Many world-class rivals are die-hard athletes who dreamed about profitable championship titles for years. Amy Bream isn’t considered one of them. A self-admitted “non-athlete” for almost all of her life, Bream spent her youthful years finding out music quite than enjoying sports activities. Nevertheless, when circumstances unexpectedly aligned, she noticed a chance to channel her aggressive spirit into an outlet she probably 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 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 he or she continues coaching and competing internationally. Only a few weeks after the 2023 Video games, we had a chance to get her concepts about CrossFit coaching, the way forward for the Adaptive division, and the right way to shock your self with success after first getting your self uncomfortable.
Breaking Muscle: You truly began in a boxing gymnasium earlier than entering 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 bunch health form of factor. After which I picked up my first barbell in 2019.
In that gymnasium, they began a weight coaching class. It was like practical health, however I began to perform a little little bit of energy and conditioning. Once I came upon 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 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 type of coaching that I had.
An Adaptive athlete on Instagram reached out to me about it and I actually instructed him at first, “Hey, no offense, however I’ve seen CrossFit individuals. I respect it, however y’all are nuts. There’s no manner.” And he was similar to, “I really feel such as you would reply fairly effectively to it,” as a result of I had been posting about my health journey as much as that time.
He mentioned, “You’ve gotten a few months to coach. What’s the worst that may occur? You possibly can attempt it and hate it, and then you definately simply cease.” I noticed that was a very good 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 just 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 similar to, “Oh.” I perceive why these stigmas are there, however that is nothing like that and I truly cherished it.
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 believe there’s a distinction in that, clearly once you’re becoming it right into a CrossFit class, you’ll be able to solely have a lot intentionality at sure issues. It is rather related. You will be the very best athlete on the earth 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 degree that you simply’re personally at.
Clearly in case you’re an individual that’s simply seeking to typically get a bit of bit fitter and also you’re taking a CrossFit class, you’re not going to do it with the identical method and intentionality. It’s straightforward to say, “Oh, they’ve that motion, however I’m going to scale.” If you happen to don’t have a talent, you really want to place in some further time exterior of the category to be able to construct it.
You possibly can’t realistically count on 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 believe the content material of a CrossFit class is similar to what competing athletes expertise. They only method it with a special intent and so they’ll do extra of that.
BM: Earlier this yr, you turned a full-time athlete. What does that appear 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 remains to be not as intense as you’d say for the elite Particular person division. Adaptive divisions are a bit of bit totally different. And likewise, what my physique can bodily deal with on my one leg is a bit of bit totally different, as effectively. So I’m fairly acutely aware of that.
However I used to be undoubtedly within the gymnasium 4 to 5 hours a day, six days every week. It was nonetheless fairly intense. I began at that boxing gymnasium for enjoyable, ultimately began working there part-time, after which turned operations director of their three areas right here in Nashville. So I’ve performed 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 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 manner I can have each. So I made some fairly distinct selections and I used to be truly nonetheless coaching lessons 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 could 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 yr appear like?
AB: Technically talking, the offseason is now [September]. I’ll say, it’s a bit of bit totally different. There are all the time different competitions you’ll be able to expertise. With the non-adaptive divisions, loads of them are doing the Rogue Invitational on the finish of October. And there might 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, however 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 maintain progressing by way of 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 form of want is that there was a bit of 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 slightly below three weeks. And I’m taking a special 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 additionally, loads 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 principle, I believe there shouldn’t be. I believe, in actuality there’s, if I’m being trustworthy. 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, a lot of the emphasis might be placed on the elite divisions and the divisions that convey probably the most consideration, which I fully perceive.
On the similar time, I’d prefer to see that shift and develop a bit of bit extra as a result of I believe the opposite divisions might get extra air time and issues. I believe the athletes deserve that, as a result of I believe that there are athletes which might be simply straight-up unimaginable athletes, Adaptive or not, and they need to have a bit of 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 loads 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 imagine 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 believe, once more, once you hear “adaptive athlete,” in case you haven’t skilled it and seen it firsthand earlier than, it’s straightforward to suppose in your head what the competitors seems like. However they’re not realizing.
It’s humorous, I’m positive you noticed every thing with Roman [Khrennikov]* this yr. Unimaginable. I don’t wish 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 mentioned, “Man, he’s actually obtained 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 do 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 degree and doing all of these items simply as he’s. In order that’s the form of factor I simply want individuals noticed extra, truthfully.
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 simply wish 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.]
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 modifications, staff-wise. To not say something unhealthy on what it was, however I personally know the person who is moving 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 fantastically performed. Not excellent, as a result of adaptive divisions are all the time studying and adjusting, and it may be so messy. However so effectively performed. And so the truth that he now has a bit of 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 straightforward 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. If you happen to’re complaining about not having illustration, then you ought 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 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 an adolescent. I believe, 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 risk on that finish. Proper now, you’re coaching with the East Nashville PRVN group. 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 entire crew is there. And I used to be like, “Ho-ly crap.” I used to be doing clear & jerks subsequent to Tia simply attempting to be as quiet as attainable. However yeah, that’s been nice.
BM: How does that work, is it simply sharing a gymnasium or sharing programming? What’s the day-to-day like in a group environment?
AB: That was truly actually totally different than I used to be used to. However yeah, it’s group and group programming. For me, clearly it was a bit of bit totally different as a result of I don’t have the identical issues as the opposite groups.
Once I joined the group, each side, myself and them, had been fairly trustworthy. They had 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 method 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 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 gymnasium. 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 method you to look at sure items. And clearly no matter questions we’ve, we go to them and so they’ll assist alter from there.
BM: I noticed that you simply 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 very good query. Yeah, I might say possibly it clicked with me extra as a musician, however I believe it’s coming from that inventive house. It’s very relevant to something. I’m a really logical human being. If you happen to 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 practising scales for hours, however I might do it as a result of I felt the method distinction within the stunning, lyrical music I used to be doing that had technical features of it. It was very straightforward for me to make that connection.
However with regards 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 practising 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 manner 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 straightforward to speak about, however to sit down 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 e book 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. Every single day. And do it.” I used to be like, oh, OK, it’s like anything. It’s like practising scales, however another way.
BM: Talking of your mindset, considered one of video on the CrossFit Video games YouTube channel is your “Struggle for One Extra Rep.” It’s obtained 360,000 views to date. 20 seconds to go, nonetheless grinding away, you get one final rep.
Whenever 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 yet one more rep?
AB: That’s arduous and it will depend on what state of affairs 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 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 wish to shut down. Then the exercise turns into manner worse than it wanted to be as a result of I’m all in my head. However I attempt very arduous 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 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 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 burden was a PR for me. I had by no means gotten that over my head at that time earlier than. I actually instructed him “I can’t do that. I don’t wish to exit in public and wrestle, as a result of I do know it’s going to be a wrestle.” He mentioned, “You’ll struggle for each second. You’ll not stop.” 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 way of. And I believe, too, to not pull this card as a result of generally 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 totally 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 indicate up with an angle like, “Effectively 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 all the time make sure that to work my hardest.
BM: What do you suppose non-CrossFitters — let’s assume not the “haters,” however the ones which might be truly excited about discovering one thing helpful — what might they get from CrossFit coaching as an entire?
AB: I might say seeing the significance of staying in line 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, in case you’re a first-timer, and say “Effectively, I’m by no means going to do this.”
However you begin with tiny issues. “Effectively, I discovered a kip. After which I discovered a kipping pull-up. After which I discovered a kipping chest-to-bar.” After which a pair months later… Fairly than simply shutting it down. Simply do a tiny bit at a time. And that’s so relevant to issues exterior in life.
I believe additionally, individuals can love or hate this phrase, however “getting into the ache cave.” It is likely one of the hardest issues on the earth to really feel bodily ache, once you’re simply so drained and wish to surrender. 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 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 might do” has given me a lot confidence and psychological stamina to not surrender in different areas of my life.
So once I method my job, it’s like, “That is tiring or that is arduous, 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 gymnasium to exterior the gymnasium.
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 like CrossFit, I like competing. I believe loads of what I wish to proceed to do and I’m form of rising into is, once I discuss to individuals, I all the time wish 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 believe lots of people can relate to that after they hear “CrossFit,” or perhaps a gymnasium setting generally. It’s simply very intimidating. Notice you don’t need to look X, Y, Z to be able to stroll right into a gymnasium house. You don’t need to wish to compete. You don’t need to need any of these issues.
Nevertheless it really is usually a life-changing expertise to only do one thing that you simply’re a bit of bit fearful of, and continue to grow in that, and see the place it takes you. Out and in of the gymnasium. I do talking engagements, there are issues which might be arising I’m actually enthusiastic about, however it all comes from that. Me wanting to speak that thought.
You don’t want conditions to be able to begin CrossFit or every other sport, or to do issues that scare you. You simply must be prepared to be a bit of bit uncomfortable and to maintain going after you fail.
BM: Good. So what’s the very best place for individuals to search 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. Will probably be each. And naturally my socials, Instagram and TikTok, primarily. Onelegtostandon.
Featured Picture: @onelegtostandon / Instagram