|Paul Tremblay, owner of CrossFit NCR is competing at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games. (Supplied Photo) |
Paul Tremblay had no idea what CrossFit was when a workout partner suggested they “up the ante” and try the trending strength and conditioning program one fateful day in October 2011.
The Ottawa native was employed in the finance sector with the federal government at the time. Up until then, he had been lifting weights in his office building’s downstairs gym and taking a more traditional approach to working out.
“From then on, I’ve just been hooked.”
It wasn’t long before he joined what’s known as a CrossFit box.
Tremblay eventually quit his government job and started coaching CrossFit full-time.
“I met some good people, including my business partner Reza Mashkoori,” he adds. “From there, we opened our own box (CrossFit NCR in March 2013).”
Tremblay, now 27 and a solid 200 pounds at five-foot-nine, says he was in “pretty decent shape” before CrossFit, having played four years of Junior B hockey in Ottawa.
“CrossFit just brought working out to a whole new level,” he explains. “Just the competitive aspect of it really was what got me into it big time.”
Tremblay, who also competed in the Red Bull Crashed Ice world championships in Quebec City in 2012 and 2013, admits he’s fiercely competitive.
It should be no surprise then that he can’t wait to compete in the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games next weekend in Carson, Calif.
The international athletic event — which requires all competitors to qualify through both its gruelling open and regional stages — crowns the “Fittest on Earth” in three categories: men, women and team.
Tremblay competed in the Games’ team category in 2012 with members of the CrossFit box he belonged to at the time.
The experience, however, left him wanting more. Much more.
“In 2012, we had a bit of a different mentality: We were really happy to be there, really happy to be with the top in the world, blah, blah, blah,” he says. “But we finished at the bottom of the standings.”
It was then that he vowed to return — as an individual.
But 2013 wouldn’t be his year. A knee injury forced him to undergo minor surgery just before regionals. Competing at less than 100% at the Canada East Regionals, Tremblay failed to qualify and was forced to watch the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games from the sidelines.
His stint as a spectator was admittedly difficult, but he now recognizes it as a blessing.
“Watching the Games last year definitely served as some motivation this year to go even harder and give it my all at regionals,” he says. “Through this year, I’ve been rehabbing my knee and training smarter and making sure health is No. 1 because if you don’t have your health, then you can’t compete and that’s why I do it.”
Training smarter, he adds, has meant more emphasis on flexibility, mobility and listening to his body.
Tremblay, who made good on his 2012 promise by qualifying at regionals this past spring, will be one of only two eligible representatives from the Canada East Region in the “individual men” division at this year’s CrossFit Games.
Since regionals, Tremblay has been training up to four times a day, sharpening his skills in everything from lifting and running to cycling and paddleboarding.
That’s because unlike the structured format for the open and regionals, the events at the CrossFit Games are announced “days, hours or even minutes before they begin,” according to the official website.
Athletes from 17 regions representing five continents must be ready for anything in terms of events designed to test their fitness.
“They test us across any fitness aspect, any time domain,” Tremblay notes. “There’s going to be long workouts, short workouts, sprints — the guy who comes out on top at the end of the weekend is the guy who was the most consistent throughout every single event, whether it was long, short, heavy or light.”
Tremblay is elated to have qualified individually for this year’s CrossFit Games. But he won’t be satisfied to just be a participant.
Been there. Done that.
“Obviously making it there, that’s in itself a dream come true. … But obviously I don’t just want to stop there. I want to go there and kill it,” he admits.
“You don’t want to just show up. You want to give it your all. I’m pretty confident that if I absolutely go as hard as I can, then yes, some good things will happen.”
And as far as his knee is concerned, Tremblay insists he has never felt better.
“I feel the best I’ve ever felt health-wise. Since regionals, I’ve been slowly getting to 100% of my shape and I’m ready to rock now.”
The 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games are slated to be televised live on ESPN.
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