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Camille Leblanc-Bazinet: Developing a Champion Mindset

By Lauryn Lax

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May 10, 2015

During her inaugural debut at the CrossFit Games in 2010, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet’s clean and jerk was 155lbs. Nearly five years later, the 5’3’’, 125lb. former gymnast can clean and jerk 240lbs with almost flawless technique.

While a near-100lb. PR may seem like a pipe dream for the majority of us ‘average Jo’s’, Leblanc-Bazinet would tell you otherwise:

“Sometimes the person standing in the way is yourself—so many people are slowly killing themselves by just not believing in what they can do. You have to be the first person to believe,” she said.

Last year, Bazinet, a five-time Games competitor, finally achieved her dreams of becoming the Fittest Woman on Earth. It was a drastic turnaround from her performance at the 2013 Games, where she finished 16th overall.

“I give it my all each and every year at the Games, and I can recognize that I’ve only continued to improve and grow as an athlete every year. So when my results in 2013 didn’t correlate with all the hard work I had put into my training, I decided that no matter what, I was going to work that much harder and give it my all in order to come back stronger in 2014,” Bazinet said.

Bazinet defines what it means to be able to do anything you put your mind to. Here, she shares her insights on honing in on a champion-mindset—inside the gym and out.

You placed 16th in the 2013 CrossFit Games—lower than you had the previous three years, despite placing 2nd in the Open and 1st in your Region that year. What was going through your mind at the time?
CLB: It was just a rough year out there. I started the Games with the wrong mindset and slowly killed myself with it. On the last day, I remember telling myself, ‘Forget it! Just have fun!’ and I did. I ended up finishing within the top 5 in the last events on Sunday, and I was able to acknowledge that I am fit, I am still a good athlete. I was so disappointed with my ranking, performance and reaction to everything in 2013 that I made a promise to myself that I was never going to do that again. Someone else could have placed 16th overall and it could have been the best day of their life if they knew they had poured their heart out…I didn’t do that. I knew I could have given it more, and I knew I would have been prouder if I had believed in myself.

From 2013 to 2014, there was a distinct shift in the Camille out on the competition floor (you became ‘the champ’ after all). What did you do differently over the course of the year in training?
CLB: Every year that I have done CrossFit, I have gotten better. As is the case with anything, the more you do it, the more you are going to improve. I really didn’t change my training at all—I still worked on everything (gymnastics, weightlifting and WODs) and made my weaknesses, strengths. What I did change the most was my mindset—I learned more about this from the Games in 2013 than I could have ever discovered through training alone. I honestly just let my emotions get the best of me, and I decided I wasn’t going to let that happen the next year.

You are not alone in the sense that you are one of your own worst critics. Why do you think women struggle with believing in themselves to do many things: from hitting a new PR, to getting a job promotion or pay raise, to taking a leap and starting something new, reaching their health goals, and more?

It can be scary to be successful, scary to dive into something new and just do it.

What advice would you give to women who may have a goal in mind, but feel overwhelmed, or even doubt that they could achieve it?
CLB: Keep your eyes on the big picture. For me, winning the Games was a part of my overall goals, but my main goal is discovering how strong, fast, agile and athletic I can be, at all times. With that goal in mind, winning the Games was just a by-product of wanting to be the best at what I do. To me, that is being successful.

What about advice for women who have no idea what that ‘bigger picture’ goal may look like?
CLB: Set a goal that is not about the reward, but the journey. For instance, if you make it all about the reward, like getting a promotion at work, you may do the ‘wrong things’ in order to get there. You may end up sucking up to someone else or sacrificing part of who you are or what you believe in. But if you have a passion for what you are doing, and you work harder at that job for the bigger picture, perhaps you would have gotten the promotion without having to sacrifice so much for the reward along the way. Enjoy the journey and do it for yourself.

On the training side of things, we’ve all had a tough workout and succumbed to days when we feel that we can’t give it our all. How do you get through those days?
CLB: Again, finding joy in the journey (not just the reward or goal I was working towards). A workout that comes to mind as a big obstacle was the Triple 3 (300 double-unders, 3K row, 3 mile run) at the 2014 Games. I knew that wasn’t going to be my strongest workout, but I refused to have any regrets by the end of it. I got 17th overall, but it didn’t matter. I cried when I finished—I was really proud of myself. In that workout, it didn’t matter where I finished because I pushed myself. That made me successful, so it was a victory. Remember that feeling at the end that keeps you going—and give it your all.

How do you give it your all when life gets tough?
CLB: Leading up to the Games this past year, I was enrolled in five classes for my chemical engineering degree and living in Canada away from my husband. I was doing everything by myself (training by myself), and it got lonely. It was really hard and challenging to get through it. But I had to suck it up—and do it. That’s what I do when things get hard—just push through them. The Monday after the 2014 Games, I was on the plane ride home and having to think about studying for finals for my Chemical Engineering classes. After winning the Games, it was the last thing I wanted to do but I had to suck it up and do it. CrossFit has really helped me with developing a strong mindset.

What tools do you need for cultivating—and maintaining—a champion mindset?
CLB:Surround yourself with the right people. I am probably the first one to get really frustrated with myself or put so much pressure on myself to be the best everyday. My husband (Dave Lipson) is the person in my life who helps me not to be so hard on myself, and at the same time is honest when he knows I am capable of more. When I’m stressed, he’ll put his hand on my shoulder, and say, ‘you’ll be fine.’ But when I’m lazy or not living up to my full potential, he will say, ‘Cammy, you’re lazy.’ Surround yourself with people who are honest and, at the same time, will support you every step of the way.

Photo credit: ©2015 CrossFit Inc. Used with permission from CrossFit Inc

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