Brittany Briere

In 2010 I sustained life altering injuries after being hit by a car. Before the accident, I lead an active life as a part time soldier in the National Guard, a budding hairstylist, and I trained mixed martial arts a few times a week. Eager to recover from my injuries, I pushed to diet and train as much as I could. The more I dieted, the more weight I seemed to gain. I felt awful daily, dizzy, nauseous, lethargic, and hyper-sensitive.

As my bones healed, I noticed I still had a limp, and my knee would hyper-extend even when walking. The compensation from my injuries caused all sorts of problems, and I was in a lot of pain. Eventually, I was medically discharged from the Army, gave up MMA, and just did the best I could to continue to work as a stylist. I fought all the way down to get back to my old self, but eventually, I hit rock bottom. I felt desolate and ashamed of how far I had fallen.

I needed to change my thought process. Heavier than ever, I let go of dieting. I stopped trying to force myself to get better, and accepted that I needed to focus on feeling well. I realized that doctors could only do so much, and began doing my own research to forge my path to recovery. I began to have compassion for myself. I started sleeping as much as I could, aiming for ten hours a night. I found a way to budget in as much massage therapy as I could afford. I focused on eating nutritious, satisfying foods without restricting calories or avoiding any food groups. I was mindful to stay hydrated and avoid anything that compromised my path to recovery, like drinking alcohol. I had to resist the urge to be hard on myself, and trust the process laid out by my research. As time went on and I started to feel better, I added hot yoga and more walking to the mix. Yoga allowed me to build strength while learning to connect to what truly serves my needs. I let go of the expectations of who I used to be, and I started developing compassion for myself.

Eventually, joining 212 became the next step. I messaged Kerry with my situation, and he felt confident that his approach could get me back to leading an active life. Sean has been amazing in guiding me through the process. We joke about my seemingly rebellious attitude, but I have learned to listen to myself and do what serves me that day. It is that same kind of intuition that makes Sean a really great fit for me. He knows when to let me do my thing, and when to nudge me to a heavier weight, or a certain mobility drill. Sean understands that some days I don't feel that well, and he shows me compassion by modifying the workout for me. I never feel judged by anyone at 212 for the way I am, and that support is instrumental in long term success.

In October I will be a member at 212 for two years, and it will mark the sixth year since my accident. As I improve physically, I practice compassion for myself daily. That doesn't mean that at times I do not want to give in to the societal pressures that boast fad dieting, weight loss shakes, and excessive workout routines that aim to make you feel inadequate so they can profit. My focus on feeling well is still the same, but growing more specific as I improve in my performance. Sometimes I feel it takes more effort to be present with yourself and not conform to these pressures than it does to give in, but I know where I could end up again.

212 is great because they have cultivated an environment virtually free of the disordered thinking that caused me to hit rock bottom so hard. There is none of that elitist attitude found at other gyms. Many of the members here have been coming for years, and they offer realistic inspiration. Working out should be fun, sustainable, and it should improve your quality of life, not cause injury or excessive wear and tear. I no longer feel the need to measure my value in what I can lift, or how much I weigh. That kind of self love has taken me years to develop, and must be practiced daily, but it has been paramount in my success this far.

Thanks to 212 I have one less thing to worry about. On the days I need an extra push, I tell myself, "just get there, just show up," and the team takes care of the rest for me. Other times, I need to quiet the outside influence, and listen to my intuition. I am able to put on headphones, and just do what makes me feel good comfortably. This sort of platform allows me to save my energy for being a full time student and a professional. It gives me the foundation to be a better person, and to challenge myself. It alleviates stress for me, and keeps me well. I no longer feel anxious that I will fall off track, because I know 212 is there for me. I cannot thank the team enough for that. Through tough semesters, family tragedy, and life changes I have been able to keep improving my health and performance one workout at a time. I am so happy to be part of such a positive community and I look forward to growing more in the years to come.