One obstacle after another

Brooke Van Paris to compete on CMT’s Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge

Brooke Van Paris on the set of Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge. *Submitted photos

It’s been a busy year for Center Grove’s Brooke Van Paris. She competed in her first bodybuilding show, and won. She will represent her hometown once again in the OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) World Championships on Oct. 13 to 15. And she competed in Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge, to air Oct. 3.

In the Broken Skull Challenge, eight elite athletes compete each show in head-to-head battles until only one is left standing. That man or woman earns a chance to win $10,000 by taking on Austin’s personal obstacle course: the Skullbuster.

“It’s a lot more about athleticism and grit,” Van Paris said. “It’s a lot of wrestling, person-on-person style combat. The intention is not to wrestle each other, but they set it up so there’s no other way. You have to run as fast as you can to a ring, grab it and bring it to the opposer’s side. Nine times out of 10, you get to the ring at the same time and end up playing tug of war and wrestling. I have never put my hands on anyone before so that was definitely switching gears for me to be on this show. I gave it my best. I’m proud of my performance there.”

Van Paris is no stranger to new challenges. A Center Grove graduate, she was attending Indiana University when in October 2009 she was in a car accident that left both arms in casts from her fingertips to her elbows for two years. After the casts came off, she decided to do something to get back in shape. She ran her first obstacle course race in October 2014. Through the next year, she ran 48 obstacle course races. In October 2015 she represented the U.S. in the OCR World Championships.

In November 2015, Van Paris was chosen for American Grit. The show featured 16 elite athletes, eight males and eight females, chosen for their “never give up” attitude. They were paired into teams of four and led by military mentors, who trained the athletes to work as a team to overcome military-grade challenges.

This eight-female cast competed for the CMT show to air Oct. 3.

Van Paris made it to the second episode, when she was chosen to represent her team in the elimination round. After going through an obstacle course to get to the endurance portion of this round, the participants were challenged to do 10 burpees and then plunge into ice water, over and over again until someone called themselves out. Van Paris pushed herself until she literally passed out.

That wasn’t the end of her fitness journey. She competed again in the OCR World Championships. In 2017, she participated in her first bodybuilding contest, winning in her Figure class. When that competition ended she applied for the Broken Skull Challenge.

After doing a Skype interview, she didn’t hear anything for a month and a half. Then she got an email saying she was a semi-finalist. It happened quickly after that, and before she knew it she was on her way to STATE to compete in the show.

“My family thinks I’m nuts,” Van Paris said. “I don’t think anything surprises them any more. They always expect the unexpected with me. I’m always dabbling in some realm of the fitness industry.”

The season begins Sept. 26. Van Paris’ episode airs Oct. 3, 9 p.m. She has invited family, friends and fans to a viewing party at Fireside Brewhouse in Greenwood during that time.