The CrossFit Open

a reflection by Andrew T. Arra with contributions from Omar El Zoghby

Here we are – a fresh new year is upon us! We all have a renewed energy and sense of hope for what 2018 will bring. For most, New Year’s resolutions have already become an afterthought. For the CrossFit community, a palpable energy of a looming presence is on the horizon. That’s right ladies and gentlemen — The CrossFit Games season is here and the CrossFit Open begins in just 10 days!

Veterans in the community know it well, including the physical and emotional roller coaster ride it can provide year after year. However, for those of us who are newer to the sport, the buzz and whispers around gyms this time of year can leave people simply feeling confused and nervous (more on this word later) about what is right around the corner and what their role in it all should be. You may find yourself asking “16.3?”, “Wait, the workout is 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 of thrusters and bar facing burpees?!”, “Castro is a prick?” — what does this all mean?! Well, y’all ’bout to learn today!

CrossFit HQ coins The Open as the place “where grassroots meets greatness”. Beginning back in 2011 and performed over the course of 5 weeks, athletes (you!) from all different affiliates (like Friendship) around the world will compete in the same workout to test their fitness and achievements over the last year of training to see how they measure up against their peers.

Each workout is titled after the year performed (2017 = 17, 2018 = 18 …you get the picture) with a decimal point following signifying the week of competition. Thus, the workout eagerly anticipated by the entire community announced on the 22nd will be titled “18.1”. Pretty simple, right? Workouts are kept completely secret until they are released Thursday evenings (8pm EST) by Dave Castro, co-director of training and the Games director for CrossFit HQ. Last year he attempted to provide cryptic clues on his Instagram page leading up to the announcement, but it kind of felt like that feeling when you stare at high level art and don’t really grasp what’s happening.

Athletes will have until the following Monday evening (8pm EST) to perform the workout and submit their scores. These workouts can be done at our affiliate — where we plan on having Saturday morning heats set up during at 10:00am  or anywhere around the world with a video submission. Just like in true CrossFit fashion — there will be scaled and Rx options for all to perform, along with teenage and master athletes having their own categories!

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So, where do you fit in? From February 22nd to March 26th, hundreds of thousands of athletes, new and experienced, will sign-up for various reasons. Some are looking to see how their clean eating and regimented training has helped them over the past year (guilty, right here!). Some are looking to bond with family, friends or the community they’ve surrounded themselves with for hours upon hours over the last 365 days. Others are throwing down to have a chance at competing at that next level — CrossFit Regionals (May 18th through June 3rd, our Regional is held in Nashville, TN), with the elite few moving on to the CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin during the first week in August. Regardless of what your motive is — as an athlete, coach and hopeless romantic for what the CrossFit community has represented over the years, I believe it is an amazing experience to continue to look forward to year after year and immerse yourself in no matter where you fall on this spectrum.

I will say that this whole idea of formally competing can be a little intimidating to those both green and seasoned. Every year we get a variety of responses and reactions towards The Open, such as: “I’m not in good enough shape”, “It’s dumb – why would I pay to be a part of that?” and the ever popular “I need to do each workout multiple times in hopes to get the best possible score”. In response to these thoughts and feelings, our very own coach, Omar El Zoghby aka “O” aka “Oz” aka “The Pharaoh” has put his own thoughts and feelings to paper on this matter:

“I joined Friendship CrossFit in August 2015 with very minimal CrossFit experience. I started doing classes and needed to modify a ton of movements — this was the name of my game. I couldn’t do a lot of the movements and I still remember to this day that I couldn’t even squat below parallel. Day in and day out, I offered 100% effort to myself and believed that I can only get better from here. 6 months later, I signed up for my first ever CrossFit Open.

I had no clue what to expect. I worked hard for 6 months and I had the mentality of going into The Open with zero expectations and the goal of  having 100% fun. I’ll never forget 16.2; toes-to-bar, double unders and increasing squat clean weights for each round completed. When I watched the LIVE announcement and saw the double unders, I started worrying right away. I knew I could clean some of the weights but the double unders would stop me from getting far in that workout. I slept on it and showed up to the gym the next morning with the ZERO expectation mentality I promised myself when I signed up. All I wanted was to give it a shot and most importantly HAVE ALL THE FUN. 3.2.1….GOOOO!

I ended up surprising myself and completing the double under portion of the workout. Now, I don’t remember how many double unders I got that day but all I remember was that it was the most DUs I’ve ever had in one day. This was was my biggest takeaway from my first ever CrossFit Open.

It has ever since helped motivate me to keep working hard and to only look back to see how far I’ve come. We sometimes in life get greedy with progress that we move too fast and don’t stop and realize how far we’ve come to appreciate that achievement within itself. I was able to do something that day that I’ve never been able to before. I overcame the fear of “never getting better” at something. I believe The Open is an opportunity you earn to celebrate all the hard work you put in over the year. I’ve seen a ton of PRs during The Open with people doing things they never thought they could ever do and being part of that is simply AMAZING!”

Whatever your feelings are in response to this upcoming event, know this — we as a staff and community will support you and celebrate with you in whatever your approach and goals set for Open season will be. You are fit enough! This is our community event. The days of stressing and repeating workouts are long gone. This exact event is put in place to allow us to put all of our hard work to the test and embrace the pain with those around us who mean the most. Just like we do day-after-day within this facility — we will guide you and coach you through the whole process. Sure we may give you some healthy skepticism towards whatever stance you choose — but know that even the thought of failure or inability to do something should never deter you from stepping out of your comfort zone.

My stance is, this is how we learn, grow and become better people and ultimately CrossFit athletes. There was a time in the beginning of my own career where I would avoid situations where there was even an inkling of failure. That very same workout Omar spoke to above scared the crap out of me. One of the coaches I was with that day said to me, “if it doesn’t scare you then your goals aren’t big enough. Those are the exact moments and opportunities you should expose yourself to day-after-day”.

When new friends walk through our doors and begin their health & wellness journey with a tribe coach – we always share with them the most exceptional part of being here at Friendship…ALL OF YOU! Having been in the sport for the better half of a decade and bouncing around to different gyms every few years (until settling on my forever home here at Friendship), I’ve seen a lot of places do it wrong and very few do it right.

We’ve had people who have moved on for various reasons — jobs, family, you name it; but we always hear back from them that there simply is no place like Friendship. You can expect on any given day here within our walls to see veterans working with newcomers, ages ranging from 6 to 67, but most importantly a dynamic culture consisting of time tested and life proven friends.

During The Open – we see relationships heighten, bonds strengthen and achievements made that bring some to tears. For some, it’s working to their total breaking point and for others – simply getting their first prescribed pull-up or performing a workout at Rx. The Open has this ability to bring a tight-knit community even closer — and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.

Here is some footage of previous year’s Open workouts if you need any more of an excuse to come out and be a part of the community during this time of year _____. And, if you are interested in registering and performing the workouts, visit games.crossfit.com to sign up under affiliate Friendship CrossFit. “I’ll see you on the leaderboard”!

If you’re interested in seeing the latest videos for Friendship make sure you subscribe to our YouTube Channel!

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