January 24, 2022
It's Not THE Open, It's YOUR Open
By Jamie Thomas
Every athlete’s experience is individual to them and where they are on their fitness journey.  
Every athlete’s experience is individual to them and where they are on their fitness journey.  

2022 will be my third CrossFit Open. My first Open was in 2020, just three months after my first CrossFit class, the heady pre-pandemic times of busy gyms, sweaty hugs, and slammed high-fives.

I completed the workouts (there were five that year) in the Eton CrossFit box, where I was a fledgling member, and at WIT (London), where my partner, Julie, was a member. WIT was full on; Friday night, 20-somethings, tops off, abs out, blasting music, hectic and packed. I was a bunny in the headlights! Eton was much more understated, more intimate, more relaxed, an older demographic — but no less determined than their big-city counterparts!

The atmosphere in both was electric. I was hooked.

Both boxes had qualities that just lit me up. There was a generosity of spirit that is authentic — everybody wants their fellow athlete (and yes, at 49 years old and new to the sport, it took me a while to be comfortable calling myself that) to be their version of “best” on that particular night.

There was zero negativity. People I had never met were cheering for me, willing me to grind out those final reps. At the time I wanted to kill them (oxygen starvation makes me very grumpy!), but when I added up my score, those final torturous reps meant everything to me.

Jamie and Friend

I scaled the workouts, was in awe of those who were bashing out Rx'd reps — my barbell was tiny, I couldn’t double-under, hardly had a pull-up, deadlifts scared the life out of me, and at one point my knee started to make a very odd clicking sound! But it didn’t seem to matter. The support in both boxes was unwavering. At times it felt like the slower I went, the louder the cheering became!

Under the watchful eye of coaches and judges, I got through safely. I achieved the heady result of 8,450th in the 45-49 age group! All that effort and I was in the bottom 20% of my age group!

It was a great reality check; it was humbling and yet hugely motivating. A benchmark had been set, one that was equitable, measurable, and repeatable. I was pumped! And I didn’t care about the ranking (well, a little bit!). I had done it, and I could not wait for the opportunity to enter again.

Open No.2 was a very different experience. The pandemic had hit, and we’d all been forced to innovate with home workouts. After valiantly supporting its members throughout the darkest days of the pandemic, it was a huge shame that the Eton box had to close its doors. As we weren’t in London, WIT was not an option, so we were temporarily gymless but determined.

Jamie and Julie

Julie and I both did the CrossFit Judges Course (being a judge for your very competitive partner and miscounting reps during a tough WOD is a wonderful test of a relationship – I really must recommend it!), brushed up on our video submission skills, and cracked on.

Determined to improve on 2020, I committed to doing the WODs Rx'd if I could; Julie and I discussed strategy, tried to eat well, minimized alcohol, re-did WODs we felt hadn’t gone well — it all got a little bit geeky, but hey, there was a pandemic on, and we had nothing better to do!

My thrusters were still mechanical, toes-to-bar were singles, I couldn’t do a bar muscle-up, and 22.5-kg dumbbell snatches felt like I was lifting Atlas stones. But, once the last workout was done, I had moved from the bottom 20% to top 25% of my age group — almost 6,000 places higher at 1,732nd.

Not likely that NOBULL will be knocking on my door offering me a sponsorship, but I can promise you, the cold beer felt very good that evening. I was genuinely proud of what I had achieved, and now, looking toward 2022, I’m keen to see if that extra year on my body's milometer has slowed it up or pushed it forward. How great that I have a way of measuring! And I am so excited to be doing it in my new box, CrossFit Slough.

Jamie Thomas Front Squatting

So that’s my story, but the reason I wanted to share it was because that very first year, I almost didn’t enter. I thought I was too new, too unfit, and honestly, I was intimidated.

But looking back, I am so glad I did enter. It has genuinely changed my life.

My message to any athlete who is still deciding whether to enter is: It’s not the Open, it’s your Open. Every athlete’s experience is individual to them and where they are on their fitness journey. But, I can promise you, while the WODs will hurt, you will experience camaraderie, support, joy, and pride like nowhere else.

Join Jamie in the Open!

Do you have an Open story you'd like to share? We'd love to hear it! Send your write-ups, social posts, and videos to content@crossfit.com, and you may be featured on the CrossFit Games website or social media.


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