Our Female Athlete of the Month for November is Brandee Powers!
As her name implies, she's a POWER-house in the gym. But she's also a powerhouse at home where she currently homeschools her 7-year-old twins and 6-year old daughter. She makes sure she gets in every morning around 6am for FTX or BeachFit, before their school day begins. Since their school year began mid-August, Brandee has worked out every single WEEKDAY except for ONE. And on that Friday she missed, she made it up with a workout on Saturday. (How's that for a unique ESPN type stat?)
Brandee's total workouts at FitTown Jupiter recently passed the 900 mark and she has the coveted 1000 Workout mark within view. Brandee is never one to back down from a challenge and has competed in many Spartan races including a Spartan Ultra which is over 30 miles of obstacle course. Make sure you read her full story below to hear the details on that race.
You'll also want to read about Brandee's comeback from having a health issue that caused her to lose feeling in the lower half of her body, and having to retrain her body to function again back in the gym.
This supermom sets such a great example for her kids to follow and two of them are in FitKids class with Coach Tony. We are grateful to have Brandee and her family in our FitTown family!
It's Brandee's birthday on November 21st so make sure you wish her an awesome birthday!
Tell us a little background about supermom, Brandee Powers.
I am from North Carolina. I grew up in a household where hard work was taught, as well as always finishing what you start. However, health and fitness were not a high priority. I was not shown what it looked like to eat healthy or be physically fit. I lost my father at a young age. He had his first heart attack at the age of 38 and passed away from a fatal heart attack at the age of 46. I have no doubt his lifestyle was a huge contributing factor in his death. After losing my dad I knew I had to change my lifestyle. I began eating healthier than I ever had and truly working towards being fit and taking care of myself. I knew with my family history I needed to make changes in my own life.
I have a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in business administration. Prior to children, I was a pharmaceutical representative. I was a runner and worked out regularly. I have boy/girl 7-year-old twins, Aiden and Braelyn, a 6-year-old daughter, Caelyn, and a 14-year-old stepson, Noah. Aiden is in FitKids and plays baseball, Braelyn is in ballet and jazz, Caelyn is in FitKids, gymnastics, and dance, and Noah plays soccer. They are amazing kids. I am blessed that I get the privilege to be their teacher for homeschool currently.
During my twin pregnancy, I had to greatly reduce my workouts. My last pregnancy was full of complications and I spent the last 3-4 months of the pregnancy on strict hospital and home bedrest. After my daughter was born I had significant muscle atrophy from the months of little to no movement. This is when I began to work towards getting back to where I was. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to CFPB, now FitTown. Being a part of FitTown has been a huge privilege and blessing. I have not only regained my muscle strength but far surpassed where I was pre-pregnancy.
What’s something about you that others may not know about you? Any special talents, hobbies, or interests?
I am sure many of you know that I am a runner, I thoroughly enjoy running. It is a place where I can lose myself, destress, and think about anything that is going on in my life. What you may not know is that I also love to listen to true crime podcasts and running is where I get to indulge in this. I love to read and do jigsaw puzzles. I love the beach and pretty much anything outdoors. I am an adrenaline seeker but have tamed this some since having kids. I love an adventure.
Can you talk about your experience with Spartan Races and how you got into them?
I got into spartan races in 2017 to add something to my runs. I had not run any obstacle races before but growing up I was always outside climbing on things and playing in the woods. I was looking for something other than just another road race. I have absolutely enjoyed spartan races and the challenge that comes with each race. The comradery is also amazing.
Thanks to FitTown I have gained strength for the obstacles to go along with my running to be able to podium quite a few times. The race that I am the most proud of isn't one that I won, it is one that I fought tooth and nail to finish. It was the Spartan Ultra race last year. The Ultra is a 30+ mile, 60+ obstacle grueling trail race. I set a goal for myself to run the race. I did not train to win but to finish this race. It is a huge mental and physical race. The day pf the race I was "lucky" to have freezing temperatures and pouring rain the entire day. It took me 10 hours and 40 minutes to finish the race. It rained the entire time and I have never felt so cold. The rain and cold made many of the obstacles almost impossible which lead to 30 burpees in the wet mud for every failed obstacle.
I made a promise to myself and my kids to finish this race, so I pushed through. I wanted to quit so many times, but I have tried to instill in my children that we do not quit. I couldn't let them down or myself by quitting. The mental challenge of this race was tougher than the physical. It amazes me what the body can is capable of. I hope to finish one more Ultra race in better circumstances with the goal of not only finishing but getting on the podium.
You went through a pretty serious health obstacle and have come out on the other side even stronger. Can you share that experience?
In June of 2018 I had an acute transverse myelitis attack. I was out of town in North Carolina when it happened. During my hospital stay I was given every test possible to determine the cause of my TM. Everything was ruled out with the exception of an isolated event with no known cause or possible Multiple Sclerosis. At this time I get regular MRI's to check for other lesions, which would indicate MS. I am hopeful that it will continue to be an isolated TM event and not MS.
After my event I lost a great deal of feeling below my spinal lesion. I was partially paralyzed from my waist down. I could not control many muscle movements, I had difficulty walking initially and truly thought I would never run again. I lost control of my abdominal muscles and had intense pain due to nerve damage. My legs or collapse or give out on me while standing or walking. I couldn't do a sit-up if my life depended on it and experienced numbness. I can honestly say that I have never been more scared in my life. By the grace of God, the help of my doctors, and a lot of hard work I was able to regain much of my deficits. FitTown was instrumental in helping me with this. I remember when I felt well enough to return to the gym at a limited capacity and I would go on the assault bike. I worked towards riding it in a standing position to try to regain my ability to support myself to run. the coaches always encouraged me along the way.
My doctors told me that 2/3 of patients with TM are left with significant permanent disabilities. They credit the physical fitness that I had prior to my attack for my ability to recover the way that I did. I thank God everyday that I have been given this gift to be able to continue on. I still struggle with the nerve pain and temperature regulation, but I can run again and I can workout. I can play with my kids and I feel so blessed for that. I push myself hard because I can. As long as I can move, I am going to keep moving. I am stronger now mentally and physically, than I was before and hope to continue that way. I am happy to talk to anyone in greater detail about my situation if you would like.
You set a great example for your kids in health and fitness. Do you have any tips or advice for the parent looking to help their kids live a healthier lifestyle?
I did not have a great example of health and fitness growing up. I want to be sure I set the example that I did not have for my children. I want them to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle. I try to influence them by being an example for them. I include them in any activities that I do whenever possible, even spartan races. I also insist that they do an activity. I do not persuade a specific thing, I simply tell them that they have to pick something. I volunteer on their sports team whenever possible. I also insist that they finish anything they start. The biggest advice I can give is to lead by example, I truly believe the impact of "doing as I do" is far greater than the impact of "do as I say". Kids want to be like mom and/or dad.
What positive physical progress are you proud of?
I am extremely proud that I have not only regained my strength lost with my TM event, but I came out of it even stronger. I feel both physically and mentally stronger. I choose to work hard everyday and push forward as long as my body will allow. Many of my friends and family do not understand why
I push as hard as I do. Many call me obsessed or addicted to working out. The truth is on some level consciously and subconsciously I am terrified that one day that could change in a blink of an eye. It also helps me deal with my nerve pain. The more I move the intensity of the pain is less.
What is a belief, motto, or maybe even a habit that you live by to live a positive, healthy life?
I believe in hard work and finishing what you start. Life is not always easy and quite often not "fair", but its what we do with it that matters. My entire life I was always told that God will not give you more than you can handle, and although there are days that I wonder if he knows just how much that is, I know that it is true. I know that everyday I have a choice to get up, put one foot in front of the other and make the best of the day, or I can choose to not. I choose to make the best of everyday. I still have bad days and flare ups from my TM but I push through. I hope that I am teaching my children the same. More than anything I want them to be strong, capable, and kind people.
What has been your most memorable workout?
I do not remember exactly what the workout was but it was one of the first classes I went back to after my injury. There were toe to bars in the workout. I could barely get my knees up a couple of inches and I was so frustrated that I couldn't get my brain to make my body move in the way I could before. The coach that day encouraged me and acknowledged the progress that I had made. This meant more to me than he could possibly have known. I was getting extremely frustrated at my self and feeling defeated but his encouragement helped me so much. The coaches and members at FitTown helped me so much by constantly encouraging me along the way in my recovery. You are all an amazing group of people.
What advice do you have for the person who’s hesitant about starting a fitness program like this?
There will never be a better time, you will thank yourself after you get started. The hardest part is showing up. If you just "show up" the rest will get easier. I can personally say that investing the time and effort in myself is worth more than you can imagine. You will not only feel better physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. You will be able to do more and live a fuller life. The coaches and staff at FitTown are extremely knowledgeable and helpful in both fitness and nutrition. They can and will tailor a program to meet you at any kevel you are at.
What do you love most about FitTown Jupiter?
I love the "community". The staff, the coaches, and the members are an amazing group of people. Everyone encourages each other and helps push each other to be the best they can be. I could not imagine a better group of people and I am very thankful to be a part of this "community".