Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, 25, doesn’t give a hoot whether or not you think her muscles are too big—at least not anymore. The Quebecker is proud of what they represent: a helluva lot of work, for one. It’s hard work that paid off this past July when the chemical engineering student was named “The Fittest Woman on Earth” at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games. Bazinet talks to FLARE about her once tortured relationship to her body, what it takes to hang-clean like a Navy Seal, and why CrossFit is the healthiest cult/addiction in the world.
How did you become the fittest woman on earth?
I think I just understood that you really need to make a lot of sacrifices; that you really need to work on your weaknesses; eat good, train hard, and believe in yourself —once you do that really anything is possible. Since 2010, I’ve always trained the same way. The only difference this year is that I asked for more help than the other years. I surrounded myself with a bigger group of people to help me and to fill those gaps in my fitness.
How do you describe CrossFit to people that have never done it before?
Generally, I use something people can relate to. For example, when you’re carrying all of your grocery bags at once because you’re too lazy to do two trips, and you’re doing a sort of farmer carry and telling yourself ‘You’re almost there, you can do it’—in CrossFit we do a lot of stuff like that. But we do it at a high intensity because that’s where you have the best physical and psychological adaptations.
How has your body changed since CrossFit?
I’ve always been active. When I was much younger I was competing in high-level gymnastics and I remember when I was in high school a guy told me that my arms looked big, and I wore long sleeves for my whole high school. I mean how terrible is that! Just because one person gave me that comment on my arms?! But that’s how we are as girls. We get affected by those things. And I remember, during my last year of high school, telling myself ‘F-ck it! You’re going to be who you are and be proud of yourself.’ But I still thought that my legs were too big—because I’ve always been kind of muscular—so I would run and do abs and I had some eating disorder because I wanted to be super skinny.
When I started doing CrossFit, it made me realize that those things are superficial and what is truly important is reaching your goal and feeling like you’re someone achieving things in your life, that you’re truly helping people around you, and that you’re being the best version of yourself. Now, I don’t even have a scale at my house. I don’t care how much I weigh. I don’t care about any of those things. Now it’s truly more about ‘am I being the best person I can be today?’ and that’s where I draw my strength. And at the same time, I work so hard on my body and all of those things that I’m just so proud of my muscle! I’m proud of what I look like. I think it’s very empowering.
What’s a day like for you? Are you working out every single day?
I’ll wake up and eat breakfast, and then I’ll go and train at 8:30 a.m. and I’ll do like three or four things. I might be doing front squats and then strength and then two little met cons [metabolic conditioning] and then I’ll go back at night and I’ll have another session, where I’m doing something similar with maybe more running and more rowing [thrown in]. Mainly, I train between two to four hours per day and maybe four to eight workouts a day.
Four to eight workouts a day? I thought you were going to say four to eight a week!
Yeah, multiply that by five.
Is CrossFit addictive?
You couldn’t have someone more addicted to CrossFit than me [laughing]. I think you end up finding a place where it’s easy to be yourself, where people accept you for who you are and there’s no hierarchy when you go into a Crossfit gym. People don’t care if you’re a janitor or the CEO of a company. When you get into a CrossFit gym everyone is equal.
CrossFit is often called a cult. What do you say to that?
I would say yes, it is! We all believe in the same thing: for health and fitness to be a part of our life. We all try to eat the same way where we eat meat, nuts, vegetables and some fruit and no sugar. We always talk about CrossFit because we love it that much. It’s kind of a cult. But you know what? It’s the healthiest cult ever.
What do you say to people who claim it’s dangerous?
No, it’s not. I think the truth is that a lot of people are lazy. CrossFit is not dangerous because it’s the only environment where you have that much coaching available to you. I don’t know any other place where you have that many eyes on you. If you go to a normal gym no one is looking at you and you’re being thrown on a machine that’s not even functional [training] … I think people don’t like the idea of doing something that is hard so they’d rather say it’s dangerous.