Every year around January, functional fitness enthusiasts begin preparing for the CrossFit Games Open, with coaches right across the globe motivating their students and colleagues to take part in the online competition. While many, as the increasing numbers suggest, sign up and take part in the event, there are also some who have mixed excuses for not wanting to take part: “I’m not good enough yet”; “maybe next year”; “I won’t be able to do all the movements”; “I don’t want everyone watching me”; “It’s not like I’ll qualify for regionals anyway”…and the list goes on.
Today, CrossFit affiliates are fast becoming microcosms of the ever-growing global functional fitness community. Such a community is a mix of several “types” of members – There are members that train every day, sometimes twice daily. They smash WODs with high intensity and throw-down at competitions regularly. These are the people that we envision signing up for the Open, hoping to qualify for Regionals, and for some, the CrossFit Games.
Similarly, CrossFit gyms also has those members who train anywhere between 2-5 days a week, have movements they prefer over others, and are increasingly enjoying the progress and variety offered by the CrossFit methodology.
For both “types”, fitness becomes something that is not only achievable but is something that is enveloped in the process of making new friends, becoming part of an enlivening community and sharing strengths and weaknesses. The CrossFit Games Open is part of this process, and an incredibly important one at that.
If you are umming and ahhing about registering for this year’s Open, these points are aimed at silencing that little voice that is stopping you.
Most CrossFit boxes perform the Open workouts at the same time each week. This means that during the five weeks of the CrossFit Games Open you are going to meet, sweat and scream with, a whole bunch of people you wouldn’t normally see during regular programming. Add a healthy dose of pre-WOD jitters and you have yourself a super-fun session.
In this setting, it is easy to see why the numbers don’t matter. Whether you get one rep or 100, you are getting it done side by side. You are creating a community in this very action. That’s some pretty powerful stuff.
2. Wait, did I just do that?
Chances are, if you’ve dreaded the 3, 2,1 go! before a class workout then you have been through the mental processes of “I can’t” “I’ll try” “I can” “I did”. You probably are starting to realise that nothing in the CrossFit world, no matter how scary, hard, or long can actually kill you. You’ve slugged through Fran, done running Metcons even though you hate running, you’ve squatted more than you could have ever thought possible and been upside down on more than one occasion. These small victories punctuate all of our CrossFit journeys.
The Open is another one of these milestones. Being a part of the CrossFit Games Open is one way to silence that little voice in your head that tells you that “you can’t”. That little annoying buzz in your ear that tells you to “use a band” “scale back” or to “not go in today” is not the strong competitor that grinds through workouts or adds weight to the bar.
3. Attack tough movements
A common factor that holds some people back from registering for the CrossFit Games Open is the issue of movements. We all have movements that we would rather not do (for me it’s wall-balls, rows, burpees) and we all have movements we can’t do, yet (muscle-ups, double-unders are common ones). Couple this with the fact that by its very definition CrossFit is all about constant variation, thus, we all have to learn some technical skill in order to take part. Another intrinsic part of CrossFit is that things are generally programmed on the “unknown and unknowable” basis. So basically, there is no way of knowing what the Open workouts are until Dave Castro announces them.
Mash these two points together and you get the potential to run into movements that you haven’t encountered before. While it is understandable that this reason can colour your thought process, I want you to picture this: imagine you are five minutes into a chipper and you’ve reached chest-to-bar-pull-ups…you’ve only just started doing regular pull-ups without a band in class WODs and now you’re expected to pull out C2B’s….are these people crazy?
As terrifying as this may seem, it’s also kind of inspiring too, right? What would it look like to actually make a chest-to-bar-pull-up months before you ever thought possible? Looks pretty good, am I right? It’s amazing how the energy and emphatic cheers of a community which is powered by good-will can affect our state of mind and physical performance. I will never forget the feeling of getting my first few double-unders at the end of 13.3. It was such a huge deal; I’d been scarring my body with DU attempts for months and had never been able to string any together. When 13.1 was announced I was terrified. Wall-Balls were one thing (I’m just over 5 foot so wall-balls are definitely NOT my thing). I got through the 150 WB only to pick up my rope hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Sure enough, I made 7 Double-Unders in the remaining 2 minutes. I was over the moon!
Conversely, I’ll also never forget getting bogged down on the snatch ladder that same year during 13.1. I struggled for five minutes to make one rep at 35kg. I didn’t end up making the lift during that workout. I can do that weight touch and go these days, and I can do about 70 DUs unbroken. It’s crazy how far we come as athletes just by challenging ourselves. There is no telling what is possible when we push ourselves beyond what we “know” we can do. It’s so exciting to go beyond what is known and into the realm of the unknown, it’s there when all the magic really does happen.
4. “It’s not like I want to make it to Regionals, anyway”
As I’m constantly reminded by a good friend at my box, CrossFit attracts a lot of A- type personalities. People who are high-achievers, rarely discouraged by difficulty, enjoy intensity, and generally do well in all that they do. Sometimes, for people who tick a few of these boxes, it can be difficult to compete in anything without a chance to “win”. This has to be one of the most frustrating excuses for not doing the Open! It goes against the unifying aspect of the CrossFit mindset which is – try!
There is no Metcon that fills me with confidence, or, to put it another way, there is never a workout programmed that I think “Yes! I am going to demolish this and probably beat every single other person who has ever attempted it!” that sort of thinking would cripple me, I’d literally never go to the box, never try anything I couldn’t dominate. CrossFit is fundamentally about progression, constant hard-work and repeated efforts. Even our shared CrossFit idols, people like Kara Webb, Elizabeth Akinwale and Chris Spealler all swear by the same code of excellence, it’s a pretty simply one too – WORK.
Elite athletes don’t avoid the world-wide test that is The Open but rather work hard in anticipation for it. In CrossFit, you don’t have to win, but you do have to work. So perhaps, instead of being discouraged by the slim chance of “making it to regionals” focus on the work you can do on your CrossFit game to make as much improvement as possible before the Open. We are not born working hard, we have to do hard work. It really is just as simple as that. So, if the Open is scaring you, work hard on those things that are worrying you most.
So, come on A-typer, do it…DO IT!