Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Model Behavior: She Overcame MAJOR Health Problems & Came Out Swinging Kettlebells

“Appearances can be very deceptive,” Brooke Lehmann tells me as she recalls her first intro class at Seattle Kettlebell Club back in December. “I’m very thin, but my physical fitness level was not great.”

Just looking at Brooke (or her stunning modeling photos on Instagram) you’d never guess a simple task like grocery shopping used to be debilitating. 
Photo Credit: REDSUN OF NW

“Essentially everything that could have been wrong with me was wrong with me,“ Brooke said.

A myriad of health problems including immune dysfunction, neurological symptoms, and debilitating fatigue took a huge toll on her overall well-being for a long time.  

“At my worst, I had days where I basically had to stay in bed. Even on good days, I struggled to walk a block.”

Fortunately, Brooke made it through the worst of her health issues and started physically healing around the same time she moved to Seattle from North Carolina about a year ago.  After a Skype session with her chiropractor who recommended kettlebells, they did some research and discovered Seattle Kettlebell Club was only a mile from her house. 

In the beginning, Brooke was maybe making it to kettlebell class once a week due to post-workout fatigue, but she persevered.  

“I was very self-conscious about my level of fitness because at that time, it was really low,” Brooke said. “But I feel really safe here.  I was able to use the really light bells and not feel judged. I love that I can just come here and be myself. That’s a gift.”
Photo Credit: REDSUN OF NW

Week by week, Brooke became stronger and now you can catch her cheerfully power through the door for class several times per week.  In fact, Brooke notes that in addition to feeling more confident, she has more energy at 34 than she did at 20 or even in her teens. 

Turning the corner physically is a major accomplishment but it’s only a piece of the healing puzzle; another struggle for Brooke has been that like many people who suffer from neurological diseases, she never got an official diagnosis despite seeing countless doctors and specialists. 

So, understandably, she’s struggled to trust her own body.  

“Your brain structure changes when you go through something like that. You’re literally having to coach yourself, and tell yourself ‘okay, physically I’m not sick anymore,’ but there’s so much trauma in your memory," Brooke said.

"Your body is still dealing with the aftermath, and that’s where some of the PTSD and anxiety around using my body comes from. Coming to Seattle Kettlebell Club has really helped me work through that.”  

A few months before joining the club, Brooke started modeling professionally.  Both require mental and physical toughness, and she attributes taking on kettlebells to playing a major role in helping her overcome the nerves associated with walking the runway… as well as the ability to walk down seven flights of stairs in high heels, like she did when a fire alarm went off at her last fashion show.

Brooke's story highlights a super-beneficial aspect of pro kettlebell technique that doesn’t get mentioned much; its effect on the central nervous system. You’re working out your nervous system by constantly and quickly alternating between tensing and relaxing your muscles during the exercises. The main functions of the central nervous system are sensory, communicative, integrative and motor functions, so it makes sense that after coming to classes for a year she noticed those extra benefits.

“I used to just say that I wasn’t athletically coordinated, and that was my story, but coming here has really changed that narrative.”
Photo Credit: REDSUN OF NW

“With modeling, the end result is beautiful and glamorous, but it’s a lot of hard work,” Brooke said. 

“I don’t think that without kettlebells I would have the strength and endurance or even the mental focus to be able to do it.”

Thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story, Brooke.  Cheers to your continued success in all endeavors!

-Camille Borodey 
Seattle Kettlebell Club