The Unwritten Rules of the CrossFit Open

The Open season is upon us. Follow these rules and embrace the fun of kicking ass – legitimately.

Whatever you think of the CrossFit Open, there’s no denying it’s a huge undertaking for all involved, from Castro, to box owners, and all the way to you, the athlete.

But whereas Castro seemingly has no interest in making your life any more enjoyable with his rules, your box owner and your coaches do. Here are six unwritten rules on how to help your coaches, your fellow athletes, and yourself ensure this CrossFit Open is an enjoyable one for everyone involved. (Apart from Castro. He can go suck lemons.)

How’s your ass feeling after those overhead lunges?

1. Don’t Drop the Bar

My girlfriend’s phone has a fat rubber casing on it. The casing is designed to make the phone bounce, and she drops her phone on many occasions, so it has worked well. But does that mean she drops her phone on the floor on purpose? I mean, it’s meant to bounce, right?

No, because that would be dumb. Exactly. And I’m pretty sure she’d check whether my head bounces on the floor shortly afterwards. Dropping 10lb/5kg bumpers, or any kind of rubber-coated plates from overhead, or even worse, slamming them on the floor, is just as dumb. Yes, they are designed to bounce. But it might surprise you to know that’s not their primary purpose. They are designed to protect the floor and the longevity of the bumper itself. So unless you want to hand me your phone and allow me to drop it from overhead, don’t let me catch you dropping the bar from overhead.

Respect the weights.

2. Do Drop the Bullshit

Here’s the thing about the Open. It levels the playing field. Everyone does exactly the same thing. Everything about the way the workouts are put together is designed to be as standardized as possible. You are the same as everybody else, so act it.

Drop the diva attitude. Everyone is in exactly the same situation as you. Embrace that fact and learn how to deal with it without the long face and the uber-competitive attitude. You’re in the same boat as the top men and women in the world, along with those in far worse circumstances than you, and I bet none of them have as much of an attitude.

Respect yourself.

3. Don’t Whine and Moan About the Spaces Available

I’ll let you in on a secret. Your box owners love and hate Thursdays during the Open all at the same time. They love it because it’s like Christmas. It’s like looking on for the Workout of the Day. Or, because few people actually do that anymore, I’ll put it another way – it’s like looking at the whiteboard as soon as you get to the gym. It conjures up feelings of why they started CrossFit in the first place.

Box owners hate it because they are scared, worried, and concerned about what the workout will mean for the week ahead. Will they have the equipment and the space to make it happen? All they want is two things:

  1. To look after you guys and get you through your workouts.
  2. To not spend every single second of Friday-Monday at the box, and get some food and sleep.

In that order. So stop complaining about spaces and times, because believe me, your coaches are doing their very best to make it happen with the resources at hand. Truly, no one gives a shit if it’s not your perfect training time, or you have to spend ages at the box, or you can’t get your other training in, or whatever.

Respect your box owners.

Bring your all to the Open.

Seven minutes of burpees, anyone?

4. Do Help Your Box to Make Spaces Available

I understand you want to get the best score possible in this workout. I would never suggest you put everyone else’s needs first and yourself at the bottom of the priority pile. You must give yourself a fighting chance at the workout. But there are ways you can help others at the same time.

If you can help set up and get things ready, awesome. Most athletes turn up and just expect that to be done. At the Regionals, this is the case. But in your own box, be the community you always speak about. Ask your box owners and coaches if they need help setting up. Even better, just turn up and help. Arrive before the first session after the workout announcement is made, and offer to lend a hand.

If you know that a session is going to be busy, and you can do your attempt during a quieter session, then do so. When you’re not competing, rock up, support, and judge. You might even pick up a tip or two.

Respect your fellow athletes.

5. Don’t Be Opinionated

Remember, the standards are there to make everything safe and, well…standard. Standards make the workouts the same, or as close to the same as possible, for everyone. There will be some workouts where it’s an advantage to be tall/short/big-chested/small-chested/young/old. Making everything completely standard and “fair” is an impossible task. Whether or not the workout is unfair to you is entirely irrelevant.

You see, there’s one surefire way to beat the standard: be stronger, faster, and fitter. That’s an advantage in every single workout, bar none. This mindset will make you feel like you can take on the world, rather than focus on the difficulty of the task at hand.

Respect the workouts.

Don't complain if you can't meet the movement standards.

Being unable to perform an Rx movement will light a fire in your training for next year.

6. Do Be Educated

Before you attempt your workout, read the rules. Watch the videos. Understand the scaling options available, if this appropriate to you. The smoother the process runs at the box, the less time everyone is kept waiting while you ask questions, the less time you have to keep yourself warm, and the less stressful it is for everyone, especially you. You can walk into that box like a man or woman on a mission, knowing the movements, standards, options, and the dos and don’ts, with a strategic warm up to suit.

There’s always one person who asks questions they could and should have read for themselves. Don’t be that person. Have you heard of Let Me Google That For You? It’s for people who ask questions they could easily have found the answers for themselves. Click the link and try it. Next time your friend asks you an obvious question, go to LMGTFY, type in the question, and send them the link. It will give them the answer, then tell them next time they should damn well find it themselves. A subtle hint, if you like.

Questions are absolutely fine. Questions where the answers are right there for you are not fine, especially when they are laid out for you on the Games website and you don’t even have to use Google.

And contrary to popular statement, there are stupid questions, like the one where you’re questioning the standards to find ways you can get around them. Stop trying to make your workout easier, and start thinking of ways you can do the work better.

Respect the standards.

Embrace the Challenge

Rules are rules. They are there for your benefit, not for your disadvantage, whatever it might feel like at the time. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken, and I’ll be the first to admit that. But this is not one of those times. Embrace the rules, embrace the suck, embrace each other (go easy on this one), and embrace the fun of kicking ass – legitimately.

More Advice to Crush The CrossFit Open:

Photos courtesy of Jorge Huerta Photography.

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