Name: Brandy Botter
Age: 28, unless you are reading this after October 8th
Tell us about your sports & fitness background
I started off in gymnastics but it didn’t take long to realize team sports were a bit more my style, so I started playing basketball and shortly after volleyball. When I missed a few free throws and my coach told me to set the next one, I knew it was time to focus on volleyball. I played competitively year-round and on the club team at Texas A&M. I also spent most of my free time playing doubles, which is how I stayed in shape (or so I thought) during college. I liked the idea of going to the rec and lifting weights, but I would always find myself bored or distracted, messing around on one machine or another until I had stayed a reasonable amount of time. I would go for a very occasional run, always turning around much sooner than I had planned. This continued for a few years after college until I tried crossfit.
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel?
My sister had started crossfit and her boyfriend was coaching, so naturally it was all they ever talked about. It just seemed like something I would like. I had been working a lot of hours and needed to find something else to do with my time and energy, so I decided to give it a try. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t like the idea of my sister being so much stronger and faster than me.
I started out 3 years ago at another box. I don’t remember much of my first few WODs, other than feeling completely out of my element even though most of the movements were not new to me. I did manage to screw up the rep scheme doing Annie my second week, when I quietly yelled time and everyone else was still working the coach just shook his head and told me to keep going. At the beginning it took days to recover from every workout, but I think my adrenaline carried me through and I was hooked.
What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF H-Town (before/after)?
I have had surgery on my right shoulder twice due to volleyball injuries. I spent almost a year rehabbing both times, but it was constantly bothering me. I was doing crossfit at another box after my second surgery, but never focused on strengthening my shoulder or improving my form to avoid injury.
Last fall I injured it again, and then spent the next 6 months ignoring it. In April I finally decided I needed to deal with it if I wanted to avoid a third surgery, so I took several weeks off of crossfit and started doing PT (shout out to Seth for all of his hard work, encouragement, and constant but much appreciated nagging). When I got back in the gym, I had to go light and scale almost everything for several months. As frustrating as it was, it forced me to focus on my olympic lifting form, work on some of my weaknesses (turns out front squats are the scale for all things overhead), and spend more time strengthening my core and building up my endurance. I also spent a lot of time outside of the box doing PT. I still have work to do, but in the last month I’ve hit PR’s in the snatch, clean & jerk, and overhead squat, and started doing pull-ups again. More importantly, for the first time in 8 years I’m not in constant pain.
On top of all of that, I have lost pounds and inches and my body composition has changed. I’m eating better, sleeping better, and generally just have more energy.
What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected?
There are so many, but here are a few –
I’ve never really been one to set goals, but I started writing down goals for crossfit. Having something to look back on to see what I had accomplished and written reminders of what I’m working towards really helped me stay motivated, so I started doing this in other aspects of my life as well.
I have more confidence. More energy. I have surrounded myself with more positive and supportive people. When you walk into a box, everybody is so supporting and encouraging and it makes a huge impact, and I’ve come to expect that in other areas of my life as well.
Do you have a favorite/least favorite movement/lift?
I love handstand push-ups. And of course power cleans. Though, if it’s a moderate to heavy weight I would rather just squat clean it. Whoa. Did I just say that? Thanks Coach Mike!
Rowing is my least favorite thing. Nothing else is even close. OK maybe thrusters.
What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit?
Playing volleyball, but now I’m thinking about taking up golf instead. I try to travel every chance I get. Food. Yes, it’s a hobby. I love trying new restaurants, and when I travel I plan my entire trip based on Yelp reviews.
Any advice for people just getting started? Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / H-Town moments:
Outside of hitting PR’s and doing things I never thought I could, some of my favorite moments have been dropping into other boxes when I travel, doing hero WODs on holidays, reinventing childhood games like dodgeball, and going to regionals to cheer on some incredible athletes.
As far as advice, don’t ignore your injuries or try to push through them. Seriously. Whether it’s pride, lack of time, not being aware of your body. Whatever. It’s not worth it. The coaches have been great (and creative) at helping me scale workouts while still challenging me. Mobilize as much as you can. Break down your weaknesses and work on them. When I first started out I would just struggle through lifts and movements thinking I just needed to get stronger, but my form was terrible and I wasn’t improving much.
I started working on 1 or 2 small things at a time (the coaches have been a great resource for this as well), and now I feel like I make progress every single time I go to the box. And finally, as Joe and Heath would say, “just have fun with it.”