As the Open approaches each winter, there are no shortages of opportunities for CrossFitters of all skill levels and experience to participate in winter competitions around the world. Wodapalooza, The OC Throwdown, IceBreather Classic, Great Lakes Invitational . . . all of these offer competitors from different parts of the world a chance to meet and compete or watch some of their favorite Regional and Games athletes throw down in the “off-season” between the CrossFit Super Bowl known as The CrossFit Games.
Just like many people are apprehensive about walking into their first CrossFit box and trying it out, even experienced CrossFit athletes remain hesitant about trying this next step, which would be to use CrossFit to compete against others. When competing in the winter (especially where I live in the Midwest) the challenge arises for event organizers to battle snow and cold temps that often force most, if not all, of the movements and skills to be performed indoors. If your box is large enough to host a competition like this, parking can be an issue as well as space and equipment due to the increase in participants combined with the inability to move any of the event outdoors because of the elements. Rowing becomes a key component, but if you live in a mostly snowy winter environment like I do, you’ve probably spent a great deal of the winter plopped down on the rower anyway.
The winter competition exposes newcomers to what the competitive sport side of CrossFit looks like. It’s no surprise that gyms across the country saw a boost in memberships and attendance in January as countess people make the vow (albeit often a short one) to start the year anew by getting in shape. By having new members see what these local competitions are like, it takes away some of the fear and apprehension they might have about competing or taking on other new challenges such as registering for The Open.
For me, I like the winter-based competitions because they’re often team or partner based, and the local ones are broken in to groups of RX, Scaled and Masters. By being able to participate at a more manageable weight and rep set, my teammate and I can feel like we’re competing without feeling overwhelmed by high volume and weights that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to handle. Like a CrossFit class, the winter competition is for everyone regardless of skill, experience or age.
Safety and risk are a part of CrossFit as they are a part of everyday life. Athletes and event organizers know the risks going into these competitions. We were all reminded recently that sometimes lifting a high volume and heavy weight can be very dangerous. But through this event, the thing that has struck me the most was not the cautionary tale of the “dangers” of CrossFit that some critics would highlight, it’s the reaction of the community.
If you don’t know the story of what happened to Kevin Ogar from CrossFit Unbroken, you should look it up. This article is not about him or his accident. What I took away from what happened was the speed and genuine spirit with which our community responded to help someone that many of them didn’t know personally or had even met. Why? Because he is a CrossFit athlete and a member of the CrossFit community. For that reason, people jumped at the chance to help him out.
The level of worldwide compassion and understanding has been inspiring. Someone had said this event and the community’s response to it had “restored their faith in humanity.” While that’s a very encouraging statement, I think the heart of the sentiment would be that what happened to Ogar and the outpouring of aid and help that followed allowed us to see as humans, not just CrossFit members, there is still good in the world and good in people. Maybe we see some of Kevin Ogar in our own friends and members in our local boxes. Maybe we read stories and heard testimonies about his character and we see some of Kevin in ourselves as well. While I would not call him a grinder (based on his advanced skill level and strength), I’m sure he would be OK to be known as an honorary grinder. He definitely knows he’s a big part of the heart of the community of CrossFit.
If you’d like to help Kevin Ogar with his efforts to battle back from this accident you can go to his site and find out more about donating.
Stay on the grind Kevin. We’re all pulling for ya.
Jamie Toland (JTol)