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Why the CrossFit Wonderland Community is Embracing the Open, From Home

January 31, 2021 by
Courtesy of CrossFit Wonderland
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A closed gym and a government-mandated 8 PM curfew: That’s the current pandemic-related reality for the members of the Montreal, Quebec-based CrossFit Wonderland. 

This grim reality, however, hasn’t stopped owners Caroline Lambray and 2020 CrossFit Games finalist Jeff Adler from successfully promoting the Open to their clientele this year. Just like any other year.

  • Even though their members will be relegated to the equipment-free, at-home version of the Open, Lambray and Adler have promised to “make the experience worth it no matter what situation we are in,” said Lambray, whose gym has been closed for eight of the last 12 months. 
  • The reason: Lambray is adamant that even bodyweight workouts from home will be able to give her clients what the Open always does: inspiration and motivation, and a sense of achievement and appreciation for their overall health. It also “helps put everything in perspective,” she said.

The details: After losing clients due to being closed for so long, CrossFit Wonderland currently has 70 members. Lambray is hoping to get at least 40 people registered for the Open. They’re not quite there yet, but “people often pull the trigger in the last two weeks,” she said. 

  • Among those registered so far include a handful of clients who have done the Open multiple times, as well as a number of first-time Open participants, including a couple from Lambray’s online 60-plus class, and Adler’s 52-year-old mother Lucie Guillemette. 
Courtesy of CrossFit Wonderland

The participants: While admittedly disappointed they won’t be able to do the Open in the high-energy gym with their friends cheering them on, the CrossFit Wonderland crew has found a way to embrace the pandemic version of the Open. For some, this has meant adjusting their “why.”

  • Christiane Ghorayeb, a coach at CrossFit Wonderland is doing the Open for the sixth time. In previous years, the Open has been a way to measure her progress. This year, her intention is slightly different. “I haven’t touched a heavy-ish barbell in maybe one year, and I don’t even want to think about the last time I did a pull-up,”  Ghorayeb said. While her performance goals are more modest than usual, she has found a new reason to compete: To support her community. “To show that no matter where we are, or what we have around us, we are one united force,” Ghorayeb said. 
  • Adler’s mom, Lucie Guillemette, is doing the Open for the first time simply to test herself after committing herself to fitness in recent months. Prior to the pandemic, she was inconsistent with her training, but she has been regularly working out three days on, one day off, during the pandemic, she explained, adding that she has also quit smoking and feels “so much better now,” Guillemette said. As a result, the Open has become a chance to celebrate her lifestyle change and “push myself as much as I can. I’m competitive by nature, so I’ll do my best, but don’t have any expectations leaderboard-wise,” she said. 
  • For Maxine Rist, the equipment-free Open is no different for her than her first Open last year — “to see how much I’ve improved,” she explained — as she has learned in the past 12 months that she can push herself from her living room “more than I ever expected,” she said, and has seen tremendous fitness progress in the last year.
  • And for 26-year-old Caroline Noel, this year’s equipment-free Open is all about simply participating and being part of the community. “In times of COVID, people have an even greater need to come together around a common event. We must stay united and the Open is a great way to do that safely in the comfort of our home,” said the 26-year-old who is doing the Open for the first time. “I can’t wait to do the same workouts as most of the people in the CrossFit community and be able to share our strategies and talk about how we suffered,” she added. 

The big picture: The last year has been like no other, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the CrossFit Wonderland community’s commitment to health and fitness. And, as always, the Open is the perfect way to celebrate the fitness that has given them so much in return. 

  • “It has given me structure when that was lost, and motivation to reach various goals. It has also allowed me to make friends and be as social as possible in both a pre-pandemic and a pandemic world,” Rist said.
  • “Fitness has helped me to sane mentally and physically during the confinement. I work as a healthcare professional and I believe that training makes me feel stronger against the virus,” explained Noel.
  • For Ghorayeb, fitness doesn’t just help her, but as a coach, it also allows her to help others. “I have given people meaning in their lives, things to look forward to and a person that is there for them no matter what,” she said. “Fitness will always be my healing process, but what has made me most happy is to know I am able to help others.”

And this happiness always comes through in the Open. 

“Magic happens in the Open,” she said. 

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