BILLINGS — For many, exercise can feel like a chore. But for Cory and Brooklynn Sittner, a Billings father and daughter pair, it’s a way to spend time with one another while chasing personal goals.
"I grew up with cousins that played sports so I liked all sports. With CrossFit, you have to be ‘good at everything’ is what we say," Brooklynn said on Thursday. “I definitely grew up in the gym. When I was born, (my dad) was playing semi-professional rugby, so I was always on the rugby field. And then when he was fighting MMA, I grew up in the gym from there. Then I came to the CrossFit gym and never looked back."
Father-daughter bonding taken to a new level.
“We’re definitely bonded through this. I mean, we’re very close in general, it’s me and him," Brooklynn said. "But it’s definitely a bonding experience to come in here and work and chase a goal together. It’s definitely special."
For the Sittners, fitness is a lifestyle.
"I’m so into (fitness) because it saved my life,” Cory said recently. "So many people are scared to fail, but they don’t understand, you’ll never succeed if you don’t fail."
Brooklynn has spent most of her life in the gym with Cory.
“She amazes me every day. Her whole life has been a fitness journey with me. The problem is now she’s surpassing me in this area," Cory joked. "We went and rolled like two weeks ago because we haven’t rolled for like 5 years together. It’s crazy because I see her lift every day and I know she’s strong. But when I rolled her, I was like, 'She is strong!'"
The 16-year-old is working to one day compete in the CrossFit Games.
“In the competitive world, my goal is to make the CrossFit Games. I want to be a CrossFit Games athlete," Brooklynn said. "But if I can inspire people while doing that at the same time, and inspire other people to chase their dreams, even if they’re not the same dreams as mine, that’s definitely something that I can live with."
The pair own YCF Training Center, along with Asia Morris, where they spend most of their time.
"I didn’t plan on owning the gym, but then Brooklynn was with me all the time and she fell in love with it," Cory said. "I always tell people, ‘The gym doesn’t make millions, but I get to watch her chase her dreams every day.’ So it’s pretty cool. That’s worth more than money."
Chasing her dreams and making a name for herself. But the hard work is never over.
"In 2020, I was the Youth National Olympic Weightlifting champion. In 2022, I finished 12th in the world as a 14-15 (year old)." Brooklynn said. "So, it’s like hard for me to say because it’s not exactly where I want to be, but it’s also pretty cool to be like, I was the 12th fittest teen in the world. Like in the whole world. It’s pretty interesting. So that was a big accomplishment for me. You have to be top ten to advance to the CrossFit Games. So I was like, ‘Well, I was two spots away from where I needed to be and eleven spots away from where I want to be.’"
While she chases that goal, Brooklynn wants other teens to join her at the gym.
“It’s always nice to have more teen athletes here, even though we’re not doing the same sports. It’s very fun to have everyone come in. I have a couple of football boys that train with me, my cousin plays basketball, and it’s fun to just like come in here and try to get better. Even though we’re all working for different things," Brooklynn said. "It’s just fun to be in the same group and come work hard together. It is competitive, but it’s not the same sport. It’s fun."
Regardless of who else joins, Brooklynn is grateful to have her dad as a partner and to be able to inspire others to go after their dreams.
“I think it’s really cool that I get to inspire people because I’m a small-town girl from Billings chasing my dreams. If I can do it, anybody can definitely do it. Don’t be scared to chase your dreams," Brooklynn said. "If you work hard, anything can happen. I come in here and I work every single day to do this thing. But it’s just what I love."
To learn more about YCF Training Center, click here.