The CrossFit Open

Well done! It’s the end of the Open!

“How we do anything is how we do everything.”

That’s a motto that we firmly believe and live everyday here at Activate. Ask any of our members, we care about how you move first before talking about loading or increasing complexity. There is always something to improve on and doing the basics well should be a mainstay and the solid foundation of any fitness program.

Over the past five weeks CrossFit gyms around the world are engaging in The CrossFit Open, a worldwide event (I wouldn’t even use the word competition unless you harbour ambitions to compete professionally (go to regionals etc) in a fast growing sport).

There are two ways to look at “the Open” from a gym’s point of view and a participant.

This will also give you a keen insight into what a gym is about or stands for.

I couldn’t help but baulk at some of the things I’ve seen over the past few weeks online and in forums. It’s only when you actually own an affiliate yourself that you really start to pay attention to this stuff.

I saw plenty videos of  incomplete reps, unsafe reps and pictures of athlete’s lifting without clips on bars which is unsafe and shouldn’t count as a rep.

Do I care about positions on the leader board worldwide? Sure, some small part of all of us needs competition, some ego is a good thing, it would be foolish of me to suggest that competition is useless in CrossFit, it’s that daily battle with your peers and yourself that makes CrossFit such an effective fitness regime, however, when you have supposedly professional coaches allowing things like collars on bars slide, my mind wonders to what other corners are being cut.

Right now in Ireland you can expect to pay anywhere from €80 to €200 per month to be coached at a CrossFit facility. You’re not paying to just train there and hang out with your buddies. You should be paying to be COACHED. You should be paying to have the best coaching possible. You should be paying for a professional service. Your hard earned money should be invested in ensuring you are safe first and being looked after by someone who actually cares about your health first. Does your coach care about how you move, not just how often you move? Does your coach hold a relevant qualification? We’re not just talking about a CF1 and a PT cert gained over a few weeks? Are they experts in at least one of the following fields: biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, program design. And most of all do they understand that the whole: “Leave your ego at the door” applies to them also.

In twenty years time you won’t care whether you got to the second round of 18.3, you will care about getting up and down off a toilet unassisted and being healthy without back pain and injuries.

To understand this perspective, we must understand the two different ways of looking at CrossFit and the Open.

There is a HUGE difference between GPP and the sport of CrossFit.

GPP or General Physical Preparedness training should be a well thought out and broad program designed to get the general gym goer and athlete fitter, stronger, faster and moving better. It shouldn’t be a catch all attempt to make everyone better at the sport of CrossFit.

If your gym is attempting this, they are doing you a massive disservice if your goals are to get fitter and enjoy a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. Why does a 50 year old man need a sub 4 minute Diane time and a 140kg clean and jerk? They more than likely don’t. A 50 year old male, depending on training age and physical condition of course, most likely needs a routine appropriate to him and his goals. For 99.99% of the population, that’s: be healthier, fitter, look better naked and enjoy life more (those two things aren’t mutually exclusive!).

The other 0.01% of the population that have any real ambitions to go to the CrossFit regionals or games, those guys are training for the Sport of CrossFit. They most certainly are not heading into their local CrossFit and smashing out the WOD everyday. Their training is highly specialised and adapted to work on their strengths and weaknesses, it includes periodization models with peaks for competitions, hours of work daily on; stability, ROM, flexibility, strength, energy system development etc etc.

It’s like being in your local pub on Friday nights and shooting a few games of snooker with a friend and then harbouring ambitions to go to the World Snooker Championships next year!?

A professional snooker player will spend hours practicing cue position, various scenarios, difficult pots etc etc. They don’t just go and play lots of games of snooker.

The CrossFit competitor needs a 150kg+ Clean and Jerk because their sport demands it. Whilst the general gym goer probably doesn’t require this, more to the point, they might have a pre-existing condition or injury that means a 150kg C&J isn’t sensible or even possible. So why would I push the general gym goer to this standard if it’s not going to improve his/her quality of life?

Easy, the only coaches doing this are the ones who: don’t understand basic principles of strength and conditioning (training age, requirements, safety to name but a few), they also probably don’t genuinely care about their member’s health, and can’t see past their own ego to realise that they are probably doing more harm than good.

The one’s who do, realise that CrossFit is a fantastic vehicle for health and fitness for the general population and is a great way to introduce the general population to some training modalities that were once the preserve of professional sportspeople.

If the Open was all about places and competition for you and you are sitting a few thousand places away from a spot at regionals, then your coach has framed this all wrong for you. The Open is all about taking part, having fun, meeting people in the gym you mightn’t normally because they attend different class times, pushing your limits another little bit and seeing how far you’ve come in your fitness journey so far, and looking to see how much fitter you can get in a years time. Just you and you. No one else, you, your coach, your gym community and friends all pushing on to enjoy life more, be healthier and fitter lifestyle. Being fitter and healthier is so you can enjoy life more, it’s not so you can add more pressure on yourself to perform to some unrealistic standard and look a certain way.

So how does this tie back to how we do everything is how we do anything?

Well, if we just left standards slip, and if we just left lifting form go out the window because “it’s the Open”, then it would give a very clear indication that we don’t behave professionally and we don’t care about the details, we don’t put our member’s health and safety first and foremost. Many gyms won’t care, how they do anything is different all the time, and that approach leads to injury, leads to burnout and leave you in a worse off position, feeling unaccomplished, and worth less than you are.

But you are worth more, and your health and fitness is something you invest in and should pay you a healthy dividend year on year.

Start investing in a gym that sets you up for long term health and fitness, so that when you are in your 60’s and 70’s you are still moving well and enjoying life and that unachievable 150kg clean and jerk seems foolish and pointless.

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