Fitness is a Privilege: Interview with Olympic weightlifter Camille Brown
Camille Brown is a former Division 1 softball player from the California Polytechnic State University and is now a national Olympic weightlifter and strength-trainer. Despite her small size growing up, Brown never gave up and continued to push herself until she reached her goals. Her success has led her to be featured in Women’s Health Magazine and Muscle Prodigy.
Tell me a little bit about how you became passionate about fitness?
I have always been an athlete. I grew up a competitor, loving to compete against the person next to me. I played a bevy of sports and loved the competitive field. As I was getting into eighth grade, moving on to high school, my dream was to play collegiate softball. I just wanted to be on a college team. I grew to love the game so much, it was my biggest passion.
However, I wasn’t the fastest or strongest on my team. I was the skinniest kid and had no muscle mass on my body whatsoever. I earned my playing time only because I had more heart than anyone on the team. I hustled everywhere, I never gave up on a play even after I made an error, and I ran after every foul ball. My teammates doubted me at every bat, and they were terrified when the ball was coming my way in the field and that was a terrible feeling.
With travel ball we had games every weekend and my amazing father was scared my fragile body would break if I just slid into a base incorrectly. So, I started strength and conditioning. I learned how to run properly, I was learning to back squat and do olympic lifts. I spent almost everyday putting in extra work in the gym and on the field. I would drag my dad to play catch with me at the park and have him hit balls. This drive created the person I am today. It is really hard to beat someone who out works you.
From my freshman year to my senior year of high school I went from being unable to keep 95 pounds on my small frame, to being extremely proud of my muscular build at 120 pounds. I proved everyone wrong and landed a scholarship at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo which is a Division 1 softball program in the Big West Conference. From my experience in strength and conditioning, I got my degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Psychology and played all four years of my D1 college career injury free.
I don’t train to look good, I train to feel good about what my body can do.
Once I graduated, I knew I had to compete in something, and it didn’t take long to realize what I loved, weight lifting. I now compete at the National level for Olympic Weightlifting and I absolutely love it. There is no better feeling than a PR and knowing that all the work you put in everyday pays off. It holds you accountable to yourself because it is not a team sport, the work you put in is the result you will get out of it.
There are no other factors than your work ethic.
I now have an itch for sprints, back squats and snatches because I am a well-functioning human being. There is no physical goal for me. That is a complete afterthought. I don’t train to look good, I train to feel good about what my body can do.
Why and how is fitness a big part of your life?
Fitness is a huge part of my life because I am always working towards a goal. When I was growing up, I wanted to make it to a college team. Now I want to make it to national meets and compete internationally. I have always lived to compete, and it has always been the biggest part of my life. Everyday I have gone to practices or done some kind of workout to achieve my goal. From eighth grade till now, nothing has fundamentally changed. I feel better about myself when I sweat and know I got 1% better that day.
Your goals should be on your mind all day everyday to drive you constantly to get better.
What is your daily motivator?
My daily motivator is I have my mind set on a goal and I do everything I can to crush it. When we start to lose motivation, because it happens to everyone, we start to make excuses and we think to ourselves that we will just do our workout later and sleep in instead. That is really easy to do. Whenever that happens often people say, “think about why you started.” This is good because it reminds you of your goals. But if you need to be reminded of your goals, maybe that isn’t your true goal. Your goals should be on your mind all day everyday to drive you constantly to get better. Instead of that, I think about how privileged I am to be able to chase my dreams. If you start thinking of your workouts as a privilege, you will get more out of your workout and it feels like something you enjoy, rather than a chore.
What are the top three songs on your fitness playlist?
My Workout playlist is constantly changing. I am one of those people who downloads a song, plays it on repeat for a week, then finds a new favorite. So right now my top three songs are “Powerful” by Major Lazor, “My Way” by Fetty Wap, and “Roses” by the Chainsmokers.
How does your outlook on fitness translate to other parts of your life?
My outlook on fitness has everything to do with everyday life. It is a privilege to work at my job, therefore it is harder to complain about going to work. When I was in college, it was a privilege to be taking classes so it was hard to complain about homework (also why I want to get my Masters in Sports Science). I take time to decide what I really want to do, I set a plan which takes a lot of work in order to set me up for success and crush my goals. Whether it is an athletic goal or something as simple as trying to spend more time with my dog because I tend to get busy!
What advice would you give to people who want to exercise and live healthier lives?
I would suggest finding something they truly enjoy. Whether it is CrossFit, just taking a long walk, or cycling and finding an achievable goal within that exercise. Everyone loves a different kind of exercise and that is totally okay! As long as you enjoy it for you and not for any other reason. As long as you’re consciously trying to better yourself as an individual, that is all that matters.
What makes you want to share your experiences with others?
My experience makes me want to express to people, especially women, that you can grow strong and fast. It is all determined by how much you’re willing to work for it. The time spent trying to achieve your goal is the result you will get out of it. I went to an all-girls high school where everyone was concerned with self-image. I was the only student at my school who was excited about gaining weight, because it was muscle which meant I could be better, faster, and stronger, and one step closer to my goal. I would encourage women to trying to learn to do pull-ups and back squats. Because there is nothing more satisfying than looking over at a guy and you’re deadlifting more than him with proper form. I feel that so many insecurities come from women not feeling confident or strong.
How do you hope to inspire people?
I have always wanted to inspire people by leading by example. On my softball team I wanted my work ethic to show and be an example for others. I definitely gained respect from my teammates, which I appreciated. I also want to inspire people to feel strong and good about themselves. There is no better feeling than a personal best on a back squat, or a timed mile. For some it might just be going an hour on the bike without stopping. No matter where you are in you fitness goals, as long as you commit to bettering yourself each day, just by 1%, at the end of the day you’ll be 365% better than last year.