Ask Erin: What’s the deal with the Open?

I’ve been receiving lots of questions from people about the CrossFit Open and I thought it might be easier to simply form a comprehensive answer to MANY of these so that we could all go into the season with our bearings. Here are some thoughts for those of you who have been asking:

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Pre-Open WOD jitters in action.

What is the Open?

Somebody has answered this question MUCH better than I could but the gist of this is that the Open is a 5-week international CrossFit competition intended to test your levels of fitness relative to the abilities to athletes across the world. The workouts are judged, always in AMRAP style, and often contain initial pieces which are accessible to all levels of CrossFit athletes; for example: in Workout 12.4 – you complete 150 Wallballs, 90 Double Unders, and 30 Muscle-ups for time – even if you’ve only JUST begun to use the rx’d load and height for wallballs, this is your chance to test out how many you can get through in 12 minutes!  You can go here to pay $20 to be able to enter your scores in officially and be part of the ranking of competing CF athletes for this year!

Can I do the Open?

The simple answer to this is: “YES”.  Regardless of what stage of the game of CrossFit you are in, I would say that the most important component to being capable of doing the Open is wanting to be a part of it!

Why would I give CrossFit HQ money to work out?

This is a show of CrossFit solidarity. We may not all be alike, but we can all relate to 7 minutes of Burpees, we can high-five someone in Korea over the serious grip-fatigue of “Fran”. Besides the fact that $20 will buy you an in to the official ability to measure your fitness compared to a friend, a relative, someone overseas, or even just YOURSELF from year to year, it’ll also buy you an invitation to the playing field – a place at the table, if you will. :) And even if, quite frankly, that’s something you’re not interested in measuring this year, we’ll be doing the WODs every Friday either way. No one is required to attend… but everyone who does is guaranteed something that’s just a little different.

What do I get out of this?

Well, I could go on and on, but: a little bit of anxiety, personal triumph, the opportunity to set a new personal record multiple times in a week, 5 weeks of a challenge instead of a few months of settling, FUN, judges to hold you to a standard, the incentive to live in a way that supports your training for 5 weeks, Facebook updates (eh? eh?), a chance to ride some collective waves of emotion (watching other people PR is an often charged experience too), practice for competitive CrossFit experiences you may have in the future, and plenty of good old fashioned inspiration. Oh yeah, and we’ll also be giving away prizes much like we did last year – except this time you’ll KNOW what you can be “playing” for.

What will the workouts be like?

A lot like what we’ve been doing, but just in case, you can also see the full list from the last few years of the Open here.  We are currently completing the Open WODs in classes every Friday and all of our other training has transitioned to supporting preparation for the Open as well.

When will the workouts be?

The workout for each week will be announced at 8pm every Thursday starting with Thursday, February 27th. We will completing the workouts in classes every Friday.  There will be opportunities to repeat the workouts on Saturday and Sunday and scores are due to be submitted BY YOU (if you have signed up officially) on Monday at 8pm – you are advised to enter your scores on ASAP though as any trouble with submission due to computer error will not be accepted as reason for late submission.

What happens if I can’t do all the WODs?

You have a few options. If you are unable to complete the WOD as rx’d (say it’s the example given above of wallballs, double unders, and muscle-ups), you can either a) get as far as you can (maybe you can do the wallballs but you can’t do DU so you just complete the wallballs and TRY the double unders?) OR you can b) try to get at least 1 rep (wallballs can be tough, but if you’ve never done one rx’d or if you’re feeling sick during the week and aren’t able to fully commit to a WOD this is a GREAT way to stay viable for the competition in the next few weeks), or c) you can complete 1-rep and then complete the workout scaled so that you are getting as close as possible to really completing it as rx’d. A and B will both count as score options on the Games site, but C will not. Therefore, if the workout is AMRAP 7 minutes: A Ladder of Clean and Jerks (135/95) and Toes to Bar and you get only one rep, that’s WORTH IT! It’ll put you MANY places over anyone who wasn’t able to score there!

What happens if I’m away for a WOD?

If you’d like to make your score viable you can film your effort (there are specific instructions on how to do this) or you may go to a sanctioned affiliate and complete the WOD there with a judge. Remember, you must submit your score by Monday at 8pm EST for it to count!

How do I sign up for the Open?

Go here. Follow the prompts and don’t forget to tag “CrossFit Center City” as your affiliate team!

How do I make my score count?

Basically, you need to complete the WOD with a judge at a sanctioned affiliate (HERE!). Your judges in many cases will be your fellow athletes and team members so I would plan NOW to develop a system of judging and competing with someone whose judging style works really well for you (more on this later). If you believe that you may have a score that contributes to the overall team score (basically the top 3 scores in the gym) you will need to be filmed AND you will need to be judged by a judge who has passed the Official Judges’ Course at the CrossFit Games Site (anybody can take this and we would encourage all of you to so that you can better understand the standards you are being called to).  Lastly, of course you will need to comply by the overall rulebook, guidelines of the individual workouts (which the Coaches will be explaining as always), and submit your score on time!

What if I don’t like being judged?

Well, whether or not you know it, you are always being judged by the Coaches in some way; we check your standards, occasionally call out times or count reps when needed, and compel you to stick to a standard. We do our best, but simply put, there is no substitute for having an objective source of rep-approval when you are looking to explore your work capacity. It can be humbling, but it can also be motivating. If you’re wondering what a judge will require of you OR if you’re wondering how YOU can be a better judge for your fellow teammates, check this video out!

Will you hold me when I get hurt?

I mean, I guess if you want. :) As far as I know, no Open WODs have ever been “AMRAP: be beaten with a baseball bat” (thankfully).  In many cases where people develop significant injuries during the Open I think there has been poor Coaching supervision (meaning… athletes go HAM and no one is there to say “maybe not so much”), poor programming leading up to the Open, poor attendance in the months prior to the Open, or even poor Nutrition before and during the Open.  Remember, the Open is not “training” – it is “testing”.  Therefore, if you are entering, you ought to enter with intention of coming out on the other side unscathed. We do everything in our power to help you to do this: by programming wisely, preparing you ahead of time, and being there as much as we can to help you scale appropriately, attempt maxes safely, and recovery properly throughout the week while still progressing in your training. If you are hurt, irregularly sore, or ever worried about your recovery at all, please do not hesitate to contact us!

What should I do in between Open WODs?

Follow the programming! Monday through Thursday will be specifically programmed to make Friday doable and possible to recover from.  Each week the training we do during the week will attempt to maintain your strength, conditioning, and tissue quality. We recommend drinking lots of water, getting LOTS of sleep, and trying to relax a little bit – training with this kind of intensity takes a LOT out of you!

What do I eat during the CrossFit Open?

Following along with the Recharge Program is a GREAT way to set yourself up for success in the Open. If you’re looking for some specific ideas about how to eat/drink/recover before and after your training I’d check out this post from Mike Kesthely of Dynamic Nutrition. All that said, the time to be trying out new strategies (and new jump ropes and shoes for that matter) is NOW, not DURING the Open. So, this means, if you typically train on an empty stomach in the AM and you feel ok doing that, please don’t start dousing yourself in NOExplode on Friday, February 28th. Likewise, if you typically train in the evenings after a sandwich at lunch time and a yogurt at 330pm, don’t start going gluten-free and vegan on Thursday, February 27th. Try out these new strategies and do your homework on which ones are wisest NOW.  Maybe start by signing up for the Balanced Bites workshop this Saturday if you missed the Recharge train?

And, just to drive a point home… your recovery is SO important and drinking enough water, sleeping enough, and addressing your mobility are a HUGE part of the daily routine of an athlete that allow you to keep being a good one – don’t neglect these habits during the Open!

What if I am not going to do the Open?

That’s completely fine!  And we have all sorts of exciting options for you coming up in the way of seminars and extracurricular activities that don’t actually have much to do with the Open. I would use this cycle as a time to work on those conditioning weaknesses that you often won’t be able to specifically address: double unders, wallball, rowing, etc. I’d also remember that we are still running our full schedule of specialized classes – plenty of olympic lifting, gymnastics, and strongman options are still available if you’re looking for a little break from the norm. Furthermore, on the days of the WODs scaled options will be posted along with alternative WODs for anyone who is looking for some time away from the intensity. Additionally, the entire PhillyFit program will still be running through less Open-intensive workouts if you need a break.

Who else is doing the Open? 

The Coaches! And many athletes at CFCC who are looking at this as an opportunity to both peak in their own training and represent YOU as a team. You may see these athletes completing extra specific conditioning work (this is the INTENSIFICATION class you’ve seen on Mindbody) on the side of some of the less-attended classes. You may see them early in the morning and then again late at night. You may see them dry-heaving in a corner. This is going to sound weird… but I hope you know that they are doing this for YOU. Please support them in their journeys to the highest test of their abilities at Regionals and beyond.  And if you would like to be a part of this crazy crowd – please don’t hesitate to contact us.

How else will CFCC be celebrating the Open?

We will be hosting a Pre-Open In-House Throwdown on Friday, February 7th. This will be a team competition that is based entirely on drafted teams.  Meaning, if you send your interest to – the Coaches will then throw you on a team that we think evenly matches your strengths and weaknesses. The teams will compete in a few selected team events from 6-9pm on Friday, February 7th at CFCC. Each team will be captained by a Coach and motivated throughout the week through email, team coordination of attendance to sessions, and help with strategies for the day of. This competition is entirely scalable and so all levels are encouraged to attend. We believe that this evening will be a great day of community, fun, and an excellent way to compel yourself to get your butt in gear prior to Thursday, February 27th – speaking of which… have YOU signed up for the Open yet?!

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Coach Perrin and Coach Record’s place cards from Regionals 2013.

 “You cannot move forward from some idealized point in the future that has not yet arrived. If you are to move forward, you must do it from where you are now. Though it may not be perfect, it is plenty to get you going. Wishing for more, or feeling resentment because you don’t have more, will only waste your precious time. Although there is no guarantee that your actions will be effective, one thing that is certain is that nothing will happen if you take no action at all” – James FitzGerald, aka OPT, the winner of the first CrossFit Games.

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