24 Hour Fitness GX24 instructor Cat Brewer has been rocking out at concerts since she was a little girl. Then, six years ago, Brewer went to a show and saw a sign language interpreter signing the concert for hearing-impaired fans to enjoy the music too.
Brewer who teaches communications courses including public speaking and interpersonal communications (her other passion) was intrigued. “It made me realize I had taken the privilege of hearing for granted my entire life. I wanted to be able to communicate that in a way so that other people could understand it,” she says.
What was going to be an article for her school newspaper turned into something much bigger, when a friend suggested she make a documentary instead. Brewer decided to jump right in, and her film, “Sign the Show,” is in final production and garnering celebrity support from the likes of Kelly Clarkson and more.
It’s not Brewer’s first foray into the unknown. Her journey as a GX instructor began when her step instructor at her gym was running late and asked Brewer to lead the warm-up. Her fellow students cheered her on and as her panic faded, she realized she was hooked, and says, “I got certified a few months later and have been teaching ever since.”
And, Brewer adds, “I’ve taught step, hi-lo aerobics, body sculpting, stretch, and spin classes even at my heaviest weight, which was 250 pounds.” She attributes her ability to do this to three things. “I gave myself permission to change my perception of what a fitness instructor should look like … and to move and do something that felt good for my body, and model for others what they could do, too.” Not surprisingly, Brewer had students tell her that eliminated the intimidation factor and helped them feel comfortable taking the class.
The third factor, she says, was giving herself permission to follow her passion, which she says also has led her to produce “Sign the Show.” 24Life caught up with Brewer on her film project and how to stick with something when she’s learning as she goes.
24Life: As a guest on Kelly Clarkson’s show, you explained that you talked to the sign language interpreter at that concert and also to some of the deaf fans, and discovered they love to experience the music. Why was it so important to make this documentary?
Cat Brewer: As human beings, we want to be able to connect with people, and music is one way we do that. Laughter is one way we do that, and just talking to people. Putting our phones down sometimes. Making eye contact with someone. Engaging in conversation. You never know who you’re going to meet, and I truly believe that everyone has a story to tell and that we can learn from those stories from other people.
24Life: What is something you learned about communication from people who are hearing impaired?
CB: It’s funny. One of the interviews that I did was with a young deaf girl who’s an actor on Broadway. She was in a show called “Spring Awakening,” and it was a half deaf, half hearing cast. She said the hearing actors who learned sign language for the play weren’t really expressing the communication through their face. They were just using their hands, and her deaf friends wondered what was wrong with them—because they hadn’t learned to use their face and body movement to convey even more emotion!
24Life: Making a film is a first for you. You’re no stranger to big, scary goals, so how do you tackle them?
CB: I try to break it down into small steps. For example, I trained and completed an Ironman triathlon in 2011. Two days before the race, I had the worst leg pain ever. I told myself it was OK, I’m going to give myself permission to not get in the water if I don’t think I can do it. Then I decided to give myself permission to get in the water: I could just stroke and not have to kick if my leg is bothering me. Then once I’m out of the water, I’ll make the decision whether I can get on my bike. I always say it’s one stroke, one pedal, one step and one breath at a time.
One of my favorite quotes is, “She believed she could, so she did.” I’m going to mess up and that’s OK.
24Life: What do you do to keep going when you hit an obstacle, or you’re just feeling discouraged?
CB: There’s a few things that I do. Having patience is definitely something that I have had to learn in my life because I’ve not always been a patient person—just like having patience with a weight loss plateau or a muscle gain.
It’s self-awareness. And sometimes it’s cutting yourself some slack and not engaging in negative [self-talk]—learning to change that negative intrapersonal communication to something positive. It’s true for weight loss too: Why did I not lose weight this week? Well, there’s lots of factors that go into that. And you know what? It’s one moment of your life. It’s one week of your life. You know what to do. Continue to do it.
Learn more about “Sign the Show” and even help Cat Brewer fund its completion and distribution, at https://www.gofundme.com/f/SignTheShow. Follow Brewer and the project @CatBrewer and @SigntheShow.