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Out in the Open

Meet Elliot, he'll tell you all about his CrossFit experience as a Trans* man

My name is Elliot Comanescu. I’ve been doing CrossFit for 6 months and I’m hooked. I stumbled upon CrossFit one day as my best friend and I were skateboarding around his estate. We heard some cool music, lots of shouting and the sound of weights crashing to the floor. We headed over to the warehouse, walked in and asked what it was all about. The following Sunday I did a free taster session and loved it. I then booked myself in for the On Ramp, a two-week introduction to the fundamental CrossFit movements that prepared us for the classes.

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that was originally developed by Coach Greg Glassman after years of coaching elite athletes. Coach Glassman found that the best way to achieve “optimal” fitness was not through specialisation but rather through “constantly varied functional movements” (pushing, pulling, squatting, lifting and running) performed at a high intensity.

At first, I’ll admit it was difficult not to compare myself to the other athletes: so many of them were faster, stronger and more skilled than I was. It frustrated me, but those people drove and inspired me to work harder and push that little bit more through every workout. At one point, I had to step back from my frustrations, and think about the bigger picture, and why CrossFit is important to me. I realised that I ultimately do CrossFit because I want to be the best version of myself I can. It’s a good outlet for stress; I can let off steam at the box in a positive way. It’s a truly amazing community at Reebok CrossFit Cardiff. I’d like to accomplish more with myself through working hard and sacrifice so that in the future (through a lot of patience) I’ll be able to do things I once never thought I’d be able to do.

Patience. Progress. Positivity. I do CrossFit for me. It makes me feel good.

A key concept of CrossFit is the fact that we perform our workouts in groups. We all do the same workout, whether it’s performed “Rx” (as prescribed) or scaling the movements or weights. Regardless of strength or ability, we all complete the session together, and support each other through it. There is also an element of competition: it’s you against the workout, rep after rep. Being surrounded by other motivated people can inspire you to push to new levels. The combination of community and competition really culminate during the CrossFit Open. This event encompasses an annual 5-week competition that spans CrossFit affiliates and garage gyms across the world. A series of 5 workouts are carefully designed to allow anyone to partake, and challenge the elite athletes to compete for the title of “Fittest on Earth”. Anyone from a 14-year-old student to a 77-year-old granddad can take part. Each athlete is judged during his or her efforts and then submits a score online. Their fitness is then ranked alongside thousands of others.

The Open brings everyone in the box together, and the community supports and cheers their fellow athletes through sweat, tears, frustration and often amazing achievements. This is my first year competing in the Open. It spawns a mix of excitement, anticipation and nervousness as you prepare to tackle the workouts. Can I do the movements? Am I strong enough? Will my legs and lungs hold out? The feeling and adrenaline of competition is amazing, and many of us often surprise ourselves with what we’re able to achieve. In the first event, I was able to perform a movement called chest-to-bar pull-ups (exactly as they sound, you pull yourself up to touch your chest to the bar), which I didn’t think I’d be able to do when I saw the workout. The feeling of getting these while everyone cheered and encouraged me was amazing. I am competing in the Teen 16-17 division and I am currently ranked in the top 40% in the world for my age category.

I love the competitive element of CrossFit and one day I’d love to progress from the Open into the Regional CrossFit Games, an event which less than 1% of CrossFit athletes manage to accomplish. As it stands, the CrossFit Games policy requires competitors to compete in the gender they were assigned at birth, rather than what they identify as. This policy has been made on the basis that genetics may give some transgender individuals, like me, a physical advantage. However, HRT (hormone replacement therapy) either suppresses or enhances testosterone as appropriate, making it a level playing field. CrossFit HQ will review this policy and align with other major international organisations such as the International Olympic Committee and Welsh Athletics and allow athletes like myself to compete as the gender we choose.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy this amazing community and work to the best of my abilities.

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