February Beast of the Month: Brittany Brazil
by Andy Laughlin
One glance at Brittany Brazil in action epitomizes the seasoned, lightweight strongwoman competitor: Muscular, confident, quick and deliberate in her movements whether she's hoisting a log overhead, pulling a heavy sled, or sprinting with a 400-pound yoke across her shoulders, she would seem equally at home wielding a sword into battle as she does training events in the parking lot of Sacramento's North D Fitness Collective.
So it might come as a surprise to learn that before 9 months ago, she'd never played a sport in her life.
"I never played school sports, nothing like that," she said as we sipped our frosty beverages after a recent Strongman Saturday in Sacramento. "I used to do people's lawns. I worked on a ranch for a bit, helping out with a lot of heavy chores. I had to help the owner tip her tractor a few times ... really hard work. But that's really it."
Saturday mornings for most folks mean grabbing coffee with a friend, taking the dogs for a nice stroll or getting a head start on the latest home improvement project. But for members of The Strongman Club, Saturday morning is time to go to work, building strength--physical and otherwise--and community by sharing a passion for the sport of strongman. The clubs two chapters gather during the same timeframe at parking lots in the Bay Area and Sacramento.
Brittany's introduction to the sport began one day following a reunion with an old friend, Strongman Club athlete and coach Lindsay Hall. "I started watching all her lifting videos on Instagram and even though she'd talked about her athletic pursuits before, but seeing her in action really inspired me," "Last July we decided to meet up for lunch. I wasn't sure I could just start working out with this super-strong athlete, but I just asked her straight up 'could we work out together?' We've been training together every week since."
The pair started making regular appearances at The Strongman Club Strongman Saturdays in Hayward. "I feel like it was an instant sense of community, with people supporting each other instead of just competing against each other. From day one, we all had each other's Instagrams, sent each other's videos and stuff like that. With everybody being isolated from COVID, it was an instant group of friends. It was like an addiction - I started driving out to Hayward every weekend."
Three months after beginning her strongwoman journey, Brittany made her competetive debut at last October's Static Monsters, hosted by The Strongman Club at Resistance Gym in Concord. Appropriately dressed in her Wonder Woman costume, she managed a 275-lb axle wagon-wheel deadlift and a 115-lb Log clean and press (despite failing one log press attempt for forgetting to finish the lift with her feet together).
"You were the judge... you no-repped me," she chided me, jocularly. "But it was all part of the learning process, too, getting all those things locked in," she said. "I got lots of hugs, it was all good!"
Brittany traveled to The Training Hall in Southern California the following month to make her full-competition debut at 805's Strongest Man and Woman in the lightweight novice class. As with most shows hosted by The Training Hall's legendary owner, former World's Strongest Man competitor and current holder of several world records Odd Haugen, the competition featured a mas wrestling component. For those unfamiliar, mas (literally "stick" in the Yakutsk language) is a tug-of-war between two athletes seated with their feet on either side of a wood plank, battling for control over a hardwood stick approximately 2 inches in diameter.
"All the women there were like these Amazonian badasses who destroyed me on the mas board," she said. "But it was a good learning experience. I was more impressed than anything else--how they moved their feet, how they countered this way or that. I wasn't upset to lose any matches. It was all about growth."
Most recently, Brittany competed at Untamed Strength's Winter Warrior in December, where she finished third as a lightweight novice.
When she isn't hard at work training events at The North D Fitness Collective, Brittany is often hard at work building and customizing guitars through her own business, Pyro Guitars. Using a combination of charcoal, paints and a woodburning method called "pyrography," along with woodworking and luthier skills more than a decade in development, she's created instruments for a number of well-known artists, including Bo Bice and Avenged Sevenfold.
"I took a woodshop class in high school. I had a choice between pre-calc and woodshop. I was like, 'I'm going to go with the fun one and build a guitar!' That just stuck. It's been the funnest sh**, just creating this thing from your own hands, and being able to play it."
An accomplished jazz guitarist herself, Brittany sees a connection between what drives her as a strongwoman and the creative process.
"Aesthetics are cool," she said. "But it's better if things have a purpose ... it's a whole process. You build it and you bond with it until it becomes this useful thing."