To Do, or Not to Do (the CrossFit Open)….That Is the Question

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by TARYN HAGGERSTONE

The Open 2014

To Do, or Not to Do (the CrossFit Open)....That Is the Question
If you do CrossFit (or don’t, but you know someone who does and likes to talk about it) chances are you’re well aware that the CrossFit Open kicks off in less than a month’s time. For the people who CrossFit recreationally, it is literally a chance to throw down against “the rest of the world” (who CrossFits) and see where they end up, and for the more competitive athletes it’s a stepping stone to the next level (Regionals); either way and no matter what level you’re at as a CrossFitter, it is one of the biggest “community- building events” in CrossFit.

When the registration opened, I’ll admit I was one of those people who signed up that same day (as soon as I could find the link…)

CrossFit Open?! Shut up and take my money!

But I also know there are a lot of people who were much more hesitant to sign up (or perhaps still haven’t) for a variety if different reasons. Perhaps you

  • think you’re not good enough
  • don’t want to CrossFit competitively
  • don’t want to pay the $20 (especially since you know you won’t qualify for Regionals)
  • aren’t sure you can make it every week (so may as well just not sign up)
  • 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 2014 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.

Games Page

What’s Your Excuse?

1. “I don’t think I’m good enough to do the Open.”

As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as “not good enough” for the Open. (That’s why it’s called “open.”)

The workouts are specifically designed so that most CrossFitters should be able handle them.

Yes, there are sometimes heavier weights, but typically those come up later and the same is true for the more complicated movements (e.g. muscle ups).

[W]hatever “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.
However, as a coach it’s important to understand that while the organizers/brains behind the Open do their best to make it as inclusive as possible, there are some CrossFitters who won’t be able to do the prescribed weights and movements, and in this case I don’t think it is appropriate for them to do the “full” Open or feel at all pressured to sign up online/pay the fee. I do think that they should be given instead the option of doing a scaled version of the Open workouts (e.g lighter weights, banded pull-ups, etc). Obviously these scores would not be eligible for online submission (since the movements were scaled) but CrossFit is meant to be scalable to meet any limitations/restrictions, so let’s apply that to the Open so that everyone can participate.

You will probably surprise yourself with what you are capable of.
Strong and Mighty

Photo courtesy of Terry Peters

My first Open (in 2012), I had never snatched more than 70lbs before, but in 12.3 with help/coaching from my judge, I PR’d my snatch and hit 75lbs…30 times!

If the weights are near (or are 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. 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. If anyone thinks worse of you for that, give them a swift kick in the…well, you know (except don’t. I don’t condone violence…just untie their shoelaces when they’re not looking or something…help keep their ego in check).

That being said, 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. If you are 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 and ensure they rest between attempts to help reduce risk of injury.

2. “But I don’t want to CrossFit competitively.”

[T]he 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.
The Open means something slightly different to everyone and yes there are people gunning for Regionals — that is, 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 the Open for the first time in 2012, it wasn’t the workouts that blew me away (though they did knock me on my ass); rather, it was the people involved and the fact that I could go into a gym I’d never been to before filled with folks I had never met and still feel welcome as they cheered 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. They (not surprisingly) said, “Of course!” following which my sister emailed me to let me know I should sign up for the Open and was I a S or XS shirt size.

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