Written by Ashley Dier | Academy of Lions Media Team | Toronto 

I am a firm believer in the universe placing you where you need to be at the exact moment you need to be there, all it takes is a bit of awareness and sometimes a little conversation to acknowledge these "perfect combination" type of situations. For CrossFit Open, first-timers Moe Bsat and Kathryn Lenarduzzi, the Open has proven to be that "perfect moment" kind of place for many reasons.

The CrossFit Open is a five week, five workout fitness competition held in gyms around the world. The unique thing about the Open is that anyone with $20 can enter, making it accessible to almost anyone. CrossFitters in both professional and non-professional gyms have a chance to compete against some of the top CrossFit athletes from around the world. Each Thursday, a workout is announced and all athletes have until the following Monday to submit their scores. The Open is the first of a three-stage series that ends with the mighty CrossFit games. Each weekly workout features various key movements, allowing the athlete to showcase a wide range of ability and skills.

Over the next few weeks I will explore the CrossFit Open through the eyes of two first timers, Moe and Kathryn, focusing on the following key words, train-ability, toughness, mindfulness and growth.

The Intros

A competitive basketball player, x-country and ultra marathon runner, Moe is familiar with both endurance and competition. After graduating law school, Moe decided to take a year to himself, taking some time to "do his own thing". Moe was introduced to CrossFit through a co worker and since November has been coming almost every day. "If it would have been another gym I might not have been hooked on it quite as much," he confessed. Adding "I really love the people here."

Despite his competitive nature and athleticism Moe was hesitant to register for the open. "At first I didn't want to do it, there was no way I could do any of the stuff, lift all the weights. Coaches Justin and Richmond were so encouraging, and had me look at it as a learning experience. So then I was like what's the worst that could happen? Then I just dove in," he shared.

A hair stylist by trade, Kathryn has played sports all her life. "I tried really hard but was really sucky at everything. I wanted to be good but it never really worked out that way, I wasn't the most coordinated," she confessed. Kathryn is naturally competitive, knowing this her friends have been pushing her to try CrossFit for the past few years. Knowing her younger sister and a good male friend were doing it, she eventually caved and in May began coming to the Academy.

Like Moe, Kathryn was also hesitate to sign up for the Open, but a straightforward challenge from a friend quickly changed all that. "It took me a long time to build up the stamina to be here three or four times times a week. It's been a long haul. I was talking to my friend one night and he asked if I had signed up for the open yet, I told him no and he said 'if you don't do the Open then your not even fucking trying'. And for me anyone who challenges me in that way, I was like I am trying, fuck you Dave, I'm going to do this," she said. The next morning at the gym Kathryn signed up for the Open.

The first week of the open posed different challenges for both Kathryn and Moe. Previous injuries and wavering confidence had both Moe and Kathryn hesitant to even begin.

Moe - "The workout came out, I had no shoulder mobility due to previous accident so I had a limit to what I could lift. When the workout came out I was really reluctant. I came in one Saturday morning and we worked on my shoulder, this really helped my confidence. I happened to be in the same heat as 3 high level athletes, so we were all competing at the same time. What ended happening was there was a cluster of people all there cheering, it was a really uplifting experience. That really fuelled the fire for the weeks to come."

Kathryn - The first Sunday, right before the first workout I completely freaked out. I came in and Lindsay was there and I pulled her aside and immediately started crying. I was saying 'I can't do this, I'm terrified' but she was like you're just going to do it and I'm so happy I did. Now every Thursday I'm excited for the workouts. It's really nice to be around like minded people."

With the first week behind them both Moe and Kathryn had more confidence going into the second round. The fear of the unknown had disappeared, they now knew what to expect and regardless of the difficulty of the movements, they knew they could do it. For Kathryn the physical challenge of the Open very quickly became a personal one in 16.2.  With Moe, the first round was a great confidence booster, but he admittedly likes to stay where he's comfortable and the weeks to come contained movements he'd never attempted. For both Kathryn and Moe the Open has begun to be more than just a fitness competition.