The Stories We Tell

Woman of the Month: How I won my life back

“Your Testimony could be the key to unlocking someone’s Prison.”

Today we honor Brooke Van Paris. Her journey and fearless spirit show us no matter what curve balls life through you, if you never give up on yourself, you’re able to conquer just about anything you desire.

I consider her a warrior, strong, powerful, and fierce not only because of her story but because she’s a humanitarian who has used her pain, her life’s hardships, and life lessons as fuel to help others find hope.

I had the pleasure to sit and talk about her wild journey. It’s one to be remembered and inspirational. But, of course, the journeys are never the same, but the emotions are.

She is Bold, Brave, Brilliant, and the perfect woman to honor this month and every day.

What is your background?

My background is in Sales. I started work at Anheuser-Busch, a brewing company that owns Budweiser and Bud Light. I handled the downtown Indianapolis Market with the company for five years! 

Shortly after the first Reality Show, I transferred to Houston to work for a race company called BattleFrog.

Three months after, the company fell under. Plot TWIST!! So, I to work for a company called TPX, which is in the IT industry. While working there, I went back to get my training certs.

After only being in Houston for a year, I moved back to Indiana, and I had my first job in personal training there.

It was not great, but I made no money. I thought this was the worst career move I could have made because I was making a lot of money in Sales, but it wasn’t my passion.

When I got to Cincinnati. I started working at Life Time Fitness, and through everything I have gone through, this has been the most rewarding part of my journey.

What is your favorite part about your career?

I get to help people with my story every day. I am in a business where the impact I have on people changes their lives. 

It’s beyond life-changing to be able to sit in front of an individual who is telling me their story of being a two-time breast cancer survivor, telling me they have bulging disks in their back and that they also recently tore their meniscus, and be confident enough to say, “We got you.” 

What light’s my fire is to provide hope for somebody because I’ve been there multiple times, especially with my accident, weight loss, and all that I have been through. 

Sometimes when you are in a deep dark hole, you don’t know how to get out, but I can provide hope and relief and solutions to help people to be able to win their life back, and that is incredibly rewarding. That’s what makes it not a job. I am dealing with real human beings.

What Significant event changed your life?

The car accident I was in. On October 29th, 2009, I was leaving class at Indiana University. I was a sophomore.

And I was on my way home, and I went to pass through an intersection, and somebody didn’t yield the intersection and then turned in front of me, causing a head-on collision.

My car did two 360s, all four tires blew, my windshield shattered, and I opened my eyes to smoke everywhere.

And because I had never been in a bad accident, I didn’t realize it was my airbags, but I thought my car was on fire. 

I tried to get out of my car, but I couldn’t because the pedals had wrapped around my feet. I finally was able to get myself out of my car by getting my feet out of my shoes, and I ran into the intersection. 

One of the fraternity guys who was crossing the street grabbed me, I called my parents, and a couple of seconds later, my adrenaline had enough time to calm down for my brain to process what had happened. 

So I looked down, and my hands were basically in a mangled fist. I had compound fractures, and everyone saw it at the same time. I was screaming. Everyone around me was screaming. It was extremely horrifying.

At the time, the journey was never supposed to be as long as it was. So, what was supposed to be a six to eight-week-long journey, ended up as a two-year-long journey of being disabled. I felt like everything in my life had been taken from me.

And something my Dad said to me resonated. He said, “Your education is something nobody can take from you. If you want to stay in school. I will help make it happen.”

For the next two years, my Dad drove down every day to feed and bathe me to stay in school as a full-time student, and Mom and Stepdad both helped me with all the post-surgeries.

Over those two years, I had four different surgeries, and in December of 2012, I graduated school on time with two years of having no use of my hands.

My focus for those two years was to get through school get my hands rehabbed, and at some point, I looked in the mirror after I had accomplished that goal and didn’t know who I was.  

I looked in the mirror and had an identity crisis. I hated myself. I didn’t know who I was. I was always athletic and in sports previously, and I was miserable.

I was having an identity crisis of who I was, the outsides were no longer matching the insides, and I had an internal battle feeling settled with it. In addition, I had gained a significant amount of weight.

You don’t feel good when you don’t look how you want to. After going to gyms with no educational training, I tried every fab diet. I wanted the weight off now, and I wanted it off NOW, but that’s not the right way. 

I spent the next two years fighting with my body until I learned about obstacle course races and was hooked. 

I did 48 races in nine months. I lost 40 pounds, and I ended up for that year and the next five years representing The United States in the sport of Obstacle Course Racing. That is how I won my life back.

Fun Bonus Fact- That following year, I ended up on 2 Reality TV Shows because of my physical journey to the comeback kid story – being named “BeastMode Barbie” in both Reality Show Life and Obstacle Course Racing!

Shows: American Grit on Fox with John Cena

Broken Skull Challenge on CMT with Steve Austin 

Where do you see yourself growing within the next year?

On January 23rd, I started my new adventure in Boca Raton, FL. with LifeTime, where I can impact more people’s lives.

The cool thing about being in management is I get to help members and my trainers and help them have a financially happy career so they can provide more for their family and themselves. That is so rewarding!

This move to Boca Raton with LifeTime is the first time I have been able to move, and it is something that I wanted personally, that I have earned for myself in a place I would live forever.

I feel in my soul this is where I belong. Maybe it’s the sunshine it radiates my true personality, this version of myself I fought so hard to be.

How have you navigated through the challenges and hard times?

One quote I lived by “If it’s not good yet, God’s not done yet.” Everything I went through built up to this moment. God wasn’t done with my accident and everything I have been through; God had so much bigger plans for my story, and I could have never imagined I would be used in this way.

Anytime I have ever gone through trauma, it’s never forever. Time heals everything, and I am the living proof of that.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

You are strong. I was born to live a very big life, and I am worthy of that. I manifested it! It’s the same advice I would give to others, especially young women. It’s okay to be physically strong, too, and flawed- is perfect.

There is this expectation of productivity & perfection, and the reason why everyone hates parts of themselves is because no one has ever told us it’s okay to have flaws or that our flaws may be our strengths. Your version of beautiful may not be everyone’s, and that’s okay.

What’s one word to describe you?

Bold! Because my life is meant to be big, and I have always been bold in the decisions I’ve made and the chances I’ve taken.

Without fear of failure, be BOLD as a woman and stand out! To not sit in the shadows! I am a bold person; I am loud; you either love me or don’t.

There is no middle ground. I have been that way with my career, which is why I live a life filled with so much value and purpose.

How can people stay connected with you?



Subscribe For Latest Updates

Enter your name and email address below to receive the latest updates.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.