My thoughts on the CrossFit Open

The Open

I’m not sure how many of you do or know anything about CrossFit, I'm lucky to have a mixed-readership on this blog; therefore, I’ll give you a brief overview.

The CrossFit Open is a worldwide competition, anyone can join (young, old, male, female, new to CrossFit or the fittest in the world – literally). Every Thursday night for five consecutive weeks CrossFit Headquarters releases a workout, and participants (there’s about 300,000 globally now), have until the following Monday night to submit their score. There are movement standards enforced through certified judges (your fellow gym friends who complete the online certification) who monitor the athlete’s workout. There’s even a scaled division for those less proficient at certain movements or new to CrossFit. At the conclusion of these five workouts, the top individuals and teams move on to the next round of competition, which then leads to the CrossFit Games – the Super Bowl of this sport (though it includes people from all over the world, and has a variety of events).

So the Open takes place in an affiliate, your garage, wherever you normally do CrossFit. Last year, I’d been CrossFitting about a month when the Open came around and it never even crossed my mind to not sign up. You mean I get to do the same workout as everyone else in this sport, talk about it, and compare my score? How cool is that!

To Register or Not

It honestly confuses me when people say they are “too new” or “not good enough” for the Open. It is one of the most measurable ways in fact to gauge your skill level, and measure your progress between now and the next season. CrossFit is hard – mentally, physically, it is no damn joke. Sure, all sports are difficult in their own way and I’ve never been a pro football player so I can’t compare the two, but CrossFit is absolutely a taxing activity. The people that stick with it have goals, there’s no way to keep putting yourself through it if you aren’t aiming for something.

I asked Brian (owner/head coach of my gym, Magna) if the Open is for everyone.

“I think the Open is just like CrossFit, you have to have your personal goals with it and if you approach it correctly, the Open is for everyone,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to have a reason to do a workout, and be able to compare yourself with friends, family or coworkers who don’t go to your gym. It’s fun to narrow the leader board down to males that are 36 in Arizona, for example. But you have to have the right perspective on things, and that comes from your home gym environment.”

BK continued, “As an athlete it’s a good reason to push yourself to a spot that you probably wouldn’t go to for just any other workout. For me, writing my own programming, it’s a great test of what our programming is versus what Dave Castro (CrossFit Games Director) wants us to do.” 

The Nerves

You can’t gain aerobic capacity in the four days you’re allotted to complete the workout, you can’t cram fitness in an all-nighter like you can a college paper. You’re either training all year for it or you’re not, and your scores will show it. BK and I talked off the record, so to speak, after a night of running heats of 16.1, where we discussed pressure shouldn’t be a foreign feeling during the Open, because theoretically you should be training with that intensity all the time.

Now sure, that’s ideal. But the science that a healthy amount of pressure is important for optimal performance is basically common knowledge now. I was so anxious all day Thursday. I want to prove that I’ve gotten fitter than last year, I want to make my coach proud and contribute to the team by getting a good score, and I want to feel proud of myself. If I did terrible in the workout, none of those things would happen.

Big Picture

I place a lot of pressure on myself to do well in everything that I do. However, I survived my first Open workout. And I didn’t do terrible actually. I’m not qualifying for anything, but I could’ve told you that beforehand. I’m going to do it again, because why the hell not – I think I’m capable of better and if by the unfortunate chance I’m not, I got a great workout in. 

The important thing to remember is the Open is a measure of your fitness. Not of your kind heart, competency, motivation or worth. If Michael Phelps doesn’t qualify for the Olympics, he still has to get up the next morning and be Michael Phelps, the man, husband, father, and so forth, and not the Olympian. 

My closest friends may sense some hypocrisy, having seen me cry in the gym or obsess over my scores. There’s nothing wrong with being a passionate athlete, those that succeed really care about what they’re doing, but I think finding the balance is the key to pushing limits and being your best self, and getting closer to that balance is all apart of greater process.

I look forward to sharing with you how the next 4 weeks of the Open go. It’s going be a great opportunity for personal growth and to embrace the amazing community CrossFit offers.

Resources

To register, and/or see schedule of workouts: click here.

For more on CrossFit Magna, click here.

 CrossFit Magna, photo taken by me.

CrossFit Magna, photo taken by me.