CrossFit affiliates all over Cape Town, South Africa are rolling up their doors and doing the Open as a community.
The roller doors are wide open at CrossFit Tokai and people have spilled out into the driveway and parking spots outside.
Some are running up and down the street dodging the Saturday morning shoppers on their way to the organic food market nearby. Others are stretching with resistance bands or attempting a few push presses in the warm-up area. The sound of rowing machine flywheels is a constant in the background. The spectators have started moving toward the open doors hoping to get a view of the impending action.
They are here to watch a group of CrossFitters from boxes in and around the western Cape get together to tackle Open Workout 13.2.
CrossFit Tokai’s Gina Goosen and Nico Van Der Walt brief the athletes and go through the movement standards. Just before the clocks starts for the first heat, Chris Oman from Cape CrossFit explains the concept behind the 2013 Open tour he and Garth High of CrossFit Durbell have put together.
Oman and High decided to turn this year’s Open in to a tour for athletes in the Cape region of South Africa by running each workout at a different affiliate.
“I do see a need in South Africa, now that the sport is just booming and exploding, that we all keep it together and work collectively, and that’s what we’re trying to do — to see how the community can work together,” Oman says. “We’re trying to get all the boxes to go together to the different locations. We won’t know until after the Open how successful it will be, but we do know from past events how much people appreciate the effort and how much more motivated they get.”
Neil Scholtz of Ballistix CrossFit finds ulterior value in the event.
“The value of a community-based competition adds another unknown element to the already untried CrossFit (workout),” he says. “In the box, the athletes know each other’s capabilities, so they inadvertently adjust pace and efforts accordingly. Competition squeezes out a little more from the athletes.”
The field is a mix of experience and ability. While the seasoned competitors are focused and try not to be distracted, the atmosphere is still one of support.
A new athlete debates whether jumps or step-ups are better. The guy standing next to him finds time to give some advice.
“Listen to your body, if you are feeling sloppy, rather keep it tight and step up,” he tells him.
That’s one of the benefits of this setting — if you are new to CrossFit, you are going to learn from the people around you, either by their mistakes or advice.
Once the heats are underway, the cheering and shouting loudens.
“I’ve got butterflies, I’m so nervous,” Yvette Ross says.
Ross was at the top of the Masters 45-49 Division in Africa after 13.1. She feels the energy and support from the crowd helped push her harder than she thought possible.
Over the last year, the number of affiliates in the Cape has more than doubled. This type of group event is a fantastic way to ensure the passing on of knowledge from one to another, athlete to athlete, affiliate to affiliate. That’s the real strength of the CrossFit community — the sharing and caring.
I asked Thamar Houliston, a newcomer to CrossFit, about the first stop on the Cape Town tour.
“I loved it. It was a bit daunting at first, but it was cool meeting new people. It even forced me to speak to people from my gym that I don’t usually speak to. Also, seeing other people struggling through the workout was encouraging, and all of us newbies stuck together and helped each other. So all in all, yes, I think it did help me.”
The community of South Africa’s Western Cape scored most from the 13.2 event at Tokai, and they’re all geared up for the next event at CrossFit Durbell.