I’ve been involved in CrossFit for over 7 years and seen the sport of CrossFit evolve and change dramatically over that time. With it the Open has also changed.
Over time there has become a VERY huge difference between CrossFit as a competitive sport, and CrossFit as a modality. If you dont know what I’m talking about, you are either within your first 2-3 years of CrossFit or you’re behind the curve.
I have little interest in promoting CrossFit competitions. That mindset is not what we sell. It was a big part of my life and training for the first 5 years, but I came to a point when opened Vesuvio where I opened my eyes and figured out why I’m doing this, and that’s to help people become healthier and fitter. It’s why we should switch the motto from ‘Forging Elite Fitness’ to ‘School of Elite Fitness’.
Here’s how I think, and the guiding principle of how Vesuvio is run: We are a Strength & Conditioning gym, and we are a business, so we sell something. What do we sell?
It’s NOT CrossFit.
We sell FITNESS and healthy lifestyles! We sell better movement patterns, stronger and faster functional movements, and healthier human beings. Sprinkle in some lifelong behavior shifts through education, some positive social interaction and supportive atmosphere, and we have a solid product.
Now, it just so happens that CrossFit is the main way we decide to do all that. We know through
experience, qualitative evidence, and good old fashioned science that it is the most effective way. It’s the means, not the end product.
There IS a competitive element to CF in general, and that’s a bit different. It’s motivating. Watch a new person at LA Fitness on a treadmill that you can tell barely even wants to be there. The second another person gets on the treadmill next to them, they will pick up their pace a bit, try to make casual glances at the other person’s screen. It’s human nature. That is what we want, it leads to our whole “intensity –> adaptation –> better life” thing we like to talk about.
When I see people PRing and showing their friends and family what they do, and how proud of themselves they are, THAT’s what I want. On the other competitions I’ve run and promoted in the past were by most metrics a solid success, but I just didnt feel the mindset was what I wanted to foster.
This is why I prefer that we as a gym support the open by doing it internally, as a community rather than focusing on the worldwide leader board. We can be a part of something global and participate in it, and also guide our athletes to a better place for themselves. However, focusing on your placing in the worldwide leaderboard is venturing down a dangerous path. I speak from experience here… as a competitive person seeing a ranking well below where I feel I am and know I am due to fake profiles (such as fake celebrity and world leader profiles… even Kim jung Un was a top 1000 on last years leaderboard) to fake scores and videos posted as jokes or to seriously cheat — a few cases were exposed of video loops last year). Do the open for yourself and just do your best. Don’t focus on redoing a workout to go from 120,330th in the world to 119,999th in the world. There is no prize for that. That’s not what CrossFit is about and goes against the pillar philosophy of constantly varied movements.
All that being said, we WILL support the 5% of our athletes that truly have the desire to compete at a much higher level. It can be exciting, and gives people in house role models. Coach Matt has done a great job at this. However, we will not bring any detriment to the 95% that dont really care about that stuff.
I could care less if we ever have another Games athlete or regionals athlete/team. Been there done that. It’s fun to have a team or athlete going for the next level, but it also changes the dynamic of the gym community. So, if that’s not you’re goal then realize the Open is for fun, and don’t let it get frustrating or discouraging. Don’t get wrapped up chasing scores.
I care about is seeing you guys hit your fitness goals, perhaps that’s the member who wants to lose over 40# in less than a year, or that client who just got off their diabetic medication because they’ve been working out and eating healthier, and no longer needs insulin shots, or the client that can now play with their kids because they have the endurance to run around and mobility to play on the floor, or the client training to get stronger and take their high school sport to the collegiate level.
Bottom line, please just remember why you’re here, for fitness and to have fun getting fitter and don’t let the Open sidetrack you from that, as it has me in the past.
I truly hope you read this, and I hope you sincerely understand where I am coming from.
Thanks to Joe Dahl for inspiring this post by writing a similar article for his gym in California.