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 in all them. A self-admitted “non-athlete” for almost all of her life, Bream spent her youthful years learning music fairly than enjoying sports activities. Nonetheless, when circumstances unexpectedly aligned, she noticed a possibility to channel her aggressive spirit into an outlet she possible 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 possibility to get her concepts about CrossFit training, the way forward for the Adaptive division, and learn how 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 moving 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 sort 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 do some little bit of energy and conditioning. After I came upon CrossFit had Adaptive divisions in 2021, January of 2021 is definitely once 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’d’ve gotten into CrossFit coaching if there wasn’t that avenue to compete?

AB: You already know, that’s an excellent 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 type 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 similar 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 mentioned, “You might have a few months to coach. What’s the worst that may occur? You may strive it and hate it, and then you definately simply cease.” I noticed that was an excellent 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 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 already know, the quote-unquote “haters.” Then I began doing it and I used to be similar to, “Oh.” I perceive why these stigmas are there, however that is nothing like that and I really beloved it.

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

BM: That does convey up one subject 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 prepare CrossFit.” However, do you? Is there a distinction?

AB: I feel there’s a distinction in that, clearly once you’re becoming it right into a CrossFit class, you possibly can solely have a lot intentionality at sure issues. It is vitally related. You might be the most effective athlete on the earth and go take a CrossFit class and get your butt kicked. As a result of you possibly can push to no matter depth stage that you just’re personally at.

Clearly should you’re an individual that’s simply trying to usually get slightly 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 simple to say, “Oh, they’ve that motion, however I’m going to scale.” In case you don’t have a ability, you actually need to place in some additional time outdoors of the category in an effort to construct it.

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

BM: Earlier this 12 months, you grew to become a full-time athlete. What does that seem like? Are you doing two-a-days six days every week, or what?

AB: It is dependent upon 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 slightly bit totally different. And in addition, what my physique can bodily deal with on my one leg is slightly bit totally different, as properly. 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, finally began working there part-time, after which grew to become operations director of their three areas right here in Nashville. So I’ve achieved that full-time for about six years now.

And I stepped again and went to part-time an excellent little bit of this 12 months 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 aspect, there’s simply no approach I can have each. So I made some fairly distinct choices 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 may be very totally different now.

BM: So now, do you may 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 12 months seem like?

AB: Technically talking, the offseason is now [September]. I’ll say, it’s slightly bit totally different. There are all the time different competitions you possibly can expertise. With the non-adaptive divisions, loads of them are doing the Rogue Invitational on the finish of October. And there will likely 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 maintain progressing by way of qualifiers to attempt to make it to the Video games. So should you’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 sort of want is that there was slightly 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 really depart to compete in Australia in slightly below three weeks. And I’m taking a distinct mentality. My physique continues 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 additionally, loads of the adaptive competitions are in direction of the tip of the 12 months and the technical non-adaptive division begins up at first of the 12 months. 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 idea, I feel there shouldn’t be. I feel, in actuality there’s, if I’m being sincere. And I feel that goes to either side as a result of, if I’m being completely blunt, clearly should you’re competitions just like the Video games, many of the emphasis will likely be placed on the elite divisions and the divisions that convey essentially the most consideration, which I utterly perceive.

On the identical time, I’d wish to see that shift and develop slightly bit extra as a result of I feel the opposite divisions may 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 unbelievable athletes, Adaptive or not, and they need to have slightly bit extra, I don’t know if the phrase is “respect,” however simply recognition for it.

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

BM: I consider it. Casey Acree flew by way of, undefeated, and it’s crickets. But when an Particular person competitor did that — first place, first place, first place straight by way of 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 feel, once more, once you hear “adaptive athlete,” should you haven’t skilled it and seen it firsthand earlier than, it’s simple to assume in your head what the competitors appears like. However they’re not realizing.

It’s humorous, I’m positive you noticed every thing with Roman [Khrennikov]* this 12 months. Unimaginable. I don’t need 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 bear 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 tug. The announcer mentioned, “Man, he’s actually bought to watch out about doing all these actions on one leg.”

And I bear 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 do this in 2021. We had sled pulls this 12 months however they didn’t allow us to sit down, so I used to be simply pulling standing up on one leg. Folks really 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 sort of factor I simply want individuals noticed extra, actually.

And once more, should you’re not uncovered to it, you’re not uncovered to it. So I do perceive. However my level is, should you say that you just need to present an area for adaptive athletes, make individuals uncovered to it. You already know? Let’s go all the best way with it. I’m hoping it simply takes a while, however that it’s going to 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’s going to change for the higher on condition that they’ve made some modifications, staff-wise. To not say something unhealthy on what it was, however I personally know the person who is entering into the function from a programming standpoint.

I’ve been to different competitions the place he’s been over the adaptive components and it was superbly achieved. Not excellent, as a result of adaptive divisions are all the time studying and adjusting, and it may be so messy. However so properly achieved. And so the truth that he now has slightly bit extra management in that offers 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 wish this.” For one, I get it, however endurance. And two, be proactive. In case you’re complaining about not having illustration, then you ought to be paying to point out up at these competitions and be within the crowd.

You may’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 feel, let’s simply maintain 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 a giant 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 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 potential. 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 group ambiance?

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

After I joined the group, either side, myself and them, have been fairly sincere. They have been like, “Hey, we haven’t had an adaptive athlete on the group 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 group 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’d change it for me from there.

As a group, 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 group 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 your exercise and the coaches will strategy you to observe sure items. And clearly no matter questions now we have, we go to them and so they’ll assist modify from there.

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 an excellent query. Yeah, I might say perhaps it clicked with me extra as a musician, however I feel it’s coming from that inventive house. It’s very relevant to something. I’m a really logical human being. In case you inform me to do one thing, OK, however should you 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 training 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 points of it. It was very simple for me to make that connection.

However relating to one thing that feels greater image and scary, and depends extra on a quote-unquote inventive sense, I’ll distract myself with, “I’ll return to training scales, thanks very a lot.” It’s more durable 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 modifications in my job. Just because I needed to make room for coaching. But additionally, 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 simple to speak about, however to sit down 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 sort 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 training scales, however otherwise.

BM: Talking of your mindset, one in all video on the CrossFit Video games YouTube channel is your “Struggle for One Extra Rep.” It’s bought 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 assume, “Meh, additional relaxation. I’ll wait.” How do you focus for that yet one more rep?

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

AB: That’s laborious and it is dependent upon what scenario I’m in. However I feel if I am going into it with the mindset of, it’s about successful 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 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 strive very laborious not make that almost all of the time. Particularly now, having extra competitions and seasoning.

For that individual occasion, I’ll always remember, among the video exhibits 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 every thing. You’ve earned your proper to be right here. You’ll give every thing that you need to 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 virtually 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 informed him “I can’t do that. I don’t need to exit in public and battle, as a result of I do know it’s going to be a battle.” He mentioned, “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 way of. And I feel, too, to not pull this card as a result of typically 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 higher challenges than what I expertise, has made me so grateful for what I’ve.

And I feel, to point out up with an angle 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 might 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 all the time be certain that to work my hardest.

BM: What do you assume non-CrossFitters — let’s assume not the “haters,” however the ones which are really desirous about discovering one thing helpful — what may they get from CrossFit coaching as a complete?

AB: I might say seeing the significance of staying per small issues, the way it contributes to the massive image. As a result of it’s very simple to take a look at individuals doing muscle-ups, should you’re a first-timer, and say “Nicely, I’m by no means going to do 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… Moderately than simply shutting it down. Simply do a tiny bit at a time. And that’s so relevant to issues outdoors in life.

I feel additionally, individuals can love or hate this phrase, however “coming into the ache cave.” It is without doubt one of the hardest issues on the earth to really feel bodily ache, once you’re simply so drained and need to surrender. And the adrenaline you’re feeling, even should you’re not successful, however ending one thing.

In 75% of my exercises, I’ll have not 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 may do” has given me a lot confidence and psychological stamina to not surrender 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 job.” And that’s so useful in life.

BM: It sounds virtually “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 anything about your background or your experiences that you really want individuals to find out about?

AB: Not essentially. I really like CrossFit, I really like competing. I feel loads of what I need to proceed to do and I’m sort of rising into is, once I discuss to individuals, I all the time need to be relatable. So having individuals perceive I didn’t develop up athletic, that I didn’t develop up having confidence, simply loads of issues.

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

Nevertheless it actually generally is a life-changing expertise to simply do one thing that you just’re slightly bit frightened 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 stipulations in an effort to begin CrossFit or another sport, or to do issues that scare you. You simply must be prepared to be slightly bit uncomfortable and to maintain going after you fail.

BM: Excellent. 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. Will probably be each. And naturally my socials, Instagram and TikTok, primarily. Onelegtostandon.

Featured Picture: @onelegtostandon / Instagram

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