The New CrossFit Open: The Easy Way Out

Recently, there have been drastic changes to the CrossFit Games qualification process that directly affect each and every person who has aspirations not only to qualify for the Games, but even to participate in the Open. Moving forward there will be an elite or competitive division, as well as a scaled division. In years past everyone did the same workouts no matter the skill level, experience, or overall goals. The change is necessary and will lead to a more accurate way to crown the “fittest” as the sport continues to grow in participation, and as the abilities of the athletes increase.

What does this tell us about the Open? It brings us to a clear hypothesis that the open workouts will be that of high skills, higher weights, and endless options of tasks for the programmers to test (now even at the first qualification stage). This alone has turned many excited, eager athletes into worried, bitter, paranoid athletes with spiteful feelings towards the Open.

If that information isn’t enough to put your fitness “panties” in a bunch, well then let us look at the fact that there will be half the number of athletes representing each region at the Regional competitions across the world! The top 20 athletes from each region through the open will be the chosen few who get to compete for a spot to go to the CrossFit Games. No more top 40-45 athletes hoping for a shot at the big stage of Regionals, and only half the number of Regional competitions in general, as the top 20 from each region will compete across regions in the appointed “Super Regional.”

I coach many athletes, both at my gym and remotely online. When Dave Castro dropped the bomb of how this year’s Open and Regional format would be set up, I almost immediately received texts, emails, and even phone calls basically saying, “What now?” Many of the athletes I train are not the top regional competitors and some have never made it to Regionals, which means most of these athletes were dreaming of that 40th spot during the Open. This new information crushed them emotionally, even left some wondering if continuing to train as hard and invest as much into their training was even worth it.

I stopped all of my athletes with a question in response: “What is your goal?” All of them replied the same: to prepare themselves in such a way to qualify for regionals. I assured all of my athletes I would support any decision they made, but that the change of the qualification process did not change their goals and they should not allow it to. Why do you show up each day at the gym? Why do you step outside of your comfort level to lift heavier weights or to fight and claw for 1 less second on that metcon? You do so because it makes you better, not only as a competing athlete but as a person. Growth. Instead of now aiming for the top 40, athletes must now have their eyes set on the top 20 in order to qualify. A change in perspective to say the least. So now should we all quit because we don’t have a chance? Absolutely not. We should train in such a way to make the top 20 and let the fittest sort themselves out. We should do whatever we can to end up where we’d like to be, and let the rest take care of itself – be proud of what we accomplish, and move upward and onward.

I love the changes and feel as though it is necessary as the sport continues to adapt. Is it fair or perfect? Nope, but neither is my life and yet I think it’s pretty darn awesome. Don’t be ashamed to set your goals high this season, let it all hang out. I sat out of Regionals last year with an injury, and going forward my goal is to be at Regionals, to win my perspective region, and to go onto the Games to seek the podium. I am not ashamed or embarrassed to say that. If those things don’t work out that way due to injury, or simply because others are better at the tasks at hand, then I will tip my hat and root them on as they go! I will go back to the drawing board, and begin the process again. Oh wait…shame on CrossFit for forcing us again to aim a bit higher than we planned!

The changes this year may leave many people not participating in the Open, or not training as hard because they “don’t have a chance.” Don’t find the easy way out this year. Participate to the highest level you can, find new holes in your fitness, and enjoy the challenge of making them disappear.

Best of luck!