This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Camille Brown.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
Hey there! My name is Camille Brown, a former NCAA D1 athlete turned into an Olympic Weightlifter. I have been an athlete my entire life. Competition drives me to push me to be the best that I can be. I grew up wanting nothing more than to become a collegiate athlete. I spent hours and hours in the gym and on the field to make my dream come true.
As I was going through college, I fell more and more in love with hitting PRs and seeing my body improve athletically each month. Fascinated with the human body and how it is able to do incredible things, I earned my BA in Kinesiology to further understand how to become faster and stronger and how to help others get to where they want to be.
I am currently a Strength and Conditioning Coach, a Personal Trainer and an athlete. I am actually answering this interview on a flight to Orlando to compete in a National competition in Olympic Weightlifting. My life is fully immersed in health and fitness. I absolutely love how this field is constantly evolving and growing. There is always a new challenge, something to learn, try and conquer.
You wrote to me that you’ve always been the competitive type – why is that?
I have Competitor’s blood. I was born wanting to beat the person next to me and push myself to do so. I fell in love with sports as a kid. I was always outside and constantly covered in dirt. There’s no greater feeling than knowing you have given everything in your power to do your best and reigning victorious.
When you were younger you were told you were too weak and too slow – how did that impact you?
I was bullied for being scrawny and for liking sports so much as a girl. I was not the starting player on my teams because I couldn’t hit the ball out of the infield. I didn’t give up and let this completely deter me from pursing my dream. That’s what I could’ve done. However I choose to rise above.
My burning passion was to play at the college level no matter what it took. I had too much heart for the game. So I put my head down and worked. I was strength training 5 days a week, going to club practices 2-3 times a week, seeing a batting coach, playing in tournaments weekly and dragging my dad to the local park to get the extra reps in. I did these for 5+ years to get to where I wanted to be. And it paid off!
You worked hard to play Division 1 NCAA collegiate softball – what was that like and for us in Europe and outside of the US, can you explain what that Division 1 NCAA stands for?
The NCAA is the associate for college sports in America. The Division 1 is the pinnacle of elite collegiate athletics. As a D1 NCAA athlete, you have a job. You’re expected to excel in your sport and then excel in your schoolwork. You have 12 hour days between 4 hour practices, 2 hours of weights and conditioning, classes, labs and study hall.
For preseason and season you are playing every weekend and constantly traveling. Every February we were on campus 9 days of the month. It was such a grind and I loved every minute of it.
And that got you into doing handstands and yoga to supplement your strength and mobility – do you still do things like yoga outside of your lifting?
I started to do handstands because I saw a photo on Instagram of someone doing it and I told myself “That’s so cool, I want to do that!” So I taught myself. I then got into more yoga movements to maintain mobility and range of motion to be a better athlete. I do RomWod to keep my flexibility up. It’s not yoga, but kindof like yoga and has meditative aspects to it. I am on my hands as much as I can, I just love being upside down. A lot of people ask me if I was ever a gymnasts, and I can’t say I ever competed in gymnastics! I find being upside down fascinating and it’s always a challenge.
So you compete in Olympic Weightlifting and Crossfit and I’ve seen footage of some pretty impressive lifts – what’s your best advice for women to get stronger? Where do they start?
Yes I do! I compete in Olympic Weightlifting on a National level and do love crossfitty things now and again for kicks and giggles.
My advice for women is to understand you’re stronger than you think. I work with so many women who say “Oh I can’t do that weight” out of being intimidatingly failing. Failing is part of the process, and it’s essential to growth. I always suggest for women to try the weight and if it’s too difficult, or done with poor form to go down in weight. And so many women surprise themselves. They are shocked because their perceptions have gotten in the way of getting to where they want to be. I would also suggest to start with learning from someone who knows how to teach proper form. It’s really hard to pick up new lifts on your own. These lifts are so beneficial to overall quality of life, but they need to be done correctly.
How do you stay motivated and keep pushing yourself to improve and how do you deal with the occasional bad day?
I have bad days ALL the time. I would say I have bad days at practice more than I have good days. It may seem so cliché but all the rough days, the failed lifts, the struggle just to get to the gym after working since 4:45am makes the good days worth so much. I stay motivated throughout the frustration because I remember my goals. I remember the girl in 8th grade who decided to not let anyone stand in her scrawny way to get where she wanted to go.
I think about where I currently am and where I want to be, which helps me get myself into the gym. Then lastly I put things into perspective if I am having a really hard day; I tell myself that this is a privilege. I truly enjoy bettering myself through education, work, and especially sport. It is a privilege to be able to walk into the gym, practice a sport I love, work towards my goals, and have a few hours to think about nothing else but challenging myself physically.
You hold a kinesiology bachelor’s degree with a minor in psychology and love learning – what has been the most important lesson you’ve learned about health and fitness this far?
The biggest thing I have learned is find what works for YOU and YOUR body. We all hear about these crazy diets that work for someone and we try them, they don’t work and we get frustrated and give up. Every body is different, we all come from different walks of life, grew up on different meals, have different metabolisms and digestive tracts, the list is endless.
Of course there are the general rules to healthy eating, but for the most part, it is constantly finding the right diet for you. Sometimes this is a struggle, and it will be a trial and error effect, but in the end it is so worth it. For instance, whole grains work incredibly great for me. I was raised on whole-wheat pasta and breads and oatmeals. These grains give me fuel for workouts and I feel great with a solid amount of carbs. One of my best friends however, is straight Paleo and does all workouts fueled by just veggies, another form of carb because she feels less bloated and it helps her skin. We both have similar intensive training regimes, same height and weight, but different meals that work for our bodies.
Let’s talk a little bit about goals. You love setting goals and then crushing them – how do you go about setting goals for yourself and do you have a specific plan of attack when it comes to achieving them?
I set goals based off of things I cannot stop thinking about. I think to myself, I really want to do this! And then if I can’t stop thinking about how badly I want to be there and achieve this, than I will keep thinking of ways that will help me get there, I know it’s real. Once I have established the level of passion for this thought, I turn it into a goal.
I make reasonable timelines for myself to set myself up for success. The key is making it reasonable. So many people create goals and set a time frame that is drastically unrealistic, to which they get frustrated and give up. Also, do your research! So many things sound too good to be true, like drop 20 pounds in just one week and keep it off!! NO! Do your research to make sure the avenue you’re going to take to get to your goals are legitimate. Find the best coach, mentor, friend, plan, class, whatever it may be to get where you want to go.
My biggest thing is in order to attain a goal it must be realistic, and with constant hard work, it can be done. Of course there are doubts that I experience and I question myself all the time. However, if I truly believe in myself and have those that I love the most in my corner who believe in me more than I believe in myself, I know I will make it.
You’re currently a strength and conditioning coach – I know that one of your aspirations it to become a great coach and inspire athletes young – who has been your biggest inspiration in life?
I am actually at two different jobs now! I am an Elite trainer at Afterburn Fitness and I am a Strength and Conditioning Coach at an all-girls high school! I love coaching, especially the youth. I had such an impactful and successful story to get where I wanted to go as a kid, that I want to give kids the same experience.
My biggest inspiration throughout my life would be my father. He is the one who recognized my burning passion for my sports as a kid and signed me up for my strength and conditioning program. He did everything he could to find the best batting coaches for me to learn from. He drove me to every practice, tournament and to the local park to help me with extra reps.
He always believed in me. Even more than I believed in myself. When I doubted myself for being too weak or too slow, he encouraged me to go to weights the next day. He reminded me how much I loved doing what I was doing and reminded me of my goals. He had more faith in me as an athlete than I ever had through the entire process. This is because – this is how he lives his life. He is always positive when things get hard, he taught me that playing a sport was a privilege and gave me a solid perspective on the hard days. He has always been my biggest inspiration. (I know you’ll be reading this, hi Dad!!!)
As of lately, Conor Mcgregor is my favorite athlete of all time. The shear mentality of understanding that you have to believe in yourself more than anything else is incredible. He admits fault in loss, and works harder than any athlete I have ever seen. Believing in yourself is a very hard thing to do. And McGregor is the only celebrity I would be star-struck to meet because I idolize his work ethic and this mentality for training and competing in his sport.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?
Stay tuned for the next interview of Real Talk Real Women!