KUWAIT- There are only three female soldier-athletes participating in the CrossFit Open 2013 from Camp Buehring, Kuwait: Spc. Brenda Moreno and Sgt. Nelly Lamas of Chicago, assigned to B Company, 935th Aviation Support Battalion and me, Capt. Kerri Brantley of Boise, Idaho, assigned to HHC, 35th Combat Aviation Brigade.
"There are quite a few females who are part of our box, and I am extremely proud to be part of the three who decided to take on the challenge of participating in the Open," said Lamas. "I know I'm not the strongest competitor but my girls are very supportive, we are more than supportive of each other and that's something so amazing to me, because a lot of times girls can be catty and jealous, but there is none of that in our box."
All of us have just started CrossFit while deployed and there is a push, a drive for each of us to do better than yesterday. We come in to do work, its fun keeping up with the guys, but it's even more rewarding when we do better than the guys. As far as the three of us, we all support each other and cheer each other on. Brenda and Nelly have a celebrity team name, Team Brelly and they even wear matching outfits sometimes. I feel like the big sister to these two remarkable women and their spirits are positive, motivational and truly rewarding to be around.
"I think that we live in a time where animosity and feuds are celebrated and CrossFit stirs away from that. Sure, there is competition, just like in anything else, but what we provide for each other is nowhere near any negativity. I think more women would be successful with their fitness goals, and any other goals, for that matter, if they were supportive of each other," said Moreno. "Guys won't do that for us. Sure, they cheer you on, but not the way a woman does. I know how difficult it is to try and dead lift more than my body weight, so when Kerri or Nelly do two times more than that, of course I'm going to cheer them on. It makes me proud when they hit personal bests, and when I do the same, they're there being proud for me."
Going to the box every night and being the best we can be is the goal for each of us. Lamas' personal best was her "Clean and Jerk" at 95 pounds; Moreno's personal best was her back squat at 180 pounds and my personal best was my dead lift at 245-lbs.
The CrossFit movement is life changing and the three of us are proof that the program works, that the hard work pays off, that the drive within each and every one of us is there, we just need to discover it and let it shine.
"I believe that the increased level of competition that CrossFit offers has helped me out a lot. I'm constantly pushing myself to do better, even if it's just adding extra five pounds to my bar," said Lamas. "Crossfit has changed my life. I am full of energy; my mind and body feel great. I am stronger, faster, more agile and more fit than I ever was in my pre-Crossfit life. I can't get enough, I'm addicted."
Moreno and I are also mothers who are anxiously looking forward to reuniting with our children as our deployment is coming to a close. I personally have been apart from my kids for almost 15-months due to pre-deployment schools and training. The commitment we have to the Army is rewarding, it also shows our kids the love for our country and how passionate we are about defending the freedoms we enjoy as a family in the U.S. For both of it's important to be a positive role model for our kids.
"I think that the best example I am setting for my daughter is teaching her that when you want to succeed at something, you think you can, and then you go and do it! Hard work is something that is often not celebrated in our society. I think my daughter has me as an example of what hard work does for a person," said Moreno. "I want her to learn that it's not enough to want something; you have to work hard, fail, and learn from things in order to succeed. In addition, a healthy lifestyle is something that I am providing for her through me, and that's something that she'll appreciate when she gets older."
Moreno teaches yoga twice a week and I am a volunteer as well to help where needed, mainly I take photos of our athletes; provide support and tips with form and technique. Lamas is there every night to support her crew and cheer them on. We give our time and energy to CrossFit Spartan Shield, because we care about the health and well-being of our fellow brother and sister in arms. We are all taking the CrossFit Level one course here next month to continue our growth in the CrossFit community.
"I have learned that I am physically and mentally stronger than I thought I was, and as a result, I'm not afraid to do many things outside the box. From my box, I've learned to have an open mind and an open heart. I love my fellow Crossfitters, especially given where we are in the world. Our box is our sanctuary," said Moreno. "What we do every day; no one else does. I'm looking forward to becoming CrossFit Level 1 certified and then, hopefully, once I become a teacher, being able to give my kids the gift of CrossFit."
Our friendship and kinship have grown over the course of this deployment and these ladies will be lifelong friends because we have accomplished many personal best and defeats together. We have learned from each other, picked each other up when needed, and celebrated the challenges we have overcome.
Being a woman in the military, being mothers, being CrossFitters, and being friends have bonded us together forever. Ladies, keep up the good work!