July 4, 2012
L'Usine CrossFit Montreal: Cranking The Volume
By Kate Rose

"We don't believe in individual strengths and weaknesses. Our goal is to have any athlete jump into any WOD, any given time."

In 2006, Dominic Adam introduced Chris Kalec to CrossFit. In 2008, the two of them opened the second box in Montreal. Four years later, the team from L'Usine CrossFit Montreal is off to Carson, Calif., for its second chance to compete for the Affiliate Cup. 

Since 2009, L’Usine has produced a number of individual competitors. Kalec found that success is contagious. As the affiliate owner started to prepare for the Games season, he found a few new faces in his crowd.

“Over the last year and a half ,we had an influx of competitive CrossFitters,” he says. “I guess due to our recent competitive success, most competitive athletes view L’Usine as a good training center. We train all members as future competitive athletes.”

Currently, that number stands at 156 members.

The 2012 L'Usine Montreal team is solid. It includes the two founders, who both have strong athletic backgrounds. Kalec attended the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2004 Athens Games, and won 24 national titles for diving. Adam’s background includes professional level karate and kickboxing in Japan.

The remaining members boast various athletic backgrounds, as well. Mélanie Petit played indoor and outdoor volleyball at a national level before she shifted to CrossFit. Patrizio Delli Fraine was a rugby player for 10 years, and is currently a medical resident at McGill. Alexandra Castonguay has a background in swimming and competed at the national level for six years. Emilie Pfieffer-Badoux played hockey and flag football at a national level. Her team won the World Championships in 2010.

L'Usine began to rally its members for the competitive season a year ago. “We made a point to compete in and host local competitions so our members could gain experience competing,” Kalec says.

The experience helped develop the 2012 team, which placed second at the Canada East Regional.

Kalec says the team relies on volume to obtain excellence. “We upped everything,” he explains. “The Games versus daily WODs requires a ton of mental and physical toughness that can only really be emulated by volume.”

They’ve also hired a former Olympic coach to help with Olympic lifting technique.

The teammates of L'Usine have been training together for more than three years and are close friends. “We don’t believe in individual strengths and weaknesses. Our goal is to have any athlete jump into any WOD, any given time,” Kalec says.

Kalec and the team know, despite how hard they train and strive to replicate the competition environment, the actual competition creates a unique set of circumstances. Such was the case at the Regional. “We had a strategic error in WOD 2 and had a hiccup in WOD 3. Since we are all fairly well rounded athletes, we knew we’d have a chance to regroup,” Kalec says.

The team learned quickly from its mistakes. In the last three events, the team placed first, second, and first and added 70 pounds to the Snatch Ladder over combined previous bests. “The comeback just made us stronger and pulled us closer together as a team,” Kalec says.

Setting sights on the Games, L'Usine athletes are back to high-volume training. “Our plan is to be physically ready for the challenge and stress of this world event,” Kalec says.

Most athletes are doing double days, up to four times per week. They would love a top 15 finish in Carson.

“Our daily WODs are hell, and it's our mutual support that keeps us strong and confident,” Kalec says.