crossfit, Everything, The Blog

Confirmed: The Open Really IS For Everyone. And so is Crossfit.

Ultimately, the Open broadened my community so much, and literally opened (pun intended) my eyes to what is possible and what I might be able to do, with enough effort and work. It is May now, and I am still learning, still working slowly up in weight…but things are coming. The Open lit a fire under me.

With the 2017 Crossfit Open well in our rearview, and Regionals just days away, I have(embarrassing typo haha)! been feeling an itch to write about my first Open experience — which I did about as fresh to Crossfit as a girl can be.

First though, I’m going to skip right to the punchline: The Crossfit Open really IS for everyone. Everyone and anyone.

Now that that is out of the way, let me share a bit about my experience–with the Open and with just getting started with Crossfit. And, hopefully, I will also convince you of my point here!

Starting Crossfit…

I walked into my first crossfit box over the Christmas holidays (December 2016) when I was home visiting family for a couple of weeks. It was a free introductory, drop-in session where we got the “low-down” on what Crossfit was, practiced deadlifting a PVC pipe, received some rowing tips and hammered out some box  jumps. Not the insane, knock-you-off-your-feet, make-you-think-you’re-about-to-die first taste of Crossfit that so many people rave about and what really hooks in these tough-as-nails athletes. It didn’t really matter though — crossfit had been on my radar for awhile (shout-out to my two badass, strong step-sisters right now) and after becoming obsessed with the Girls Gone WOD Podcast last fall, I was pretty damn committed to trying out the sport…And I couldn’t wait another day. (Which I suppose is why I did that drop-in intro. class in my hometown instead of waiting until I was back here on the beautiful coast)!

Fast-forward a couple of weeks to early January 2016. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (per se) I showed up at Crossfit Zone, the nearest affiliate to where I live for my first 1-on-1 session with my soon-to-be coach, Garrett. The Zone is pretty damn awesome in how they structure their on-ramp program — 12 individual sessions with a coach that becomes your coach for the remainder of your crossfit career (at least at that box). The sessions can be tweaked and tailored based on the athlete’s needs and “starting place,” and more sessions added as needed. As a stereotypically poor graduate student the cost of these sessions was a bit daunting, but Garrett managed to cram all that training into fewer sessions for me — although I had never laid a finger on a barbell before and kept forgetting what a snatch vs. a thruster vs. a clean vs. a power clean (lol) was, I had pretty decent mobility from my last year of practicing yoga, could do a pistol and a strict pull-up, and, if I say myself, had a pretty good starting level of fitness overall. (Okay mini self-plug: I had been training my pull-ups all fall and I actually got my first one (2! linked)! in that first session with Garrett. It’s pretty darn cool what a coach’s encouragement can do)!

And so, after completing my “Fight Gone Bad” (scaled) initiation workout, I entered “real classes” at the start of February (February 6th —  my birthday, as a matter of fact)! All I remember about that first workout was that it had a ton of thrusters…which, as my weights have increased, I have recently developed a keen dislike for (we all have that one thing)!

Crossfit was 983924839883838x better than I ever imagined. Better than even Joy and Claire of the aforesaid podcast made it out to be (and they love it so much they’ve recorded over 200 weeks of episodes on the topic)! …How can I describe it?

How about…a mix of team sports (I played rep volleyball all through my teens) and elementary (maaaybe high) school gym class? Hm, that doesn’t quite right. But picture: FUN. So much damn fun. Crossfit is social (at least at the Zone). Everyone shows up for the class and chats and joke around while we warm up. Each class is a mixture of mobility, skill-work, strength-work and a conditioning “WOD” (Workout of the Day)…and everyone supports everyone else. We cheer each other other on. That tantalizing phrase circulating the internet — “Crossfit community” — that’s a real thing, guys. Now, doesn’t that sound better than an hour sweating it out alone on a treadmill watching a poker tournament on a mini television? Way better than doing the abductor machine in a dark corner of a Globo gym? It’s friendly, it’s competitive, everyone is doing the same work, you incorporate fun new skills and gymnastics, you bond over the same brutal WOD…

Anyway – wasn’t I supposed to be talking about the Open or something?

The Crossfit Open 2017…

(Photo by Nella Maura of @thiscoastphotography)

As a keen observer may have noticed, I started joining in on “regular” crossfit classes (vs. my 1-on-1 teaching sessions) and doing actual WODs (albeit, quite modified) February 6th…and the first Open workout, 17.1, went live February 23rd… So I was pretty damn spankin’ new. I hadn’t been taught how to kip, along with a slew of other movements, and half my lifts I’d only performed once, with an empty bar, the day I learned them. I had no 1 rep maxes. I was in no way, shape or form prepared or “qualified” to compete in the Open.

Except I was.

Having heard so much about the Open, I was keen to try out the workouts if our gym was  programming them into our regular Friday classes — but I had no intentions to sign up to join in on our gym’s “Friday Night Lights” Friday night Open workout jams. Definitely, no desire to be placed on an intramural team within our gym and have my poor team members weighed down by my total lack of skill!

Yet somehow that is exactly what happened. (Except the weighing down part — no one gives a hoot about that sort of garbage)! Simply, someone asked me if I was signing up (“Me?!” I asked in disbelief. “I’m so new!”)…and then over the next few classes they persisted in encouraging me to do it. Others joined in. I appealed to our coaches, presuming they would tell me to stay far away, and “how about next year, Grasshopper.” They didn’t. The seed was planted…and I realized that I wanted to do it. All that held me back was the worry that I’d look like a total idiot — something that has often held me back. But not this time. Crossfit is one area of my life that I give myself zero leeway for not giving it my 150%, regardless of “what others might think.”

Enter 17.1.

It’s Friday night. I show up, rather nervous to the gym. No one from my 9:30 AM WODs is doing the Open and I know no one. The workout is: dumbbell snatches and burpee-box-jump-overs. A whole spankin’ lot of them, to be scientific (can you tell I’m avoiding expletives)? I am picturing doing a burpee and then having to jump all the way over a box and land on the other side. I am picturing myself standing there, clearly unable to perform a single rep.

Well, the short story is, I had a blast. I am a self-proclaimed Burpee Queen (I could do those bad boys all day), and I only had to jump ONTO the box, and then step off the other side. No problem. The scaled dumbbell weights were also appropriate for me–perfect. I finished well within time and felt…pretty good. Almost…cocky. Oh, Haven. So naive. Also, equally if not more importantly — everyone was so damn nice and friendly. Score.

And so the next 4 weeks passed quickly, and after that first day, I began to look forward to my Friday nights. It wasn’t always pretty. For 17.2 I ground out all strict pull-ups having no real concept of what a kip was. Slowly. 1 at a time. I think I only got to 14 and didn’t finish a round. I’m sure I submitted the worst score for my gym on that workout. ..Minutes before 17.3 I had to be shown how to snatch–and then surprised myself by getting the 55# overhead, and even making it to the 65# round (where I did not get the bar overhead and had to concede). 17.4 was 16.4 and didn’t involve any tricky olympic lifts or pull-ups and I felt in my element again, as with 17.5. 17.5 was single skips for scaled (NOTE THAT I DID EVERY WORKOUT SCALED. I’m not some mythical superhero destined from birth to go to the games. Scaled, scaled and more scaled)! instead of double-unders and I had a blast with those as well. Really though, above all, it was an opportunity to delve more into “Crossfitland,” see a different side of the sport and to meet a ton of damn cool people. For me, I had no expectation to score high — but I learned a ton, did things I might otherwise not have tried for another 1, 2, 5 months, challenged myself and made a bunch of friends. The community in a crossfit gym can be pretty damn awesome, but if we all tend to go to the same classes each week, we might only get to know a small handful of people.

Ultimately, the Open broadened my community so much, and literally opened (pun intended) my eyes to what is possible and what I might be able to do, with enough effort and work. It is May now, and I am still learning, still working slowly up in weight…but things are coming. The Open lit a fire under me. 

I don’t think my experience with the Open is unique. The scaled options for each workout are extremely approachable to anyone and even if you do find a movement out of reach — do the workout, and make it your own! Modify. Approach the Open as a fun experience. An opportunity to have a blast and to challenge yourself. Forget the leaderboards if that isn’t your thing, and just enjoy being a part of this broader, global tribe.

Maybe that is part of why I love Crossfit — I feel connected to this bad-ass, infinite tribe of humans.

Photo by Nella Mauro of @thiscoastphotography



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