CAMILLE LEBLANC-BAZINET on Why CrossFit Will Change The Way You Live
Since she was a toddler in the rolling farmland near Canada’s border with Vermont, Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet has been a joiner. First it was gymnastics – which she stopped when she was 15 due to a ruptured hip flexor — and then it was almost everything else. “If it was a team sport, I’d sign up for it,” she says. Activity, movement and health were important to her even as a teenager.
In 2009, she met someone on a rugby team who introduced her to CrossFit. She fell in love immediately because it made her question everything she’d done up until that point in terms of fitness. Five years later, she was crowned the fittest woman in the world after winning the Reebok CrossFit Games. So we thought who better than the French-Canadian to help reassess how we think about working out.
Why taking a break is sometimes bad
“CrossFit is pairing elements together and it feels at first as if you’ve been hit by a truck. [My first time] was eye-opening. I felt like it was making a change in who I was, not only physically, but mentally, right then and there because it was hard. And it taught me a lot. What do you do if something gets hard at the gym? You stop or move on to the next thing. What if it gets hard in life? If you stop and you just move on to the next thing—where are you going? You’re only going to be as good as a person as you are right now. But if it gets hard and you keep pushing and it gets uncomfortable and you do something that you’ve never done before, now you’re becoming a better person.
How training can improve the way you think
I was in my first year at college when I was introduced to CrossFit and I went to my bank account and took out all of my money to pay the fee for the whole year. And the first year I trained, it helped with school so much. I told myself to do a chapter and I’d get uncomfortable in the process of finishing the chapter and so I’d tell myself: ‘Come on, focus, you can do this.’ That’s where it changes you: the little challenges in life are being replicated while you train and you start to chip away at them. When people train and they’re in an uncomfortable position it really reveals their character. You see who gives up easy. You see who digs in and can keep going.
Why the best competition is good-natured competition
Most of the CrossFit girls that are at the Games are some of my best friends. It comes down to the sharing of the suffering together. There’s humongous respect that builds up because we are all working really, really hard, and have so much passion and heart. In order to have those things, you need to be respectful and humble. It’s a very individual sport. But In order to be good in it, you can only evolve as a person. And to do that you need to help other people, and you need to learn from them. So you surround yourself with great people that inspire you to be positive and be a better person and keep pushing and—hopefully—when it’s time, you can do it for someone else.
Learning to control the pain
I work really hard to assess those moments in my life where I would normally kind of get out of control. Now I see it, and I look at how I can fix it. I’m aware those emotions are there and I’m reacting a certain way because of them, and I laugh at it and I keep going. And the same thing happens when I’m working out. If I’m working out really hard and I feel the pain overwhelm me, I just say ‘Hey pain, what’s up: I know you’re here, I acknowledge you, but I’m good, go back.’ I just know that it’s there. And I’ll work together with it and it’ll be over soon.
How to find out that limits don’t exist
Finding what the limits are for you and finding if they even exist is really fun. That’s what I do every day. Say, I have a workout and I’m holding the bar and I think ‘How long can I keep going?’ and my brain is telling me to give up and I could give up. Sometimes I come down and other times I’m like ‘Hey, let’s stay here and see what happens’, and I just keep going and you’re in a space where you don’t even know what’s happening … because everything is screaming for you to stop. But you can keep moving and then you realise the limits you had are not there.