A Newbie at the Open

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By Max Davies-Gilbert

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I am doing the Crossfit Open this year for the first time.

I am, by the standards of most Crossfitters, unfit. However by my own standards, I’m fitter than I have been for 4 years. In the 12 months since I started Crossfit properly I’ve shed over 12 kgs and I can push, pull and throw heavier things than I have ever in my life. 6 months ago, I was struggling to do 5 single skips in a row with a rope and now I can string double unders together. This is a recurring theme since starting Crossfit, and as cliched as it is I am just amazed by the improvements.

By day, I am a law student and that’s a pretty challenging ordeal to get through, but I like it for the same reason I like Crossfit. Law is a functional, ever adapting animal which you never really get a grip on fully. Crossfit is equally functional, equally changeable and, like law as a subject, continually throws up curveballs that even the people at the top of it struggle to deal with. With both, the more you put in, the more you get out.

Should the Open be more closed?

Patrick McCarthy, a Masters Athlete, wrote a piece on the blog ‘Breaking Muscle’ which he stated in it that the Open was broken because it relied on cardio heavy, lower skill level workouts than the Regionals or Games. I am exactly the type of person Patrick would like to not see at the Open, cluttering up the rankings.

“Saying you should have qualified for the Regionals because you have a better grasp of a specific technical skill is similar to saying that you should of qualified for the Olympics because, despite being slower than the other guys at hurdles, you had better technique.”

I think this view is completely wrong. An Open should be just that- open, with the tantalising prospect that you could pull one out of the bag as a wildcard and qualify. He makes the point that a lot of people put in a lot of work in order to get to Regionals, and were out qualified by others who had less technical skill than them, but were better at these types of workouts. I thought Crossfit was about being good across all modal domains? Therefore lower skill, heavier cardio workouts are still a crucial part of its definition of fitness, and its one domain suited to being tested at early on in the Games. Saying you should have qualified for the Regionals because you have a better grasp of a specific technical skill is similar to saying that you should of qualified for the Olympics because, despite being slower than the other guys at hurdles, you had better technique.

I do however think that people should take the Open seriously, if it is purely fun you want then head down to your local box on a Friday/Saturday/Sunday and cheer on everyone doing it. However, if you want to compete (whether that be with yourself, your box, your region or the world) then the Open should welcome you with, ehem… “open” arms. Everyone has their own reasons for being there, and they are the best judges of whether they are ‘ready’.

So why am I ready for the Open?

Because I’m in the best shape of my life, and next year I will do it again for the same reason. I may well come dead last in my box, but that puts me above everybody else in the Crossfit community that isn’t attempting it.

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