There is nothing easy about doing the CrossFit Open, but that’s not why people sign up for it. It’s more than that. In its infancy in 2011, the Open was truly a chance for any athlete who trained several days a week in his or her garage to compete and advance to Regionals and, potentially, the CrossFit Games.
But that’s not what the Open is anymore.
Gone are the days of following CrossFit.com and doing one WOD a day and having a chance to become a Regional athlete. Gone are the days of the local CrossFit affiliate coach who is more athletic and stronger than most of his or her clients and can do the daily WOD, a little gymnastics and strength work and scrap their way to the Games.
In the 2016 version, becoming an elite athlete requires full-time training and coaches for running, strength, nutrition, recovery and overall programming. Instead of multiple training sessions a week, top athletes are doing multiple training sessions a day.
But here’s the thing: Despite all that, the Open is even more popular than ever. CrossFit has found a way to make it more accessible to more people. According to the CrossFit Games site, “No test, regardless of its lofty claims, can grant legitimate title to the best without first providing access to all.” CrossFit has added age groups, fittest by state and teams, and now they have categories for military, law enforcement and firefighting.
The ultimate goal is to eventually find “The Fittest on Earth” and that, in my opinion, is achieved in Carson, California, each July. For the rest of us, there’s something cool and inspiring about the fact that even though Ben Smith and Katrin Davidsdottir are the two people standing on top of the podium being handed oversize checks, they started, on day one of week one with Open Workout 16.1 just like me, just like the teens, just like the veterans and Regional hopefuls and every other person. It’s inspiring to know that at the beginning of the Open, every one of us started with the same weights and the same reps and the same movement standards at the call of “3, 2, 1 … Go!”
No other sport offers that to its fans. For me, being able to be an active part of the Open each year is about testing my fitness in 2015 against my fitness in 2016. Even at the most elite level, it will continue to be about that.
So spend your time in January and February tuning up your diet and getting your training sessions in. The Open is coming, and it will be here soon.
What do you love about the Open? What are you looking forward to in the 2016 version?
Stay on the grind.