From Dublin to Missouri: Professor Nicole Freeman Completes 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Open in Four Countries
University of Central Missouri professor Nicole Freeman was looking to push herself a little extra this year. While CrossFit has been part of her exercise routine for a few years, she was ready to take her fitness to the next level. Her goal? Complete the Open officially for the first time.
Once she’d signed up, though, she remembered one small detail that threatened to throw a small wrench in her plans: she was leading a group of study abroad students throughout Europe during the same exact three-week period.
Nevertheless, Freeman was undeterred.
- “I decided I was going to embrace this as another part of the challenge. I was like, ‘you know what, this is just another great way to push myself!’” Freeman said. “I committed, and I’m not going to back down.”
And so, on Friday, February 17, Freeman departed from the United States with her suitcase filled to the brim with extra workout clothes, her jump rope, weight belt, and extra protein powder.
- She completed 23.1 in Dublin, Ireland with severe jet lag, and redid it a day later.
- For 23.2, she went to Cardiff, Wales, which she said had the most accommodating group of people. She says the group at the gym she visited had thought of everything, from coordinating judges to helping her make the commute and setting up equipment.
- 23.3 took place at WIT HQ in London. Freeman says that the facility at WIT was amazing and coaches even helped her convert from pounds to kilos.
- After arriving back home in Missouri on Monday, March 6, she redid 23.3 one last time at her home gym CrossFit Believe. While her last three weeks had been full of wonderful new experiences, she says nothing compared to being able to do the workout with her gym family.
Of course, this challenge wasn’t without obstacles, especially because Freeman was traveling with a group of college students with tight itineraries. At one point, she finished an Open workout and went directly to Dover Castle in England, gym bag in tow. Also, Freeman says that her lifestyle while traveling wasn’t exactly conducive to peak performance, and while she packed protein powder in her bag and was trying her hardest to stay on track, she came home feeling sluggish.
However, her traveling group was supportive of her goal and encouraged her however they could.
- “I don’t think they totally understood what was going on, but they were as supportive as they could be,” Freeman said. The other faculty members accompanying the trip helped her out by covering for breakfasts and early activities she would miss going to the gym. “They’d ask me how it went, cheer me on, and wanted me to tell them about the entire experience. It’s not necessarily a priority of theirs, but it was really sweet of them to be supportive.”
Freeman says that stepping out of her comfort zone – especially having never done the Open officially before – was a huge challenge at first.
- “With something like the Open, you’re pushing yourself as hard as you possibly can, and there’s a level of vulnerability there. That is compounded when you’re in a place where you don’t know the people and the facility.”
Despite this, Freeman is happy with her experience and is already planning a similar challenge for next year, when she’ll likely be in Scotland.
“The Open can be stressful and a little scary, and being in a new place can be stressful and a little scary, and it’s hard to be vulnerable in that situation. But when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, some really awesome things can happen,” Freeman said. “I think the biggest thing I learned is that this community is just full of amazing people, and you have to step out to meet those people.