Beginning in July, CrossFit HQ began to communicate that they’d be chainging the format of the Open significantly this year. Now that the dust has settled, here’s a summary of the changes that’ve ben made to the event, along with a summary of the changes that we’ll be making at CrossFit TT in response.

How The Event Is Different: To fully understand the nature of the changes we’ll see with the open this year, it’s necessary to start with any changes that’ve been made to the definition of the event itself.  CrossFit currently defines the Open as a vehicle that’s used further re-enforces the CrossFit Games’s position as the “Ultimate Test of Fitness.” The Open achieves this by allowing accessible most anyone who so desires to test themselves in the sport of CrossFit, and to try to qualify for the Games. According to CrossFit HQ, “no test, regardless of it’s lofty claims, can grant legitimate title to the best without first providing access to all…(with the Open), anyone can sign up to compete in five workouts over five weeks and post their scores online.”

On paper, this is not a dramatic deviation from what the Open has been in year’s past. It’s always served as the first step in the qualification process for the CrossFit Games. In addition to this role, it’s also served as a powerful tool used by affiliates and athletes across the globe to further galvanize local, regional, and Global CrossFit communities. Because Open workouts traditionally featured movements and standards that allowed a majority of affiliate members to participate without having to scale or modify prescribed movement standards, anyone could see how they stacked up to the Sport’s heroes. Although accurate, the current definition doesn’t account for this latter sentiment. There’s nothing in the definition of the Open that leads anyone to believe that it is anything but a step in the qualification process to the CrossFit Games, period. Keep this in mind as we continue.

The changes that CrossFit made to the Open, Regionals, and the Games qualification process this year are consistent with their current definition of the CrossFit Open. In year’s past, the top few dozen individuals from each region (our region is the North East; we were provided 50 spots) in the Open were invited to attend the North East Regional. To make the field more competitive, fewer athletes (the North East Region now has 20 spots instead of 50) of the athletes from each Region will attend a larger Regional event that includes the top-performing athletes from another region (we’ve been combined with Canada East – historically a very strong region). These “Super Regionals” will then determine who attends the Games in July.

These changes don’t really apply to our affiliate, or candidly, for 99.98% of individuals who CrossFit. On the surface, it’d be reasonable to think that unless you attended Regionals last year as an individual or team, that these changes don’t really mean much to you.

Think again. If the Open is going to serve as an effective tool to qualify the best athletes from each region for Regionals and the Games, then the movement standards, weights, and time domains in the Open workouts will have to more closely reflect those athletes can expect to see at Regionals and the Games. Accordingly, Open workouts in-turn become less accessible than they’ve been previously. CrossFit indirectly acknowledged such assertions in an article on 12/22/14 that outlined the changes made to the games format.  In the article, CrossFit Headquarters’ Mike Macpherson and Meg Mitchell state that “before anyone gets to the regional level, they’ll need to survive the Open. Games-level athletes can no longer casually compete in the Open, unconcerned about one or two uncharacteristically poor scores.”

Ouch. “Survive the Open?” This says to me that the Open workouts will likely be MUCH harder than they’ve been in year’s past.

It would appear that I’m not alone. CrossFit HQ has proactively addressed these concerns with additional changes to the format of the Open. Beginning in 2015:

  • Each workout will feature a scaled option. Much like we offer different programming tracks, each Open workout will have an Rx option, and a scalled option that’s designed to accommodate less experienced athletes, or those who struggle with specific movements. Each week, athletes can choose which variant they want to do according to their individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • To encourage folks on who might be ‘on-the-bubble’ of being able to complete a workout without scaling, Unscaled workouts will carry more weight on the leaderboard than scaled workouts.
  • Athletes who scale a workout will not be eligible to compete at Regionals.

How what we’re doing at CrossFit TT is Different: We’re making some changes of our own regarding how we participate in the Open as an affiliate this year. For starters, we’re going to provide not just lone scaled workout option, but one scaled workout option for every program track. This will enable all of us to participate in a fashion that’s consistent with our long-term goals and objectives. Second, we’ll be celebrating, tracking, and honoring everyone’s personal breakthroughs in addition to those seen on the leaderboard. It’s important to note that at CrossFit TT, we don’t solely celebrate the accomplishments of our competitors during the Open. This year, CrossFit TT will be tracking the performance of each athlete who participates in an Open WOD with us, regardless of whether they’ve registered or not. Each Friday, we’ll be tracking all of the personal breakthroughs seen in each class throughout the course of the day. Each breakthrough will be recorded and recognized on a plaque, which will be hung proudly on the wall for everyone to see at the end of the Open. Want your name on the plaque? Do something you’ve never done before during one of the workouts. Get your first double under in a WOD. Do your first handstand push-up. Complete a workout you never thought you’d be able to do. Get your first toes-to-bar, Pull-up, or Rx. Attend all five workouts, and do the best you can do. You set the challenge – we’ll help you achieve it, and will recognize it together when you do.

In this regard, the Open isn’t just about Competition. More than anything, it’s an event that brings our community closer together. Because each workout presents each of us with the opportunity to do something or to challenge ourselves in a new way, and because we track these success, each week presents an opportunity for all of us to celebrate each of our individual accomplishments and breakthroughs.  Because we change the format slightly by including the opportunity for Sunday testing, and because the leaderboard tracks our performance as an affiliate, and because we’ll honor those who challenge themselves, we get to celebrate our collective accomplishments as a community. And because all of these things tend to and to bring us closer together, our community will get a little tighter along the way.

Finally…we’re going to have fun with this – more fun than we’ve ever had before. Unlike last year, we won’t be encouraging everyone to register for the Open so much as we will be encouraging everyone to participate in at least some of the festivities. That’s what the Open is all about: that’s what we’re all about. We look forward to sharing it with you.