In my opinion, if you have never participated in the Open before, you should try it at least once
For those of you not familiar with the Open, here’s a description from a recent CNN article.
“On February 22, in an event known simply as “the Open,” an estimated 500,000 CrossFit athletes from all over the world will begin a five-week fitness competition, which will test strength, endurance, and aspects of gymnastics.
The Open works like this: every Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern, a set workout, kept secret ahead of time, is released live online. Everyone, then, has four days to complete it in front of a judge or on tape and to submit their scores. Simple.
After five weeks the top few hundred in the world advance to the next stage of competition, eventually working towards the CrossFit Games in August. The other 99.9% however, go back to the drawing board — or in CrossFit terms, the whiteboard.”
Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with the Open. I don’t necessarily enjoy the psychological/physical stress I put on myself during open season but I definitely have become a better person because of the experience.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Will Durant
My first Open was in 2012. Although I did not do as well as I would’ve liked in any of the workouts, I still look back at the overall experience with fond memories. My first Open gave me a sense of connectedness with the entire CrossFit community. Knowing that I was going to submit a score with hundreds of thousands of other people gave me a sense of community, purpose and it also triggered my fear of looking bad and gave me motivation to push outside my comfort zone.
There was a sense of camaraderie with the people I was working out with that developed the more Open workouts we did together. My commitment to logging a score in every week gave me fuel to push past many of my insecurities, and it forced me to confront and grow from my ego attachment where my score determined my self worth. Interestingly, the more I have been able to work hard and achieve the best score I can while simultaneously disassociating it from how I view myself, the more I have enjoyed CrossFit overall. Doing the workouts accomplishes this to a degree but logging my score publicly with everyone else increased the benefits exponentially.
Whether it is your relationship, a technical skill for work or physical fitness, improvement and growth comes from intentionally practicing and pushing outside of your comfort zone. You literally cannot grow if you do not encounter stress, and we are biologically wired to stay in our comfort zone as a mechanism for survival. (For an awesome book on the subject, I’d recommend “Mastery” by George Leonard).
In short, as humans we all have a desire to have a purpose and grow, but our natural tendency is to sabotage that for the illusion of safety.
If you are interested in enjoying CrossFit even more, building deeper relationships with your community of workout partners and maximize your physical and mental growth, then I’d highly recommend signing up for the Open at least once to experience it for yourself.