If you do CrossFit (or don’t but know someone who does and likes to talk about it…) chances are you’re well aware that the CrossFit Open kicks off in about a months time. For the people who CrossFit recreationally it’s essentially a chance to throw down against ‘the rest of the world’ (that does CrossFit) and see where you end up, and for the more competitive athletes it’s the first step on the way to Super Regionals. Either way and no matter what ‘level’ or ‘type’ of CrossFitter you are, the Open is one of the biggest community building events within CrossFit.
I’ll admit I’m one of those people who usually signs up the day registration goes live (as soon as I can find the link…)
“CrossFit Open?! Shut up and take my money!”.
But I do realize that there are a lot of people who are much more hesitant to sign up for a variety if different reasons. Maybe You…
- Don’t want to CrossFit competitively
- Think you’re ‘not good enough’
- Don’t want to pay the $20
- Are unsure if you can make it every week, or
- Were considering it but since everyone has been so damn annoying about trying to make sign up …. now you’re NOT going to just to spite them…
And in the end it is 100% your decision. But before you make up your mind to skip the Open all I ask is that you take a couple of minutes to read what I have to say; because whatever ‘level’ or ‘type’ of CrossFitter you are (games, regional, semi-competitive or recreational) I think that the Open is something every CrossFitter should experience, at least once.
1. I don’t think I’m Good enough to do the Open
As far as Im concerned there is no such thing as ‘not good enough’ for the Open.
1. Between the ‘Rx’ and ‘Scaled’ Division, the workouts are designed so to accessible to the majority of CrossFit athletes.
Traditionally the Open had only one division, and the workouts were designed to be accessible to (almost) everyone who did CrossFit. Yes, there were sometimes heavier weights or more complicated skills (e.g. muscle-ups) but these movements usually didn’t come up until at least part-way through the WOD. As the sport of CrossFit grew however (and the level of competition increased) CrossFit HQ made the decision to split the Open into two divisions: Scaled and Rx. This decision meant that they could to start throwing harder/heavier movements at athletes during the Open (in the Rx division) while simultanously keeping the Open accessible to the ‘average CrossFitter’ . That being said despite CrossFit HQs best efforts not everyone will necessarily able to safely do the prescribed weights/movements; and its important for coaches and athletes to recognize that.
If an athlete is unable to do the required weights/movements (scaled or Rx) they will not be able to submit their score RX the movements safely, and I don’t think its appropriate for them to do the ‘full’ Open nor should they feel pressure to sign up online/pay the fee. But that shouldn’t stop them from joining in. Because even if you don’t sign up/can’t do the full movements, CrossFit is meant to be scaleable and if you talk to your coaches they can help you figure out how to scale the workout back further to match your skills/abilities.
2. You will probably surprise yourself with what you are capable of
My first Open (in 2012) I had never snatched more than 70lbs but in 12.3 with help/coaching from my judge PRd my snatch and hit 75lbs…30 times
If the weights are near (or the equivalent of) your best lifts, don’t automatically assume you can’t, give yourself the benefit of the doubt and challenge yourself. It doesn’t matter if the regional contender beside you is blasting through reps like they’re nothing because it’s your Open and if you get 1 rep at a PR weight (or even if you end up not hitting it) you had the heart to show up and try your hardest and If anyone thinks worse of you for that they’re not worth your time.
However, as an athlete it is your responsibility to know if/when the weights are near your maxes and make sure you speak to your coach/judge ahead of time; and as a coach it is part of your job to know this about your athletes and make sure they are being judged/overseen by someone who can talk them through each rep rather and make they rest between attempts to help reduce risk of injury.
2. I don’t want to CrossFit Competitively
The Open means something slightly different to everyone and yes there are people gunning for Regionals, people who need to take each workout seriously because one rep can be the difference between qualifying and watching from the sideline. However, the majority of participants aren’t going to Regionals and for them the Open doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) just about having the best score on the leaderboard. For the “general CrossFit population” the Open is a chance to challenge ourselves, have fun and get a taste of competitions (maybe for our first time) in our own gym with people who care about us cheering/screaming us on….essentially, the Open is about Community. When I did my first Open in 2012 it wasn’t the workouts that blew me away (thought they did knock me on my ass) it was the people and the fact that I could go into a gym I’d never been to before filled with people who I had never met and still feel welcome/have people cheer me on.*
*I signed up for my first Open because my sister found an affiliate near my University (where I was finishing my degree) and emailed them to see if her ‘baby sister’ could come out and do the Open workouts with them. Not surprisingly, they said “of course!”, following which my sister emailed me to let me know there was a gym expecting me and that I should sign up for the Open.
3. I don’t want to/can’t afford to pay the $20*
CrossFit is expensive so I can understand why people may be hesitant to pay more money (my sister had to lend me $20 so I could sign up that first year… ) but the thing is $20 is the equivalent of not eating out once or maybe twice, sacrificing a few smoothies or making own coffee at home for a week (i.e. not that much). And if you really don’t want to/can’t afford to pay the $20 you can still come out/judge/do the workouts and be part of the experience, you just won’t be able to submit scores online.
4. I’m not sure if I can commit to all 5 week so I may as well not sign up.
I’m sorry (actually not really), but I honestly think this is one of the lamest excuses in the book. Its like saying
“oh shit I missed monday workout, guess I’m just going to skip the rest of the week and start again next monday”.
Technically speaking, yes, if you miss an Open workout your scores wont be ‘valid’ and you won’t be eligible to advance to Regionals; but if you missed a workout (for whatever reason) chances are you’re not doing the Open to get to Regionals anyways. If there is one week that you don’t make it in for the WOD it doesn’t mean the other 4 week were ‘pointless’ and any of improvements you made no longer counts/the memories disappear…it just means you missed one WOD.
5. I was considering it… But everyone trying to convince me has gotten so annoying that I’m not going to just cause…
This I can definitely understand, maybe not in the context of CrossFit, but there have definitely been times when I’ve refused to do something simply because someone was pushing me to do it (I can be a bit pig-headed). But the thing is if I can keep my stubbornness in check and recognize that these people are just trying to share an experience/their love for something… I almost always end up having fun.
And maybe you do the Open and it isn’t for you, thats ok. Now you know and next year you can not sign up and if anyone asks “why” tell them you tried it but it wasn’t for you and leave it at that.
So far I have met very few people who regretted doing the Open, and a lot of people who, mid-way through, regretted not signing up.
Will the workouts suck? Yes….Its CrossFit, they Always suck.
Will there be points mid workout when you ask yourself what you’ve signed up for and question your sanity? Probably, at least I know I do all the time.
And will there be skills or weights you can’t do? Maybe, but there’s no shame in trying and failing, because failure is what helps us grow (as people and athletes) and it’s the people who refuse to try (and fail) that get left behind.
My first Open I couldn’t do chest-to-bar pullups and on 12.5 I only got 3 reps because of that. But my judge still cheered for me, no one made fun of me and while it was hard I’m glad I did it because it was those 5 weeks that that really got me “hooked” on CrossFit.
If, after reading this, you’re still not convinced (or even more pissed off and convinced you’re NOT doing the Open) that’s ok. Its a free country/world and ultimatley the decision is up to you. For me however, CrossFit has been a life-changing experience*. I’m so glad that someone convinced me to give it a try; and if even one person who reads this changes his or her mind or at least reconsiders the idea of participating in the Open, then I’m happy.
*cliche I know, but true.