NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Early in his military career, Tech. Sgt. Brandon realized that he excelled physically where many struggled.
A member of the 118th Wing since 2009, Brandon started his military career in the Marine Corps. Admittedly not having any exposure to sports while growing up, he was surprised to discover he was a natural-born athlete.
"I noticed I was excelling in things that were both physical and mental and just kept pushing until I found myself at the top of the leader board," said Brandon. "I felt that if I'm going to do this, I want to be the best at it so I kept digging."
During his six years in the Marine Corps, he was hand picked for numerous "high-speed missions" with elite U.S. armed forces units and was deployed throughout the Middle East. But despite his love of this high-tempo work, Brandon felt the strain of multiple deployments on his personal life.
"I wanted to be a father more than I wanted to travel the world," said Brandon. "But I still wanted to serve my country." That's when he found that the 118th Wing and the Air National Guard checked numerous boxes for him. It ran operations close-to-home and offered a position in a career field that was rarely deployed. "It was a beautiful fit and a very smooth transition," said Brandon.
But all was not ideal. Brandon missed the intense physical demands and tight-knit camaraderie of the world he had just left and begun searching for something to fill the void. He found it in a place known for its high-intensity fitness programs and tight relationships between coaches and athletes: CrossFit.
"It combined the military camaraderie and the very physical demands that I was looking for," said Brandon. "It was a natural fit for me."
Not only was it a good fit, but it also became his passion, which led to him opening his own gym.
"It all started with me wanting to help people and then it kept growing," said Brandon. "I realized there was a need for something fun and something that was engaging for people in my community."
Soon after opening his first CrossFit gym, he opened a second, followed by a food preparation company. Starting with his own meal preparations, he began preparing meals for his coaching staff, which led to preparing meals for clients.
"A large number of people didn't understand that if they wanted to be physically fit there's a larger piece to the puzzle than the actual exercise," said Brandon. "It was learning how to balance the proper diet."
Brandon credits his military background and current service in the Air National Guard with enabling him to find his talents, build his confidence and demonstrate the discipline that prepared him to take leadership roles in his businesses and community. This is evidenced in his military career as well.
"We're very proud of Tech. Sgt. Brandon's accomplishments in his family, civilian, and military life," said Maj. Trey, a director of operations with the 118th. "He is a shining example of what a Citizen-Soldier can accomplish with drive and focus on the civilian side, while also being a patriot."