April 3, 2012
Denise Magnini: A Climber Takes a Leap
By Siobhain Crowley

Denise Magnini was an avid rock climber, and had been for nine years when she first entered a small CrossFit gym in Dundas, Ontario in 2007. Hoping to increase her strength to aid in her climbing endeavours, Magnini planned to lift a few weights once a week. 

Then along came Adam Morden, a trainer who was slowly introducing CrossFit to the unsuspecting local population. He asked for her to commit to a month. Five year laters, she’s still there. Stunned by her own capabilities and potential, she loved the challenge and diversity of CrossFit.

“CrossFit was second to climbing in my life,” Magnini says. “Two years later, it was a complete 180 degrees, and instead of climbing three days a week and CrossFitting once, I was CrossFitting three and climbing once.”

The draw of constant progress was addictive, both physically and mentally. “I'm a more confident person. I can do anything I want,” she says. “I am strong enough to move boulders around my yard while landscaping, hop on a mountain bike and ride nearly 100 km or run a marathon. I just can.”

Today, Magnini lives a completely different life, ignited by that fateful meeting in a small Dundas gym.

"I left microbiology for good and began coaching full time at Alchemy in 2010 ... My clients’ success stories and passion are now my most cherished PRs."

When Morden opened CrossFit Alchemy in 2009, Magnini followed her Coach, and changed the course of her life.

“In the beginning, I was just using CrossFit once a week to supplement my climbing. It was when I really committed to lifting that I became completely hooked, and my progress skyrocketed,” she explains. “Adam encouraged me to start competing and I finally got the nerve in 2010, taking part in in the Ontario Sectionals. Wow … Sectionals blew my mind. I placed 25th out of 51 female competitors, proud of myself for completing every workout.”

Magnini says a highlight of competing was representing her gym. “I went on to represent Alchemy in Calgary for the Team Regionals,” she recalls. “Our team just barely met the minimum of four athletes. In fact, I am pretty sure we were the smallest and oldest team out there. And we loved every second, ecstatic with our 13th place finish.”

After that, she couldn’t stop competing. “I learn something invaluable about myself [in competition],” she says. “What I do well, where I need to improve and most importantly, how to stay positive and have fun.”

Eventually, CrossFit became much more than her after-hours passion. After years spent practicing

microbiology, “I took a huge leap of faith and started coaching. With Adam’s encouragement and my husband’s incredible support, I left microbiology for good and began coaching full time at Alchemy in 2010,” she says. “It was a huge, terrifying decision and I have never been happier. My clients’ success stories and passion are now my most cherished PRs.”

After competing again last year in the Open team competition, Magnini decided to compete as an Individual in 2012. She made the cut, placing 56th in the region. At age 39, her goals are watered down a little. “Thirteen years of working in bio-containment hoods, hunched over for hours on end have left their mark,” she says. “A great deal of TLC has been put into my shoulders to improve mobility and positioning. Gymnastics moves are my wheelhouse. I thank years of climbing for my killer grip, making pull-ups and toes-to-bar fun.”

Now that she’s headed to Regionals, she’s looking forward to what the future holds. “I am forever thankful for that fateful meeting with Adam in 2007,” she says. “The global CrossFit community is extremely motivating and supportive. Every competition, be it a local affiliate or the Games, is fuelled by positivity and encouragement. It is about personal bests and every individual succeeding. My home box, Alchemy, embodies this every day. We cheer, we laugh, we work hard together, and we play together. CrossFit is everyone’s second family.”