Laoise – The Open is For Everyone

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The CrossFit Open is for everyone! If you are brand new to CrossFit or have been doing it for years, if you have no RX movements or all of them, you can gain a lot by competing in the CrossFit Open. The competition element doesn’t have to be with anyone else, it is only with yourself.

I joined CrossFit Ireland (CFI) on the 1st of July 2015 and from that first day, I knew that this was something for me. With the huge variety of challenging movements, I knew that I wouldn’t get bored or lose interest (still true!). With the high quality of coaching, I knew that I would learn how to do things in the right way and would be pushed to achieve amazing things (still very true!). With the amazing, supportive and encouraging community of people who train in CFI, I knew that I would want to train as often as possible (still very very true!).

About five months after starting CrossFit, I started hearing about “The Open”. Not knowing what it was, I assumed it was something for the “real CrossFitters”, not for newbies like me. It was reading an article from a fellow CFI member (thank you to Siobhán O’Farrell) about their Open experience, that made me sign-up for the 2016 Open and I would be absolutely thrilled to think that reading this might encourage someone else to give it a go. The truth is, it isn’t just for the impressive people that can RX every movement; it really is for everyone!

What is “The Open”

The CrossFit Open is an opportunity for every single CrossFit member to test themselves. It is an annual assessment of where we are and how we have improved. It is also the first stage of the CrossFit Games and enables everyone to be somewhat involved in the Games by completing this first test.

But what is it???

It is an online competition that takes place over five weeks. Entry costs $20 and can be done on the CrossFit Games website (from 12th January). Each of five workouts is released each Thursday, and then you have until the following Monday to complete it and enter your score on the online database. There is an RX and scaled version of each workout.

My Experience

Once I had decided to give it a go and had signed-up, I started to get excited about the first workout announcement. The Open is something that connects us to all the other CrossFit communities around the world and the buzz around it is amazing. As the workouts are announced 5pm Pacific Time, I would look forward to either staying up (not recommended) or waking up on Friday to find out what was in store for that weekend. Last year, each workout announcement included some CrossFit athletes going head to head on that workout. I am always amazed at how easy they make the workouts look!

Having never completed a CrossFit Competition before, I found it so odd having a judge for each workout. This was initially something I had worried about, but it was actually great. I especially found it useful telling my judge my game plan for the workout before it started, saying it out loud was a commitment to it and I was much more likely to stick to it. Even when the world started closing in during 16.5 (more on this later).

I also had the opportunity to be a judge for other people’s workouts which had its own challenges and rewards. I like to encourage people during workouts, but each person is different and needs different things from their judge. I would ask questions before the workout started to get a sense of what would encourage each person – did they want me to shout each rep or every 5/10, hold up my hand on the last five reps, shout encouragement or time checks, where did they want me to stand (or not stand). As a judge, your responsibility is to accurately count the reps, and no rep people as per the standard; but it is so rewarding when you encourage people to keep going and see them summon up energy from nowhere to hit another rep.

For each workout, I made the decision whether to go scaled or RX. I was encouraged to push for RX whenever possible and I would really advocate for this. I saw so many people get their first of a movement during the open, first chest-to-bar pull up, first bar muscle up, it was amazing to see! When the clock is ticking and your judge is giving you encouragement, you can achieve things you might not otherwise achieve in a daily metcon. I decided to RX the first workout and spent the majority of the workout going for my first chest-to-bar pull up. I never managed to get that one… but I was proud that I had gone for it and made some hard fought progress during that workout.

The most memorable workout was definitely the most horrible and most challenging one… 16.5. I honestly feel ill thinking about it. From the minute it was announced, I was in a state of dread. 16.5 was 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of Thrusters and Over-Bar Burpees. Thrusters and Burpees were and still are two of my least favourite movements, there’s just something about those two movements that make you upset with the state of the world; so combining them was going to result in some sort of Armageddon. Plus that rep scheme… and no time cap! I had come so far in my Open journey… I couldn’t throw in the towel now! I invited some friends to come and watch me complete it, with the hope that this would encourage me to keep going. I don’t know if I can put in words how challenging this workout was… somewhere in the 18s I seriously considered giving up, but my judge (thank you to Donna McDonough) played a huge role in encouraging me; getting me to focus on the next few reps of Thrusters and just not stopping on the Burpees. It took 34 minutes and 23 seconds… but I finished!!

I am really looking forward to the 2017 Open! I’m excited to see what the workouts will be and I’m hoping to show the improvements I have made over the last year. There is nothing to lose by entering, only a great experience to be gained!

Registration for The CrossFit Open begins on January 12th with the first workout announced February 23rd.

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