From the Coach's Perspective : Gabryanne Lepage

From the Coach's Perspective : Gabryanne Lepage

In the wake of our recent blog article featuring Until I'm Done's dedicated athlete Frédérique ''Fredou'' Dénommé, we had the incredible opportunity to have a conversation with her day-one mentor, none other than Gabryanne Lepage, coach and owner of Usine Repentigny. She graciously shared her insights regarding her coaching approach with Fredou and elucidated the training philosophies that underpin her program. After their journey to Vancouver for the International Functional Fitness World Championships, here's what she had to convey about her relationship with Fredou, whom she watches over like a younger sister, supports as a friend, and guides as a coach!
Reading From the Coach's Perspective : Gabryanne Lepage 8 minutes

UID: Can you recount the instance when you first recognized Fredou's potential as a CrossFit athlete?

Gabrianne: In July 2021, Frédérique reached out to me expressing her interest in exploring a new sport. Notably, she came from a solid background in gymnastics, cheerleading, and athletics. Our collaboration began with private training sessions. Typically, my initial session serves as an evaluation, encompassing the ten physical attributes essential in CrossFit: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, muscular stamina, power, strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, speed, precision, and agility. It was evident that, as a natural athlete, she already excelled in all these aspects. However, two instances stood out to me as indicators of her potential. First, I observed the sparkle in her eyes and her rapid progress following each session. Despite the physical demands, she eagerly anticipated the next training session, displaying an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a perpetual smile. The second significant moment occurred during her inaugural competition, where she wasn't entirely prepared, but we decided to give it a shot. The outcome, as you might guess, was nothing short of impressive, considering her performance and her relatively young age.


UID: In your view, which particular traits or characteristics of Fredou have played the most significant role in her rapid advancement within the realm of CrossFit?

Gabrianne: At her core, she possesses a warrior's spirit, maintains a resilient mindset, derives happiness from physical activity, upholds admirable values, and maintains a positive and humble demeanor. In my perspective, these elements are essential components for achieving longevity and success in the sport. While talent and favorable genetics provide a solid foundation, they must be complemented by diligent effort, a willingness to put in the work, and a commitment to earn every bead of sweat. Moreover, it's crucial never to lose sight of the joy inherent in the journey. Ultimately, it's the relentless dedication and unwavering persistence that consistently outshine other attributes.


UID: What is your approach to establishing goals and monitoring progress to maintain her motivation and steer her toward the path to achieving those objectives?

Gabrianne: We consistently apply the "SMART" theory: ensuring goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. After identifying short-term, medium-term, and long-term objectives, we take a step back to gain a broader perspective. We playfully refer to our long-term goal as being stored in our "iCloud," but we maintain our focus on the present moment, as well as each individual short-term goal and even the objectives set for each training session.

Emphasizing the importance of grounding our athletes in the "here and now" is paramount. Failure to do so can lead to a disconnect from their efforts. Dwelling on past or future scenarios is unproductive, even for our younger athletes. Cultivating this "mental skill" from an early stage is crucial to prevent feelings of regret or performance anxiety. We use the future solely for visualization, envisioning the realization of our dreams while safeguarding against negative thoughts infiltrating this sacred space. Our dreams must be protected.

Subsequently, I work on honing their mindset, recognizing its unique nature for each individual. I find great value in identifying meaningful phrases, such as "let's die trying," "one rep at a time," or "lightweight," as they provide a sturdy anchor to hold onto. Additionally, I endeavor to teach my athletes the importance of focusing on what they can control, rather than fixating on the end result. Acknowledging that all outcomes are possible, whether favorable or not, becomes a foundational principle. When we've given our all, disappointment is averted, and we embrace the present moment as it unfolds. Once they've established this pact with themselves, the journey is set in motion.

Furthermore, I delve into their motivations to provide reminders during challenging periods. Motivation can be categorized into two types: intrinsic (stemming from an internal source) and extrinsic (influenced by external factors). As a coach, it is crucial to harmonize these two forms of motivation in a healthy manner, giving particular attention to nurturing internal motivations, as they possess greater sustainability. This intrinsic drive is their genuine "why," which includes finding joy in movement, among other factors. From my perspective, it is imperative that we consistently ensure our young athletes derive enjoyment from their training, the journey, and competitive events. We've witnessed too many instances where athletes grew to resent their sport due to excessive intensity, anxiety, and external pressures. Our mission is to nurture the flames within!


UID: What guidance would you offer to young athletes aspiring to excel in CrossFit, particularly when it comes to selecting the ideal coach and creating the suitable training environment?

Gabrianne: It's a matter of intuition, trust your instincts, young one! Stick with someone who has unwavering belief in you, who revels in your accomplishments as much as you do, and who is willing to go the extra mile for your success. A skilled coach is irreplaceable, and this individual will create the right atmosphere and provide access to invaluable opportunities. While there exist various coaching styles and philosophies, it's essential to collaboratively discover what aligns with your goals, even if it means venturing beyond your comfort zone or exploring less-traveled paths. Establishing a genuine "connection" with your coach and sharing core values is fundamental.

Furthermore, you'll not only gain knowledge from them but also from the wisdom of other influential figures you encounter along your journey. Extract the best from each of them.


UID: As a coach, what insights have you gained from Fredou's journey that could be applicable to the coaching of other budding CrossFit athletes?

Gabrianne:  Always keep the pleasure of moving within your sport at the forefront of your mind. Fredou serves as a shining example of this principle! She stands as a role model for all. Initiating our young athletes on the right path, and at an early age, is crucial – and I'm referring to comprehensive preparation encompassing physical, psychological, and even "spiritual" aspects. Swiftly recognizing their core motivation, cultivating the correct foundation, and molding their mindset into an unbreakable force are paramount.


UID: Lastly, would you be willing to share significant moments or pivotal milestones from Fredou's journey that have deeply impacted you in your role as a coach?

Gabrianne: During her first competition, as explained earlier: that's when her true competitive journey began, and the CrossFit goddess within her woke up, haha!

Then there's the day she playfully christened me "Gabibryan." Fred, along with another accomplished athlete under my guidance, Antoine Labranche, bestowed me with that nickname. Perhaps it's a nod to Kobe Bryant, but who can say for sure?

Reflecting on our initial private sessions, I was truly captivated by her rapid learning ability, even within the same session. Just a hint or two, and she had it mastered. Her infectious energy was ever-present, even during challenging moments, and there was always a smile not too far away.

Our team workouts were a different story - no quarter given, as I pushed her to her absolute limits! Yet, amidst the intense effort, there were plenty of laughter and cherished memories created.

Lastly, our journey to Vancouver for the Juniors World Championship in 2023 holds a special place in my heart. Beyond just being her coach, I hold deep affection for her as a person. The age difference is hardly noticeable, as I look out for her like a younger sister, stand by her as a friend, and guide her as a coach. What a remarkable athlete she is, both on the inside and out.

I'm confident that if you were to pose the same question in a few years, my list of memorable moments with Fredou would only continue to grow. Long live Fredou! 🙌🏻