War­rior Woman

Oxygen - - Contents - BY LARA MCGLASHAN, MFA, CPT PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY IAN SPANIER

Real-life won­der woman and elite CrossFit com­peti­tor Brooke Ence talks about her tri­fecta role as an ath­lete, ac­tress and mo­ti­va­tor.

Real-life won­der woman and elite CrossFit com­peti­tor Brooke Ence talks about her tri­fecta role as an ath­lete, ac­tress and mo­ti­va­tor.

IT’S NOT EV­ERY DAY

that a big-name director en­vi­sions a su­per­hero bat­tle scene star­ring you — and only you — front and cen­ter, kick­ing ass and tak­ing names. It’s also un­usual for said big­wig to seek you out, fol­low you on so­cial me­dia, then have his “peo­ple” call you to au­di­tion.

When Brooke Ence got that call from Warner Bros., she was a few weeks out from the 2015 CrossFit Games, her rookie de­but. Zack Sny­der — a director known for block­buster comicERRN DQG VXSHUKHUR ÀOPV VXFK DV 300, Watch­men, Man of Steel and Bat­man vs. Su­per­man: Dawn of Jus­tice — his peo­ple said, wanted her to au­di­tion for his next movie. So Ence ar­rived in Los An­ge­les for the Games, signed in, then trekked across town to Warner Bros. Stu­dio.

6KH LQWHUYLHZHG DQG DXGLWLRQHG IRU WKH ÀOP ³ KDYLQJ QR LGHD yet what it was called or what she would be do­ing (Hol­ly­wood DQG WKHLU VHFUHWV « ³ WKHQ Á\LQJ KLJK RQ SRVVLELOLW\ (QFH sailed back to the Games, where she deftly won two events and HQGHG XS WK LQ WKH ZRUOG LQ KHU ÀUVW WLPH HYHU FRPSHWLQJ

The Ab­so­lute Ama­zon

As it turns out, Sny­der was cor­rect — (QFH ZDV WKH SHUIHFW ÀW IRU KLV YLVLRQ She is a pro­fes­sional dancer, a sea­soned per­former, a skilled eques­trian and an ace with a cross­bow, all nec­es­sary su­per­heroine skills. And, of course, there is her physique — a blend of strength and fem­i­nin­ity that makes her stand out among a cast­ing-call lineup of hun­dreds of ath­letic blondes.

Ence would play the Ama­zon war­rior Pen­this­e­lea in both Won­der Woman and the sub­se­quent Jus­tice League, and she was quickly whisked off to Italy for ÀOPLQJ ZKHUH VKH ZDV WKULOOHG WR ULGH horses and wield ham­mers and smash pil­lars and props all day long.

:KHQ QRW ÀOPLQJ (QFH ZDV WUDLQLQJ for the 2016 CrossFit Open, a se­ries RI ÀYH VWDQGDUGL]HG HYHQWV RQH per week) in which all com­peti­tors ZRUOGZLGH KDYH WR FRPSOHWH DQG ex­cel at in or­der to qual­ify for the Re­gion­als, then — hope­fully — go to the Games. Since she was nowhere near a gym, Ence main­tained her train­ing in makeshift fash­ion, hang­ing a set of gym­nas­tics rings on a tree and do­ing hand­stand push-ups against any YHUWLFDO VSDFH VKH FRXOG ÀQG ´,W ZDV hard, but it made me more men­tally tough,” says Ence, who killed the Open LQ )HEUXDU\ DQG TXDOLÀHG HDVLO\ IRU WKH Re­gion­als.

U-Turn

Ence re­turned from Italy just six weeks be­fore the Re­gion­als and found she had de­vel­oped se­vere ten­dini­tis in her knee. “I had not squat­ted be­low par­al­lel in months, but I thought I could still ex­cel and qual­ify for the Games, even though my prepa­ra­tion was so much dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­one else’s,” she says.

At the end of the day, Ence fin­ished sixth at the Re­gion­als and missed qual­i­fy­ing for the Games by a sin­gle spot. Sub­se­quent so­cial me­dia was a re­lent­less bar­rage of neg­a­tiv­ity, and Ence be­gan to ques­tion her ve­rac­ity as an ath­lete. With the help of friends and fam­ily, she re­al­ized that her haters were just that — haters. None of their crit­i­cism was true, and none of it mat­tered.

Then, just as she was in a pos­i­tive headspace and back to a pur­pose­ful train­ing reg­i­men, she woke over the 2016 Christ­mas break with in­ex­pli­ca­ble pain ra­di­at­ing down her arms. On her In­sta­gram, she de­scribed the pain as if “I were the pa­tient in the game Op­er­a­tion and who­ever was play­ing the game TO­TALLY sucked.” No amount of chi­ro­prac­tic, physio or massage work helped, so in Fe­bru­ary, as the 2017 Open be­gan, Ence was get­ting an MRI. Though she had never dropped a bar on her­self or in­curred an­other type of acute in­jury to ex­plain her pain, the doc­tors dis­cov­ered she had her­ni­ated two cer­vi­cal disks. For Ence, the 2017 Games would not hap­pen.

“It’s a cliché, but you don’t re­al­ize what you have un­til it’s gone,” she says. “Move­ment is how I cope with stress and am able to re­lease and let things go.”

Las­so­ing Op­por­tu­nity

At the time of this writ­ing, Ence was just 13 weeks out from a spinal fu­sion of the C6 and C7 disks in her neck, and by Au­gust, she ex­pects to be train­ing at 100 per­cent in­ten­sity. In the mean­time, Won­der Woman was re­leased and Ence was blown away when she saw her­self on the big screen and her name in the cred­its. More­over, she was sur­prised at her overnight no­to­ri­ety.

“I had no idea the scale at which I would mat­ter,” Ence says. “My part was fairly small, but when I would get out of a car at an event, they would an­nounce my name and peo­ple would start scream­ing and tak­ing tons of photos. I don’t think I re­al­ized how big and amaz­ing this would be, and now I have a whole new au­di­ence to reach and to give a su­per-pos­i­tive mes­sage. I mean, what bet­ter pos­i­tive mes­sage than a woman — Won­der Woman — who mes­sage than a woman - Won­der Woman - who be­lieves in love and self­less­ness and com­pas­sion and us­ing that to fight all the scary stuff hap­pen­ing in the world."

Like this princess of the Ama­zons, Ence also wants to em­power women and let them know that it’s OK to be them­selves. “My big­gest goal is to mo­ti­vate peo­ple

to be con­fi­dent in who they are and to be unique and to stand up for that." she says. "I was teased as a kid be­cause I was al­ways ath­letic and I had big­ger bi­ceps than the boys. It wasn't OK for girls to be any­thing but a del­i­cate flower when I was young. I also danced and for and which would never ac­cept me based on how I looked. And now, yes, I will be type­cast, and that is OK. I like look­ing strong. I like be­ing strong. And I want to help oth­ers to feel that strength and self-ac­cep­tance them­selves."

She owns that she will seek more big-screen op­por­tu­ni­ties in the fu­ture, but first she has a score to set­tle: "I want to have the most epic come­back ever," Ence says. "I have been out of the Games for two years and I need it, I need to go back." Para­dox­i­cally, that which crushed her 2017 dreams ac­tu­ally made her stronger. "I took ad­van­tage of the downtime af­ter my in­jury to fix my im­bal­ances, and now I have the op­por­tu­nity to be bet­ter," she says, look­ing for­ward the the 2018 Games. "I am a stronger ath­lete - and per­son - to­day than I ever could have been be­fore."

“THIS WORK­OUT IS SEXY, DY­NAMIC AND POW­ER­FUL.”

Cover Photo by Ian Spanier / Hair and Makeup by Donna Gast / Top: Urban Out­fit­ters / Shorts: NoBull

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