I’ve been doing CrossFit off and on since 2015, and this is the first year that I’m officially signing up for the Open.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Open. The weeks leading up to it are exciting. The live workout announcements are fun. Dave Castro’s attempts at providing hints of each week’s workout are hilarious. At the two CrossFit gyms I’ve been a member of, everyone supports one another during the weeks of the Open and bonds over how horrible the workouts are.
But to officially join the Open, you need to pay a fee. It’s a nominal fee of $20, but I never saw any reason to pay it. I could still enjoy all the things mentioned above for free. The only difference in paying is that I can see where I rank on a worldwide leaderboard. Why would I pay $20 to see that I’m ranked 874,012 in the world?
This year, though, for the first time in my six-year CrossFit journey, I’ll be on the Open leaderboard.
What is the CrossFit Open?
The Open is a worldwide online competition that, for elite athletes, is the first step in qualifying for a spot at the CrossFit Games.
For everyone else, it’s a chance to test your fitness levels, have some friendly competition with your fellow gym members, and maybe even hit a PR or master a new skill.
Each week, a new workout is announced on Thursdays. Participants have until the following Monday to complete the workout and enter their score on the leaderboard.
Many CrossFit gyms find ways to make the Open fun and exciting for their members. Some do Friday Night Lights, where everyone does the workouts on Friday nights and has food and drinks after the last person finishes. Others break up their participating members into teams, and give prizes to the team with the best performance at the end.
The Open is a highlight of the year for anyone who loves CrossFit. One of CrossFit’s greatest strengths is its community, and the Open has a way of bringing athletes even closer together.
Changes for the 2021 Season
CrossFit has seen a lot of changes in recent years, including the announcement of a new owner and CEO.
For a couple of years before Eric Roza took over, the Open hadn’t been the same. After years of being held in March and April, it moved to October in 2018. Dave Castro stopped doing the live announcements. He also stopped posting his ridiculous workout hints on social media. Participation had dropped. The Open just didn’t have the same level of excitement as it had in the past.
Now, in 2021, the Open is changing again. It’s back to being held in March. However, this year it will only be for three weeks, instead of the usual five. Dave Castro is returning for the live announcements. He already posted his first workout hint on Instagram earlier this week.
CrossFit also announced the addition of several new Open divisions this year. Previously, there were Rx and Scaled divisions, and a few different age group divisions for teens and masters. Rx was for athletes who could do the workout “as prescribed” (and you need to do all Open workouts Rx’d in order to qualify for the Games), while the Scaled division was for anyone who needed to modify movements.
This year, they will also offer Foundations, Equipment-Free and Adaptive divisions, as well as expanded age group divisions. Foundations is an even more modified version of the Scaled workouts. The Equipment-Free option is for athletes who work out at home with limited equipment. The Adaptive division is for athletes with disabilities.
The new age group divisions include Men and Women ages 60–64 and Men and Women ages 65+.
Why I’m Participating in the Open This Year
Last year was hard. Everyone knows that. In many ways, 2021 is turning out to be just as hard.
I think that’s why I feel differently about the Open this year. I need to feel like I’m a part of something right now. CrossFit was also no stranger to controversy last year, but I’ve been pleased with the changes they’ve made so far. And in an era where so many gyms have had to close because of the pandemic, I want to do something to show my support for a sport that I love so much.
I also like the fact that this year, I don’t have to worry about how I’ll perform in front of my coaches and other gym members. I can do the workouts in my own garage, by myself, without any added pressure.
I’m especially excited about the Equipment-Free division, and that’s what I plan to do this year. I haven’t been in a CrossFit gym for a year, and I’ve only been doing Street Parking workouts twice a week. Even though I have a barbell, plates, and dumbells at home, I’m definitely not in CrossFit shape. My goal isn’t to push myself to the brink over these three weeks; I just want to see how well I can do with an Open-style workout in my own home.
How and When to Sign Up
The Open kicks off tonight, March 11, at 8pm EST. You can register until the open ends on March 29; however, if you plan to participate as a true competitor, you need to register and log your first score by 8pm EST on Monday, March 15.
If you’d like to sign up, visit games.crossfit.com.