It is upon us. The 2017 CrossFit Open.

For “veteran” CrossFitters (in this instance, anyone who’s competed in or been around The Open buzz in the past), that means daunting and exciting WODs, testing scores against the pros, and an enhanced sense of community and encouragement during WODs (yes, it’s possible).

For the newer folks, The Open is like the latest episode of This is Us or Empire: everyone is talking about it, it sounds pretty cool, but you’re not sure if you’re ready for the intense commitment it seems to require.

If you don’t know what The Open is, ask anyone in the box. Granted, you might get some slightly unhelpful answers, like “Awesome,” or “Terrible. But so awesome.”

Long story short, the athletes you see in The CrossFit Games have to qualify somehow. That starts with a series of five WODs—The Open. Then those winners compete in Regionals, and those winners in The Games.

Take basketball. The difference in CrossFit and every other sport, as Stephen McDonald pointed out, is that your average Joe can’t simply walk in and compete in a Playoff game and end up in the Final Four.

You can, however, submit your scores for The CrossFit Open the same way that Rich Froning and Annie Thorisdottir do. And theoretically, you could do well enough to qualify for Regionals and compete at Regionals. And then The Open.

Theoretically.

But that’s not the reason most of us at CrossFit 405 and CrossFit 405 South (and “regular” athletes all over the world) compete in The Open. We willingly decide to do workouts that involve 84 Burpees-Over-Bar or 150 DumbBell Snatches knowing that we don’t have a chance of going to Regionals.

Here are the 5 Main Reasons We Sign up for The Open:

  1. Why Not?

Maybe you watched The Games on TV and wanted a piece of the action, or you’ve been a part of CrossFit for a few years and never got around to signing up (like Dustin Stokes)—but now you’re taking the plunge. This is why a lot of CrossFitters sign up—simple curiosity, and because they don’t see a reason not to sign up. After all, when The Open is all anyone is talking about for a month, you might as well see what you’re missing.

In the words of our former member and honorary boxmmate, Jen Baer: “You have nothing to lose. The great thing about the CrossFit community is that we are all here to support one another. No one is going to judge you if you don’t have a movement or can’t lift heavy weights yet. We all started somewhere, and if you’re serious about meeting your goals and becoming a better athlete, The Open is for you.”  Well said, Jen.

  1. Someone Talks You Into It

As I said, when The Open is all anyone at the box is talking about for a month (or more), it’s hard not to take another swig of the Koolaid. Whether it’s coaches or other athletes in class, it becomes hard to avoid the question, “Have you signed up for The Open?” …Especially if you have a class with Ryan Pratt, resident Super Motivator. Some people literally sign up just so they can appease the questioners and stop doling out excuses. I’m not saying this is the best reason to sign up for The Open, I’m just saying it happens. Either way, it gets you doing the WODs.

  • In a similar category, we have “Coy said she would punch me if I didn’t sign up.” –(Kirk Redeker) I do agree, none of us want to incur the wrath of Mama Coy…
  1. You Hear About the Awesome PR’s Everybody Gets

Did you know that you are 75% more likely to achieve a personal record during The Open WODs than “regular” WODs? (That’s Chandler math and research, so don’t bank on it.)

Seriously though, there’s some freaky stuff that goes down when it comes to people making great personal strides during The Open. And by freaky, I mean amazing. Stephen McDonald said he’s gotten a PR pretty much every time he’s done The Open.

“I think the adrenaline mixed with the atmosphere, and your friends cheering you on causes you to push harder than you might normally push yourself,” he said.

And he’s right. It’s hard to explain, but there’s a palpable energy that fills the gym during The Open workouts. Everybody wants everybody to crush it. Everyone is pushing themselves. For example, lots of people get their first double-under, their first pull-up, or lift a weight they’ve never done before.

If you’re someone who struggles deciding which days to scale and which days to push past your comfort zone, The Open is a perfect time to step up to the plate and do what scares you.

Jen has some more words of wisdom on this point: “It’s about finding that line that you’ve gotten really close to but never quite had the guts to push past. The Open gives people courage.”

But perhaps my favorite explanation as to why people PR so much during The Open came from Tina Curtis. When asked why she thought she hit so many PRs during her first Open, she said, “Because I just gave it a shot.” Sometimes it simply takes trying something you’ve never tried before.

  1. Because it’s a Time When the Whole Box Comes Together as a Community

(Oh, look, there’s that word again.)

Kristyna Looney said The Open workouts are “like Saturday workouts on crack,” which is a great explanation. If you love the comradery CrossFit has offered you, you’ll love what happens during The Open workouts. Not only do you get to workout with a new group of people, but those people are all intensely rooting for each and every person’s success. And because we do The Open WODs in heats, there’s actually more opportunity for encouragement and cheerleading, because everyone isn’t working out at the same time. Kristyna pointed out that your judge also makes a difference in your performance.

“Craig was very encouraging during [The Open workout 16.1] and basically told me to just try and see,” she said, referring to when she did a whole workout with chest-to-bar pull-ups for the first time. “During the thruster/burpee workout [16.5], I wanted to die—and even now I think 65-pound thrusters are impossible, so I’m not sure how I got through that workout—but Craig was amazing and talked me through the whole thing.”

They’re called judges, but sometimes they’re really more like a personal cheerleader.

  1. Setting Goals

The Open is a great way to find a reference point for where you want to be or how far you’ve come in regard to your fitness level. If you’ve done The Open in the past, you can see how much you’ve improved over the years. (Sometimes Dave Castro programs the same workout a few years later, so you can even compare apples to apples—even if you swore you’d never torture yourself that way again.) Or, you can use it as a “Baseline”—a starting point for the rest of the year. It can also be fun to see how you stack up against the pros because we’re all on the same leaderboard (by category, at least—scaled, masters, RX, etc.) If you wanted to enter a competition during the year but just didn’t get the chance, The Open is a great time to really push yourself and see what you’re made of.


 

As Stephen McDonald points out: if nothing else, The Open WODs give you great “war stories” to rehash while you’re rolling out.

Not to mention the photo opportunities. In case you haven’t noticed, Ore and Julia are some pretty bomb photographers. And during The Open, their cameras are almost always clicking. So if you’re one who’s never had a picture of your WOD face, now is an excellent opportunity to see one. These photos are entertainment for the masses, so don’t even bother worrying about what you look like. (As long as your abs are on, right?)

It’s not too late to sign up! You may have missed the more “exciting” chance to do your Friday Night Lights workout or Saturday in Midtown, but as long as you complete and log that sucker before 8pm Monday…

Now that you’ve signed up…

In Jamai’l’s words: “Make sure you enjoy The Open. Make the experience your own. Don’t get lost in the shuffle of scores, because you just need to be the best you that you can be. Strive to be better than you were the last time you were in the gym.”

A few extra pointers:

  • Don’t forget to log your scores! They need to be in every Monday by 8pm (I recommend doing it as soon as you get home, if you’re hands are still functioning.)
  • Embrace all the extra community and support. Our community is great, but this level of excitement comes around once a year—take it all in.
  • Set your expectations high. When I asked Alpha Ngo if he expected any exciting PR’s, he said, “All of them.” I like this attitude.

Good luck, everyone! Let the Games begin!