The Crossfit Open: What you should learn, enjoy, accept, accomplish, and take away.

“As someone who formerly placed a lot of stock and self worth in my physical skill/capability and was somewhat crushed when I felt like I couldn’t be as competitive collegiately as I would have liked, I hate the CrossFit Games Open. I hate seeing others feel like they’re failing at fitness, or not living up to a certain standard. BUT I have found that there really is no failure in continuing to put forth effort at exercise. Just showing up is more than half of the battle. And while competition does bring out the best in people, it can also bring out the worst.
To myself and all those around me, focus less on where you are on someone else’s leaderboard, and more on valuing yourself first, as you are, striving toward the goal(s) you have set for yourself, whatever they may be. Just don’t have your self worth rooted in achieving them. Enjoy the process, the community, throw on some rap, get sweaty, slap some hands and blow off some steam. That, to me, is what exercise is all about, and the more you enjoy it, the more sustainable of a habit it will become. (Disclaimer I do really like CrossFit ?)”

This is a social media quote from my friend Lucas Neufeld. Lucas is a local Crossfitter in middle Tn. and in my opinion a very high level Crossfitter. With numbers like a 250+lb snatch and a 300+ lb clean and jerk not to mention sharp gymnastics skills and one Hell of an engine, I think it’s safe to say that he can smoke you and me and most others in this realm. Having said that, Lucas can be one of his own worst critics. Like most competitive athletes this is both what drives him to keep getting better as well as leaves him feeling somewhat unsatisfied at times.  The reason I am beginning this blog with this quote is that it exemplifies the point I intend to make and it sounds like Lucas has come to a really great place mentally when it comes to Crossfit as a sport and the Open/Games in general.

As we enter the final week of the 2017 Crossfit Games Open and we await the fresh Hell that will be 17.5 (Dbell thrusters and double unders MUST be coming) I think it is absolutely vital that all Crossfitters take a step back, breathe, relax, and remember why they entered the open in the first place or why they even Crossfit at all. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE CHALLENGING, HARD DAMN WORK, FUN, AND A COMMUNITY BUILDING EVENT.

300,000 + athletes entered the open this year. 40 men and 40 women will make it to the games. (Yes I know, teams, teens, masters etc. makeup a lot more) Let that sink in. 80 Athletes out of 300,000+ That’s less than 1%. Guess what? You aren’t going! Maybe you are. Maybe you are that tiny little percent that is good enough, but if you are reading this blog right now my money is on the likelihood that you aren’t. Sorry to be the harsh hammer of reality, but is that why you entered the open? Probably not.

As I peruse social media Crossfit groups and read snippets and posts I have found an increasing number of people bitching and moaning about the games. (Not you Lucas. Your message was very positive!) Some of it is good ‘ol misery loves company camaraderie and some of it is quite serious. For instance a lot of negative things have been said about the extensive use of dumbbells this year. Stop the complaining. There are several things I think you absolutely must remember when we get into the open season or you will be broken and miserable when it has passed. Not a desirable place to be.

1: This is a weeding out process.

With such a staggering number of people entering the games only a small number of people will even make it to regionals. The open MUST be a weeding out process. Most of these workouts are meant to eliminate a large number of you just with the standards of Rx alone. I am an affiliate owner and 17.1 is the only one I would even have attempted Rx. (I did not participate this year due to a banged up knee and a nasty flu that got me just days before 17.1 I had not intended to register anyway.) There ya go. Mission accomplished. One more video they didn’t have to watch and score. Perfect. I can’t do 55 HSPU, I can’t do full snatches due to serious mobility restraints, I no longer do muscle ups after 2 shoulder surgeries. You know what I can do? Scale, modify, and continue to work my ass off. If you couldn’t do Rx so what? You weren’t supposed to be able to!

2: This is supposed to be “constantly varied.”

Yes, there were dumbbells. Maybe your box doesn’t have them or not many of them anyway. Maybe your box never programs with them. Maybe you hate them and prefer barbells or kettlebells. So what? Suck it up buttercup! You are supposed to get hit with the unknown. Pick that shit up and go! Look back on past games and watch the faces of the athletes as they get hit with the details of the most brutal WODs just minutes before they 3,2,1, go! You don’t see whining, tortured, stressed faces. You see a quick nod of heads and a mental strategy already being formulated. That’s what you must do in order to enjoy this. Accept the challenge and go. Scale, modify, try Rx. Whatever. Who cares. Just go! It’s SUPPOSED TO BE HARD!

3: Have fun with your friends in your community.

A good friend of mine who owns a local box has a theme every weekof the open. All the members dress up in goofy costumes and they have a blast and make a party out of it. Perfect! They know they aren’t going to the games. They don’t care. They want to be a part of it all and they enjoy the process. The owner sees to it. They make it fun. The workout is still brutal, but that’s okay. They come, they participate, they do the best they can, and they accept the results.

4: Seize the opportunity to grow.

When the open is over every athlete should know something about themselves that they didn’t know prior to the open. First, they are awesome! The person that ends up dead last on this massive leaderboard still beat every person that didn’t do anything! That’s a fact! They did it. They tried. They moved. They got better than the day before. You win! This should be a mental and emotional victory for all of you.

Athletes should also learn what holes they have in their game. Maybe you need to get stronger. Maybe you need to work on your HSPU. Perhaps your cardio is your weakest area. Learn. Work on weaknesses. Improve. That’s what it’s all about.

Celebrate! I keep hearing about people getting their first muscle up or hitting weightlifting PRs etc. That is so awesome! No only did these people do this, they did it under time, fatigue, and pressure. That’s amazing! Celebrate the victories, both big and small.

I completely understand not really caring for the games. It’s a grueling time of year when skills are tested and recovery is taxed. It can be mentally and physically defeating if you didn’t perform the way you expected you would. It can be difficult watching the leaderboard and trying not to let it be a measure of success for you. Just try to keep it all in perspective. It should be fun and challenging. It is called a “Game” for a reason. Treat it as such.

Go forth and lift all the heavy things!

J.Kyle Hopkins

Brad Preslar