me for a very long time, as a result of oftentimes I’d really feel overwhelmed and I’d keep away from doing these issues. Studying that e book was simply such a sensible sense for me of making use of one thing that felt type of mystical and making it, “No, sit down. Each day. And do it.” I used to be like, oh, OK, it’s like the rest. It’s like working towards scales, however differently.

BM: Talking of your mindset, one among video on the CrossFit Video games YouTube channel is your “Battle for One Extra Rep.” It’s acquired 360,000 views up to now. 20 seconds to go, nonetheless grinding away, you get one final rep.

If you’re approaching the time cap in an occasion and, to be frank, if it’s clear you’re not going to win the occasion, how do you not simply suppose, “Meh, further relaxation. I’ll wait.” How do you focus for that another rep?

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

AB: That’s laborious and it will depend on what scenario I’m in. However I believe if I am going into it with the mindset of, it’s about profitable the occasion, then it’s very simple to surrender.

And I’ve gone into occasions earlier than and I see fairly rapidly that I’m not going to win it, and I simply wish to shut down. Then the exercise turns into means worse than it wanted to be as a result of I’m all in my head. However I attempt very laborious not make that almost all of the time. Particularly now, having extra competitions and seasoning.

For that exact occasion, I’ll always remember, among the video reveals exchanges between me and my coach on the time. And his entire factor that week was “It doesn’t matter what occurs, you’ll give the whole lot. You’ve earned your proper to be right here. You’ll give the whole lot that you must show to your self that you just belong. And also you’re not going to crap out now.”

Even earlier than that occasion, I used to be within the again nearly throwing up. I used to be so nervous as a result of I knew the burden was a PR for me. I had by no means gotten that over my head at that time earlier than. I actually advised him “I can’t do that. I don’t wish to exit in public and battle, as a result of I do know it’s going to be a battle.” He stated, “You’ll battle for each second. You’ll not give up.” And I used to be like, “OK.”

I believe that’s what resonated with individuals, as a result of lots of people did reply to that video. I imply, I used to be final. It wasn’t about profitable the occasion. It was nearly pushing by. And I believe, too, to not pull this card as a result of typically I believe it may be overused, however I’m very grateful for having one thing that makes me very conscious of what I’ve.

Lacking a leg has made me extra conscious that I’ve three full-functioning limbs that I can use to the fullest. And going to different adaptive competitions and seeing individuals with completely different challenges, and arguably a lot better challenges than what I expertise, has made me so grateful for what I’ve.

And I believe, to point out up with an perspective like, “Nicely if I’m not gonna win, I’m not gonna do it in any respect,” is only a slap within the face to everybody that will give a lot to have the motion that I’ve. So, yeah, out of respect for myself, however out of respect for these individuals, I’ll at all times ensure that to work my hardest.

BM: What do you suppose non-CrossFitters — let’s assume not the “haters,” however the ones which can be truly considering discovering one thing helpful — what may they get from CrossFit coaching as an entire?

AB: I might say seeing the significance of staying in keeping with small issues, the way it contributes to the massive image. As a result of it’s very simple to have a look at individuals doing muscle-ups, in case you’re a first-timer, and say “Nicely, I’m by no means going to try this.”

However you begin with tiny issues. “Nicely, I realized a kip. After which I realized a kipping pull-up. After which I realized a kipping chest-to-bar.” After which a pair months later… Relatively than simply shutting it down. Simply do a tiny bit at a time. And that’s so relevant to issues outdoors in life.

I believe additionally, individuals can love or hate this phrase, however “coming into the ache cave.” It is likely one of the hardest issues on this planet to really feel bodily ache, while you’re simply so drained and wish to quit. And the adrenaline you’re feeling, even in case you’re not profitable, however ending one thing.

In 75% of my exercises, I’ll have at the very least one level within the exercise considering “I can’t end this.” However I make myself end, and that adrenaline rush of “I simply did that. I did one thing that I didn’t suppose that I may do” has given me a lot confidence and psychological stamina to not quit in different areas of my life.

So once I strategy my job, it’s like, “That is tiring or that is laborious, however I’ll end it. I’ll accomplish this process.” And that’s so useful in life.

BM: It sounds nearly “meatheady” to say, however there’s a lot carryover from the fitness center to outdoors the fitness center.

AB: Very a lot, yeah. Meathead or not, it’s true.

BM: Is there the rest about your background or your experiences that you really want individuals to find out about?

AB: Not essentially. I like CrossFit, I like competing. I believe a whole lot of what I wish to proceed to do and I’m type of rising into is, once I discuss to individuals, I at all times wish to be relatable. So having individuals perceive I didn’t develop up athletic, that I didn’t develop up having confidence, simply a whole lot of issues.

I believe lots of people can relate to that after they hear “CrossFit,” or perhaps a fitness center setting normally. It’s simply very intimidating. Understand you don’t should look X, Y, Z to be able to stroll right into a fitness center area. You don’t should wish to compete. You don’t should need any of these issues.

Nevertheless it actually could be a life-changing expertise to simply do one thing that you just’re a bit bit petrified of, and continue to grow in that, and see the place it takes you. Out and in of the fitness center. I do talking engagements, there are issues which can be arising I’m actually enthusiastic about, nevertheless it all comes from that. Me wanting to speak that thought.

You don’t want stipulations to be able to begin CrossFit or some other sport, or to do issues that scare you. You simply have to be prepared to be a bit bit uncomfortable and to maintain going after you fail.

BM: Good. So what’s the perfect place for individuals to seek out your stuff?

AB: My web site’s simply amybream.com. They will additionally go to onelegtostandon.com, if that’s how they know me. It is going to be each. And naturally my socials, Instagram and TikTok, primarily. Onelegtostandon.

Featured Picture: @onelegtostandon / Instagram

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