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Brittany Pankey MOTM Apr 2020

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Family: Mom and Dad, 3 younger brothers, husband Cameron and a baby on the way!
First Job: Camp Counselor
Current Job: P.E. Teacher, coaches competitive Volleyball
Immediate CF Goals: Just keep moving!
Favorite Movement: Rowing
Favorite Meal Prep: Chicken, Rice and veggies
Favorite Book Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, CrossFit
Favorite Podcast: Talking Elite Fitness
Favorite Thing to do Outside CF: Chasing Medals

Born and raised in Yuba City, Brittany has been playing sports since she was little. While soccer and volleyball were her favorites, she also played track, cheer, dance, and softball. After graduating from Yuba City Highschool, she went to Yuba College where she played a year of soccer. During the season, the coach required the team to do Cross Country as extra training. While she didn’t like being told to run, she learned that she actually did enjoy running. This has led her to run dozens of 5/10ks (where she has placed in the top 3 numerous times!), 4 marathons, a half marathon and some Tough Mudders.

After Yuba College, Brittany transferred to Cal State NorthRidge in LA. She was a Physical Education/Kinesiology major because PE felt like a natural path considering how much she enjoyed working with kids. She actually didn’t know what Kinesiology was at first, but after learning it was the study of human movement and wellbeing, she was hooked.

After graduating, she moved back to Yuba City and began coaching volleyball. Coaching and mentoring children has been something she’s been doing for over 15 years. Her first job was a Summer Camp counselor, which she did for five years. She moved up to Camp Director and stayed in that position for four years. One year, she traveled to a summer camp in Pennsylvania to be the Volleyball coach.

In 2012, Brittany got her Zumba certification. Zumba was the first real fitness class she had ever committed to more than twice. The gym was never her thing because she didn’t know what to do, she was fit and healthy because of running and sports and now dance. She went on to teach Zumba for three years, teaching to adults and kids in the after school programs.

Doing the afterschool programs connected her with a principal who eventually hired her as an instructional aid at the school. She signed up for the credential program, got an internship to be a PE teacher at Barry and Albert Powell, began working on her Masters in Education and eventually had to stop teaching Zumba. In 2014 Brittany met Cameron Pankey. In 2019 the two got married and are expecting their first baby in August!

Brittany first heard about CrossFit while she was in college. As a Kinesiology major, CrossFit was a taboo subject. It was stupid because you were doing to many things at one time and you were going to get hurt. This was enough to make her stay away from it.

During the summer of 2015, she came across a documentary on Netflix about the CrossFit Games and started watching it. At the same time, the actual Games were going on. She got really into it, thought it looked really awesome and decided it was something she had to try. She looked up a box, signed up almost immediately and then quit after a month. She definitely liked it, definitely enjoyed the competitiveness, but feeling like she didn’t know what she was doing paired with the “it’s going to get you hurt” ringing in her ears from college made her quit.

The next summer, she started seeing posts from Ryan about the new space he was building. At the same time, her and Cam’s friends, Kenton and Olivia started going. So Brittany told Cam about it but he didn’t want to do it. And then one day Kenton told him to come try it and they finally tried out a class! Their first workout was Barbara and it left them so sore. Even with that soreness they were back the next day to sign up.

As she learned things in class, she began implementing them at the schools she taught at. The cues Ryan would give to do a proper squat, became cues she used to help her students squat better. She even brought her students the oh so fun “Bring Sally Up” challenge. However, her focus on fitness and moving better was sinking in and making a difference. She had reports of parents working out with her students and being told they were squatting wrong. The student would then go on to list the performance points, getting the parent to move better. Her students also learned the difference between a “CrossFit Pushup” and the regular pushups that are so commonly done.

Inspired by her students, her love of teaching and CrossFit, Brittany decided to get her CrossFit Level 1 Training Certificate in January of 2019. She wasn’t sure how she was going to implement it but she knew she wanted to do something with one of her sites. That led to her creating her own affiliate called CrossFit Yet at Barry School.

Brittany is a firm believer that things should have meaning. When she was at the summer camp in Pennsylvania the other counselors told her volleyball never had anyone and that she was basically going to just sit and get a nice tan. Up for the challenge, Brittany was determined to have kids out there and by the end of summer she was having 30-40 kids signing up per session.
Her secret? Her motto – you can’t do it YET. When a kid would come out to the class and say they didn’t know how to play, she would say “you don’t know how to do it yet but you’re going to try.” And that just became her thing.

When she came back from camp, “The Power of Yet” became her motto for the highschool. Students were talking about it and she was seeing it make a difference. The power of yet allows students to look at things with a growth mindset. It allows them to recognize that no matter what you do, you may fail and that’s okay as long as you learn from it and know that you’re just not there YET.

While her class is called “CrossFit”, CrossFit makes up about a three week unit. During the time she focuses on partner and group workouts, body weight movements bringing out a little competitive spirit. This leads to kids who won’t move in traditional PE class to bust their butts for the full 40 minutes she has them. She also teaches her students about mindfulness, the power of being present in the moment, and mindset.

And this is just the beginning of her program. Eventually, she would like to implement something in the mornings. She has read a lot of research that shows if kids have movement right before hard classes, their brains are firing better and they’re more awake helping them excel in the class. They are also working on ways to do training classes for the younger kids that she doesn’t get to see since she works with the middle schoolers.

CrossFit just hasn’t impacted her students’ lives. Since joining, Brittany has found herself growing stronger, moving better and even stepping outside her comfort zone and participating in three competitions. She has found a positive outlet to help keep her sane. And while her eating was never really horrible, during one of the Classified Nutrition Challenges, she was able to clean things up even more, really dial it in, which led to fitting into clothes she hadn’t fit into for a long time and feeling great. Soon after that challenge is when her and Cameron discovered they were pregnant 🙂

Outside of CrossFit, you can find Brittany chasing medals and t-shirts in 5 and 10Ks. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and family.

By Bethany Schmidl