Engineering Her Own Path: Brittany van Schravendijk Interview
Many of us wish we had the kind of courage exhibited by Brittany van Schravendijk. At Berkeley, Brittany was awarded a degree in engineering, but as she neared graduation, she decided to go down another path—fitness. Since making the hard decision, Brittany has experienced the joy of following her heart and passion, and we’re happy to share her story.
You have a degree in engineering from Berkeley, but is it fair to say fitness is your first passion? Yes, I’m definitely passionate about fitness. During my third year studying engineering, I realized that I didn’t feel any passion for what I was studying – and that scared me. I didn’t want to be chained to a desk doing a job I didn’t enjoy. So I made my part time job at the gym into a full time job after I graduated.
I decided to finish my engineering degree because hey, I can’t go wrong having an engineering degree from UC Berkeley – it shows people what I’m capable of intellectually.
As a trainer, you inspire many, but is there anyone you look to for inspiration? I’m inspired by all the strong lifters in Kettlebell Sport, who understand the struggle of training this sport and graciously offer support and guidance when I need it. There are days when I don’t feel like putting in the work, but I get motivated when I see how hard others are working. The Ice Chamber girls, Jason Sanchez, Katarina Cmanovska, Kimberly Fox, Abigail Johnston, Chris Doenlen, and the athletes that I coach. I watch videos of top female Kettlebell Sport athlete Ksenia Dedukhina all the time to try to emulate aspects of her technique and to marvel at how easy she makes it look!
Many trainers often find it difficult to make time for training themselves. How do you make time to achieve your own goals? This is a huge challenge, because being a personal trainer can and does take a lot of energy, especially if you have a lot of clients. We only have a finite amount of energy for the day, so it has to be parceled out appropriately to leave enough for training! I treat my training as part of my job – I try not to compromise my training time to take on another client. Occasionally it does happen, and in those instances I may need to do a shorter or easier workout that day. Kettlebell Sport is such an important part of my career that I can’t put my aspirations on the back burner just to make a couple extra bucks. It’s so important to my mental and physical well-being to schedule out time to train each day.
It sounds like you have a strong network of supportive friends and family. The first couple times my family came to watch my Kettlebell Sport competitions, I thought they would be bored out of their minds. Much to my surprise, they loved watching and now they can even recognize what proficient kettlebell lifting looks like and what a “good number” is. As far as leaving engineering for a career in fitness, my family has always supported me 100% and never questioned why I would leave what is seen as a more lucrative, prestigious career path for the one I’m on – they understand the importance of doing what you love.
During moments of discouragement, how to “snap yourself out it,” and get back on track? Like I tell my athletes, you can’t dwell on one bad training session. Not every day is going to be a record-breaking day, and most days training is going to be tough. You have to be unattached to the outcome of your set; just do the work and go home. Tomorrow is another day to train and improve.
What is your single greatest motivator? My personal ambitions and drive to succeed. I’ve always been very self-motivated. If you want something bad enough, there’s always a way. I only have one life and I plan to live it to the fullest. While I definitely draw inspiration from those around me (clients, friends, family, athletes), nothing external can motivate me as much as the internal fire I have to succeed.
You’ve earned your Master of Sport in 24kg Long Cycle and 24kg Snatch. What’s your next goal? My immediate goal is to qualify as a Professional (24kg Snatch) for the IUKL World Championships by winning the American Kettlebell Alliance (AKA) Nationals in Chicago on August 1. More long-term, I want to become a contender on the world stage – I want to earn a medal at the World Championships and compete with the best.
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