Many world-class opponents are die-hard athletes who dreamed about successful 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 relatively than taking part in sports activities. Nonetheless, when circumstances unexpectedly aligned, she noticed a possibility 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 possibility to get her concepts about CrossFit coaching, the way forward for the Adaptive division, and shock your self with success after first getting your self uncomfortable.
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 practical health, however I began to do some 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 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 already know, that’s a superb 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 folks. I respect it, however y’all are nuts. There’s no manner.” 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 you then simply cease.” I noticed that was a superb level. I’ve a aggressive character. 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 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 seemed 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 really liked it.
BM: That does carry up one matter that the “haters,” or the critics, have. They contemplate ‘CrossFit coaching’ completely different from ‘coaching for CrossFit.’ They’ll say, “The folks on the Video games don’t practice CrossFit.” However, do you? Is there a distinction?
AB: I believe there’s a distinction in that, clearly if you’re becoming it right into a CrossFit class, you may solely have a lot intentionality at sure issues. It is extremely comparable. You might be one of the best athlete on this planet and go take a CrossFit class and get your butt kicked. As a result of you may push to no matter depth stage that you just’re personally at.
Clearly should you’re an individual that’s simply seeking to usually get just a little 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 straightforward to say, “Oh, they’ve that motion, however I’m going to scale.” In case you don’t have a talent, you really want to place in some additional time exterior of the category with a purpose to construct it.
You’ll be able to’t realistically count on to be taught 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 be taught. So I believe the content material of a CrossFit class is similar to what competing athletes expertise. They simply strategy it with a distinct intent they usually’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 depends 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’ll say for the elite Particular person division. Adaptive divisions are just a little bit completely different. And in addition, what my physique can bodily deal with on my one leg is just a little bit completely different, as nicely. So I’m fairly 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 turned operations director of their three areas right here in Nashville. So I’ve accomplished that full-time for about six years now.
And I stepped again and went to part-time a superb little bit of this yr to make extra room for coaching. As that stored progressing, it turned fairly clear. If I need 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 choices and I used to be really nonetheless coaching courses 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 completely different now.
BM: So now, do you’ve gotten 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 just a little bit completely different. There are all the time different competitions you may expertise. With the non-adaptive divisions, a variety 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, but it surely’s not fairly as intense because the CrossFit Video games. I’d say, the season of what folks see is beginning with the CrossFit Open, normally in February, and also you simply preserve progressing by 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 Might up till the Video games in August.
One factor that I do form of want is that there was just a little 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 depart to compete in Australia in just 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’d like to be in Australia and do all of these issues.
But in addition, a variety 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 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 believe there shouldn’t be. I believe, in actuality there’s, if I’m being trustworthy. And I believe that goes to either side as a result of, if I’m being completely blunt, clearly should you’re taking a look at competitions just like the Video games, many of the emphasis will likely be placed on the elite divisions and the divisions that carry probably the most consideration, which I fully perceive.
On the identical time, I’d wish to see that shift and develop just a little 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 are simply straight-up unimaginable athletes, Adaptive or not, and they need to have just a little bit extra, I don’t know if the phrase is “respect,” however simply recognition for it.
I don’t assume folks even notice simply how good a variety 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 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 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, if you hear “adaptive athlete,” should you haven’t skilled it and seen it firsthand earlier than, it’s straightforward to assume in your head what the competitors appears to be like like. However they’re not realizing.
It’s humorous, I’m positive you noticed all the things with Roman [Khrennikov]* this yr. Unbelievable. 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 received to watch out about doing all these actions on one leg.”
And I keep in mind simply stopping and pondering, folks really don’t know. He’s doing this exercise and, if I used to be doing this exercise, it’s precisely how I’d 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 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 form of factor I simply want folks noticed extra, truthfully.
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 folks 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.]
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 Perform, Seated with out Hip Perform, 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 person who is getting 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 accomplished. Not good, as a result of adaptive divisions are all the time studying and adjusting, and it may be so messy. However so nicely accomplished. And so the truth that he now has just a little 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 would like 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 have to be paying to indicate 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’d 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 youngster. I believe, 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.
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 complete 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 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 ambiance?
AB: That was really actually completely different than I used to be used to. However yeah, it’s group and workforce programming. For me, clearly it was just a little bit completely different as a result of I don’t have the identical issues as the opposite groups.
Once I joined the workforce, either side, myself and them, had been fairly trustworthy. 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’d 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 your exercise and the coaches will strategy you to observe sure items. And clearly no matter questions we have now, we go to them they usually’ll assist modify from there.
BM: I noticed that you just lately 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 superb query. Yeah, I’d say possibly it clicked with me extra as a musician, however I believe it’s coming from that inventive 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 should you inform me why I’m doing it and the way it will straight apply to the larger image, then I’m in.
So, as a musician, I didn’t like training scales for hours, however I’d 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 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 tougher to have that self-discipline with one thing that’s scary.
For me, that ebook 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 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 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 ebook 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-after-day. And do it.” I used to be like, oh, OK, it’s like the rest. It’s like training scales, however otherwise.
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 received 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 assume, “Meh, additional relaxation. I’ll wait.” How do you focus for that yet one more rep?
AB: That’s laborious and it depends upon what scenario I’m in. However I believe if I am 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 manner 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 individual occasion, I’ll always remember, a few of the video exhibits 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 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 advised 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 stated, “You’ll combat for each second. You’ll not give up.” And I used to be like, “OK.”
I believe that’s what resonated with folks, 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 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 folks 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 indicate 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 folks, I’ll all the time make certain to work my hardest.
BM: What do you assume non-CrossFitters — let’s assume not the “haters,” however the ones which are really inquisitive about discovering one thing helpful — what might they get from CrossFit coaching as an entire?
AB: I’d say seeing the significance of staying per small issues, the way it contributes to the massive image. As a result of it’s very straightforward to have a look at folks 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… Relatively 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, folks can love or hate this phrase, however “getting into the ache cave.” It is among the hardest issues on this planet to really feel bodily ache, if you’re simply so drained and need to quit. And the adrenaline you are feeling, even should you’re not successful, however ending one thing.
In 75% of my exercises, I’ll have a minimum of one level within the exercise pondering “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 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 exterior 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 folks to find out about?
AB: Not essentially. I really like CrossFit, I really like competing. I believe a variety of what I need to proceed to do and I’m form of rising into is, once I discuss to folks, I all the time need to be relatable. So having folks perceive I didn’t develop up athletic, that I didn’t develop up having confidence, simply a variety 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 need to look X, Y, Z with a purpose 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 actually generally is a life-changing expertise to simply do one thing that you just’re just a little bit afraid 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, but it surely all comes from that. Me wanting to speak that thought.
You don’t want stipulations with a purpose to begin CrossFit or another sport, or to do issues that scare you. You simply should be keen to be just a little bit uncomfortable and to maintain going after you fail.
BM: Good. So what’s one of the best place for folks 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 will likely be each. And naturally my socials, Instagram and TikTok, primarily. Onelegtostandon.
Featured Picture: @onelegtostandon / Instagram