Exclusive: Leblanc-Bazinet Talks Plans for 2018 Season After Shoulder Surgery
For the last eight years, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet has been a staple on the competition floor at the Reebok CrossFit Games. Qualifying for her first Games at just 21 years old, over the years, the CrossFit community witnessed the fiery competitor transform into the 2014 Fittest Woman on Earth.
This past summer, though, the familiar face of this veteran athlete was missing from most of the action in Madison, Wisc.
A fall in the first day’s Cyclocross bike race left Leblanc-Bazinet's shoulder dislocated, ending her 2017 Games season after only two events.
“As soon as that happened, I wasn’t in a mood of feeling sorry for myself,” reflects Leblanc-Bazinet, now five months post-Games.
“I just had a new focus, and that focus was making my shoulder as strong as possible again.”
I just had a new focus, and that focus was making my shoulder as strong as possible again.
Two weeks after returning home to Colorado, Leblanc-Bazinet underwent surgery. She was back in the gym one day later.
As the 2018 competition season creeps up with the Open set to kick off in late February, many wonder whether Leblanc-Bazinet will be ready and able to participate.
To that, she responds, “I’m so excited to compete. Maybe more excited than I’ve ever been.”
The Vulnerable Road to Recovery
Leblanc-Bazinet began her shoulder rehabilitation almost immediately.
“The day after surgery, my husband Dave [Lipson] gave me a toy for building grip strength,” says Leblanc-Bazinet. “He told me, ‘We’re not done. We’re just starting.'
“That has been how we’ve looked at this whole thing ever since.
“CrossFit teaches you to give everything you have to everything you do. My rehab just became a new thing I had to give my full self to.”
Make no mistake: Leblanc-Bazinet’s athleticism did not leave her stringing together muscle-ups and power cleans a week post-op.
CrossFit teaches you to give everything you have to everything you do. My rehab just became a new thing I had to give my full self to.
“Everyone tells you before surgery that you’re going to come back stronger,” she says. “But guess what? You get surgery and you wake up and it sucks. It’s gonna suck and it’s gonna hurt and it’s not gonna be fun.
“People don’t tell you about that part.”
So, recovery is something Leblanc-Bazinet has made a point to showcase to her 1.2 million Instagram followers these last five months.
“I wanted to be real. I wanted to show people what rehabbing from injury really looks like.”
And she’s done just that, posting daily social media videos that expose the full range of emotions she has experienced while working to gain back her strength—the exhaustion after a full day of training only her legs, the mundaneness of added accessory work, the elation around completing one rep of a skill she had once deemed simple.
🤳 @camillelbaz ・・・ “Super big day!!! First strict muscle-up!!! I was SO scared for this and so glad I have people around me to push me to do things like this! Woohoo what a big day 🤗💕 ‘ Saying I was scared to try this is an understatement! (#CrossFitOpen) #hereicome #sohappy #omg @jtodd28 ‘ 5 months post shoulder labrum surgery by @kseng73” #IntheOpen #CrossFit #Fitness @reebok
A post shared by The CrossFit Games (@crossfitgames) on Jan 28, 2018 at 3:08pm PST
“The first time I hung from a pull-up bar, it felt so bad,” says Leblanc-Bazinet. “I couldn’t believe how hard it was.”
“I would see other people jump up to the bar no problem and I would think, 'Wow, I can’t wait until that’s me again.’
“It reminded me of how first-time CrossFitters feel where every movement is new and hard,” she continues.
“It wasn’t a new thing for me to work hard. I’ve always done that. But before my surgery, I had gotten to a place with my fitness that when I worked hard, I got the result. Now, I am working so hard and I’m not seeing those results as quickly.”
And while many elite athletes may have grown discouraged by this (and Leblanc-Bazinet admits she can also fall into this trap at times), she instead looks at the experience as bringing her closer to the larger CrossFit community.
“Talk about consistence and persistence. Every person in every CrossFit gym has to have those qualities. Progress can take a long time but if you keep showing up and putting in hard work, you will get there.”
Talk about consistence and persistence. Every person in every CrossFit gym has to have those qualities.
“Re-learning skills from scratch has been eye-opening.”
With the Open – the first test of the 2018 competition season – inching closer, Leblanc-Bazinet is not hiding the fact there are many skills she is still in the process of re-learning.
“The Open will probably be the first time I try certain movements,” she admits.
“In the Open, I’m not going to be at 100 percent. But I’m going to give 100 percent,” continues the 29-year old, who says she never once thought about taking the 2018 season off.
“I’ll be nervous. It reminds me of how I felt that first Open all over again.”
But Leblanc-Bazinet says those nerves are no reason to not try, again drawing parallels to the larger community, many of whom may be debating whether they’re ready to sign up for the Open at all.
“If you’re scared to do something because you don’t feel like you’re good enough or at your best, you’re never going to end up doing anything.”
If you’re scared to do something because you don’t feel like you’re good enough or at your best, you’re never going to end up doing anything.
“You have to put yourself out there.”
And that’s exactly what Leblanc-Bazinet plans to do come the announcement of the 18.1 workout.