Toronto / By Hailey Salvian & Dhani Oks
As good as CrossFit is at forging strong, functional & fiercely devoted athletes, it’s equally as productive at creating misconceptions about itself.
CrossFit can sometimes sound like the classic Nina Simon refrain: “I'm just a soul whose intentions are good: Oh Lord! Please don't let me be misunderstood”
The uninitiated masses typically chew & spit out the rumours and urban mythology of CrossFit via an unfortunate game of broken telephone, denying themselves a possible life-altering opportunity, and better yet, hard earned friendships.
Laura Lachance is not one of those people. In 2010, after flopping from yoga, spin class and running, she took a chance on CrossFit, struggling through her first class at the Academy Of Lions. Her interest in the then obscure fitness movement peaked after seeing Mike, at the time her Fiance, undergo an unignorable transformation.
5 Years and a marriage later, she’s still around. But why?
“The community!” Laura says without hesitation. The Academy gave her and Mike a network of friends with similar interests and priorities, not to mention the various social events they attend at the gym and associated parties after the fact.
When asked about her favourite memories, “Lions League” quickly jumps from her lips with a big grin. The seasonal club competition, brings members together of all fitness levels to be part of a 4-person team that compete against other evenly matched squads in CrossFit-style movements. Over the years, Laura has competed as a beginner, a novice and advanced athlete; as time went went on, her skills kept pace.
Given another moment to think, Laura peppers in some of her other favourite CrossFit moments from workouts in the park, potlucks and practicing skills in open time that 5 years prior she would have probably not cared about.
It’s this connection to her athletically driven comrades and nerdish preoccupation with pull-ups, olympic weightlifting and other CrossFit staples that keeps her pressing on month after month as her stomach grows larger and larger.
To Laura, being a Lion means showing up and doing the work with a positive attitude, no matter the circumstances. While she may be pregnant, she is more than just “that pregnant woman.” She laments that during pregnancy it’s hard to do stuff you would normally do.
“Your social life changes,” she says. “You can’t eat certain things and not to mention the attention that is gained from the always growing baby bump.”
But Laura says her Academy friends have been overwhelmingly supportive, and that having the gym still being a constant has helped her keep her identity.
For the past 39 and a half weeks, Laura has been training privately with Freya Ravensbergen, an Academy Coach who has taken several women through pregnancy and beyond. In all cases, when safely and skillfully approached, training during pregnancy can be a physical and psychological asset for a mother to be. It helps strengthen the back muscles (which can take the toll of the extra weight), it aids in a much smoother post-natal recovery period and quicker transition back to fitness for new moms.
Laura’s personal program began with simple WOD (CrossFit speak for Workout of the Day) modifications, like only lifting 35% bodyweight instead of lifting heavier loads closer to her previous max lifts. Freya designed workouts that train the mind for labour.
One workout in particular, Laura recalls, knowing only the exercises she’d be doing, but not the rest times or the reps. This would require her to work hard, then after an unknown time, she’d get a break - never knowing how long she’d have to work and how long you get to rest. The goal was to simulate the mental and physical demands of labour, and to prepare Laura for both.
As difficult as it will be for Laura not to be at the Academy once the due date approaches, she still feels she will be connected to the place and the people, even though she won’t be working out there.
Strength comes in many forms. We often distill its value into the weight clipped to the bar, or the reps performed without faltering. But there is a strength that you need to make you strong. That strength is in the will it takes to keep showing-up and embracing the circumstances of life and including them in training plan.
Laura is one terrific example of this. We know the apple will not fall far from the tree.
On October 6th, Laura's Husband Mike, posted what was probably his most significant FaceBook post ever...
"Laura and I are thrilled and very grateful to present to you the newest addition to our family, Everett William Hudgin. He was born on 10/4 at 1:04pm, weighing in at 8lbs0oz. Mom was an absolute warrior and I couldn't be more proud of her for the herculean effort and pain tolerance- CrossFit training has its perks!
We can't wait to introduce him to everyone. For now, he is adjusting to his new world while fighting the urge to climb back into the womb!