If you've ever gone to the same gym as me you know how annoying I can be each year when the CrossFit Open rolls around.. I want EVERYONE to participate, perhaps selfishly. It is difficult to convey how much fun the five weeks will be, so let me start with why I do the open and maybe it can help you understand my obnoxious enthusiasm.To me, there are three main reasons to sign up for the CrossFit Open: it’s fun, you can learn something new, and it’s challenging as hell!Let me start with fun. There is no better time of the year in CrossFit; the Open is by far the most social aspect of the community. Even though everyone works hard and shows up every day, the Open feels more like a party that involves a little working out on the side. This is especially great for me because I love parties and hate dressing up. Last year we had members block their calendars to come into Loft on Friday evenings for "Friday Night Lights". It was great to hang out with other members while everyone was encouraged to do their best. The gym was buzzing with positive energy. One third of fitness is derived from the social factor. That is science, and The Open is exponentially social. So basically, if you are allergic to fun or hate being around other human beings I discourage you from participating.Now to learning something new. When it comes to everything good or bad that's happened to me in life, I always reflect and ask myself what I've learned from the experience. I have heard plenty of people say they don't want to sign up for the open, but they will do the workouts. I know it's different because I was that lame ass person who did the open in 2011 without forking out $20. It is at this time I need to give a shout out to Devin Blais for making me sign up in 2012, if for no other reason than because "everyone is doing it". I told myself I didn't care where I ranked or how I finished, that I would do each workout once and that is where I'd rank. Then the lights came on and these workouts were really hard. Do I want Rich Froning to see that I finished 196th in my region on this workout that crushed me like a ton of bricks? (He did verify to me that he always tracks where I'm ranked). Once I caught my breathe I immediately found myself thinking about what I would do differently, how I could do better, and when my body could handle doing the workout again.My first open workout was the 7 minutes of burpees, I seriously went into it thinking I would get 140 burpees. Seven minutes later and I’m sitting on a 106, talk about humbling. The strategy of open workouts felt like a new component that was just as fun as the actual work itself. I learned that there's still an inner-athlete that loves competing even if I'll never been an elite CrossFit competitor. You learn where your weaknesses are every week and what you can work on for the next year to improve.Plain and simple, when you run a 5K by yourself after work, it's different than signing up for an event and running with hundreds of other people. Yes, you’ll be nervous the morning of, but you’ll bond with those people suffering through the experience with you, then by the end of it you’ll be glad you did it and go out to brunch afterwards and share some laughs.Okay the challenging part. Everyone who participates in CrossFit is prepared for open workouts, but they’re still challenging. I remember last year that each workout crushed me in ways I wasn’t anticipating – either my grip went out, my lungs were empty, my arms weren’t working, or my legs felt like I was wearing cement shoes. I can easily quit on myself and slow down, but with other people cheering for me it meant getting comfortable being uncomfortable. My favorite part is not even that the community makes me feel like Russel Crowe in Gladiator as they cheer me through the pain. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED??? It’s that I get to cheer FOR THEM to be champions for a day. I get to watch people do things they’ve never done before, getting their first double unders, first toes-to-bar, or pull ups. You’ll never see more epic high-fives and sweaty chest bumps. I love watching the determination, effort, and grit that every CrossFit athlete has unknowingly trained.I’ll now give a list of excuses that I’ve heard and invalidate all of them
- I don’t have time for the open – This is bullshit, you have an hour to do the workout and all of the coaches in the gym will accommodate you to complete the workout with a judge..
- I don’t care about competing – It’s not about competing, it’s about participating and being a part of the team. Did you love going to basketball practice in 100 degree weather during those Sacramento Summers? Hell no, but you did love making the trips with the team to the summer tournaments. Oh wait, that was me…..
- I’m out of town one of the weekends – The other four will still be more fun if you participate.
- I’m injured – Ok, THAT is a valid excuse, sign up to judge and come drink beer instead
A few other benefits
- Everyone is held to the same standards. There’s nothing more annoying than the people who don’t count reps properly or don’t shoot the wall ball to the correct height. All of that is taken care of during The Open.
- You get to see where you rank compared to the fittest in the world. Not that the ranking matters, I think you just appreciate how much harder they had to work to get where they are. When you’re coughing up a lung, imagine if you had done the 150 more reps that they did..
- Most of the time there’s either a dinner or brunch following the workouts. Those meals always taste a lot better after near-death experiences.