Whether you’re facing a sink full of dirty dishes or riding out the winds of a hurricane, it pays to see every challenge in your life in a positive light. Onnit Tribe member and O6 Challenge veteran Kaysee Brooks has faced both extremes with the same attitude: “It’s not going to last forever, and we’ll be just fine.” Now she’s teaching her daughter to do the same, and it starts with smiling back at what you see in the bathroom mirror.
Kaysee spoke to Shane Heins, Onnit’s Director of Education, to tell her Onnit Story—part of our ongoing series of interviews with people who have made inspiring life changes with Onnit’s support. See the video of Kaysee’s interview below, along with an edited transcript of the highlights, time-stamped so you can find those moments in the video, and stay up to date with Onnit Stories by following Onnit’s Instagram TV (IGTV), where a new one appears every other week.
Kaysee Brooks Show Notes
2:50 – Finding Onnit
I found Onnit through Instagram. Onnit was doing a giveaway, and somebody I follow shared it in their Instagram Story. At that time in my life, I was looking for a new workout program to do, because I was getting burned out on what I had been doing at that time. I looked up Onnit’s website, and I signed up for Onnit 6 Bodyweight. That was in the fall of 2020, and I joined the Onnit Tribe in January 2021.
I wasn’t really big on joining Facebook groups at that time, mostly because I didn’t know anything about them. I wanted to do the workout program by myself and just do it at home, but I lacked a community. When people go to the gym, they have a community—they make friends that way. Because of the pandemic, I couldn’t go to the gym, so I said, “Screw it. Why not just join the Tribe and let’s see where it goes?”
So, I did the Onnit 6 Challenge, Steel Club, with the Tribe that January. In the beginning, I wasn’t that active in the Tribe, because I wanted to get a feel for what the Tribe was. At that time, I didn’t believe that you could find authentic people online, but I’ve learned that you can definitely find authentic people in the Tribe [laughs].
5:45 – What the Onnit Tribe Is Really Like
What you give you get back. I found that the more I engaged with the Tribe, and the more attention I paid to each member that posted, the more they would engage with me right back. When I posted something and people responded to it, it made me realize, “Oh, I can be seen on here. People are reading my posts.” That felt really good, because we were all isolated, stuck at home. Going online to the Tribe gave me the social interaction I couldn’t get anywhere else. After the six weeks of Steel Club, I went back and did the Bodyweight Challenge again and was super engaged this time. I wished these people were in the same city as me, so we could go and do the program out in the backyard and I could meet them in person.
9:30 – Kaysee’s Evolution Through the Onnit 6 Programs
I started with Bodyweight, and that gave me a foundation for the other workout programs. At the time, I didn’t have the money to buy equipment, so bodyweight training was perfect for me. I’d also never touched a steel club, steel mace, kettlebell, or barbell before. They all seemed exotic to me, so I thought I would just keep doing Bodyweight over and over. But I had a change of heart from seeing the other Tribe members doing the other Onnit programs.
Seeing the movements everybody else was doing with the steel club made me want to try it. It looked so powerful. Eventually, I wanted to use kettlebells, and then the most exotic tool for me, the steel mace. After I did the Kettlebell Challenge, I thought, “I can try new equipment and it won’t hurt” [laughs]. As I progressed through the programs, I found that I became more open and braver about trying different equipment and realizing how each tool changes the way we build our strength. Now I’m doing the Onnit 6 Barbell and I love it. I don’t think I’ll ever pick a dumbbell up again [laughs].
14:30 – The Tool Kaysee Learned the Most From
The kettlebell for sure. It isn’t just that I connect with that tool, it’s that it makes me realize that each time I do a workout, I’m in this for the long haul. What I do each day isn’t just to make me look better; it’s for my health. It’s to set a foundation from which to grow stronger. When I understood that, that’s when I started to really fall in love with the process. I basically stopped setting goals. I stopped weighing myself. I stopped counting my calories. I stopped looking in the mirror and downgrading myself. I don’t pick out parts of my body and say, “I want to change this.” When I follow a workout program, I just accept it for what it is and keep going. I just want to get stronger. I’m in it for a lifetime.
18:50 – Life Before Onnit
I did the Beachbody program, but I wanted something more. I wanted something that explained more about what I was doing with the equipment I was using. I didn’t want to just keep doing biceps curls. I wanted to know, “What am I working? What am I supposed to feel?” I wanted to know that the work I was doing was effective. I love the explanations Onnit gives for every workout. The coaches tell you what cues to pay attention to, what muscle groups you’re working, and ways to connect to the muscles you’re training to make sure your form is correct. If you’re not feeling it where you’re supposed to feel it, they tell you how to fix that. If you’re not going to train seriously, then what’s the point? You’re just going to hurt yourself.
I started being more active about a year before I got pregnant. I was doing Orangetheory then, and I worked out throughout my pregnancy until the seventh month. After my pregnancy, the pandemic had shut the gyms down, so I had to find something to do online. That’s how I found Beachbody, and then Onnit.
Initially, I just wanted to be healthy. I didn’t want to be overweight, and at that time, I was reaching that line. But I just wanted to move.
21:30 – Kaysee’s Non-Onnit Workouts
I really want to strengthen my knees. I want young knees, so I bought a sled. I’ll do medicine-ball slams for three sets of eight, and then push and pull the sled. I’ve also picked up rucking, which I’ve heard is a more joint-friendly alternative to running [you wear a weighted backpack and walk briskly]. I can do one mile in under 17 minutes now. I’ll do these workouts on the weekends when I’m not doing my Onnit training.
25:30 – How Kaysee’s Workouts are Making her Daughter Fitter
My husband exercises too, and my daughter sees us working out and she comes out to us and says, “I want to exercise.” I’ll say, “Oh, OK. What are you going to do?” She saw me doing medicine-ball slams with a 20-pound ball, and she was upset because she couldn’t pick it up. So I decided to get her a four-pound ball, and now she’s rolling it, she’s slamming it, she’s pushing it. We enrolled her in an exercise class for kids—it’s basically CrossFit for kids—and she loves it. Plus, it’s a great way to get her to fall asleep right after.
I never thought that I would ever be a parent, or that I would be good at it if I were. She’s a reflection of everything her parents do and say, and it doesn’t take her long to catch on. She’s about to be three in two weeks. It’s a privilege to be able to raise another human being that can make an impact of her own in our world. And… gosh, dang it, Shane, you’re making me cry…
I know that whatever lessons or wisdom she’s received from my husband and me, she’s still going to be her own person. Knowing that is heartbreaking and heart-filling at the same time.
30:45 – How She’s Helping her Daughter Adopt a Positive Mindset
I used to downgrade myself all the time. I would look in the mirror and be like, “Ugh.” Then I made a promise that I would never do that in front of my daughter. That she would never hear me say that. I also never wanted her to hear me complain about doing the dishes, or other things that are mundane around the house. Now, when she sees me doing those things, she wants to do them too. She doesn’t complain about herself in the mirror either. Our kids pick up our negativity as well as our positivity, so we have to watch both.
38:10 – Kaysee’s Favorite Supplement
39:50 – Her Favorite Snack Foods
The Chocolate Cookie Dough Protein Bites. I love them. Put them in my Easter basket [laughs].
40:50 – Favorite Digital Workout Programs
I love the Barbell Onnit 6, which I’m doing now, and I love the Kettlebell Onnit 6. For the Onnit in 30s, I like Decompress To Defy.
42:30 – What Inspires Kaysee
I’m on Instagram a lot. So, I make sure that people that I follow are people that motivate me, inspire me, and offer something that puts positivity into my life and helps me keep going. I follow a lot of women that are fit and use different workout tools. My daughter inspires me, obviously. I want to become better at everything. I just make sure that whatever I’m reading, whatever is in front of my eyes, is making me better. If it doesn’t make me better, I don’t partake in it.
43:35 – On Not Over-Dieting
In the past, when I would be in a calorie deficit, I was also losing muscle, and I didn’t want to lose muscle, because I wanted to get stronger. One day, a coworker told me, “You’re about to blow away.” I didn’t want that [laughs], so I decided to bring my calories back to a maintenance level, and that’s where I mostly stay now. That’s how I learned how powerful food and nutrition are. If I don’t eat, or eat crap, my workouts are crap. I feel weak, lethargic, unmotivated. But when my eating is on point, I can move all day. Let’s go!
45:45 – Her Nickname in the Tribe
The Tribe has given me two nicknames: “Butterfly Brooks,” and “Wonder Brooks.” Butterfly refers to my metamorphosis over the years, and Wonder is from Wonder Woman.
48:15 – Surviving a Hurricane
I’ve lived in southern Louisiana all my life. So being around hurricanes as much as I have has taught me to kind of party at the same time. You can’t be inside when there’s no A/C and no power—it’s hotter inside than it is outside. So, we take our lounge chairs and go outside and put cookies or pizza on a barbeque pit and eat that way. It’s like camping. I grew up like that and it never really fazed me. I thought, “We have everything we need. It’s not going to last forever. And we’ll be just fine. We’ll make do with what we’ve got and just keep going.” I will say, I can tolerate the southern heat much better now than when I was not working out.
51:08 – Kaysee’s Book Recommendations
The Untethered Soul [by Michael Alan Singer]. The cover is light blue; it’s got a horse on it. John Wolf recommended that book to me, and it’s helped me tremendously—enough to where I recommended it to my sister who’s a police officer. It’s about escaping your boundaries and finding inner peace. Also, I recommend Breath [by James Nestor]. It really teaches you everything about the power of breathing. It goes into detail and it gets scientific, but I promise you, it’s very interesting. That book got me to try going to sleep with tape on my mouth so I have to breathe through my nose, and it makes a big difference.
53:05 – Her Favorite Exercise
I love the kettlebell swing. If I had to be consistent with one tool and one movement, I’d choose the kettlebell swing. It builds power in the legs, once you realize that it’s not just swinging with your arms. I am not perfect at it. I still get some crappy reps here and there. But I’ll get some good ones too. I’m still trying to make that mind-body connection and make it consistent. It’s a great feeling of power to lift a kettlebell without using your arms.
54:00 – What To Do on Your First Day in the Gym
Definitely warm up, but not just for five minutes or 10 minutes. Take 15 minutes, doing breathwork at the same time. Avoid the treadmill and go to the weights. One thing that makes the Onnit programs different is the emphasis they put on the warmup. It makes the workout so much more effective, and gives you more range of motion. And don’t go by how sore you are to gauge how the workout was. I thought being sore was the ticket, but that’s not true.