September 30, 2023


Healthy Life

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

19 min read

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 finding out music somewhat than enjoying 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 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 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 the way to shock your self with success after first getting your self uncomfortable.

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

Breaking Muscle: You truly began in a boxing gymnasium 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 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 useful health, however I began to perform a little little bit of power and conditioning. Once I came upon CrossFit had Adaptive divisions in 2021, January of 2021 is definitely after I began making an attempt 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 assume you’ll’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 model 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 method.” 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 stated, “You might 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 spotted that was an excellent level. I’ve a aggressive persona. 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 truly beloved it.

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

BM: That does convey up one matter that the “haters,” or the critics, have. They contemplate ‘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 while 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 comparable. You will be the very best athlete on the planet and go take a CrossFit class and get your butt kicked. As a result of you’ll be able to push to no matter depth degree that you just’re personally at.

Clearly when you’re an individual that’s simply trying to typically get just a little bit healthier and also you’re taking a CrossFit class, you’re not going to do it with the identical method 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 actually need to place in some further time exterior of the category with the intention to construct it.

You’ll be able to’t realistically anticipate to be taught 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 be taught. So I feel the content material of a CrossFit class is similar to what competing athletes expertise. They simply method it with a special intent they usually’ll do extra of that.

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

AB: It relies on the season of coaching. Main as much as the Video games, sure, that’s what I used to be doing. And my coaching remains to be not as intense as you’ll say for the elite Particular person division. Adaptive divisions are just a little bit totally different. And in addition, what my physique can bodily deal with on my one leg is just a little bit totally different, as properly. So I’m fairly aware of that.

However I used to be positively 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 grew to become operations director of their three places right here in Nashville. So I’ve executed 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 saved progressing, it grew to become fairly clear. If I need to do different issues and attempt to develop my very own issues on the facet, there’s simply no method 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 may be very totally different now.

BM: So now, do you will 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 appear to be?

AB: Technically talking, the offseason is now [September]. I’ll say, it’s just a little bit totally different. There are all the time different competitions you’ll be able to expertise. With the non-adaptive divisions, a number 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, 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, normally in February, and also you simply hold progressing via qualifiers to attempt to make it to the Video games. So when you’re in that loop, it simply will get an increasing number of intense. After which lockdown season is the top 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. Nevertheless it’s not precisely on the identical schedule because the Video games. So I truly depart to compete in Australia in just 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 in addition, a number of the adaptive competitions are in direction of the top 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 concept, I feel there shouldn’t be. I feel, in actuality there may be, if I’m being sincere. And I feel that goes to either side as a result of, if I’m being completely blunt, clearly when you’re competitions just like the Video games, a lot of the emphasis will likely be placed on the elite divisions and the divisions that convey probably the most consideration, which I utterly perceive.

On the identical time, I’d wish to see that shift and develop just a little bit extra as a result of I feel the opposite divisions might get extra air time and issues. I feel the athletes deserve that, as a result of I feel that there are athletes which can be simply straight-up unbelievable 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 individuals even understand simply how good a number of adaptive athletes are. And I’m not even being like, “Oh, I’m so good.” I’m simply speaking the game usually. I’ve seen adaptive athletes kick non-adaptive athletes’ ass. It’s for actual.

BM: I consider it. Casey Acree flew via, undefeated, and it’s crickets. But when an Particular person competitor did that — first place, first place, first place straight via in each occasion — for certain, it’s noticeable.

[Editor’s Note: Casey Acree is a three-time CrossFit Games champion in the Men’s Upper Extremity Adaptive division (2021, 2022, 2023). In both 2022 and 2023, Acree maintained an undefeated winning streak for a total of 25 events, placing first in every workout from the CrossFit Open through to the Games.]

AB: Sure, precisely. And I feel, once more, while you hear “adaptive athlete,” when you haven’t skilled it and seen it firsthand earlier than, it’s simple to assume in your head what the competitors seems like. However they’re not realizing.

It’s humorous, I’m certain you noticed every part 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 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 bought to watch out about doing all these actions on one leg.”

And I keep in mind simply stopping and pondering, 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 try 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. 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, when you’re not uncovered to it, you’re not uncovered to it. So I do perceive. However my level is, when 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 way in which 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, Brief 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’s going to change for the higher on condition that they’ve made some adjustments, staff-wise. To not say something unhealthy 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 executed. Not excellent, as a result of adaptive divisions are all the time studying and adjusting, and it may be so messy. However so properly executed. And so the truth that he now has just a little 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 wish this, we what this, and we would like this.” For one, I get it, however persistence. And two, be proactive. Should you’re complaining about not having illustration, then you need to be paying to point out 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 might like to see that. I didn’t ever see adaptive athletes after I was a teen. This wasn’t a factor. I’ll say, as messy because it’s been, there’s so many alternatives for adaptive athletes that weren’t a factor after I was a youngster. I feel, let’s simply hold 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 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 making an attempt 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 just a little bit totally different as a result of I don’t have the identical issues as the opposite groups.

Once I joined the group, either side, myself and them, had been fairly sincere. 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 power 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 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 of your exercise and the coaches will method you to observe sure items. And clearly no matter questions we now have, we go to them they usually’ll assist modify from there.

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

BM: I noticed that you just 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 an excellent query. Yeah, I might say possibly it clicked with me extra as a musician, however I feel 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 when 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 training scales for hours, however I might do it as a result of I felt the approach distinction within the stunning, lyrical music I used to be doing that had technical facets of it. It was very simple for me to make that connection.

However in relation 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, after I learn it, I had plans and I knew that I wished to make adjustments in my job. Just because I wished 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 method 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 simple to speak about, however to take a seat down at a pc and make these issues occur was a wrestle for me for a very long time, as a result of oftentimes I’d really feel overwhelmed and I’d keep away from doing these issues. Studying that 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. Day-after-day. And do it.” I used to be like, oh, OK, it’s like anything. It’s like training scales, however another way.

BM: Talking of your mindset, one in all video on the CrossFit Video games YouTube channel is your “Combat for One Extra Rep.” It’s bought 360,000 views to date. 20 seconds to go, nonetheless grinding away, you get one final rep.

If you’re approaching the time cap in an occasion and, to be frank, if it’s clear you’re not going to win the occasion, how do you not simply assume, “Meh, further relaxation. I’ll wait.” How do you focus for that another rep?

Extra from Breaking Muscle:

AB: That’s arduous and it relies on 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 shortly that I’m not going to win it, and I simply need to shut down. Then the exercise turns into method 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 specific 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 part. You’ve earned your proper to be right here. You’ll give every part that you must 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 wrestle, as a result of I do know it’s going to be a wrestle.” He stated, “You’ll battle for each second. You’ll not give up.” And I used to be like, “OK.”

I feel that’s what resonated with individuals, as a result of lots of people did reply to that video. I imply, I used to be final. It wasn’t about successful the occasion. It was nearly pushing via. 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 larger challenges than what I expertise, has made me so grateful for what I’ve.

And I feel, to point out up with an perspective like, “Properly if I’m not gonna win, I’m not gonna do it in any respect,” is only a slap within the face to everybody that 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 sure that to work my hardest.

BM: What do you assume non-CrossFitters — let’s assume not the “haters,” however the ones which can be truly inquisitive 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 step with 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, when you’re a first-timer, and say “Properly, I’m by no means going to try this.”

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

I feel additionally, individuals can love or hate this phrase, however “getting into the ache cave.” It is without doubt one of the hardest issues on the planet to really feel bodily ache, while you’re simply so drained and need to hand over. And the adrenaline you are feeling, even when you’re not successful, however ending one thing.

In 75% of my exercises, I’ll have at the least 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 hand over in different areas of my life.

So after I method my job, it’s like, “That is tiring or that is arduous, 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 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 find out about?

AB: Not essentially. I like CrossFit, I like competing. I feel a number of what I need to proceed to do and I’m form of rising into is, after I speak 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 a number of issues.

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

Nevertheless it really could be a life-changing expertise to simply do one thing that you just’re just a little bit frightened 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 can be arising I’m actually enthusiastic about, however it all comes from that. Me wanting to speak that thought.

You don’t want stipulations with the intention to begin CrossFit or every other sport, or to do issues that scare you. You simply must be keen to be just a little bit uncomfortable and to maintain going after you fail.

BM: Excellent. So what’s the very best place for individuals to seek out your stuff?

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

Featured Picture: @onelegtostandon / Instagram

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