The Best, Worst 5 Weeks of the Year
Written by: Coach Phil
Ah, the Open. Every year when the snows of winter melt, a glorious time in the CrossFit calendar comes. If you’ve been in the community a while, the Open needs no introduction to you. You are familiar with its joys, triumphs, failures, and revelations. You know all too well the anxious anticipation of waiting for Dave Castro’s slooooooooooooow crawling announcements of the workouts to build suspense before we learn what fresh hell awaits. And you know that sickly sweet burn on your lungs as you’re gasping for air after what you will swear for weeks was the hardest workout you’ve ever done. And you’ll bargain with yourself that you’ll never do it again. (Spoiler; you almost always will do it again.)
For those new faces in the world of CrossFit, I bid you welcome! Welcome to the circus that is the Open. The 5 weeks of the year where every man, woman, and child who has the desire can stand among their peers and be measured by their effort.
Each Thursday night a new workout will be announced to be completed by Monday afternoon the following week. By performing these 5 workouts, you’re testing your fitness against everyone. Games champions, your classmates, soccer moms, hockey dads, coaches, businessmen, and any and all in between. In the Open you see where you are. Where you’ve been. And where you’d like to go.
There are a few key things to know about the Open. If you’re fresh out of Elements or a grizzled veteran of 10+ seasons, I hope that this information proves useful in the weeks ahead.
1. Dave Castro Is a Prick
Dave Castro is the Director of the CrossFit Games. In that capacity he’s responsible for all the programming of the workouts for the Games Season. He loves heaping suffering upon the CrossFit population almost as much as he loves himself, which is A LOT. The workouts are usually difficult and intentionally so. The Open is the first step on the road to competing at the CrossFit games, so to glean the best of the best from the world-wide population the tests must be varied, measurable, and provide a way for folks to demonstrate if they have the grit, skills, and determination to make it to Regionals.
2. It Is Just CrossFit
There’s no tricks or fakery in the Open. Although Dave loves to throw curveballs; at the end of the day it’s all the same things that you do day in, day out. Pick up object, Move object, put down object. That’s pretty much the sum of all CrossFit workouts. How it must be moved, what it is, how many different things, and how many times is where Castro gets to have his fun. BUT YOU ARE CAPABLE.
3. The Divisions
In the Open, you have the ability to see where you rank amongst your peers, from right here inside Derby City, to within the City of Louisville, State of Kentucky, Central East Regional, United States, THE WORLD. You also have the ability to see how you stack up based on your age group, they have divisions for teens, the 18-34 group, and then masters divisions for every 5 year bracket thereafter up to 60+. LEO, Military, Firefighters, and EMTs also have a way to compare their scores against each other. So as fine and refined as you like, or as broad as you’d like it to be, the Open can tell you how your fitness stacks up.
4. Friday Night Lights
This is by far my favorite part of the Open. Every Friday we’ll have heats and judges available so you can compete against your classmates, and share in the vibe of the evening. There’s so many folks cheering and celebrating, it’s really an experience. When you see someone hit that new PR in the workout, or get that first muscle up, it’s electric. It’s all the hype and excitement of a competition, with none of the pressure. We are all just friends pushing each other to be our fittest selves. So just another normal day in the gym, except if we’re lucky, Shark will be grilling out all night.
5. You Can Scale
If you’re saying to yourself that there’s no reason to do the Open because you can’t do XYZ movement, well I’m here to squash that horsepucky. If you are breathing, you can perform the workouts. There are two versions of the workout, RX and scaled, and you are not beholden to one of the other for all five weeks. If there’s a movement that you just can’t do, and you have no desire to try, that’s OK! Do the scaled workout that week, and you can do RX next week!
I encourage everyone to try to step outside their comfort zone during the Open though. Go for that first pull-up! Attempt that new PR snatch! If you never try, you’ll never do. And what better time to try than surrounded by your friends and family, cheering and offering words of support and encouragement. Ride that wave into new heights!
There is one constant in every year during the Open, there will be a moment of self-discovery. Whether it’s found on the top of the rings, face down on the floor after a 12 minute AMRAP breathing hard and drenched in sweat, Or so deep in the dark recesses of the pain cave on round 8 of 20 that the world has faded away to grey around you. Inside your head at some point during the Open you’ll have a moment. Where you do something you never thought possible, pushed through some task that seemed insurmountable, A voice inside told you to quit, and through sheer determination you told that voice to kick rocks. You weren’t going to be defeated.
Or maybe you expose a weakness. Perhaps your double unders aren’t as good as you thought. Maybe all the times your coach told you not to yank the dumbbell off the floor because it would blow up your lower back creeps into your mind as you foam roll after finishing a workout with 100 dumbbell snatches.
In any event, you learn something about yourself. How do you handle the unknown? Can you push through when you want to quit? Were you stopped by fear or did you rise to the challenge and attempt something new?
The one lesson I guarantee you’ll learn from participating in the Open at Derby City, you’ll have a family screaming so loud for you to succeed your ears will ring. Even if they can barely breathe from the workout in the previous heat, they will raise their voices to let you know you can achieve anything. But don’t take my word for it, get signed up and meet me in the gym for Friday Night Lights.