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Apr 6

Fitness trainer and friend: YMCA coach inspires members through … – Lynchburg News and Advance

Brittany Crawley started her fitness journey running.

And she used to jokingly say the only way she would run is if someone was chasing her with a gun.

And I got into it and I found a love for it but then I found a love of fitness, she said. Its not just about the aesthetics, its pushing your body to be better and to achieve things that are hard. Exercise is hard but in my opinion, the reward is in the work.

She says its not about her weight or her looks, its about overcoming the struggles she felt in those workouts and translating that into into other life experiences.

Crawley, 37, is the group fitness coordinator and coach for Better You Bootcamp (BYBC) at the Downtown YMCA.

Crawley helped to launch BYBC a year ago with the intention of creating a personal training experience in a small group setting.

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I think a lot of times women think that they can only do smaller weights or they have to do a certain workout because its just for women, she said. And I think women deserve to be in the weight room. Women deserve to pick up heavy weights and be proud of that. Because it changes your body but it also changes your mindset.

As a child, she said she was very athletic and played sports including cheerleading and softball but after graduating high school, she didnt stay as active.

She married her husband Daniel at 22 and had her first child, Colton, when she was nearly 25.

And I put on a ton of weight and never really lost it, but never exercised, she said. I just thought this is just what it is.

Three years later, she had her daughter, Baileigh, and when she turned 30 she knew she had to start feeling better in her own body.

And I thought if I feel this at 30, then Im going to feel it at 40 or 50, she said. And thats when I kind of got into running and then found group fitness. It was something that I say saved me.

She said she had instructors who encouraged her the entire time and she uses that as a way to pay it forward to her own members now.

I just decided one day, I want to do this for somebody else, I want to encourage people where they are because I had people pour into me, she said.

Five years ago, she got her first group fitness certification and began teaching classes not knowing anything, she said.

But I fell in love with it, she said. But more so, I fell in love with inspiring people.

Today, she holds certifications in Barre, Les Mills BodyPump and Les Mills BodyCombat, cycle and personal training.

She said its important for trainers to continue their education when it comes to fitness.

The fitness space is always evolving and if you look back at the early 90s with aerobics, women were taught you have to do two hours of cardio every day, and you dont lift weights because then youre going to be bulky and all of that has been debunked, she said. So as things evolve, I like to continue to learn.

Crawley has been an instructor at all three of the local YMCAs including the Jamerson and the Express but was offered a full-time job at the Downtown location last July where she says the community feels like family.

You can work out at home and thats great for when you need it but theres something about coming with likeminded people and working out together and feeding off of that energy that is unlike anything else, she said. And I think people desperately need community. People need other people. Were not meant to do life by ourselves.

Its there that she both teaches group fitness classes but also coaches BYBC members like Kristi Vann.

Vann said Crawleys countenance brings joy into the room and added she is not only a group instructor and teacher but inspiration.

She treats everyone as a friend, she said. Her most famous response is hello friend. You may have never met her before but she makes you feel like a friend from the shoot.

Vann said as a woman shes always been taught that cardio is the only way for weight loss but through her sessions with Crawley, she has a new perspective on weight training.

I knew she knew what she was doing, she said. I love her as a person as a coach and I was just really excited for this Better You Bootcamp. I have to be honest, in my adulthood, this is the best thing Ive ever done for myself as far as fitness goes.

Vann said Crawley is one of those people others want to be around because of her work ethic and welcoming personality.

Youre coming to BYPC to get in better shape but Im coming to be coached by Brittany and to be around Brittany and learn from Brittany because you meet people in life and you can kind of discern whos genuine and whos not, she said. She is one of the most genuine people that I could ever speak for. Her level of care goes outside of the gym. Shes irreplaceable.

Vann said there is no one else who works as hard as Crawley.

And its not about the money, its not about climbing the ladder, its not about her. Its about us, she said. Were a family and Brittany is our mom and she takes care of us.

While BYBC is tailored to individuals specific physical needs, Crawley said the community goes even further than that.

In my experience, 75% of it isnt about the physical, its about the emotional and the mental and the spiritual health that people are looking for, she said. The physical is very important, but its just a part of whole body fitness.

Outside of the gym, Crawley lives with her family in Evington and enjoys nature, hiking and being at the beach.

She is a special needs mom to her son, Colton, 12, who has autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

That is one of the hardest roads, she said. I think any parent has to walk to watch your child struggle daily, just with simple communication, social interactions and having a child whos overwhelmed by just normal situations, meltdowns Ive said this a million times over but if I could take it from him, I would. But also its been the biggest blessing because he teaches me every single day that life is hard and youre not going to always get it right but you just keep trying to do better.

At the end of the day, Crawley says she is most successful when her members are successful.

My biggest success is seeing people achieve things that they never thought they could, she said. Thats my golden ticket.

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Fitness trainer and friend: YMCA coach inspires members through ... - Lynchburg News and Advance

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