Many world-class opponents are die-hard athletes who dreamed about successful championship titles for years. Amy Bream isn’t one in every of them. A self-admitted “non-athlete” for almost all of her life, Bream spent her youthful years learning music quite than enjoying sports activities. Nonetheless, 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 the vast majority of her proper leg. The decided athlete hasn’t let that come wherever near stopping her, as she’s been a prime 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 coaching, the way forward for the Adaptive division, and learn how to shock your self with success after first getting your self uncomfortable.
Breaking Muscle: You really began in a boxing health club earlier than moving into weight coaching. How’d you begin there and find yourself right here?
Amy Bream: I didn’t used to exercise a lot. Positively not in public or something like that. So I began boxing in 2015. It wasn’t sparring or something, it was extra of a bunch health sort of factor. After which I picked up my first barbell in 2019.
In that health club, 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 discovered 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 suppose you’ll’ve gotten into CrossFit coaching if there wasn’t that avenue to compete?
AB: You recognize, that’s a great query. I don’t know, as a result of I used to be content material with the place I used to be and I used to be content material with the model of coaching that I had.
An Adaptive athlete on Instagram reached out to me about it and I actually advised him at first, “Hey, no offense, however I’ve seen CrossFit individuals. I respect it, however y’all are nuts. There’s no approach.” And he was similar 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 mentioned, “You might have a few months to coach. What’s the worst that may occur? You may attempt it and hate it, and you then simply cease.” I spotted that was a great 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 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 recognize, 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 liked it.
BM: That does deliver up one matter that the “haters,” or the critics, have. They contemplate ‘CrossFit coaching’ completely 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 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 vitally comparable. You may be one of the 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 stage that you simply’re personally at.
Clearly for those who’re an individual that’s simply seeking to typically get a bit bit healthier and also you’re taking a CrossFit class, you’re not going to do it with the identical strategy and intentionality. It’s simple to say, “Oh, they’ve that motion, however I’m going to scale.” Should you don’t have a talent, you really want to place in some additional time exterior of the category with a view to construct it.
You may’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 simply strategy it with a special 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 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’ll say for the elite Particular person division. Adaptive divisions are a bit bit completely different. And in addition, what my physique can bodily deal with on my one leg is a bit bit completely different, as nicely. So I’m fairly aware of that.
However I used to be undoubtedly within the health club 4 to 5 hours a day, six days every week. It was nonetheless fairly intense. I began at that boxing health club for enjoyable, finally began working there part-time, after which grew to become operations director of their three places 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 great little bit of this yr to make extra room for coaching. As that stored progressing, it grew to become fairly clear. If I wish 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 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 appear like?
AB: Technically talking, the offseason is now [September]. I’ll say, it’s a bit bit completely different. There are all the time different competitions you’ll be able to expertise. With the non-adaptive divisions, lots 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’d say, the season of what individuals see is beginning with the CrossFit Open, often in February, and also you simply maintain progressing by means of qualifiers to attempt to make it to the Video games. So for those who’re in that loop, it simply will get increasingly more intense. After which lockdown season is the top of Might up till the Video games in August.
One factor that I do sort of want is that there was a bit bit extra cohesiveness with Adaptive divisions. It’s been my expertise that Adaptive competitions are rising, which is nice. 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 special 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 additionally, lots of the adaptive competitions are in direction of the top of the yr and the technical non-adaptive division begins up at first of the yr. So I don’t really feel like I’ve a lot respiration room as a result of I compete about each three months regardless. However, once more, for this season it’s working.
BM: In your thoughts, or in your ear, is there a distinction between being known as an “Adaptive athlete” versus “an athlete?”
AB: In idea, I believe there shouldn’t be. I believe, in actuality there may be, if I’m being trustworthy. And I believe that goes to each side as a result of, if I’m being completely blunt, clearly for those who’re competitions just like the Video games, a lot of the emphasis can be placed on the elite divisions and the divisions that deliver probably the most consideration, which I utterly perceive.
On the similar time, I’d prefer to see that shift and develop a bit bit extra as a result of I believe the opposite divisions 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 unbelievable athletes, Adaptive or not, and they need to have a bit bit extra, I don’t know if the phrase is “respect,” however simply recognition for it.
I don’t suppose individuals even notice simply how good lots 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 imagine it. Casey Acree flew by means of, undefeated, and it’s crickets. But when an Particular person competitor did that — first place, first place, first place straight by means 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,” for those who haven’t skilled it and seen it firsthand earlier than, it’s simple to suppose in your head what the competitors seems like. However they’re not realizing.
It’s humorous, I’m positive you noticed every thing with Roman [Khrennikov]* this yr. Unimaginable. I don’t wish to take away from that. All of that was unbelievable. Him doing [jump rope] double-unders. I can’t think about the emotional state that he was in. Being in first place and having to go and present up, and all of these issues.
However the crowd was like, “That’s unbelievable!” Which it was. It was. I used to be watching it on-line and I 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 received 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’d 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 these items simply as he’s. In order that’s the sort of factor I simply want individuals noticed extra, actually.
And once more, for those who’re not uncovered to it, you’re not uncovered to it. So I do perceive. However my level is, for those who say that you simply wish to present an area for adaptive athletes, make individuals uncovered to it. You recognize? 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.]
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 provided that they’ve made some adjustments, staff-wise. To not say something dangerous on what it was, however I personally know the individual that is entering into the function from a programming standpoint.
I’ve been to different competitions the place he’s been over the adaptive elements and it was fantastically accomplished. Not excellent, 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 a bit bit extra management in that provides me confidence.
I’ll say, too, that a few of it’s on the adaptive divisions, as a result of it’s very simple for adaptive athletes to be like, “We would like this, we what this, and we wish this.” For one, I get it, however persistence. And two, be proactive. Should you’re complaining about not having illustration, then try to be paying to indicate 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’d 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 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 chance on that finish. Proper now, you’re coaching with the East Nashville PRVN workforce. Are you rubbing elbows with Tia and Shane or is it simply whoever’s round?
AB: Yeah, just about. I imply proper now it’s the offseason so clearly Tia and Shane are in Australia. However yeah, that was an enormous hurdle for me simply because I used to be actually intimidated. My first session with them, I assumed I used to be going to be with one 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 health club or sharing programming? What’s the day-to-day like in a workforce environment?
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 a bit bit completely different as a result of I don’t have the identical issues as the opposite groups.
After I joined the workforce, each side, myself and them, had been fairly 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’d 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 health club. They’ve a workforce of athletes, coaches Shane and Dwight, Nick, and some others. Everybody’s simply strolling round.
It’s not fairly one-on-one essentially on a regular basis and it’s not like a fishbowl impact. However you’re doing all of your exercise and the coaches will strategy you to observe sure items. And clearly no matter questions we’ve got, we go to them and so they’ll assist alter from there.
BM: I noticed that you simply just lately loved studying “The Conflict of Artwork” by Steven Pressfield. Did that click on with you as an athlete or as a musician?
AB: Oh, that’s a great query. Yeah, I’d say perhaps 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. Should you inform me to do one thing, OK, however for those who 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 working towards scales for hours, however I’d do it as a result of I felt the approach distinction within the stunning, lyrical music I used to be doing that had technical features of it. It was very simple for me to make that connection.
However in terms of one thing that feels larger image and scary, and depends extra on a quote-unquote inventive sense, I’ll distract myself with, “I’ll return to working towards scales, thanks very a lot.” It’s more durable 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 adjustments 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 had 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 guide 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. Daily. And do it.” I used to be like, oh, OK, it’s like anything. It’s like working towards scales, however differently.
BM: Talking of your mindset, one in every 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 suppose, “Meh, additional relaxation. I’ll wait.” How do you focus for that yet one more rep?
AB: That’s laborious and it is dependent upon what state of affairs 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 simple 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 approach 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 number 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 it’s a must 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 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 wish 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 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 successful the occasion. It was nearly pushing by means of. And I believe, too, to not pull this card as a result of typically I believe it may be overused, however I’m very grateful for having one thing that makes me very conscious of what I’ve.
Lacking a leg has made me extra conscious that I’ve three full-functioning limbs that I can use to the fullest. And going to different adaptive competitions and seeing individuals with completely different challenges, and arguably a lot better challenges than what I expertise, has made me so grateful for what I’ve.
And I believe, to 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 may 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 certain to work my hardest.
BM: What do you suppose non-CrossFitters — let’s assume not the “haters,” however the ones which might be really involved in discovering one thing helpful — what might they get from CrossFit coaching as an entire?
AB: I’d say seeing the significance of staying according to small issues, the way it contributes to the massive image. As a result of it’s very simple to have a look at individuals doing muscle-ups, for those who’re a first-timer, and say “Effectively, I’m by no means going to try this.”
However you begin with tiny issues. “Effectively, 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… Quite 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 “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 wish to quit. And the adrenaline you are feeling, even for those who’re not successful, 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 quit in different areas of my life.
So after I strategy my job, it’s like, “That is tiring or that is laborious, however I’ll end it. I’ll accomplish this process.” And that’s so useful in life.
BM: It sounds virtually “meatheady” to say, however there’s a lot carryover from the health club to exterior the health club.
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 believe lots of what I wish to proceed to do and I’m sort of rising into is, after I speak 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 lots of issues.
I believe lots of people can relate to that after they hear “CrossFit,” or perhaps a health club setting on the whole. It’s simply very intimidating. Notice you don’t need to look X, Y, Z with a view to stroll right into a health club area. You don’t need to wish to compete. You don’t need to need any of these issues.
But it surely really is usually a life-changing expertise to only do one thing that you simply’re a bit bit petrified of, and continue to grow in that, and see the place it takes you. Out and in of the health club. I do talking engagements, there are issues which might be developing I’m actually enthusiastic about, nevertheless it all comes from that. Me wanting to speak that thought.
You don’t want stipulations with a view to begin CrossFit or some other sport, or to do issues that scare you. You simply have to be prepared to be a bit bit uncomfortable and to maintain going after you fail.
BM: Excellent. So what’s one of the best place for individuals to seek out your stuff?
AB: My web site’s simply amybream.com. They’ll 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