"For us, the Open is not about being the best athlete in the world. It is about being your best. It is about building community within our gym. It is about challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone."
With the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games Open less than a week away, affiliates all over the world are preparing for five weeks of competition and fun.
From having classes on strategy for each Open workout to making the Open an in-house competition, boxes across the South East are finding ways to make the Open fun for their members.
This year will make CrossFit Embrace’s second annual Friday Night Lights event. Each Friday evening, heats will be set up to create an in-house competition, complete with event T-shirts.
“Last year, we had 80 people participate in the Open,” said affiliate owner Keisha Brazell. “This year we are hoping for even more.”
New affiliate CrossFit RTR will be hosting a viewing party each week to watch the live announcement of the Open workout. Several members, including some of the gym’s top athletes, will then perform the workout following the announcement.
“This will give everyone a chance to talk about their game plan after watching a few of us do the (workout),” said RTR owner Carla Skelton.
Brandon Phillips, CrossFit Games veteran and owner of CrossFit Bound, is excited about his affiliate’s Friday Night Throwdown this year.
“(This will be) a chance for our members to work out next to our (top) competitors. We are also inviting others from around the area to join,” Phillips said. “The more competition, the better.”
Adam Cantrell, owner and head coach at Panhandle CrossFit, said his gym is getting ready for the Open by focusing on skill and technique.
“We have really been hammering movement standards,” Cantrell said. “Beginning around the first of the year, we have been working the most basic movements and progressing into the more complicated ones.”
Cantrell said he is using the excitement of the Open “to really kick up attention to detail and intensity.”
“We also (made) some shirts for the members participating in the Open, and we rearranged the gym to allow more spectators when we perform (the Open workouts) each week,” he said.
CrossFit Trussville has taken a structured approach, geared more toward preparation and strategy.
“We started a technique (and) lifting class on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get athletes into more mechanically advantageous positions to ensure that even though they may not have the absolute strength, they'll definitely have the ability to have an opportunity to be successful based solely on efficiencies in their movements against the masses,” said affiliate owner Andrew Rape.
The box recently held a seminar reviewing topics such as breathing during a workout, how to approach workouts, what to eat, timing for carbs and proteins, fueling properly, how to train during the Open and de-loading prep.
“(We wanted) to ensure that all of our athletes will be competing at their highest potential throughout the five weeks,” Rape said. The gym also has plans every Friday at 5 p.m. to have a “John Madden discussion with Q&A” regarding how to approach the workout for that week.
“This is really important for our new athletes to understand the difference between competing and training, and very helpful for our experienced athletes to know what to do (and) when to do (it),” Rape said. “We'll talk about pacing, approach, rep breaks, round breaks and mental processes.”
“Each Saturday, we will be completing the (workout) as a team with friends and family coming to support athletes,” Rape continued. “Saturdays are always very fun, engaging and the competitive environment is almost palpable. We are looking forward to it.”
Chris Harris and Shelby Levy, owners of All In CrossFit, have decided to make this year’s Open all about fun.
“We think competition brings out the best in people, creates camaraderie and inspires others,” Levy said. “Our gym is only one year old, and we wanted to create an environment for our members, no matter the fitness level, where they felt comfortable taking on the Open.”
Members who sign up for the Open will be divided into two teams. Each week, team members will earn points for their team by attempting the Open workout, setting a new PR in the Open workout, or by having one of the top three scores—male or female—in the gym. One member will even earn an award for the spirit of the Open each week, earning points for persevering in a workout.
To encourage members to sign-up, Harris created a series of videos that he put on Facebook, giving a shout-out to those who registered. Some of his videos included making Valentines for new registrants, a rose ceremony via the Bachelor and some song-and-dance numbers.
“I wanted our members to see that this is about having fun, not something to take too seriously,” Harris said.
As of publication time, All In CrossFit has 60 members signed up for the Open, almost half of its membership.
“For us, the Open is not about being the best athlete in the world,” Levy said. “It is about being your best. It is about building community within our gym. It is about challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone.”
Affiliate owners like these make the Open special by embracing the opportunity to make their gym stronger—not only its athletes but its community, as well. The Open is for everyone and is more than just a competition. It is a time to celebrate the past year of hard work and to prove we are better than we were yesterday.
What are you doing for the Open?