By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Shanna Dawley has raised the bar for Cornwall's CrossFit scene.
Against some of Canada's top athletes, Dawley, head trainer at Seaway Valley CrossFit, placed fifth at the CompWOD - Best of the Best Invitational 2013.
The event pins elite 'CrossFitters' against each other in a series of gruelling workouts with many other precise movements and challenges.
CrossFit is an exercise program that combines elements of Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics and high intensity interval training.
"I was hoping to place top 15th this year and I placed fifth. I was shocked," said Dawley, 34. "I also had to work through an injury that happened in December."
A back injury caused her to miss the regional competition. Dawley waited patiently until she recuperated this May. Then her gutsy climb to the Best of the Best, held in Markham, ON started to turn heads.
A video posted online of her doing a 225 pound overhead squat was being shared in gyms all over. It was clear to her Internet audience that the same competitor that placed 18th just the year before was ready for a comeback.
"My first workout stepping out there they had us lifting a crazy weight," said Dawley. "The fact that I came in first in my heat meant it was go time."
A dozen supporters from Summit Health and Fitness Club, Cornwall's only CrossFit facility, spent the entire day cheering. Dawley competed against 18 CrossFitters mostly from eastern Canada.
"The thing I was most nervous of was letting them down," she said. "They were screaming all day long for me. I couldn't believe it."
As a head trainer with 12 years' experience Dawley says CrossFit has levels for all ages.
"Every single workout is scalable," she said.
But for her being at a competitive level is a lifestyle that means being at your absolute best. "I eat, sleep and breathe and it," said Dawley.
Three workouts a day. Six days a week. Being on a strict diet and no partying. All to be ready for anything that comes her way.