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Member Of The Month: Caroline Vandal

By Kyle Torrance | in CrossFit 613 Member Profiles | on September 1st, 2017 Tell us a little bit about yourself? (who you are, what you do, any interesting things about yourself!)


My name is Caroline Vandal. I am a 47 years old grade three French Immersion teacher. I was born and raised in Montreal and studied at the University of Montreal in Theology. My husband and I married young and had two children who are now 21 and 19 and both study at the University of Ottawa. All throughout my youth I was very active. In university, I worked as a lifeguard and discovered a new interest in weightlifting. I would train 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. I did compete in the 50 kg category at the National level. My best Clean and Jerk was 70 kg, my Snatch was 50 kg. At my best, I reached the 7th position in Canada, and second in my category (to a now former Olympian in the sport). Taking a step back now, I realize how impressive this was and how strong I was at the time. Back then, I wasn't impressed and didn't feel I was good enough for the sport, I found it more important to start a raise my family.

What prompted you to begin training at CrossFit 613?

Like most mothers, once my family was started, I had little time for myself. I stopped training, stopped doing sports. As the kids got older, I had less and less energy. I used up all my effort to help boost my children self-confidence and see them grow. I gained weight and missed the energy that I once had. With both my kids grown up, I started to learn to take care of myself again. I started CrossFit in May 2015, I wanted to get back into weightlifting to help me deal with the stress from helping my mother, who was sick with lung cancer. Three months after I started training, my father was diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away at home under my care. With all this additional stress from my parents’ illnesses, my kids graduating from school and going to university and my work, my mental health was declining. Nothing serious, but it was time to take care of myself. This situation helped me realize the importance of staying in shape and healthy physically and mentally.

  What was your greatest concern, fear or scepticism when you considered CrossFit?

When I started, I was looking for a gym with the appropriate equipment to get back into weightlifting. The first Summer I joined, I would only do the weightlifting classes and only if my husband was able to drive me. During that period, I was observing other people train, and noticed how welcoming they were and learn more about CrossFit. In September, my husband and I started the CrossFit classes together. However, I would only come if he was there with me. At the time, my biggest fear was going to train by myself. I was scared I wasn't physically, but most importantly mentally strong enough to do the workout. I needed his support to help me as I would often be upset (I was so nervous) during and after the workouts.

Describe the most pleasant surprise of training at CrossFit 613:

At CrossFit 613, coaches and other athletes are so patient and welcoming. As the months passed, I learned that I could finish the workouts, that I was strong enough to keep up. I felt like I belonged to a greater community. Coach Kyle's quiet demeanor but knowledgeable suggestions gave me the space I needed to grow. Coach Kate has especially helped me build up my flexibility and mobility. Her private lessons are always creatively formatted and suited to needs you didn't know you had. I am now confidant enough in my physical abilities to attempt new and exciting activities outside of the gym. Just this summer, I enjoyed a physically demanding family trip, even if we walked miles upon miles, climbed stairs upon stairs and more surprisingly went cliff jumping! Something I would have never attempted without the confidence and energy I have now. Thanks to CrossFit, I have been able to survive the illness of my parents, the death of my father and the imminent passing of my mother, a big move from our multigenerational home to a new house and many more stressful situations. Every class, I find myself learning new things, pushing my limits and achieving bigger.


How has your health and fitness improved since you started training at CrossFit 613? (It’s time to brag!)

Since I started training at CrossFit 613 I have lost weight, dropped a dress size, gained muscle, become more toned. My biggest success is achieving a balance in my life that allows me to have energy and strengthen my mental health to overcome difficult situations. I am happier and laugh with all my heart just like I used to. I have been with the club for two years. This is the longest I have ever stuck with an activity since my university years and I have no intention to quit training with this amazing club. Next goals to crush, complete 40 kg Snatch (current 37.5 kg) and 60 kg Clean and Jerk (current 55 kg), lose more weight to get to 53 kg and improve my cardio! Coach Neil, I am almost ready to join the endurance team.


Would you recommend CrossFit 613 to others?  Why?


I would strongly recommend CrossFit 613 to everyone. CrossFit 613 has helped build my body and my mind. The people, the coaches, the atmosphere at CrossFit 613 are unlike anything I have ever seen. This magic combination creates an experience that is welcoming, encouraging and inspiring so much so, that working out has become a family event. The whole family participated and time to time even my children’s friends want to be part of it. What a nice way to create a healthy family dynamic!

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