"For the love of all that is holy, do not say 'New Or-LEENS.'"
~Andréa Maria Cecil
The accent makes it hard to tell, but what sounds like “crawfish” isn’t a crustacean–it’s all CrossFit up in this piece, mon ami.
Fitness may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of The Big Easy, but with 17 CrossFit boxes in and around the city, New Orleans has a thriving affiliate community.
Thursday, March 13, the live announcement of Open Workout 14.3 drops at CrossFit NOLA Downtown, just a few miles from the iconic French Quarter.
Five-time CrossFit Games competitor Stacie Tovar will take on Alessandra Pichelli, who took fourth place in her first Games last July. Tovar and Pichelli came within two places of each other in four events at the 2013 Games. The pair split that matchup with Tovar placing higher in two events (eighth in the Sprint Chipper and 13th in Naughty Nancy) and Pichelli taking the others (15th in Cinco 1 and 11th in the Burden Run).
Which woman will take 14.3? Watch on Thursday at 5 p.m. PT here on the Games site to find out.
If you’re in New Orleans for the Open announcement you’ll need to get your fitness on, even if it’s just to sweat out all the booze. There are lots of boxes to check out such as Big Easy CrossFit, where you just might get to work out with New Orleans Saints head coach, Sean Payton. Here are some other boxes in NOLA:
The people I spoke with while writing this piece scoffed when I asked where to eat clean in New Orleans. It can be done, of course, but being a destination city, people are usually more nutritionally cavalier when they visit. I haven’t met a CrossFit athlete who doesn’t have a deep appreciation for great food—healthy or otherwise. Here are a few recommendations.
Mollie Pate, owner of CrossFit NOLA said: “It's hard to tell people where to eat clean here, because I find people are generally out to cheat when they are in New Orleans. Some of our local favorites are The Company Burger, The Joint (BBQ), Yo Mamma’s for the 1-lb., all beef, peanut butter bacon burger. No bun of course!”
“Make sure you go to Café du Monde in the French Quarter,” said Andréa Maria Cecil, CrossFit Journal Staff writer and New Orleans native. "Beignets and a café au lait (of the coffee-and-chicory variety)—they'll change your life. Other than that, there are tons of places to eat in the Quarter, from fine dining (like Antoine's) to hole-in-the-wall spots galore. It's nearly impossible to eat poor-tasting food in The Big Easy. Do us all a favor and forget that eating clean business—at least for a few days."
Sights and Sounds
“The French Quarter is beautiful and you can just wander around to Jackson Square and handstand your ass anywhere,” said Claire Tagini, an athlete at Big Easy CrossFit. "Woldenberg park is right across from Jackson square and goes right up to the Mississippi … Audubon Park is beautiful and there are always people running or biking on the paths. Generally, the city has a great energy that is unparalleled."
Cecil also recommended seeing the historic French Quarter. “Take a stroll through the Quarter to check out St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, the street artists, the beautiful Spanish- and French-influenced architecture and the muddy Mississippi.”
“Oh, and feel free to walk about with booze in hand. We don't have open-container laws down there.” Perhaps the most important, exciting information she had to share.
“Also, hop on the streetcar (the green one, not the red one) and take it all the way 'til the line ends and you have to flip the seat backs in the other direction," she added. "The streetcar will take you along St. Charles Avenue, lined with ginormous magnolia trees and beautiful old mansions. Bring your camera. Where St. Charles and Carrollton meet, stop in at the Camellia Grill. It's worth it. Also, the cemeteries are awesome. Think that's macabre? Welcome to New Orleans. Because we're below sea level, we don't actually bury people in the ground, making for some architecturally impressive marble.”
Things To Be Wary Of
The advantage of advice from locals is they know what to be cautious of. The kind of things that keep you from, say, waking up behind a potted plant in a strange foyer, covered in green Jell-O and wondering where you are and what you’ve done.
Cecil gave some tips on things to avoid when you’re in NOLA:
"Men—sometimes kids—ensnaring you in their game of, 'I bet I know where you got your shoes,'" Cecil explained. "They make a bet with you for some notable amount and then they say, 'On your feet.' And you have to cough up cash."
"Like always," she advised, "don't walk down dark alleys. There are countless tourists in New Orleans; criminals know that. Be aware."
"The Hand Grenade at Tropical Isle is no joke," she added. "You've been warned."
And lastly, "for the love of all that is holy, do not say 'New Or-LEENS.'"
Despite the accent, who cares if you can’t tell whether they’re saying “CrossFit” or “crawfish?” You want both when you’re on the bayou. One thing is certain: Whether you’re talking about Stacie Tovar and Alessandra Pichelli, or the hordes of CrossFitters on-hand for the announcement, it’ll be big, but it won’t be easy.