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A Look Back at the 2016 Open

Our resident grinder learned some good lessons from an 8-year-old this Open

I don’t do the Open because I think that there is some possible way that I will make it to Regionals as an athlete. That has never been my goal, and I’m confident that there are countless others who feel the same way. So if so many of us aren’t shooting for Regionals or potentially the Games, what’s the point?

In a nutshell: to test our fitness and push ourselves to do new things.

Each year, throughout the five weeks, I have always been able to learn so much about what I am able to do as an athlete and as a person and I always get inspired along the way. Before the Open of 2016, I never really put much stock in the thought that doing any kind of muscle-up was going to happen for me at 41 years old. But because it was a movement in the Open, and I had been close so many times, I challenged myself, got better and did not only one but four bar muscle-ups. We saw overhead walking lunges for the first time, and I did 55 deadlifts at 225 pounds. (I can promise you, I’ve never done that before and probably won’t again if I don’t have to.)

I loved watching people at my affiliate challenging themselves and facing their fears, whether it was doing the dreaded 14.5 redo known as 16.5 for the first time or getting their first chest-to-bar pull-ups or toes-to-bars in a workout. The excitement for them and everyone watching is a thing that always makes the Open so magical.

This year at our affiliate, we had another inspirational athlete who pushed me and many of our other members with his work ethic and determination. Eight-year-old Emery Greene first started tagging on with his dad, doing some scaled workouts with him at the end of 2015. Once Emery got started, he was hooked.


“Every time I pick him up from school, the first thing he asks me is, ‘When are we going to the gym?” said Michael Greene, Emery’s father.

I noticed this kid doing some of the Saturday partner workouts with his dad from time to time, then I started to see him more and more regularly. Once the Open hit, Emery was allowed to be on one of our two teams that were competing in an in-house competition as long as our head coach, his dad and Emery all met to agree how they would scale the workouts to make them fair but safe.

And compete he did.

Every Thursday, along with the rest of the CrossFit world, Emery and his dad would watch the live announcement. He would immediately start to strategize about how he was going to be able to do the workout. Using mostly a 15-pound training bar, his own personal pull-up bar attachment and various modifications and scaling, Emery hammered through each of the weekly challenges posting his totals and times on our local leader board with everyone else.

It wasn’t only the fact that he did all the Open workouts, but he was setting the pace in a lot of them. I had the chance to do 16.5 with him and his dad, and he absolutely smashed both of us.

The kid has a drive and determination. He’s already got an eye on what the Teen division workouts are as he keeps an eye on 2022 (when he would turn 14). He’s also convinced his family to try to make it to watch one of the Regionals this year, and there is talk of going to the CrossFit Games this summer.

Emery is 8, he loves playing football, baseball and basketball, and he’s only been doing CrossFit scaled workouts since November, but he has a heart and work ethic as big as most of the adults I’ve seen. He has a list of CrossFit athletes he wants to meet, and among them is “Richard Froning” as he calls him. Recently, his dad brought him along and they made the journey to CrossFit Mayhem where he got to meet, get his picture with, and talk CrossFit and training with “Richard.”


When asked what he loved about CrossFit and the Open, Emery replied simply, “It was fun.”

Maybe the lesson there is that at any age, that’s exactly what it always should be.

The other day, because he did such a good job on the Open (his team won our in-house competition by the way), Michael bought Emery his own lightweight wall ball. As of this morning, he had already knocked out about 100 reps with that thing at home in their garage.

At 8, there is already a lot we can learn from this young man.

What is your story about the 2016 Open? Did you have any moments or people who inspired you in the process? Share your stories in the comments.

Stay on the grind.