After months of hard work, focusing on one goal of reaching a competition, she stands behind a curtain, waiting for her name to ring out for the crowd to hear before stepping into the spotlight.
“When I first step on the stage, that’s always the best part, because that’s when you get to show what you’ve worked so hard for,” said International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness bodybuilder Brittany Campbell, describing her favorite part of the sport.
“And, really, even though you never speak, you convey a message to the audience. I’m going to communicate to you that I work hard, that I’m confident, I believe in myself and that I’m happy and I enjoy what I do.”
The IFBB opens the professional season in early March in Columbus, Ohio, with the Arnold Sports Festival — an invitation-only competition hosted by bodybuilding icon Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“It kind of sets the tone for the whole season,” Campbell said.
The Arnold Classic is the second biggest competition of the sport with the first being the season finale — Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend.
“Those two competitions set the standard for the sport,” Campbell’s coach Terrance Williams said.
“And being invited to either of those competitions, you’re at the top of the sport.
“You know it’s a limited number of people but you’re at the top when you’re invited to those two.”
Campbell started competing in 2013, gaining professional status in 2014 and has been to the Olympia competition twice.
Although she has seen so much success, the road hasn’t always been smooth.
“My first Olympia trip, I got dead last,” she said, reflecting back on her journey. “When you’re fighting to get there, and then you get there and you come up short, that was a low if I had to say.”
In past seasons, she competed in various competitions leading up to the Olympia, but this one is different, because she already qualified.
The road to her third “Super Bowl” of bodybuilding began at Fort Hood.
While active duty in the Army, Campbell, who has always been an athlete, was approached in the gym and asked if she competed.
“It was suggested that I try it,” she recalls. “I was introduced to Terrance Williams, who was my coach.”
Williams was coaching back then and has been her coach ever since.
Six weeks after the day they met, Campbell went on to win her first show. Then again at her second show. And then at her third show.
The next summer, she turned professional and began climbing the ranks. Every step of the way, she had a team of support behind her.
“You’re the only one on the stage,” she said, “but there are a lot of people up there with you.”
Campbell’s team consists of her “Team Williams Fitness” family, including her coach and other clients he trains.
Total Tan sponsors her and helps make sure her skin tone is right before every show.
“That’s important,” she notes.
Jodi Sturgeon, owner of Suits by Jodi, makes her suits for every competition, which play a key role in the on-stage look she needs at her competitions.
Campbell also recognizes her mother, Aurora Patterson, as a vital member of her team, who ensures every detail is in place, such as hotels and cars being booked.
“She takes care of the things that would stress us out normally so that we can focus on getting in conditioning for the show,” Campbell notes.
Support plays a major role in her success, including support from her community.
“We get a lot of support from the locals here,” she said. “I get support from my church, so all that stuff plays into it.
“It really is a bigger team than people think. They see you by yourself, but there’s a lot of people who contribute to get you there. That’s the truth.”
At her lowest point, Campbell attributes her team for keeping her on the path after falling short at her first Olympia.
“If it was just me, I would have thrown in the towel right then, but I had a coach who still believed in me and thought I could win the whole thing even though I came off the stage in last place,” she said.
Her mom, who has been to every one of Campbell’s competitions, continued to support her and never waivered in her belief in her daughter’s ability to compete in this sport,
Sturgeon was still on board to help her for the next competition, and it was the collective support of her team that kept her going.
“Everybody still believed in me,” Campbell said. “So that kind of made it easier for me to still believe too, and that’s how I got back from it.”
Campbell is happy she never quit because since that competition in 2015, she has gone on to with the IFBB New York Pro, she was invited to the Arnold Sports Festival and is going back to the Olympia once more.
“All these good things happened after that, so I’m glad that we didn’t throw in the towel then,” she said.
With a sense of pride, Williams shared what being a witness of Campbell’s bodybuilding journey has meant to him.
“It’s a privilege to watch somebody grow and blossom in this sport and seeing them maximize their potential,” he said.
Williams even admits when first meeting Campbell, there was nothing telling him she would become a top competitor, but she evolved and continued to improve each show.
“It was special and a unique opportunity for me,” Williams said. “Her work ethic is world class, you know she works really hard ... and she’s driven.”
The drive pushes Campbell to train every day — not motivation.
“Motivation is wrapped up in your feelings and how you feel when you wake up,” she said, “but your feelings have nothing to do with your success, so it just comes does to drive.”
Discipline also plays a role in her dedication, but she isn’t sure if it comes from her time in the military or being raised by parents who both served in the Army.
What she does know is that drive, discipline and being consistent over time resulted in continued success.
“If you only do something when you feel good, you won’t get much done,” Campbell said. “Especially if it comes to stuff that’s physical.
“You’re not always going to feel like running, feel like lifting weights, but if you only rely on the days you feel like doing it, you won’t make any progress. So you have to be willing to work on the days you don’t feel like it. It’s worth it.”
Williams found coaching someone with a drive like Campbell’s can push him to do whatever is needed to be competitive.
“Coaching is not a chore,” he said, “but instead, it’s putting in the work to make a plan, set goals and then the athlete working to achieve the goals.
These goals keep pushing Campbell forward to check off each accomplishment like a to-do list.
While the goal is to win the Olympia, her current goal for the upcoming season is to take her very best self to the Las Vegas stage in September.
“That’s the biggest stage in the sort, and I’ve not yet taken my very best to that stage,” Campbell said.
“There’s a lot of work that you put in during the year to qualify for the Olympia, so a part of the strategy was to qualify as early as possible, and that’s what we did.”
Her latest win at the Kentucky Pro is what qualified her for a third trip to the big show next year.
With a smile in her voice, Campbell knows this early feat allowed her to not worry about body fatigue, stressing out or wearing herself down throughout the season leading up to the main event.
“We’ve given ourselves an opportunity to really hit the stage at our best, and we haven’t done that yet, but I’m going to do it this year.”
Her constant goal is always working to be better than her biggest competition — herself.
“The way I compete against her,” Campbell said speaking of herself, “is we look at pictures from my competitions, and then we try to beat my best self, whatever my best self was to date.
“It’s not necessarily based on placings, but how I came to the show.”
Bodybuilding is a subjective sport, which for Campbell means it’s not about having to beat another person, but to be her absolute best when she steps onto the stage.
“So my competition is always myself, there’s no one else I worry about when I’m in prep except the me that I was last time.”
For those considering trying the sport, Campbell believes it’s important to leave this world without any regrets, “so I would say try.”
“If you have an able body and you can get yourself in the gym and you can prepare your meals, try it,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt you to try and you never know what it will turn into.
“I didn’t know that when I did my first show that I would be a professional in the sport, let alone going to the Olympia for the third time and winning pro shows.”
The past five years of Campbell’s bodybuilding career is proof taking the chance can lead to unexpected places.
“You just don’t know where the road leads, but I would never have known if I’d never tried,” she said. “Whatever happens, you learn from it so there’s no harm from trying.”
When she isn’t competing, Campbell trains her own clients and gives back to the Killeen community by volunteering with Team Williams Fitness at McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White and hosting events like their “Family, Food and Fun” event.
“We give back and teach kids about healthy eating,” Williams explained. “Things like that, that will help improve their health as they age because it starts when you’re young.”
Campbell continues to train in Killeen.
“One of the top figure competitors in the world is from right here,” Williams said, “so it’s not where you are, it’s what you’re doing where you are.”
With the next season ahead, Williams is excited to witness the next chapter of Campbell’s career.
“I’m looking forward to the 2018 season for Brittany,” he said. “I think she’s going to do extremely well, and this will be her best competitive year to day.
“She’s put in the work, and I’m really excited for her future when it comes to the sport.”