April 1, 2013
All Aboard: Luis Freile
By Lauryn Lax

"We don't have barbells on the ship, so it makes it difficult to do Olympic lifting, but I compensate by using dumbbells when I train."


Photos courtesy of Luis Freile

Athletes competing in the Open have the option to complete the weekly workouts on their own with a video submission, or at any CrossFit affiliate around the world.

CrossFitter and cruise ship employee, Luis Freile, 33, completed Open Workout 13.1 at CrossFit St. Thomas, and 13.2, 13.3 and 13.4, at Staten Island CrossFit, even though his home box is CrossFit PTY in Panama.

Freile likes to travel, but it was not vacation that took him along the East Coast. As the Chief Officer of Safety of the Explorer of the Seas, a cruise ship that belongs to Royal Caribbean International, Freile is “on board” 10 weeks at a time, with a 10-week break following each deport.

While his job keeps him busy, Freile says he has not let his schedule interfere with his training and competing in his first-ever Open competition.

“We don’t have barbells on the ship, so it makes it difficult to do Olympic lifting, but I compensate by using dumbbells when I train,” Freile says. “And I really enjoy doing workouts in the outer decks where there is a lot of space when we are in port and most guests are off the ship.”

Still a rookie, Freile says the Open has been a great opportunity to expose his weaknesses and also realize the progress he’s made in the 11 months he’s been doing CrossFit.

With a current one-rep max clean and jerk of 175 lb., Freile was happy to make it through four rounds, plus 11 extra clean and jerks on 13.4. Standing at 5-foot-11, and 180 pounds, Freile knows as a bigger athlete, he has the potential to see his maxes increase with time and persistence.

“13.1 was actually a nice surprise because I have not done Olympic lifting since mid January, so having to snatch 135 lb., which was actually quite close to my former PR seemed impossible, but I managed to get in 23,” he says.

While he may not be going to the Games this year, Freile adds that he knows he has come a long way.

“When I started CrossFit, I could not jump rope and never thought I could do a muscle-up. I always had the excuse ‘Yeah, I am on a ship and it is hard to do that stuff since I have no resources,’ he admits. “Now, I hang rings wherever I can and have a skip rope in a backpack that I carry to the gym, I got my first muscle-up in January while in the box, and now, I am able to do three in a row. I look forward to be able to hit PRs and training harder when I am at the box back home to make it to the Regionals.”

Freile first discovered CrossFit about a year ago when a co-worker with Royal Caribbean invited him to try CrossFit at his home box, CrossFit PTY in Panama.

While Freile lifted weights and ran three to four days per week whenever he could, he says his first workout was an “eye opener of how different it is to be ‘fit’ or ‘CrossFit fit.’

“What got me hooked was the fact that I thought, ‘Well this seems like something I can just cruise through,’ because I (have) been going to the gym on and off since I was 16, only to see how having the technique, flexibility and overall body strength for CrossFit is very different than just laying on a bench and pushing a bar up and down in an isolated move,” Freile says.

Since then, Freile diligently CrossFits five to six days per week — whether he’s on the ship or at his home box. He says CrossFit has brought his life together.

“Before CrossFit, my life was divided in two — my time on board the ship, and then my home life in Panama, where I would spend every minute I could with my son and partying with my family and friends. My time off the ship was like vacation time and it always pretty much meant no gym.”

Nowadays, he can’t wait to get back to his box at home to be able to do a full on workout with all the equipment and compete against others. However, he says it’s also great to be on the ship and show other people what CrossFit is all about.

“I now feel the same passion towards CrossFit that I have felt about my work over the years, that I can’t stop talking about it,” he says. “I have actually managed to persuade some of them to try it.”

Freile also says CrossFit has motivated him to give 110 percent effort at all he does — whether he’s working on the ship, hanging out with his son or working in his box.

“A couple days ago, one of our crew members saved the life of one of our guests with the Heimlich maneuver and she was issued with a ‘hero award’ in the theater in front of all the crew,” he says. “When she was given the microphone, she thanked me in front of everyone for teaching her all the safety training’s that gave her the opportunity to save that life. It felt good to know that the effort I take to teach others safety and going above and beyond in their work on the ship made a difference.”

One thing is for sure, Freile works hard no matter if he’s on the open sea or home in Panama.

“My motto is, ‘get to know yourself, find out which are your weakness and work on them to make you better.’”