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

Many world-class opponents are die-hard athletes who dreamed about successful 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 somewhat than taking part in 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 the vast majority of her proper leg. The decided athlete hasn’t let that come anyplace 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 she or he 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 the right way to shock your self with success after first getting your self uncomfortable.

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

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

Amy Bream: I didn’t used to exercise a lot. Undoubtedly 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 form 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 purposeful health, however I began to perform a little little bit of energy and conditioning. After I came upon CrossFit had Adaptive divisions in 2021, January of 2021 is definitely after I began attempting out CrossFit coaching. I didn’t really step foot into my first field, although, till the Saturday earlier than I left for my first Video games.

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

AB: You understand, that’s a very good 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 informed him at first, “Hey, no offense, however I’ve seen CrossFit individuals. I respect it, however y’all are nuts. There’s no approach.” And he was identical to, “I really feel such as you would reply fairly properly to it,” as a result of I had been posting about my health journey as much as that time.

He stated, “You’ve got a few months to coach. What’s the worst that may occur? You possibly can attempt it and hate it, and you then simply cease.” I spotted that was a very good level. I’ve a aggressive persona. At that time, I didn’t notice fairly the extent of it as a result of I’d by no means competed in something bodily.

I feel 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 seemed like. You understand, 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 really liked it.

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

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

AB: I feel there’s a distinction in that, clearly if 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 might be the most effective athlete on the 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 simply’re personally at.

Clearly if you happen to’re an individual that’s simply trying to usually get somewhat bit fitter and also you’re taking a CrossFit class, you’re not going to do it with the identical strategy and intentionality. It’s straightforward to say, “Oh, they’ve that motion, however I’m going to scale.” For those who don’t have a talent, you actually need to place in some additional time exterior of the category with a view to construct it.

You possibly can’t realistically anticipate to be taught all of those new issues inside an hour class, three to 4 occasions per week. That’s simply not going to occur. There’s too many issues to be taught. So I feel 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 grew to become a full-time athlete. What does that appear to be? Are you doing two-a-days six days per 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 remains to be not as intense as you’ll say for the elite Particular person division. Adaptive divisions are somewhat bit totally different. And likewise, what my physique can bodily deal with on my one leg is somewhat bit totally different, as properly. So I’m fairly aware of that.

However I used to be positively within the fitness center 4 to 5 hours a day, six days per week. It was nonetheless fairly intense. I began at that boxing fitness center for enjoyable, ultimately began working there part-time, after which grew to become operations director of their three areas 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 very good little bit of this yr to make extra room for coaching. As that stored progressing, it grew to become fairly clear. If I need to do different issues and attempt to develop my very own issues on the facet, there’s simply no approach I can have each. So I made some fairly distinct selections and I used to be really nonetheless coaching lessons there, simply because I really 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 could be very totally different now.

BM: So now, do you’ve got 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 appear to be?

AB: Technically talking, the offseason is now [September]. I’ll say, it’s somewhat bit totally different. There are at all times different competitions you’ll be able to expertise. With the non-adaptive divisions, quite a lot of them are doing the Rogue Invitational on the finish of October. And there can 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, often in February, and also you simply preserve progressing by qualifiers to attempt to make it to the Video games. So if you happen to’re in that loop, it simply will get an increasing number of intense. After which lockdown season is the tip of Could up till the Video games in August.

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

But in addition, quite a lot of the adaptive competitions are in direction of the tip of the yr and the technical non-adaptive division begins up to start with of the yr. So I don’t really feel like I’ve a lot respiratory 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 concept, I feel there shouldn’t be. I feel, in actuality there’s, if I’m being trustworthy. And I feel that goes to each side as a result of, if I’m being completely blunt, clearly if you happen to’re competitions just like the Video games, many of the emphasis can be placed on the elite divisions and the divisions that deliver essentially the most consideration, which I fully perceive.

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

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

BM: I consider 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 certain, 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 feel, once more, if you hear “adaptive athlete,” if you happen to haven’t skilled it and seen it firsthand earlier than, it’s straightforward to assume in your head what the competitors seems to be like. However they’re not realizing.

It’s humorous, I’m certain you noticed all the things with Roman [Khrennikov]* this yr. Unimaginable. I don’t need to take away from that. All of that was unimaginable. 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 unimaginable!” 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 really 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 really don’t know that athletes are competing at a excessive stage and doing all of this stuff simply as he’s. In order that’s the form of factor I simply want individuals noticed extra, truthfully.

And once more, if you happen to’re not uncovered to it, you’re not uncovered to it. So I do perceive. However my level is, if you happen to say that you simply need to present an area for adaptive athletes, make individuals uncovered to it. You understand? 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, Brief 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 modifications, staff-wise. To not say something unhealthy on what it was, however I personally know the individual that is getting 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 superbly 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 properly carried out. And so the truth that he now has somewhat 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 straightforward for adaptive athletes to be like, “We would like this, we what this, and we would like this.” For one, I get it, however persistence. And two, be proactive. For those who’re complaining about not having illustration, then you have to be paying to indicate up at these competitions and be within the crowd.

You possibly can’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 after 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 after I was a youngster. I feel, let’s simply preserve 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 chance 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 believed I used to be going to be with one person who 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 complete 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 crew ambiance?

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

After I joined the crew, each side, myself and them, have been fairly trustworthy. They have been like, “Hey, we haven’t had an adaptive athlete on the crew 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 crew and I might strategy them and say, “We’re not going to get this motion in a contest” or “I have to develop this energy first” or no matter it was, and they might change it for me from there.

As a crew, 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 crew 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’ve, we go to them and so they’ll assist regulate from there.

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

BM: I noticed that you simply lately loved studying “The Battle of Artwork” by Steven Pressfield. Did that click on with you as an athlete or as a musician?

AB: Oh, that’s a very good query. Yeah, I might say perhaps it clicked with me extra as a musician, however I feel it’s coming from that artistic area. It’s very relevant to something. I’m a really logical human being. For those who inform me to do one thing, OK, however if you happen to inform me why I’m doing it and the way it will instantly apply to the larger image, then I’m in.

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

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

For me, that guide simply clicked as a result of, after I learn it, I had plans and I knew that I needed to make modifications 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 approach of claiming it, myself as a model. Simply doing issues that I used to be trying ahead to, but in addition have been actually scary.

And it’s straightforward to speak about, however to take a seat down at a pc and make these issues occur was a wrestle 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 guide was simply such a sensible sense for me of making use of one thing that felt form of mystical and making it, “No, sit down. Day by day. And do it.” I used to be like, oh, OK, it’s like anything. It’s like practising scales, however differently.

BM: Talking of your mindset, one among video on the CrossFit Video games YouTube channel is your “Combat for One Extra Rep.” It’s acquired 360,000 views to date. 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 assume, “Meh, additional relaxation. I’ll wait.” How do you focus for that yet another rep?

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

AB: That’s onerous and it will depend on what scenario I’m in. However I feel if I’m going into it with the mindset of, it’s about successful the occasion, then it’s very straightforward to surrender.

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

For that exact occasion, I’ll always remember, a few of the video reveals exchanges between me and my coach on the time. And his complete factor that week was “It doesn’t matter what occurs, you’ll give all the things. You’ve earned your proper to be right here. You’ll give all the things that it’s important to show to your self that you simply 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 load was a PR for me. I had by no means gotten that over my head at that time earlier than. I actually informed him “I can’t do that. I don’t need to exit in public and wrestle, as a result of I do know it’s going to be a wrestle.” He stated, “You’ll battle for each second. You’ll not give up.” And I used to be like, “OK.”

I feel 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 successful the occasion. It was nearly pushing by. And I feel, too, to not pull this card as a result of generally I feel 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 totally different challenges, and arguably a lot larger challenges than what I expertise, has made me so grateful for what I’ve.

And I feel, to indicate up with an angle like, “Properly 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 be sure to work my hardest.

BM: What do you assume non-CrossFitters — let’s assume not the “haters,” however the ones which are really keen on discovering one thing helpful — what might 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 large image. As a result of it’s very straightforward to take a look at individuals doing muscle-ups, if you happen to’re a first-timer, and say “Properly, I’m by no means going to try this.”

However you begin with tiny issues. “Properly, 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… Reasonably than simply shutting it down. Simply do a tiny bit at a time. And that’s so relevant to issues exterior in life.

I feel additionally, individuals can love or hate this phrase, however “coming into the ache cave.” It is among the hardest issues on the planet to really feel bodily ache, if you’re simply so drained and need to quit. And the adrenaline you are feeling, even if you happen to’re not successful, however ending one thing.

In 75% of my exercises, I’ll have no less than 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 assume that I might do” has given me a lot confidence and psychological stamina to not quit in different areas of my life.

So after I strategy my job, it’s like, “That is tiring or that is onerous, however I’ll end it. I’ll accomplish this job.” 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 exterior the fitness center.

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

BM: Is there anything about your background or your experiences that you really want individuals to learn about?

AB: Not essentially. I really like CrossFit, I really like competing. I feel quite a lot of what I need to proceed to do and I’m form of rising into is, after I discuss to individuals, I at all times need to be relatable. So having individuals perceive I didn’t develop up athletic, that I didn’t develop up having confidence, simply quite a lot of issues.

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

But it surely really could be a life-changing expertise to simply do one thing that you simply’re somewhat 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 are developing I’m actually enthusiastic about, nevertheless it all comes from that. Me wanting to speak that thought.

You don’t want conditions with a view to begin CrossFit or another sport, or to do issues that scare you. You simply have to be keen to be somewhat bit uncomfortable and to maintain going after you fail.

BM: Good. So what’s the most effective place for individuals to search out your stuff?

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

Featured Picture: @onelegtostandon / Instagram

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