Written by Ashely Dier | Academy Of Lions Media Team | Toronto

This week we continue to explore the CrossFit open through the eyes of two Open newbies, Moe Bsat and Kathryn Lenarduzz. With that "fear of the unknown" beginning to fading, both Kathryn and Moe headed into the remaining rounds with more confidence and a maybe even a bit of excitement.

For Kathryn the Open immediately became much more than a fitness competition. As a middle child, Kathryn has always been quite competitive with her sisters, feeling the need to prove herself at every opportunity she could; always wanting to impress her dad, to prove her athleticism, and to make him proud. In January Kathryn's dad suffered a medical emergency and nearly lost his life, it hit her very hard. She tears up telling me how he was able to come and watch her compete in the open. "I've always had this thing where I've need to impress my dad, always. So when 16.2 rolled around he was actually in Toronto he came in and watched...that was emotional; it was super intense for him to watch that. For once I was like wow he was actually impressed with what I did," she said.

For Moe the Open has better exposed him to the people within the Academy community, building and strengthening relationships and bonds. As an athlete, Moe is familiar with "mental toughness" but the Open helped reinforce the importance of a strong mental game, especially when things started getting tough. When I asked Moe if two years ago he could have imagined he'd be here doing CrossFit and competing in the Open, he laughed while saying, "No way, I was a runner through and through, this was the most intimidating thing in the entire world."


Moe: "The open encourages you to try new things, I tend to have to stay within what's comfortable, I think a lot of people do. The open exposes you to new things that you wouldent necessarily want to say 'I'm going to come in and try doing this'.  The open encourages you to do new things and step outside of your comfort zone."

Kathryn: "I already had a little bit of a background, but I feel like doing the Open my training has gotten more technical, which is really good for me. I feel like everyone here just knows what they're doing so well, that I've never questioned anything anyone told me to do. I think that the difference between someone who's ever tried CrossFit somewhere but didn't like it, it's all coaches."


Moe: "The Open definitely encourages you to be tough. More mentally tough than physically tough I'd say. The most difficult part is being mentally strong as you enter the workout, during the workout, and after the workout, as to not be disappointed."

Kathryn: "I guess I'm tougher, definitely physically. For once in my life I don't beat myself up for the way I look. The open has been really humbling and it's actually made me a little more emphatic, maybe a bit more gentle with people because everything is hard, it doesn't get easier. But that's the thing I come here and forget about everything else and just do this."


Moe: "It's really easy to get caught up in everything going on around you, but the Open has been teaching me to be in one spot and shut everything out and go into your little zone as if you're doing this thing in the gym alone, to block everything out."

Kathryn: "I immediately recognize when someone is walking in and it's their first class. I know the look of of 'Jesus what am I doing here' everyone's been there, if you can get through the first week, and then the first month and go from there. I literally spent the better part of a year avoiding burpees because they reminded me so much of being teased in class in elementary school I was like 'those are my worst nightmare I'm never going to do them'...and then the first open workout was burpees and lunges, but I did it."


Moe: "The Open forces you to step out of your comfort zone, doing things you never thought were possible or you would ever imagine yourself doing. The open kind of opens up and fosters these ideas."

Kathryn: "I think for me it all comes back to the fact that this whole experience is so humbling. Regardless of when you walk in you're probably going to screw something up, you’re going to be corrected, or things won't go as planned, but that's ok."

I've watched a few rounds of the open and have seen firsthand this fear, drive, determination and growth that both Moe and Kathryn are experiencing. The sense of community and pride is so present in the room you can almost physically feel it.  Despite coming into the Open with different experiences, and backgrounds both Moe and Kathryn have grown both athletically and personally. The Open represents far more than a series of movements, it's about challenge, acceptance, ability and growth; it's far more than burpees and handstand push-ups. After talking with Moe and Kathryn and watching the open myself the buzz is infectious...who knows maybe I'll give it a shot next year.