If you are a part of the CrossFit community, or you know someone who is, you are probably aware that this week marks the beginning of the CrossFit Open. The CrossFit Open is a 5 week competition where they release one workout a week for 5 weeks and if you register you can submit your score to be ranked among athletes in your region and worldwide. The top tier of athletes from each region will compete at the regionals, and the top tier of athletes from the regional competition get to go on to compete in the annual CrossFit Games in Carson, California over the summer. For many of the elite athletes the open is the start of their competition season and it is a way for them to earn their way to play with the “big dogs” at regionals and the games. That is like 1% of the people who sign up for the open. But what about the rest of us? Us every day moms, dads, business owners, average athletes… What does the open mean to us? I’ll tell you what it means to me…
For me it is not just about a workout or a score. It isn’t how good or bad you are. For me as an athlete the open is about getting to participate in a world wide sport. As a girl who spent most of her life overweight, this is something I never thought I’d be able to do. And even if I could, there is no way the “fat girl” would want to compete in a workout… right?
I used to avoid any excess activity because I was so overweight. Walking up and down a flight of stairs was exhausting, how could I ever imagine signing myself up to compete in a physical fitness type of competition?! While I may not be close to winning, I’m light years away from where I was a few years ago. For 95% of my life I couldn’t dream of doing the things I can do today, and because of that I’m proud of every rep I get to put down on that little score sheet. I used to look for ways to get around doing anything physical because I hated the feeling. Now I look for any opportunity, like the CrossFit Open, to challenge myself to do hard things… because I can.
And that feeling when time is called and you collapse to the floor because you gave it all… I love it.
It also allows me to see my progress from year to year. Maybe one year I am in the bottom 30% but the next year I am closer to being at the top 60% – Or maybe one year I get a handful of broken double unders and the next year I’m able to string together 10 at a time. Progress is Progress no matter how small! The Open is good for using as a bench mark each year to see that progress.
For me as a coach the open is about more than just a workout. It is about seeing the people I’ve coached from couch potato to every day athlete achieve things they never thought possible. It is about watching the community that I have put my blood, sweat, & tears into building come together on it’s own, with people who used to be strangers now more like family cheering each other on. Those cheers are just as loud for those who hit a 5lb PR as they are for those who hit a 50lb PR. They are often louder for those finishing last than they are for those finishing first.
The open is about watching the girl who used to be afraid of heavy weights throw around a heavy barbell without a second thought. It’s about watching those who struggled with finishing their baseline WOD push themselves to get that one more rep before time is called.
Everyone is there to do their best and they expect you to do the same. So you do. And you surprise yourself. In that workout where you get your first toes to bar or double under when you never thought you could… you learn to believe in yourself. That you can. And that is life changing, not just for your fitness… but for life outside the box.
For me as a crossfitter the open is about knowing we are participating in something bigger than just our box. It is about knowing that somewhere down the street or on the other side of the world everyday athletes and elite athletes alike are prepping to throw down the same WOD you just did. Everyone remembers how they felt on that last round of 14.5, as you wished with every thruster and burpee that it was an AMRAP so the clock could save you from having to pick up that bar again. When we find ourselves talking to fellow Crossfitters in the airport, at work, or at some local competition we exchange what become our war stories about the open. It binds us together as one big crazy, sweaty family.
And so as we go throughout these next 5 weeks of workouts remember that it isn’t just about where you place. It’s about appreciating the fact that you have the ability to do the workout and that you have a community of people, both in your box and around the world, who are just crazy enough to do it with you.
Good Luck, and have fun!
Are you doing the open? What does it mean to you?