Gym Owner: “The Risk Paid Off”

 Brandy Monge loved working as a lawyer, but she loved fitness even more. She decided to follow her heart and open Crossfit Queens – a risk that paid off in a career that she loves and the ability to make a tangible difference in people’s lives.

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How long have you been doing this job?
I own Crossfit Queens, a Crossfit gym in Astoria, Queens, and have for over five years. Crossfit is all about functional training, so it includes a little bit of everything – weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardiovascular work. Most of the classes are group classes, so you get to know everyone and work out with other people cheering you on and motivating you and a coach making sure you’re doing everything safely.

What I love about it is that anyone can do it – we have people at the gym who are grandmothers and people who were college athletes and everything in-between. I think that it’s that variety that makes Crossfit Queens such a strong community – we work out together, eat together, drink together, compete together, and generally have a great time doing it. The community is what makes Crossfit Queens not just another business.

How would you describe what you do?
I’ve done everything and anything at Crossfit Queens. As a small business owner, you have to get your hands dirty, especially in the beginning. My original business partner and I did all of the coaching, all of the billing, all of the marketing, all of the phone calls, all of the work. Now that the gym has grown, though, I have a staff, so I can focus on what I care about. These days, I coach some classes and focus on promoting the gym by creating events, hosting competitions, and building the sense of community.

What was your journey to doing this kind of work?
I was a lawyer before I was a business owner. I was studying broadcast journalism in college when I noticed my roommate’s LSAT book lying on a table and took a look and thought, I can do this, so I became a lawyer. I really enjoyed it. Office work didn’t appeal to me – I knew I didn’t want to push paper around – but the trial work and the depositions were a lot of fun.

When I moved to New York, though, I realized that everything was a lot more expensive than where I was from in Texas. I’ve always been active, and when I moved to NYC, I was spending most of my money on physical activity – I had a tennis club membership and a gym membership and a yoga studio membership and a Pilates studio membership – and I was going broke. My friends saw how much I loved spending time being active and how much money I was spending on it and suggested that I look into becoming a personal trainer as a second job to cut back on expenses.

I started out teaching group exercise classes at New York Sports Club – spin, sports conditioning, boot camps. I really loved it and wanted to keep learning and growing, so I was always looking at fitness videos or reading up on strength and conditioning. One day, I saw a video of a woman named Annie doing a pull-up while pregnant. I was immediately fascinated. I learned that she was part of something called Crossfit, a way of working out that emphasizes functional movements, non-traditional workouts, and an inclusive community. I began working out at a Crossfit gym in Brooklyn and eventually became certified as a Crossfit trainer.

At the time, I would work my legal job during the day and spend most of my free time either training or teaching classes instead of going out to eat or drink like all of my friends, but I knew I couldn’t balance both jobs forever. I was going to have to make a choice between the law and the gym. I started looking into opening my own Crossfit gym in Queens, which had no Crossfit boxes at the time, and met another member of the community who also wanted to open a gym. We became business partners and opened Crossfit Queens in 2009.

Even after the gym opened, though, I kept working as a lawyer. I knew I wanted to be a Crossfit owner full-time, but building a business takes time. I started preparing to be a full-time business owner way before I ever made my move – cutting down my personal expenses, getting roommates, and saving as much money as I could. When my original business partner moved away, I saw that as my motivation to make the switch and I left my legal job behind. Altogether, it took about 2 years for Crossfit Queens to go from an initial idea to a working self-supporting reality.

What is your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you?
I’m a Mexican-American woman. As a woman, I’ve definitely run into some backwards attitudes. People sometimes think Oh, you’re the coach? But you’re a woman. It was the same in the law. Most people are great, but there are always those who would assume that I was the assistant or the intern. People expect a man to run a business or a man to be a senior trial attorney more than they do a woman.

As far as being a minority goes, one thing that I’ve really loved about being active and encouraging other people to be active is impacting minority communities and getting people to make exercise and healthy eating part of their lives. I was raised by my father as a single Dad, and he’d give me McDonald’s for breakfast and then I’d go have tacos for lunch. Over time, I saw the impact of those decisions – my Dad has diabetes now. Part of what I want to do with my life is encourage people to live healthier, especially those from minority communities.

Do you love what you do? Do you think you’ve found the right path?
Absolutely. I love empowering people and seeing the results and the changes that they’ve been able to make in their lives as part of this gym and this community. When I see someone with the confidence they’ve never had before or watch someone doing the thing they never thought they could do, it makes me feel great. Every time someone gets their first pull-up or gets in better shape or feels proud about what they’ve accomplished, it reminds me why I do what I do. I also love the people that I work alongside.  I have an amazing support system at Crossfit Queens. My coaching staff is made up of humble and hardworking team players – having people like that around me makes all the difference.

What do you need to succeed in this field?
I got lucky, because I really didn’t have any business training. I just got caught up in the community and the passion and the ability to do what I love. The two things that I did do really well were to prepare and have a good support system. You can’t just wake up one day and decide to quit your job to do something like this – you may want to, but you have to be able to support yourself financially first. It took me two years to get to that place, but all the planning I did paid off and it worked.

I also had a good support system in place. The reality is that when you’re doing something outside of the norm, some people will try to discourage you or tell you that your path is too risky. I was lucky to have some friends and family who backed me up. They may have thought I was a little crazy, but they were willing to support me when I made a decision that wasn’t exactly the safe choice.

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
You can’t do it all. As a business owner, you may start out doing everything, but once your business grows, you can’t. So you have to figure out what you’re really good at and what you like doing. Some aspects of owning a business I never loved, like bookkeeping, and I had to recognize that and surround myself with people who were strong in the areas that I don’t like or don’t excel at. Having a partner who complements your skills and interests is key.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?
Sometimes it’s hard to balance the day-to-day work with the long-term growth of the business. Growth in general is harder than people think. As you grow and change, sometimes people aren’t happy with the changes or don’t like the way you’ve chosen to grow. It can be hard to make those decisions, especially as a Crossfit owner, because Crossfit gyms are communities. Every decision I’ve made has affected people that feel like my family. I think it’s that way for many small business owners, because you’re so close to everything that happens and everything is much more personal than it would be at a large company somewhere.

Acrossfitqueensre you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
New York City is an expensive place, but I make enough money to live comfortably. Of course, I’m always adjusting my priorities, but that’s just part of life. Sometimes I’m focused more on resources for the business, sometimes I’m focused on money for my family, and sometimes I’m focused on myself. I think that’s true of anyone.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
You can’t be afraid to fail. When I decided to be a full-time Crossfit owner, I wasn’t sure it was going to work. A lot of my friends weren’t sure it was going to work. Many of them said I was crazy. But I didn’t want to look back and regret not trying. In my mind, the worst case scenario of failing was to go back to what I’d been doing and start practicing law again. The worst case scenario of not trying was always wondering what if I had. I decided that the risk was worth it and I’m glad I took that risk. Otherwise I would have always been dreaming about it and thinking about it and never knowing if I could have succeeded.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
I will always be involved with the gym and the Crossfit Queens community. I like seeing the change in people that Crossfit makes possible. I may start traveling more or spending more time with my family now that I have a staff that can handle some of the workload, but I will always be part of Crossfit Queens. I can also definitely see myself starting another business in the future – I’ve really enjoyed the whole process.



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  • Meeting her in person was nothing like this article tries to make her out to be. It’s amazing how people can create a character online.

  • For her to risk her comfortable life to chase something she felt was right, moves me. I believe in following our guts at all cost no matter how uncomfortable the feeling or thought may seem. We all have a dream inside of us that we can live out. Many people in my life tried to lead me away from what I felt was right, but I didn’t listen to them, I followed my own heart. I love her story because like myself she didn’t allow others to control her destiny.

  • This is such an inspiring story. I really like how you started your career path as a lawyer then a gym manager. Those are two quite different career paths. Very motivational and makes me want to never give up!

  • Woman to woman it is very inspiring to see the risks you took in exposing yourself to such a gamble, business. You didn’t take “No.” for an answering and nevertheless you persisted. You faced all fears and took them down despite the dangers you knew you could face such as losing money.

    I agree the business world can be a very intimidating line of work. I have thought about managing businesses myself and still do not think I can pull it off. Although you have given me a different lighting to the image and I hope that one day I can too be telling my story of a time I persisted despite the chances I was taking.

  • Wow, what an amazing transition. As a student about to study the law, I was immediately taken by your story. In high school we did Crossfit during our Health class, so I can really relate to it being inclusive for all. You are truly an inspiration for being able to become a successful business owner and doing something that you love. I have felt torn between two things before and it is true, we cannot do it all. However, you managed to make it work and you have given me some great advice!

  • Although Brandy and I have different career interests, her story strongly resonates with me. I too identify as a Mexican-American female. I find it challenging and at times frustrating when people are shocked or bewildered when women want to pursue male-dominated careers, such as being a gym owner, or in my case, being a surgeon. My Hispanic background has also significantly impacted why I wish to become a surgeon. My father immigrated to the United States as a child, and did not have adequate healthcare like so many other immigrants and underprivileged communities. The vast presence of health disparities became even more apparent to me when I volunteered with Doctors Without Borders while studying in Athens, Greece. My desire to make tangible differences in these communities like Brandy does in her gym community continues to motivate me during my studies.

    What strikes me most about Brandy’s story is the strength she had to continue believing in herself, as well as the courage she had to not fear failure. You can find friends and family members who will have faith in you, but ultimately, you need to have faith in yourself to achieve a dream. Maintaining faith in your dreams is especially difficult when they involve some financial risk, such as facing large amounts of student debt or the chance of bankruptcy. I constantly remind myself to not let negative thoughts eat away at my dream because I know that if I do not try my hardest to pursue medical school, I will only be filled with regret. Brandy’s story serves as an excellent reminder of how powerful one’s own mind set is in shaping the outcome of our lives, and the importance of not letting fear cause you to live a life of regret.

  • This article is very inspiring and it shows me how people can really turn dreams into reality. All it takes is a personal want and the guts to go after it.

  • This is a great story! It resonates with me because you really do have to follow your heart. When I first started in school, I felt like I wasn’t good at learning, and wanted to study art and be an artist. I was worried that if I were an artist, I wouldn’t be able to afford to live, so I took a few years off from school and somehow wandered my way into a STEM major. I’ve been a person who struggled with math and science my entire life; it took my 4 tries to attempt to pass the basic algebra math course at my community college, how was I expected to make it through calculus? It was a slow climb, but I poured myself into each math class, each physics class, each chemistry class, trying to get to a chemistry degree until my applied science credit lead to geology. I fell in love with this science that there was still so much to be discovered in. How can there be so many things that we don’t know in this field? It peaked an interest in me that I had no idea existed. Once I discovered geology, science had a whole new light. I’m still not great at math, and science doesn’t come easy for me, but I’m blessed to live in the modern day and age of technology, where it’s easy to look up a quick refresher on the internet. I still laugh to myself now, while I’m pursuing the last two years of my degree at a state university, about how I thought I would fail as a artist so I ended up becoming a double STEM major. I started with nothing, wore a few hats along the way, and have big dreams about my future. I can’t wait to see what the future might hold for me.

  • I love the fact that Brandy was able to step out of her comfort zone and become a great athlete and owner. I always wanted to have my own music studio but never pursue it. However, I love English just as much as I love music. So, right now, I teach English as a second language and hope to expand my horizons even the more. Even though I believe I am optimistic, I need a higher level of motivation like Brandy to go forward in what I love and desire to do. Being fearless and not caring what people think is key to getting to our destiny. Go Brandy!

  • I find Brandy’s life story extremely encouraging, especially at this point in my life. I’ve been a police officer for over 20 years, and have absolutely loved my job but now this portion of my life is complete and it is time to start a new plan of success. Well not entirely new, you see, 15 years ago, after working on the streets of the city, 30th Precinct, I told myself, one day when I retire I would open a community program for teens. I wanted to make a difference in my community among the youth and give back. I want to give the youth/teens, the tools needed to assist them in overcoming all obstacles that they may encounter. My desire was and is to encourage and instill value, hope and life into our future generation. I, no longer want to sit on the side lines or want to do this from a law enforcement position/perspective. I want to open a youth club that offers sports, clubs, education and counseling/therapy for youth and their families. This step is definitely a different approach for me and to be honest, and even kind of frightening, but, I’ve never been one to turn and run from a fight or a challenge. I guess that willingness neither to flee nor back down, is my Faith accompanied by the Bronx, Puerto Rican NY city girl in me. This passion for the youth causes a relentless push and an unwillingness to see my future, these youth succumb to defeat or a loss of hope. You see, though having seen some of the worst things of society, especially among our youth, I chose not to loose hope. I instead have chosen to believe in our children and create an plan of action to help them to overcome and succeed.

    Having a Bachelors Degree in Behavioral Science, I am currently applying to NorthCentral University for a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy, where I will be given additional tools to help our young generation.

  • This story inspires me to take risks in my life. It is good to see someone, especially a woman, who followed her dreams and was successful. Often society tells us we have to fit a certain mold, such as being a doctor or lawyer, to be successful. The truth is that success comes from doing something that you love and helping others.

  • I can relate to Brandi Monge experience with changing her career . I was working as a teacher for the NYC Board of education when I realized how much I loved to dance. I was always incorporating dance into my classes general education classes. I coordinated dance for our school assemblies as well. I did a little research and found out that I could acquire my NY State License to teach dance based on my education as well as my past experience. Thus, I applied and received my NY State Certification in Dance. Once I received my certification, I transitioned my career from being a general education teacher to a dance teacher. I have received great fulfillment from having a career in dance. I was able to use dance as a tool to bring joy and comfort to others. I was also able to use dance to motivate the students. Eventually, I was able to open up my own dance company which I currently run and maintain. I am continuing to take the steps that I need to equip me to be able to open up my own school, which will include performing arts.

  • This is great motivation for young students like myself. I experienced this truth when I first began college. I am paying for college myself and I could have gone to a community college for free but somehow that did not work out. I was freaking out and unsure what I was going to do when school was going to start in two weeks. I took a risk and was admitted into the University of Memphis on NO scholarships and NO financial aid. I was taking out loans and was working three jobs. In the long run, as I am heading into my Junior year, I am way ahead in school and in my career. Going to a university help me get exposure to many careers and opportunities I can be apart of. I have gained internships through the last two years and am continuing to grow my work experience. I took a huge risk but at the end of the day, it has paid off in an extreme way.

  • Ms. Monge’s story about her experience with taking a risk into a new path is truly inspiring. It was a bit unconventional to hear about a lawyer switching into becoming a Crossfit gym owner, but that is the same reaction I get as I explain my switch from a Pre-Med program into pursuing an Economics degree. I started off in Marquette University 3 years ago in one of the hardest programs to get into: Biomedical Sciences. It’s one of the proudest majors to be a part of on campus, as only a certain number are accepted into it each year and its nearly impossible to transfer into. I was somewhat inclined to Business in my second year, as to why I decided to pursue a Business Administration minor. I took my first Economics class and something just clicked. I always loved math in high school, but seeing it applied and shown in different aspects of our economy was something completely different.

    During my sophomore year, I felt similar to what Ms. Monge mentioned about not being able to balance both jobs forever. I was taking Anatomy and Microeconomics in the Fall, followed by Biochemistry and Macroeconomics in the Spring. It was hard to balance these as these classes all require a major time commitment, but I noticed how eager I was to read my Economics textbook instead than go into the lab and study the (not real) skeletons for hours. That is when I decided it was time to take a risk and switch into another college and pursue an Economics degree. As Ms. Monge said, you have to prepare and have a good support system in order for changes like these to work. I did all of the math and scheduling to make sure that my scholarships would cover my switch into a new program, as well as being able to graduate on time with a new degree. I also talked to my professors, advisors and parents. My professors and advisors were more concerned about my graduation time, but once that was figured out they were on board. My parents, on the other hand, had no real idea of what Economics meant but said that they would support me in any decision I would make. This caught me off-guard, as they had always wanted me to become a doctor and I expected them to reject this idea of switching immediately. Their unconditional support gave me the confidence to switch programs.

    Ms. Monge spoke about finding the right path and loving what she does. I can definitely relate to this as I have never loved my classes as much as I do now. As an Economics student, I feel that I belong and that I can use my quantitative skills more often, rather than sometimes in my Pre-Med classes. As a Puerto Rican woman, I have received some comments along the lines of “Why are you studying Economics? That’s a business man job” or “Being an economics major won’t help the crisis in Puerto Rico”. These comments push me to work harder toward my goals. I am currently pursuing a degree in Economics and two minors, in Business Administration and Chemistry. I hope to one day work in Health Economics, where I will combine my love for Math and Science and help the country with healthcare planning and services so that everyone may have access to the help they need. I have currently accepted an internship position at Northwestern Mutual, which would be my first Economics job ever. As Ms. Monge mentioned, you cannot be afraid to fail. If I had been afraid, I would have never taken the risk and become as happy as I am now. I can see that my new program and minors are the perfect fit for me and I can’t wait to make a difference in this world.

  • Ms. Monge’s story about her experience with taking a risk into a new path is truly inspiring. It was a bit unconventional to hear about a lawyer switching into becoming a Crossfit gym owner, but that is the same reaction I get as I explain my switch from a Pre-Med program into pursuing an Economics degree. I started off in Marquette University 3 years ago in one of the hardest programs to get into: Biomedical Sciences. It’s one of the proudest majors to be a part of on campus, as only a certain number are accepted into it each year and its nearly impossible to transfer into. I was somewhat inclined to Business in my second year, as to why I decided to pursue a Business Administration minor. I took my first Economics class and something just clicked. I always loved math in high school, but seeing it applied and shown in different aspects of our economy was something completely different.

    During my sophomore year, I felt similar to what Ms. Monge mentioned about not being able to balance both jobs forever. I was taking Anatomy and Microeconomics in the Fall, followed by Biochemistry and Macroeconomics in the Spring. It was hard to balance these as these classes all require a major time commitment, but I noticed how eager I was to read my economics textbook instead than go into the lab and study the (not real) skeletons for hours. That is when I decided it was time to take a risk and switch into another college and pursue an Economics degree. As Ms. Monge said, you have to prepare and have a good support system in order for changes like these to work. I did all of the math and scheduling to make sure that my scholarships would cover my switch into a new program, as well as being able to graduate on time with a new degree. I also talked to my professors, advisors and parents. My professors and advisors were more concerned about my graduation time, but once that was figured out they were on board. My parents, on the other hand, had no real idea of what Economics meant but said that they would support me in any decision I would make. This caught me off-guard, as they had always wanted me to become a doctor and I expected them to reject this idea of switching immediately. Their unconditional support gave me the confidence to switch programs.

    Ms. Monge spoke about finding the right path and loving what she does. I can definitely relate to this as I have never loved my classes as much as I do now. As an Economics student, I feel that I belong and that I can use my quantitative skills more often, rather than sometimes in my Pre-Med classes. As a Puerto Rican woman, I have received some comments along the lines of “Why are you studying Economics? That’s a business man job” or “Being an economics major won’t help the crisis in Puerto Rico”. These comments push me to work harder toward my goals. I am currently pursuing a degree in Economics and two minors, in Business Administration and Chemistry. I hope to one day work in Health Economics, where I will combine my love for math and the sciences and help the country with healthcare planning and services. I am currently assigned to work for Northwestern Mutual in the summer, my first Economics job ever. As Ms. Monge mentioned, you cannot be afraid to fail. If I had been afraid, I would have never swtiched and become as happy as I am now.

  • These are the type of motivational stories I love to read about. It is never easy to start over and build something from the ground up. When I changed professions just 3 years ago, I had a difficulty learning how to redevelop myself professionally. I went from working as a producer in sports radio to working in college athletics full time. The skill sets are completely different. I too had to take a leap of faith just like Brandy did. I experienced many difficulties along the way to this point in my professional career. I am now going into my 3rd year at The University of Miami. The next step for me is to take a graduate assistants position come January and work towards a graduate degree.

  • Reading this story truly inspires me. Coming from Hispanic heritage, many aspects of our culture revolve around the support of our family and friends. I truly believe that with some support as Brandy Monge did, I could accomplish anything even though I am a Hispanic woman.

    I adore the sense of community that Brandy delved in while building her business. I am in progress towards obtaining my bachelor’s degree in nursing, and I feel as though I could impact my community just as well.

    It is inspiring to see someone do something out of the ordinary and succeed, solely because they have a burning passion to do what they enjoy. Throughout my nursing career, I hope to stand up for the rights of my patients and follow my own path, regardless of what others think.

  • This is a great Story! As a girl that weightlifts everyday I’ve over come some people that question me asking You are a weightlifter? Yes I am a weightlifter and I think I get stronger and healthier each day and I love what I do!. I want woman to do what makes them happy don’t let anyone bring you down!

  • This is a great story! As an African American woman, I experience the looks when you share your dreams and

    aspirations to someone who doubt you. This story is about doing what makes you happy, and not to just make

    a paycheck doing something that doesn’t make your sing.

  • I really enjoy stories where people learn how to do what they love, even through hardships. When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to study psychology and do research on stereotypes and schemas. My parents pushed me towards something more concrete, especially engineering. I had a teacher laugh when I declined his offer to go into chemistry and told him my dream. He said he would see me on the streets one day. After so much backlash, I actually started looking into engineering. I toured a university that specialized in engineering, researched different types, and even chose one I found the most interesting. However, the closer and closer I got to graduation and college, the more I doubted my decision. My brain said engineering, but my heart said psychology. I ended up following my heart, and have doubted it, yes, but never regretted it. I am now heading off to get my masters in Experimental Psychology and work on my thesis on how news media reaction is shaped by the race and gender of the author. Following your heart can be hard, but passion along with hard work can pay off.

  • I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read such an inspirational story that is grounded in REALITY and smart decision making. I see articles all the time of people going after their dreams, but doing so by jumping all in at once and then sugar coating over the struggles along the way by only focusing on the final results. Yes, it is amazing to take control of your future and achieve your dreams of owning your own CF box, but you planned, recognized the sacrifices and priorities you needed to make and did the work to get there! You live comfortably now, but along the way you lost a business partner, lived with roommates and gave up a career many won’t achieve due to various circumstances. You’ve done more than many ever will because you value (and lucky you, truly enjoy) the hard work along the way! Using your position to inspire other women and specifically minority groups who may not feel traditionally involved in the fitness world is needed and appreciated.

  • All hope is not lost, I am in a very similar situation. My whole life I was told to be a doctor, or a nurse anything that would make me money. That isn’t what I wanted and I knew that I wanted to help others as cheesy as it sounds. I knew at the end of the day I want my job to be fulfilling to me. I want to be able to get out there, forge new relationships, meet other cultures, learn new things.
    I know what I have to do now. Believing yourself is all you can do when no one else has faith in what your goals are. Just like Brandy I want to empower people, although our methods may differ. I want to break away from traditional roles that are expected of me and be a strong independent person.

  • Very inspiring! This has given me hope for my future goals and that I can accomplish them no matter what. I hope to share this story with others I know.

  • Very inspiring, I am struggling in college right now as a freshman at UMBC however this story motives me to not give up on my dreams and keep working hard to accomplish them.

  • An Inspirational Story indeed! Doing what you love is always a positive in life. I am happy that you’ve continued your path of success and enjoyment. I find these types of stories captivating as well as motivational. With my experiences I’ve also had to choose between doing what I love or grit through the dull view of day to day life. At first, I avoided fitness as if it was the Black Plague itself, however with the career I sought out I knew that I couldn’t be that way forever. Slowly but surely I fell in love with physical fitness, especially with the weight aspect of it. Being a woman, I am expected to lift less and not be able to do physical feats men are capable of. I use fitness to prove them wrong and show others that you can do anything that you can put your mind to! I am so happy for what Ms. Monge has accomplished and I hope she inspires others to follow their hearts.

  • Nutrition and Fitness are often overlooked in society. It is often hard to see the aspects in which we meaning us humans have complete and total control over. Our overall health one of these aspects that is neglected. Ms. Monge’s story is an inspiring one due to her tenacity and intelligence.
    Her ability to find what she truly is passionate for and to actually act upon it is quite the leap of faith. People often are afraid to take that push to pursue what they love with the passion and fire that Ms. Monge displayed. As someone who has also fallen in love with the fitness industry and aspires to open up my own gym, this story is inspiring. Ms. Monge’s story of trials and tribulations helps inspire me seeing that I have also faced my own adversities. Growing up I faced the ridicule of being overweight and short; throughout all of my primary schooling I felt as if I would never be fit or good enough. Finally I felt fed up with the feeling of not being fit and made the decision to actually teach myself about fitness and nutrition. This single decision would then go on to alter my life, like Ms. Monge I found my passion for the fitness industry.
    Eating right and working out regularly not only helped me become physically better but also psychologically. Fitness helped pull me out of a lazy unmotivated mindset and into a self driven and confident one. I saw how perseverance and self-confidence can really alter ones mindset and help one to ascend and exceed their goals. Ms. Monge’s story is not only inspiring but life changing, she not only has altered her life for the better but also the lives of others.

  • Fitness is an aspect of life that many Americans seemingly neglect. Bodily health and wellness are often controllable by regular exercise, minding ones nutrition, and treating oneself. Brandy Monge is hardworking and passionate about fitness. As soon as one delves into Ms. Monge’s story, the reader immediately is connected with the fitness guru through her intelligent monetary decisions, passionate tone, and struggles. As a woman, one is bound to face judgement and obstacles that men do not have. Monge handles her doubters with kindness and grace. She was able to do this partially because of the support system she possessed while starting her journey to open a Crossfit gym.

    Monge discusses being a member of Crossfit as belonging to a community. By creating an environment where individuals learn body confidence and success she is setting her community up for victory not just in physical health, but in life as well. As an Iranian American woman, Monge’s story gives me confidence that through being mindful, kind, and persevering success is not out of my reach.

  • I love this story so much! I can relate to your switch from a career in law to creating a Crossfit gym so much. I’m super interested in studying business but I’m afraid that I won’t like office life, being in front of my laptop all day just doesn’t sound appealing. As a gym rat like you, I love going out and doing condition or being active in general. I don’t know where I’m going to end up but hopefully wherever I end up, I hope to be just as happy as you are! I wish you the best with your family and gym!

  • Thank you for sharing this story! I can definitely relate…. I am retired from the US Air Force and half Lebanese/half Honduran – first born American in my family. I will get back to my diverse culture, but more importantly, I wanted to talk about my experience with transitioning careers as well. Much like Brandy, I was working for several years in one career (Medical Logistics), but my true passion was in another industry (likely, fitness).

    Once I retired from the military, I had to learn how to put together a resume for the first time in my life! It screamed “medical logistics/pharmaceuticals/purchasing” and that is not what I wanted to do anymore. However, I was hired immediately by the city I lived in as a purchasing agent. I was honored, as I had heard other retired vets were having a hard time locking down full-time work. Thinking I was lucky, I took the position. I was destined for failure from the beginning… Looking back, I see that I was not 100% about working there. Mentally, I was thinking of what I really wanted to do instead. Although I was was doing personal training at a local gym on the side, I wanted to fulfill my passion full-time. Things went horribly wrong at the city job in the purchasing department and I was utlimately let go. I realized that I was doomed from the beginning since I went in there, not wanting to be there in the first place. I knew I needed to fulfill my life’s passion and work in the field that allows me to do what I love.

    Both of my parents are foreign and neither graduated from college. I felt it was very important for me to fulfill that dream, not only for myself, but for my family. I decided to go back to school after I retired from the military. Being a veteran, I have my Post 9/11 GI Bill to use for tuition. However, that money is running out and I am not done with my degree program. I am filling out this application and responding to Brandy’s story so that I may be considered for financial assistance. I am trying to fulfill mine and my family’s dream. I also have a son and serve as a role model to him. I want him to see me trying everything I can do accomplish this dream! I have faced minor discrimination because of my foreign name but, grew up in America so my parents are the only one’s with foreign accents. However, my parents have experienced discrimination and prejudice throughout their lives. We were living in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina 2005. This destroyed my childhood home, and my parents financial lives. They have still not recovered fully.
    I have also faced adversity: when I was deployed with my military unit, I ended up losing primary custodianship of my child because of my locality. In addition, I experienced two divorces and several moves until I finally decided to make Texas my permanent home. I feel very proud of my heritage and I do not think it has had a negative impact on my life or career. However, dealing with separation from my child, divorces, adversity and now trying to be a successful US veteran, I was able to adapt to changes easily.
    Like Brandy mentioned – and how I relate the most, is adjusting priorities. Life happens, retirements, storms, marriages/divorces, kids, etc. It’s most important to adjust priorities to adapt and overcome.
    As a single parent, living in Texas, working part-time and striving to finish my masters degree, there’s nothing this disabled, female, first-born American woman wants more than to successfully complete this program. I hope and pray that I have an opportunity through this site. Thank you for the opportunity!

  • Hearing Brandy’s story was incredibly insightful. I was able to relate to it on many different levels. First off I can relate on a personal level when it comes to being a Hispanic woman. I am the first generation in my Colombian family to be born in the United States. I know to well the feeling of being overlooked and underestimated in similar ways which Brandy explains in paragraph nine. I also connect to Brandy because her passion lies within being a small business owner, which as everyone knows can be a risky investment. My mother planted a seed in me at a very young age that has set me up to want to be successful entrepreneur. My mom is an architect she specifically loves doing lavish custom residential projects. When she moved to the states she had to start over and it took her ten years to receive her architectural licence again. It was an honor to watch her fight for her dream and eventually succeed in owning her own firm. Then the recession hit and of course building custom homes was a luxury many people could not afford. My mom spent all her savings trying to keep her business alive but despite her best efforts the economy didn’t agree. Eventually we lost our home and the business. My mom never truly gave up. She worked for a firm for a while doing commercial projects and now after many years she has finally started her business again and it is flourishing. I’ve seen what passion can do in the face of adversity. My entire childhood was a first hand account of a strong bright Hispanic woman fighting for her place as a business owner in this country. Women like Brandy and my mom are what make me who I am. I want to follow under their footsteps and add to my community. I want to be my own boss and control my future. My dream is to launch my own graphic design firm where small businesses come to me for re-branding. I want to connect with my community and help make sure the businesses within it flourish. In a way you can say that my dream would be to help others achieve theirs. Just like Brandy talks about how she loves the impact that cross-fit has on peoples lives, I also want to make a positive impact using my own artistic skills.

  • Thank you for sharing this motivational story! I can definitely relate to your story when it comes to taking risks in life. Throughout my entire life, my parents have always planned my life for me. At first I did not mind since they knew more about what is best for me. But as I grew older I did not feel happy or satisfied with the decisions they made for me. They wanted me to finish my education, enroll at College Park, work full-time as a teacher and pursue a Master’s degree together, and then possibly get me married when I turn 25. They also wanted me to continue learning Indian Classical Dance and Music which I had no interest in. They also encouraged me to major and work in a field of arts instead of teaching. Although I explained to them that what I do with my life during or after college is my decision, they still did not care since they wanted to make sure that I follow their path instead of making my own.

    From this blog, I gained a new perspective on taking risks in life. Instead of fearing about what would happen in the future, I learned that it is important to just trust your instinct and go with the decision since you may never know that success might come along your path instead of failure. No one should live life fearing the struggles and failures they might have to face if it did not happen yet. I was able to make my own decisions in life which included majoring in teaching, quitting dance and music, converting to Islam, enrolling at Towson University, and getting married and moving out. Although I knew some of the consequences of the risks I made, I am currently happy. I would have not been where I am right now if it weren’t the risks I made.

  • I identify with this story 100 percent! Even though Im just a First year student in college, initially I went to school in the mindset of being a lawyer because thats what I felt like I had to be. A semester passed, and I was so dissatisfied with the classes I was taking, because it wasnt my passion. I had to listen and trust myself, now Im certain in what I want to do. Im extremely happy and also confident!

  • I believe that stepping out of your comfort zone and being willing to take some risks can be extremely rewarding! I love that Erin followed her passion! It is so inspiring to see people that aren’t too afraid of the what ifs/failure to go after their dreams. I relocated to a completely new city, left all of my friends, my family and my comfortable job for a potential career opportunity. After 2 years, taking the risk has completely paid off and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I learned a lot about myself and have decided to continue my education as a result of the move!

  • This is awe-inspiring and I believe this relates, correlates and all around applies to my life because of the decision I made to ultimately change my major. I started out at Towson University as an English major, after losing half of my hearing and struggling with the ability to understand everyday speech, I turned to Deaf Studies. The risk, of going backward, of learning more–and completely establishing a new passion was a major risk. Educationally, emotionally, financially and all in all, I risked my potential career to improve the life of others and devote my life to others who may or may not be overlooked because of differences…but I will say, this risk is paying off a million times over.

  • This is a very motivating story. I feel like it applies to me and my decision to randomly move to a new state to start a new school. Very insperational!

  • This story is very motivating. I love to workout, and stay in shape, for not only my health, but my happiness as well. It is awesome how you incorporated your original line of work into doing something that you really love. I am an athletic training student, and I would love to incorporate working out maybe even personal training in my future!

  • This story is uplifting to say the least. I feel as if she made taking the leap of following dreams feel much closer than it appears sometimes, and the nervous feeling is some what out the window.

  • This story is awesome because it really shows that you don’t have to give up what you’re passionate about to pursue your goals in life.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. It’s inspiring and gives me hope that the leap I’m taking to follow my passion is worth it. I recently left my stable computer desk job to pursue a career in nursing. After I was a victim of a senseless crime, I viewed the world and life through new eyes. Although happy to still be alive, I grew restless with my former education and career choice. I admitted to myself that I was not happy and having a second chance at life, I wanted to enjoy it to the fullest. Helping others is my passion so I’m on a new path to do so though a little nervous of the unknowns and handling the expense. So far it has panned out as I took my prerequisites and have secured a spot in a nursing program in town.

    So again thank you for your inspiring story to help me be a little more comfortable with the risk I’m taking. Good luck to you!

  • I love this story! It gives me hope and motivation for the changes I’m going through right now. I love how you show how you have to risk it to get to where you plan on going. I’ve recently changed my major, and it was a risky change but I had to do it because it is what I wanted and needed to do for myself! This is a great story of a woman of diversity empowering other women, showing us that we can do anything that we set our minds to. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story!

  • I love this article! I personally am going through a career change in my education that is taking me else where than what I had originally planned. It’s so inspiring to hear stories such as this one where success truly does come from perseverance and persistence. You are truly an inspiring woman!

  • I think this story is absolutely amazing! It is all about taking the risk to do something you love. I am a young, married mother who is licensed to sell auto and home insurance in my state. One day, I decided this was not the life I was wanting to live and took a risk and quit my job. I am now following my job going to college to be an Elementary Educator! Stories like these remind me to not give up and to keep pushing through.

  • “The Risk Paid Off”, very inspirational with the things I am trying to do in my life. I think the biggest difficulty is being able to do something different and take that risk. A friend and I are currently starting up a clothing line. It comes will a lot of difficulties and road blocks. We’ve had to take some risk and not all were successful but we learned from them. Reading her story gives me a great deal of motivation.

  • This is an awesome story that exemplifies perseverance. This really motivates me to take a risk in my passion. I’ve been know to be someone who head strong with playing it safe. That I refuse to see beauty in taking a leap of faith in my career. I have a tendency to hold on to what is going good and be reluctant to leap for the better that my friend hint, awaits me. Brandy definitely showed my had she not taken the risk on opening Crossift Queens she would have went the rest of her life wondering what if.

  • This is a great story and it’s very motivating and one that I can personally relate to. In the past I was very afraid to put myself out there and get involved in my community. However I took a risk and I attended community events and I volunteered. The risk was well worth the reward. I got to serve my community and see the positive impact I had on their lives and more so the positive impact they had on mine.

  • Brandy Monge is an inspirational woman to anyone who who is willing to stop out on the ledge and make a career out of their passion. I relate to her story as a young college student who is still learning about her goals and what she wants to do with life. As a female minority in my major of architecture, I understand how Brandy felt being a lawyer. There are not a lot of black females in my classes, but I stay because I feel that if I can make it as a successful architect I can inspire younger minorities to chase their dreams. Also, I am an active individual: physically, mentally, and in my community. In high school, I did everything I wanted to do and still had time to myself. I was involved in school clubs, worked out, had a job, and made good grades. As I started college, I still wanted to do everything like participate in ROTC, work, and try intramural sports, while also excelling in my studies. However, my major is demanding. I grew exhausted and lost passion. Like Brandy Monge states “You can’t do it all”, I realized I could not do everything. I saw I did well in my architecture classes when I was able to focus and dedicate myself. I knew that architecture was what I truly wanted to do. Therefore, I applied myself to my studies more than ever before, even though I missed working out and hanging out with friends. I realized I had to sacrifice and prioritize, so that I may be able to be a successful architect. Reading this article, I learned I must do whatever is necessary in order to chase my dreams and prosper.

  • A woman can’t be the owner of a gym! It’s insane to think that Ms. Monge surely had to deal with comments of this nature from the beginning. I chose this story because Ms. Monge is the type of person to break through walls and perservere. She mentions that there was some prejudice exemplified towards her during her law career, and that it was no different when becoming a gym owner. Ms. Monge recieves admiration and respect because she worked hard but acknowledges those who helped her along the way in saying “The two things that I did do really well were to prepare and have a good support system.” Sometimes to accomplish a goal a person must reach out for assistance, much like Ms. Monge.

  • This blog describes how I feel about my life. Being a dance major is all about having an active fit lifestyle, with creating an alive, moving piece of art for the audience. First going into college, I wanted to be a Forensic Scientist because I knew it would be a good job to have and it seemed interesting at first. As I started to get more involved with the major and taking more chemistry classes, I had missed dancing. It made me realize what I was truly passionate about. I missed the ability to dance everyday, and the ability to do what I love.

    This article inspires everyone to do what you are passionate about. As she described in the article, she had no idea if owning her own business would work. Sometimes I wonder if becoming a dancer and a dance teacher would work. Some people have tried to talk me out of it. They say things like, “well, what are you going to do with that,” “that isn’t financially secure,” “why don’t you try another major?” I know that there are going to be some instances that it is going to be a challenge financially, but I will not give up. Plus, the support of my family and my friends who share an equal passion as I do, help each other succeed no matter the circumstances. This is something I want to do with my life, and nobody can take away the passion I have for the field I want to go into.

  • This blog is very inspiring and informative. Mrs.Brandy Monge has thought me a number of things. One is to never settle for anything specially when you are in college. Another is to always keep searching no matter what. I believe that is the only way to find what you love. As a college Junior I have already made my decision on what I m going to do in life but I will not settle just for that. I m going to keep searching and searching until I find other things I love too. Mrs.Monge could have easily settled down but she chose not to. She kept following her dreams and ambitions and she never gave up no matter what other people said.

  • This post really speaks to myself and I believe a lot of others as well. In a society primarily focused on monetary success, we as students often lose ourselves choosing between making a substantial amount of money in our career, and doing the thing we love. However, I do not believe that this is happiness. While as an education major, I will constantly be budgeting and “making do”, I believe that the happiness I will achieve from helping students grow academically and personally will outweigh any inconveniences that come with the risk of having with a medium income job. Like Ms. Monge, I believe this risk will be worth it, if my happiness and the happiness of those around me are gained from it.

  • Following your dream is essential. If you are doing something that doesn’t motivate you to do your best is very sad. Getting you know what you really are and finding what you really want to do are the keys of life. Many people are just trying to get a job that’s secure and pays well, but for me, I want to do something that gives me passion to devote my time. I don’t just want to be a tool to make money.

  • This post is very inspiring to me because I want to open my own business once I attend grad school and get my Master’s in Family and Marriage Counseling. I am currently a Psychology major at Augusta University (Georgia Regents University) and I plan on becoming a Family and Marriage Counselor. However, I also want to open my own chain of family/community centers throughout the state that will offer services to low income families, single mothers, and teens in the community.

    This post helped me understand the need to stay driven and continue to strive for what I want to do. Although it may take me a little bit of time, it is still possible.

  • I like this story because having a career does not mean that we cannot follow other passions we might have. Very inspiring story.

  • This is a very inspiring story. It reminds of the time when I was deciding what I wanted to major in before going to college. I was deciding whether or not I wanted to do pre-med or engineering. I then realized that choosing my future should be something that I would actually enjoy doing in the future just like how you chose to do what makes you happy. This story is very influential and can help those who are deciding what they want to pursue for their future.

  • Your story is truly amazing and inspiring. Everything you said you have gone through I can thoroughly relate to. I believe that in order to be successful you need to surround your self with people that have the same mind set as you. Although I am not into cross fit, we both still share a common passion, working out.

    I am a Business Management(Pre-Business) student at the University of Arizona. Your story shows me that you can be successful as long as you stay on a good path and keep your mind on your goal and not to stray to far from it, and that anything is possible.

  • In my belief following your heart and intuition and what you love is most important in life. I use to want to become a therapist and study how the human body reacts to certain things but art is my passion. Art is what makes me happy, its my motive.She took the risk because it was truly what she wanted to do. You have to trust yourself and beileve in it.

  • This was a nice inspirational story. I love to hear about people who were willing to take a chance on a dream and leave what is comfortable for the risk. I’m in school to become a Nurse Practitioner, but I love fitness and have thought about how great it would be to have a crossfit gym or similar next door to a practice so I could have the best of both worlds.

  • This was a great story about a woman who took a risk to step out of her comfort zone to follow her passion.
    Even though her future was uncertain, she knew she needed to make a decision to leave a successful law career to pursue her dreams. She faced many obstacles being a woman of color, and started a new business. Her pay off was spending more quality time with her family and working in a field that she loves. This story was truly inspirational for me.

  • ” I need to… surround myself with people who were strong in the areas that I don’t like or don’t excel at. Having a partner who complements your skills and interests is key.” What struck me most about Brandy’s resonant story was the way she fully threw herself into her new career, while surrounding herself with partners that accentuated her strengths and nullified the effect of her weaknesses.

    My own career-ambitions, to work in the movies, were tempered by my physical disability–hemiparesis stemming from cerebral palsy. I learned early on that if you can combine your passion with a team dedicated to your success, however, you can transcend all obstacles. My physical condition has made me aware of my weaknesses. My parents, immigrants to the United States, encouraged me to immerse myself in my joy and learn to express what support I needed. The long process of self-understanding has shown the importance of asking for help, so that I can find the resources are available and gain the means to vigorously pursue them.

    When I started my PhD program in Film at UC Berkeley, I learned about the State of California’s Department of Rehabilitation (DOR). Having met an award-winning film producer on a university-sponsored trip, I asked my DOR advisor about supporting the creation a tailored summer internship. These conversations lead to an position where I learned the elements of film production by shadowing the film producer. Now, thanks in part to my ability to find those that are absolutely devoted to my success, I have been able to take my first steps as an independent film producer even while still completing my

    Like Brandy, I realize that by surrounding myself with dedicated individuals and knowing what I need to move forward, I’m primed to succeed.

  • Brandy Monge has a very inspiring story. This story was a confirmation that the risk I am taking is the right move. I am a incoming freshman at Towson University looking to enroll into the Occupational Therapy Bachelor/Masters program. This school is my first choice and has everything I am looking for except confirmation that I will be enrolled into their OT BA/MS program. I have been accepted into several great schools and would have immediate enrollment into the program. However, at Towson, you must admit into the school and apply for admission into the OT BA/MS for your sophomore year. This is a big risk and I will be passing on great opportunities. But I believe you should follow your dreams, and work hard, and they can come true. My dream to help others through occupational therapy, which is a very rewarding career. I’m taking the risk because. “All things are possible…..”

  • I definitely have my share of trials and tribulations, which never cease to amaze me or end in my life. I have always wanted to put my passions above my responsibilities but alas those hurdles in my life, especially those of a family man, contribute to my intestinal fortitude and allowed me to hold onto my desires. I am a well-rounded individual with many unique and diverse skill sets; something that I have earned and I do not revel or gloat about. I was trained by the American’s best to be a Special Forces communication specialist, a Green Beret. For eighteen years I was committed, dedicated, and loyal to my beliefs as an elite operator. In those spare moments I explored my artistry talents to expand my evolution in my self-education. One of my passions was to become a renaissance man of sorts. What struck me about Brandy Monge’s article was she realized that it was paramount to be prepared and more importantly that you needed to have a support system in place to make any changes. My passions have evolved as I have aged and I am at a point in my life where a choice is on the horizon for me to make regarding my livelihood. Do I wane, waffle, and muddle in my current IT job or do I pursue and explore my hunger for adventure. Mrs. Monge’s courage to make those decisions to change her major in college and then later change her career path is admirable. I envy her for that … the risk did in fact pay off for her. I need to follow her example and not be afraid.

  • This story is very heart warming and incredible. It is very incredible how you are able to open up to people about what you love to do and inspire them have a healthy and active lifestyle. I myself just started pursuing working out at the beginning of my academic school year to become more healthy in preparation for college. It gives me a lot of pleasure knowing that i can push myself to obtain short terms goals that will down the road help me accomplish many long term goals. Seeing that you were able to really do what you makes you happy and make others have a more enjoyable life is incredible inspirational and shows me that you can make anything possible if you put the time, effort, and heart into it.

  • Your story is beautiful. From Law to a Gym owner it is truly inspiring and pushes me to do what I love. I love going to the gym. I actually just got back from the gym; powerhouse in Chatsworth California. The gym is a great way to relieve stress and for me I think of the body as art and we get to use exercising to help form our bodies in ways we desire. I am also a HUGE fan of cross fit. I have many friends who go daily and every time I go it is an amazing workout.

    I am a Pre-Neuroscience and Cognitive Science major at the University of Arizona and I am soon to be a freshman. I have played football, baseball, and basketball since I was around 6 years old and in my sophomore year after making a play stopping tackle I received a severe concussion. I had to spend months in the hospital missing school and being unable to do anything. I mean anything. I could not use my phone or read or watch television. Through this tragic experience I met my first neurologist who was a very kind and brilliant man who helped me cope with the absence of sports. After recovering after a long process I found I could no longer play football because of safety which was a devastating blow to what I loved and who I was.

    A few months later I spent a day with kids with disabilities on a religious school retreat and immediately wanted to do more than just entertain them. I wanted to take their disabilities away and just try to lesson the struggles they face. I then became the leader of the Immersion to Go club at my school where we work with kids with disabilities, help the poor and elderly, and so much more. From having these experiences I found my passion in neuroscience and I want to do my best to help people with disabilities.

  • I must say, this is probably one of the most inspirational stories I’ve heard in a while. I’m a freshman studying Pre-Physiology at the University of Arizona, and I love to spend time at the gym. Whether it be recreational swimming, playing basketball, lifting, taking classes, I find it all enjoyable. It’s a nice place to escape to when the stresses of college takeover. Looking back at your story, I think you’re choice to ditch law and to open a cross fit gym is incredibly impressive. It teaches me that even if the degree that your graduate with doesn’t turn out the way you want it, if you have the will to, you can accomplish anything to live in this world.

  • This story is really inspiring to me! My dream goal is to open an adventure training gym and this helps me get a glimpse into the reality of what it will entail. I am getting a degree that gives me the training in fitness but have very little business experience and I know now to find people who excel at that and help me in my goal.

    I also know that I may not be able to start my gym right away, that I should plan and make a “nest egg” for the transition to opening the gym and to not be discouraged being a women in this field.

  • I loved this story. I originally read it because of my love for fitness. For a while I thought about transitioning into a career in fitness myself. As I read though, I could really relate to the experience of others second-guessing your abilities because of being a woman. I’ve run into this my entire life as well, across many areas – from fitness to my intellect. I also love how important community and helping others is to her. This is exactly what I want to do in my life – help others and really contribute to a sense of community.

  • This article was incredible. I found myself able to relate to this author because I had also made a major decision in my life.The hardest thing is taking a risk without knowing outcome however; I have chosen to leave California and move to North Carolina to pursue a degree in the medical field Durham is known for medicine which I feel which would provide me with a variety of experiences.I am not only a dreamer, but I am a fighter and although I do not know how I am going to receive the funding so that I can achieve my educational goals, I am standing on faith that GOD will make a way.

    At the University, my goal is to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree and then a Master
    of Science degree. Once I reach my educational goals, I would like to open up my own clinic. I would also like to open up a charitable foundation to help those with autism.

    I am no stranger to autism. In fact, my 8 year old cousin has autism and it is quite difficult for my aunt being a single parents and him having countless seizures.The foundation would not only help children but also their families. I understand the challenges that people and their families face with this disorder. Children with autism have no choice but to rely on others for care and this care may involve expensive doctor bills
    and extensive care which families sometimes cannot always afford. Through my foundation, my goal will be to provide financial resources to families to offset the cost of care and help children with autism through therapy.

    I am taking a risk to not only make change in my life but in others as well. I would like to be a mentor in my community and help others be successful. As well as giving back to those who helped me along the way and those in need of assistance.

  • Throughout this article I really noticed similarities to my situation as well. As I kept reading it just motivated me to stick with my decision and work even harder.

    The risk that I took was changing the sport that I was in from cheerleading to track and field. Cheering is something that i love to do but I wanted to do something different so I took up shot put. Also I felt that it would be more beneficial to my college life as well.

    Come to find out I’m very good at it, not a lot of women do this field event and it will help me get a scholarship.

  • Throughout the entire article, I caught myself saying, “Mmm hmm! Yup…I agree. EXACTLY!” I completely relate to the author and her experience. Her story only motivated me to continue taking risks because one will never know the outcome unless they take risks!

    Like the article, I too, took a risk. I quit my job as an environmental studies teacher and decided to take classes towards nursing school. I was unemployed for a few years because the classes I took required me to take time off. I then applied to the nursing school and actually got in…but the school was across the country.

    Long story short, I moved my life across the country. I took a big risk because I had to relocated my entire life, from what was comfortable and familiar to a strange place. Nonetheless, I have met amazing people while being blessed to study a subject that I have always wanted to do. Taking risks pay off!

  • This article initially caught my eye due to the word ‘gym’ in the headline; fitness is one of my passions in life. But as I began reading Brandy’s story, I found that it had very little to do with fitness itself, but rather about going against what is established as valuable in the world. Law, which was Brandy’s previous occupation, is a career that is (most of the time) very financially stable: successful lawyers are often a part of or become a part of the upper-middle class to upper-class population. In today’s capitalist world, money is highly valued and, because of this, it is occupations that predictably result in the accumulation of money that are valued. When Brandy decided to leave her position as a lawyer and follow her heart by entering the fitness world, she was doing more than just changing jobs: she was rising above the system of occupation hierarchy and placing valued on what made her happy rather than what would make her (most likely) financially stable.

    The way that Brandy was able to separate herself from the capitalist driven ideology that equates money with value is something that resonates deeply in my life choices thus far. I have studied dance my entire life, and what began as an extracurricular activity has transformed into one of the most important parts of my life and my identity, and this has led me to pursue a Bachelors of Fine Arts in dance and the University of Arizona. It is through dance that I find peace, warmth, and my ability to affect others. As a dance major who intended on becoming a double major, it was almost always recommended that I find a ‘practical’ major, and this practicality was put in contrast with my dance major, basically establishing my already existing major as impractical. Yes, becoming a professional dancer is not only extremely difficult and often has a lot to do with qualities that are uncontrollable, such as one’s look corresponding to available jobs, but it is also extremely low paying and usually requires at least one job on the side to make ends meet. Though at first I believed the individuals who were giving me the ‘practical major’ advice, I found that ll the subjects that I deemed practical were in the scientific/ mathematical money-making field, which is an area of study that I have little interest in or passion for.

    It was then that I found Gender and Women’s Studies, a major that explores the various social structures and hierarchies of our world, focusing on the inequalities and dominant/subordinated dichotomies within our systems. Though this major does not have an easily definable well-paid job that comes after the accumulation of the degree, I find it to be valuable for me as a citizen in the world in which the systems that I’m studying are existing and influencing each of us in our everyday lives. I also assign it with great value not only for that reason but also because in pursuing this degree I get the opportunity to study a subject that I never get tired of and am constantly excited about. I, like Brandy, have placed top value, or higher, value on what my heart desires rather than my wallet, or what I’m told is the ‘good’ and ‘practical’ choice. I have followed my passions, Dance and Gender and Women’s Studies, and plan on continuing to follow my passions and leave behind the script that tells me what is and is not ‘practical or ‘valuable’ to pursue

  • Brandy, congratulations on your crossfit business. The work that you have done and are still doing is awesome, you are changing lives with every workout. Your passion to help other reach their goals is a quality that most people don’t posses these days. Nowadays people are only worried about their own personal success, but you find your success through the success of others.

    My passion is to one day have have my own crossfit gym just like you. The name will be Patience, Power, and performance. Why that name? Because it takes patience to achieve your goals, power to believe in those goals, and performance to exceed those goals. I want to help people reach their goals and reach new limits. You get better when you work outside of your comfort zone, and crossfit is a great example of where that happens. Your story has definitely inspired me to keep my dream alive and to not be afraid to take a risk and open my own business. It will be hard, but nothing great happens overnight!

  • I truly believe that the world needs passionate individuals that put their heart and soul into everything they do. In light of this, I can relate to Brandy’s passion for serving and empowering others through her work. My passion is not fitness, but rather nursing. I am pursuing a career as a registered nurse so that I too can reach out to minorities and the underserved to provide them with the best quality care. Like Brandy, I am Mexican-American and have been able to use my bilingualism to the service of Spanish-speaking patients.

    Unfortunately, minority groups often live in disadvantaged communities and lack access to health education. As a nurse, I plan to incorporate preventative care by educating my patients on their health conditions and suggesting ways in which they can improve their quality of life. In this way, I will be an advocate of patients and will strive to respect and protect the innate human dignity that each possesses.

  • Brandy, congratulations on your success and following your dream! You really inspire me to follow my heart and do what I love! My husband is currently looking to start his own fitness business and your story has inspired him as well! I am a strong believer in doing what makes us happy. Sometimes you have to just step out of your comfort zone and do what makes you happy. That is what life is all about. I’m sure your story will inspire so many people, just as it has inspired me!

  • Brandy Monge’s story was both inspirational and motivational. Brandy’s words have given me much needed advice, “You can’t do it all” and “You can’t be afraid to fail.” Know your limits, but don’t be afraid to reach for your dreams, to take the risk.

    As of now, I am working very hard to maintain a good balance between school, work, and volunteering. Being a pre-med student, I already have a full and rather challenging schedule of courses. However, I have decided to also try to be an interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing, by taking additional courses at a separate university. Many people whom I’ve told thought I was crazy or I may overwork myself or I may not be able to do it, but like Brandy, I have surrounded myself with people who support my decisions. This is a risk I’m willing to take and one I will not regret trying. I hope to be as strong as Brandy in my endeavors and hope that I will not lose sight of my long-term goals and the benefits I know they will provide for the greater good of others.

  • Taking the risk to start a business is not chance that people take lightly. As a women who is often expected to take risks, It is inspiring to hear Brandy Monge’s story.

    Being a musician, I have been faced with adversity of all types from the start. In High School my parents financial situation limited them from being able to pay for any sort of private training. Full of passion for my art while a full time student, I searched for any sort of job that would allow me the time to pursue my other passion; Speech and Debate. This all being done while still taking AP courses and being heavily involved with Student Council.

    Once I had saved up enough money, I joined a private choir and quickly started private voice lessons with the director. I loved every opportunity I had to sing and my favorite time was spent practicing or in my lessons. Through the remainder of my time in high school I was recognized and accepted into the Young Artist training program. This was an incredible opportunity and ultimately gave me the necessary experience needed to pursue music as a full-time career.

    Ms. Monge talked about how important having a support system is. I believe that surrounding yourself with people who will encourage and lift you up when no one else will is something that every person needs. My family and friends are the reason that I am where I am now. Without their encouragement late at night, or willingness to pick me up and push me forward, I wouldn’t be the musician I am today.

    Being a classical voice performance major is hard, because unlike a lot of fields, you don’t leave every day feeling encouraged. Frankly, it can be very difficult to take some of the criticism that is received during various masterclasses, lessons, and rehearsals and turn it into positive feedback. We are always being judged and critiqued, but I have grown to love it. I know that the faculty just want me to be the best musician possible, and in order to improve I had to get used to the criticism. To see no longer see it as criticism, but rather a nudge in my journey to become the best musician I can be.

    As a double major in Speech Communications, I can also relate to the busy lifestyle that new business owners experience. Between my 24+hrs of class time a week, two jobs, and volunteering, there is not much time for anything else. Having the drive to get up and push through the exhaustion is credited to my passion. There are not any other majors that I would sacrifice what I have for my current majors. My passion and pure love for my art form keep me focused and centered on my goals, My family encourage me, and My Lord supports me. Those are all things that Ms. Monge reminded me of, and also encouraged me not to take for granted.

  • Brandy Monge’s story resonates a lot with my life story especially since we are both from minority backgrounds. Reading her story inspired me to work even harder and face life challenges with an open mind. Her story is a reminder of how passion and ambition can lead someone to greater heights. Anybody can conquer anything in life if they have the desire to do so.

    Personally I grew up from a very poor background, but my mother ensured me and my brother had the most
    important necessity in life which is education. She always wanted the best for us and when she had that opportunity to move to United States, she sacrificed everything she had to make the move so that we could have better lives than if we’d stayed. The move to United States wasn’t easy especially for a teenager, there was a lot of peer pressure, lifestyle differences and cultural barriers that caused a lot of conflict. The best way to describe that experience was ‘cultural shock’.

    Fast forward today, all the challenges I faced growing up from two different worlds has enabled me to accomplish a lot of goals including being the first person in our family lineage to attain a college degree. Currently I’m working on Pharm D that I will hopefully attain in the next couple years. With this degree, I hope to reach out to my community back in Kenya and rebuild lives by promoting education and good health care practices to those in need.

  • I love your personality, it reminds me a lot of my own and having a similar experience. I started going to school for Art Education, but unlike you I did not have the support from the only Art Education Professor who told me I could not be a good teacher. A semester before student teaching I dabbled in the idea of being an Art Major, I had the classes just needed a paper. After looking for job opportunities I found myself working in sales and being successful. I ended up working for a company that would help pay for me to finish my degree in Business Management, and I graciously accepted. After graduating I worked for a bank for a while and then a financial firm and I currently getting my Series 7 and 63 while also getting my MBA.
    Like yours I picked up business because I saw the work and said, “I can do this”. My real passion would be art and going to a gym. By day I am a financial trainee for a firm and by night I am a MBA student and train as an MMA fighter. Finding time for everything is hard but like you I am almost to the point in my life where I can not struggle doing everything and find something I truly love. Being a woman not only in the financial world but in the gym is hard. I really had to prove I knew what I was doing.
    I find your story inspirational and it gives me hope that my loves will come together and I can do something with them to make me happy and love my job. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Being young and still having so many decisions to make about my future is both exciting and nerve racking. As I continue my path and make choices that will impact my future I have to keep in mind that the decisions I’m making now is for my future, my happiness, and my fulfillment. In the journey of life we are supposed to find out who we are and what we want to make our future to be. It is up to us to choose, and taking risks plays a huge part in that.

    Many times people take the road less traveled because it’s a safer route and more guaranteed for a secure future. In those cases those people miss out on so much potential they could have but might be holding back because they’re scared of failure and disappointment. We have to remember that we are the captains of our own ships and we have the choice to guide ourselves in the right direction and do what would make us the happiest. When I started thinking about what I wanted to be in the future, my first hurdle to tackle was trying to find a career that would support me financially. I soon came to realize that I needed to make my happiness a priority and compromise to find something in the middle.

    I can also relate being that I too am a Mexican- American woman. Often times I hear people imply that I can’t do things simply because I am a female but having three younger brothers I can definitely prove them wrong more times than not. It’s so important for women to always remember that they can do anything men can do. I believe that no one should be held back from doing something they love or want to do simply because society deems them not worthy enough or capable of doing so.

  • I am all for following your dreams and doing what you love. From the time I was eight to seventeen, I have never been the type of person to “stick out” something because I had a better chance at gaining income off of it. Risking my happiness for money is just not something I can do. At age sixteen I quit my job at an ice cream parlor, which was easy money, and left for a photography internship at Photo Magic Media. People wondered why I quit my job when I was making money, and I always answered them, “It was not a good environment for me and I was unhappy.” I do not believe in compromising your happiness for anything.

    My grandfather has always lectured me about having “plan B’s and C’s and D’s,” yet I never thought of having second options. This way of thinking caused me to only apply to one college, my dream college, Savannah College of Art and Design. I was constantly told I was crazy for only applying to one school and how I needed to have other options, but I thought there was no point in applying to other schools I did not want to go to just because I could easily get in. In early September of 2014, I got the amazing email that I had been accepted into my dream school and I needed to do no more looking.

    Another bug in my ear was people telling I would not be able to make a living off of being a painter and photographer. These people applied to colleges they could afford to get into (which is fine), and are going to major in areas that are not their passions. It saddened me that they chose the easy route, which can prove less rewarding, and will probably be working unhappy corporate jobs. Let me be clear that I respect people doing what they have to do in order to live, but anytime your happiness is compromised, you’re making life a job and life should not be considered a job. Do not let money be the root of your happiness. With my dreams of owning my own art gallery and photography studio, I believe that it is so important to shoot past the stars because the sky is not the limit.

  • I completely understand Brandy’s decision to go after what she loves and will make her happy everyday. I think a lot of college students go through this but not as many college students are brave enough to go after what they truly love. My family is all about what is going to make you the most money in the long run and not so much about what will make you happy in the long run. Despite that, I decided to major in French. I’ve looked into majoring in French and can name 10 companies off the top of my head that I could work at in the future so I have an answer to constant question: “what can you do with a French degree anyways?” However, I do not really want to work for those companies, I am not sure what exactly I want to do but I know that I love French and I will be happy doing any job that allows me to use my knowledge of French everyday. I know that it may mean that I might not be making as much money as some of my peers who decided to go into the STEM field but I also know that the STEM field would not make me happy and my happiness is more important to me than money. Brandy’s story resonates with me because it shows that doing the thing you love can become more beneficial in the long run.

  • Although Brandy and I have different backgrounds and stories, I can relate to her in the contexts of setting a goal and going though the struggles and obstacles of trying to accomplish that goal. All through my elementary and middle school age, I was always overweight as a child. Having a slow-processing metabolism mixed with a not-so-healthy diet due to a low-income, I quickly gained weight and noticed many outcomes from it. All jokes aside, young kids are the most brutally honest and will say whatever is on their minds, so needless to say, I was the at the end of many jokes being made.

    I was being laughed at a lot and knew that I did not want to be like this with going into a new high school. The summer before I started high school, I started to do some mild cardiovascular training outside and also signed up to play football in high school. Along with the running, my coach put me on a weight lifting routine and some diet tips. Throughout the season, and the remainder of my high school tenure, I was able to shed the extra weight along with some assistance from growing about 6 inches, I was standing tall at a normal, and healthy weight.

    Now, I am a full-time student at Towson University with two jobs and an avid weight lifter who is training for a power lifting competition. I have and am still facing many obstacles. Getting by financially is one of the issues with my mom being out of work for medical reasons and my father working to support an entire household, I have to balance school, work, and the gym constantly for my goals to be reached. As Brandy did though, I will continue to stay determined and work hard at what I want to accomplish.

  • I have taken a risk by continuing my education. No one in my family has faith in me, that I will succeed. They all think of me as a career student and think that I will never be done. I have made the choice to go to graduate school without their support and show them that I will succeed! It will certainly be a struggle when your family is against you but I know I can do it. I have to do it! My risk is trying to succeed even when others think I will fail!!!

  • I am here making this comment because my mother took the risk to leave everything behind including myself, putting me under my aunt and uncles guide so that she could come to this country and seek greener pastures. she sent money to my home country and my new guardians would in turn use it to take care of me. I was absent from my mother for 10 years but we reunited in 2010. From the day she came to this country she has worked two and sometimes three jobs and she insisted that i Get my GED and move on to college and i did. I enrolled at a community college and graduated this year with honors. I was accepted in the school my professor recommended for me and i am hoping to go all the way and graduate from it as well. i see my mother work tirelessly everyday and even though i have had a rough start this quarter, i plan to get my grades up. my thirst for education is my risk and i am my mothers risk.

  • Taking risks are a part of everyone’s lives and the outcome may or may not be what was expected. I can relate because as I was approaching my senior year of high school I knew I had to start thinking about where I wanted to attend college and what I wanted to choose as a career. I also had to take into account my biggest passion of all, soccer. Playing soccer is something I have been doing for so long, and I knew I couldn’t be done after high school. My love for soccer was certainly a factor in making my decision on a college. I took a huge risk and put myself out there hoping to be picked up by a college who wanted me to play for them. I just knew I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t furthering my education while also playing the sport I love. After a lot of patience and faith, the risk payed off. I not only found a school that I loved that had the perfect academic program for me, but I was also offered a spot on their soccer team. I couldn’t be more happy with the outcome and I can’t wait to see how the rest of my story plays out.

  • I love the title of this story because life is about taking risk. Some risk can be great outcomes and some will not be. I like taking risk. When the risk does not come out good, I become upset with myself , but then I realize it is a life lesson that you have to learn from. Also when you are taking risk, you have to have determination and courage.

  • An incredible story of determination and courage. Having the believe in yourself to take “risks” to follow your life’s dreams is admirable. I have been chasing my dreams for a lifetime, and reading Erin’s story has reenergized my belief in self.

    My life’s journey as taken me to many places, and exposed me to a multitude of experiences. Unlike Erin, I have spent most of my life searching for that one passion. I have tried my hand in several different careers, and just recently decided I wanted to start my own legal services company. I share Erin’s passion for helping people, and seeing the results of that help.
    Self-doubt always creeps in the picture when you want to “step-outside-the-box” to pursue a goal. Erin touches on the importance of support from family/friends/peers, in helping eradicate doubt, and build self-esteem. As I continue to pursue my passion of helping others, through law, Erin’s story will be at the forefront of my thoughts.

  • This is an amazing story of a champion, in reality, that is what she is, a champion. She changed her major in college and loved her career as a Lawyer, but continued to reach for new objectives. She knew how hard it would be and how much time in effort she would need to apply,
    “you have to get your hands dirty, especially in the beginning. My original business partner and I did all of the coaching, all of the billing, all of the marketing, all of the phone calls, all of the work. Now that the gym has grown, though, I have a staff, so I can focus on what I care about”
    she put her all in something she wanted, and now it is paying off.

    I also love that she didn’t let the fact that she was both a female and minority get in the way of what she wanted, “I’m a Mexican-American woman. As a woman, I’ve definitely run into some backwards attitudes.” I can relate especially to this because I am a Latin-American Woman, and I’ve faced much discrimination for this, but I use all of the negativity as motivation to succeed.

    Her story with her father is very touching as well. My parents have had to live pay check to pay check, so at times we would worry about what we could eat. It is true, that for many reasons, this is why there is a correlation between poverty and obesity, “I was raised by my father as a single Dad, and he’d give me McDonald’s for breakfast and then I’d go have tacos for lunch. Over time, I saw the impact of those decisions”. I’ve experienced much of these things but that is exactly why I am here at Towson University now, because I am going to change my life for the best!

  • I love this story. I can relate from graduating high school with the intentions of becoming an architect and switching into fashion design. I admit it was really scary and the disapproval of my family didn’t help either, but I had to be my own cheerleader and push myself to do it. Now I’m more happy that I ever was study architecture. I hope all works well for me as it did for this women.

  • This article is so inspiring because it reminds to keep fighting if you really want something. I love her determination. I am studying for a major in Recreational and Fitness Studies and the primary reason for this is because I want to help people, much like Brandy.

  • I can honestly say I know how she feels. Being in the industry related field for over 10 years, doing bodybuilding and personal training, a dream of mine is to open up a gym of my own. I believe most people who are involved deeply in the fitness industry would love nothing more than to have a gym to call their own.

  • I identify closely with Brandy’s story, because I have also decided to take a risk.

    For most of my life, I thought I wanted to work as a psychologist or in some other form of social work. As high school started to come to an end, I realized that psych work is not my true passion. I decided to enroll in school as a Political Science major. At this point in my life, I feel very confident about my decision and hope that I will be able to achieve Brandy’s level of success in doing what I love.

  • This is such an inspiring article. I want to be an architect and going to school currently for architecture. I remembered when I was looking for colleges and almost every single college representatives I met told me that I would for sure get into these colleges for architecture because I’m a woman. But even then, most of them doubted my abilities. They would always tell me of other majors and how those would be more appropriate for me. I sure hope I’ll be able to finish my education and start practicing.

  • This article was very motivational, Brandy knew what she wanted an she created a plan to execute it. She has inspired me to continue on the path that I am on currently; I know my efforts in college will be worth the
    risk in the end. There is always the possibility of failing, but how is one to know unless he or she tries; really that is all one can do is try. Determination and hard work will undoubtedly pay off just as it has for
    Brandy Monge. If you have a dream, believe in yourself and pursue it. It may not be easy to fulfill, but keep in mind nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. Best of luck Brandy!

  • Brandy is an intelligent and independent young lady. I always admire a woman that strives for excellence and pursues her goals. a good thing about brandy is that she always had a plan in mind; whether it was broadcasting, being a lawyer, or her exercises, Brandy always had a plan. The one thing that really separates her from your average person is her confidence and guts to pursue her heart, she went towards what she loved to do. The great thing about it all is she surrounded herself with positive people and had an optimistic view on life. I myself will on day do cross fit in queens, I wish Cross fit Queens nothing but the best. Good Job Brandy!

  • This story is extremely motivating and reassuring. There is nothing better than hearing about women taking a risk and doing what they love. i love hearing about anyone who is willing to challenge the norm to follow passion and even more so someone who is bringing to light the importance of health and wellness to others. I feel if you follow your heart you will be successful and this is proof! Hard work pays off!

  • I admire people who break the thin line of doubt others bring them. My parents have started their own businesses in the food industry and they remind me everyday that hard work pays off. Like you, they worked countless hours. No matter what comes your way, you will succeed because in the country, we fight and work for what we deserve. Kudos to you, your present accomplishments, and your future accomplishmenst; all because of your past decisions.

  • Your story challenges me in a way that leaves me slightly envious and yet motivated. I work as a federal contractor right now but I’m very diligent when it comes to staying in shape. People tell all the time I should be a personal trainer but the turnover is so high that I’ve never reall given it much effort. Your beyond courageous, you’re a BAMF (Bad A%$ Motha F&@%#). To pursue your dream and forsake all traditional knowledge concerning job security in our economic climate, takes grit Brandy. Hats off to you for going there.

  • I cannot imagine the courage it took for her open a new
    business and leave her profession. I believe this article demonstrates with accurate
    planning, a good support system and hard work, you can follow your dreams. To
    me, the unknown is terrifying but then again to follow your dreams, occasionally
    you have to take risks.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to come across more stories
    about all the terrible things that are happening these days. It’s refreshing to
    see there are still people who care about the well-being of others. It must be extremely
    rewarding to help people reach their fitness goals.

  • I believe this article is a testimony to everyone who has a dream. It shows hard work does pay off. Now i know no matter where you are in life, people still have dreams. Given the amount of success a person may have, they can still want more. I think it is important to follow your dreams in order to have a successful life.

  • Great inspiration for people who are afraid of following their true dreams because of fear that they will fail. Even though your dream didn’t kick off right away it shows that you really can do anything you put your mind to. This story opened up my eyes to true possibilities of the world when you take a chance on your dreams.

  • Very nice! I too take pride in my fitness and enjoy helping others become more healthy. I am an athlete and know how important it is to keep a healthy body. It is important to try to get more people motivated to get healthy now days. It seems that we keep getting further away from it.

  • Very Inspirational. I love to see people getting involved with exercise, especially in todays generation where more and more people are becoming unhealthy. We must strive to keep our bodies healthy, so that they can continue to function appropriately.