“How the CrossFit Open Affected Me”, An Opinion Piece by Our Members

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Happy April everyone! With the end of March, the CrossFit Open (the largest fitness competition on the planet) has drawn to a close. For five weeks, over 200,000 members of our community gave their all – shedding sweat, tears, and sometimes even blood – to push their limits and find out just how fit they really are. Some weekends were disappointing with low scores or long times, while some made us feel that, for just that one day, we were Gods or Goddesses of the barbell.

Today, I want to share the stories of our members who were amongst the 200k participants of this monumental event. Will this be groundbreaking? Maybe not. What it be is a glimpse into how taking part in such a huge, scary, and sometimes downright painful experience has affected the people you workout with day in and day out.

And maybe, just maybe, their stories will inspire you to try it with us when we all step back up to bat next year.

Bronwyn

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After having only done CrossFit twice a week for two months somehow I found myself talked into signing up for the Open, which I had never heard of before. I signed up and figured worse case scenario I’m out twenty bucks if I can’t manage to get through the work outs. As I walked in to attempt to complete 15.1 I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up, pass out, or just run away, my nerves had gotten the best of me. Although there were many hours spent worrying and doubting that I had what it takes to perform the workouts, I am happy to report I completed each of the Open workouts in the scaled division. I couldn’t have done it without being surrounded by the awesome, encouraging athletes of CrossFit Catonsville, pushing me and cheering me on. I challenged myself and accomplished more than I ever imagined I could be capable of. While I am happy that the Open is over, 15.5 was almost the death of me, I am eagerly awaiting next year to see how much stronger I have become. I am so grateful that I was made to believe in myself and take the risk of signing up for the Open

Michael

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I joined CrossFit at the end of summer last year searching for an exercise routine that would be fun and could bring out my competitiveness. I think that the spirit of competition can bring out the best in everyone, myself included. You work your tail off to reach a certain level or you’re constantly trying to beat your prior numbers, all that matters is that we strive to be better.My experience with The CrossFit Open this year was great, even though I knew I was not going to be one of the best athletes out there. I looked for goals to reach in each WOD that were at the edge of what I thought was attainable for myself. One of the best parts of this year was the addition of the scaled division, which allowed me to submit a score for 15.3, as opposed to a zero. Overall there wasn’t much I disliked about the Open this year, at least not enough to complain about too loudly.For those of you who didn’t do it, thought about doing it, and/or didn’t think you could manage the WODs, I say you should do it next year. The worst thing that can happen is a low score or a high time, but that can give you motivation to improve

Donna

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The 2015 CrossFit open has allowed for me to establish a personal baseline of my abilities and level of fitness relative to my initial performance prior to CrossFit, as well as relative to the other 250,000+ CrossFitters worldwide. It has opened my eyes to areas of personal strengths, as well as areas that are in need of improvement, in order that I can achieve a better overall level of fitness. This competition has also given members of our CrossFit Catonsville family, the opportunity to show support for one another. Regardless of the duration of someone’s participation within the CrossFit community, I recommend highly that everyone participates in the CrossFit Open every year.

Eric

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You and I and probably 99% (I haven’t done the math) of the people participating in the CrossFit Games Open are not going to the Regional qualifiers, much less the Games themselves. We participate so that we can test ourselves against…ourselves (and perhaps our friends/family/box-mates). To see how fit we are compared to how fit we were. To see how bada$$ we can be. To push ourselves. To be better, stronger, fitter than yesterday. And to know what our weaknesses are, and perhaps work to better those weaknesses in the future.I had a ton of fun doing the Open WODs this year. I did last year as well but it was better this year because several of my CrossFit Catonsville box-mates did it with me. We pushed and cheered each other on. I only got that in limited amounts last year when I did the Open because I had to do them in other boxes surrounded by other CrossFitters I hardly knew. It’s better with friends!As a “coach” and judge, I really appreciated the feedback I received from a few of my fellow athletes complimenting me on how well my cues and encouragement helped them move more efficiently, perform better, and push harder. Hearing such things makes my heart swell with pride. I’m so glad I could be a help to you all.My lessons learned from the Open this year. Three specific things I want to work on; 1) wall balls and thrusters. Two very similar exercises that kick my butt! I want to become more efficient in stringing more of them together; 2) Power and squat cleans. I need to take some steps back, strip down the weight, and re-learn this movement. I’ve gotten stagnant and I feel like I should be cleaning more weight. My score and placement in 15.1a made this clearer than ever; and 3) “going there.”As hard as these Open WODs always are, and, in general, all WODs should be, in order to get the maximum benefit, we, as CrossFitters, need to “go there.” We need to go into our individual “pain caves” and make these as intense (while maintaining safety) as possible. For me, as much as these WODs hurt this year (15.5 anyone?), I admit, I probably could have red-lined a little longer, pushed a little harder, given a little more than 110%. I always struggle with my mental game. My brain is very convincing. I need to learn to shut it up and push through the pain, embrace the suck, and finish quicker.

Anna

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I had been doing crossfit for about 9 months before the Open. With the scaled division this year, it made me feel that the WODs would be within my abilities.
After 15.1, I was surprised to be able to get to an 85lb clean and jerk and felt that if ihad more time, I probably could have done more.I really liked 15.4. It almost seemed easy after I was done.My least favorites was 15.5 and 15.3. I’m not sure if it was the workouts themselves, or the amount of stress/ sleep deprivation I was under for both of these.It was great to be in the gym during the classes and having everyone else cheer you on. Sometimes it was enough to help get out a few more reps. I was also surprised that for a few, I was able to RX.All in all, I was glad to have been a part of it. It helped push me to keep going even when I felt like I was going to throw up (15.5). It helped me to see I’m not as weak as I think.

Nick

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I enjoyed having the opportunity to work towards something in community with others.  Although it was an individual competition, I felt as though I was in it together with friends who strategized, encouraged, and cheered on each other when the going got tough.  It says something important that we can push through our own personal barriers if we fight together.

Mary Kate

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The crossfit open was fun and challenging! Each week you had the excitement of the wod announcement plus you got to watch top athletes complete the wod. I wasn’t really sure what to expect in week 1. I didn’t expect I would hit a PR in week 1 that’s for sure. In 15.1a, each time I lifted that bar above my head on the clean and jerk I felt so proud of myself. But the open wasn’t all PRs and easy wods. It was hard. Personally, it was all a mind game of pushing myself to not give up and that I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. All in all, I would definitely do the open again. It exposed to me that, hey, I have some things I really need to work on…cough cough…wall balls… It also showed that I actually do have some strengths! Yay for cleans!

Sri

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The Crossfit Open was a challenge. It took true physical and mental strength. I never thought I’d be able to do something so physically challenging and yet here I am, 5 weeks later: sore, exhausted, and proud. Here’s to overcoming mental hurdles, accepting new challenges and proving that hardwork and burpees pay off!

Kariann

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I liked the Open. I liked the nervous, shaking, sweaty hands feeling I got after 8pm on Thursday nights. Even though I was a basket of nerves before each one, I did it and I didn’t die. Even if I wanted to after 15.5. It helped me learn my strengths which is hard for me to recognize. I realized my weaknesses too but those are always easy for me to point out. It helped me believe I could do it and when 15.5 came around, I knew I could Rx…it would hurt but I could do it. I think the Open is a good thing to participate in because it’s in the safety of your own box. You have your friends cheering you on which pumps you up that much more. I didn’t like that I can’t do muscle ups or handstand push ups but I am certainly closer than I was a year ago. Who knows what next year will bring?

Lisa

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I was very happy I have the support of my husband with me.  Dorjee was very supportive of my efforts and tells me how proud of me he is every day.The coach/ judges were very good to work with.  I felt like I needed some extra umph at some points during the work outs  especially when I busted my lip and wanted to just quit.  Chris,  you told me to keep going and I really just didn’t want to go on.  I just wanted to give up get some ice and call it a day.  But I completed it with your encouragement.  The last work out 15.5 was just awful but Eric really coached me through it gave me the verbal cues I needed to lift the bar.  I could hear you in the back ground to encouraging me and that was truly helpful.  Also just thinking back through the experience, even though Nick hadn’t judged any of my WODs,  he seems to be always there encouraging /coaching / rooting for whomever is doing the workout which is really supportive.  He always finds something positive to say about each person.  Kudos to you fellas for being awesome!So in conclusion, I put myself out there to do the open, when I really wouldn’t have otherwise because I’m comfortable just hanging back and doing my own thing.  It was fun to see the workouts weekly,  to see my scores comparatively to how others are doing locally in CFC,  and to have a little competition in my head.   Finally, I think I made great strides in overcoming the biggest obstacle which is my brain giving me self doubt  and anxiety about the WODs.  If I can complete 15.5 I can do anything! (maybe) <- shut up brain!! –lol

Chris

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In 2014, I’m not afraid to admit that I was scared to sign up for the Open. I didn’t think I could perform to the extent necessary to make a good showing, not just for the other members of our gym, but also for myself. I let my mental game lapse, and I quit before I started. In 2015, I decided that the excuses from 2014 weren’t just B.S., they were harmful to me as a person, as an athlete, and as a coach. How could I tell anyone not to let their own mind defeat them if I did it myself? So I changed it.I don’t think I’ve ever undertaken something as challenging and rewarding as competing in the 2015 Open. For 5 weeks, along with a group of people who range from totally new to accomplished athletes in their own right, I spent hours talking, predicting, strategizing, coaching, judging, fretting, and, finally, pushing myself the hardest I have ever pushed myself in my life. Not only did the Open show me exactly where my red line is physically, it also introduced me to the place my mind needs to go to perform at the absolute top of my game. There was no holding back; there was no quitting. I would be done when I was done, or when I was dead.At the end of the day, I’m proud of how well I did in spite of my misgivings from the year before. Though I feel I can be stronger, faster, and just better in general, the Open showed me who I am.And I could not be prouder of every single person who came and suffered with me throughout this experience. To everyone who competed, regardless of your performance, regardless of Rx or Scaled, regardless of whether or not you completed every WOD: YOU ARE FREAKIN’ AWESOME.Same time next year?