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Why CrossFit Open is also for you

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-03-2017 Sohini Sen

I knew that the workout (in the CrossFit Open) would be difficult but I did not realize it would be this hard. After trying it out on Saturday with the Rx weight, I felt dread and thought I didn’t want to do this again,” says Jahanvi Khokhar, an amateur athlete at CrossFit Himalaya, about her 17 point 1 workout for the CrossFit Open.

But Khokhar did look past her fear of the weight she was supposed to lift ( 35 lbs dumbbells) returned for a second attempt two days later and did an extra 40 repetitions in the same time. This time around, she knew she had to “push through it and be focused on the present moment. I realized my past experience is not going to help me here. I just have to do the whole workout and give it my best,” she says. 

Khokhar is not the only one. Seasoned athletes and amateurs have posted their reactions to the first workout of the CrossFit Open—the first stage of the annual CrossFit Games, introduced in 2011. The Open is a five-week global contest for everyone who wants to compete. Every Friday at 6.30am (IST), Dave Castro, director of the CrossFit Games, announces the workout for that week. For example, the first workout for this year was to perform multiple rounds of burpees, box jumps and dumbbell snatches.

The athletes then have to perform a set of workouts in front of a judge and record the scores. These scores have to be submitted on the CrossFit Games website by every Tuesday morning. The best-performing athletes at the end of five weeks go on to the regional round and then to the world championships, slated for the first week of August.

The CrossFit Open, then, is just the first step to the elite-level competition, which has very few representatives from India. That said, it can be a good opportunity to understand where you stand in your fitness journey. The leaderboard on the CrossFit website shows exactly how you rank against others from your gender, physical capabilities, or from your country. At the end of the day, however, you are competing only against yourself.

If you have a box (a place where CrossFit is practised) near you, check if it is affiliated to the CrossFit headquarters. There are numerous boxes in Delhi-National Capital Region, Mumbai and Bengaluru to choose from (Crossfit.com/affiliate-list). Even if your box is not affiliated, however, you can still take part in the Open by recording your workout and sending the video to the headquarters to be judged.

While the Open for this year started on 24 February, amateur athletes can join in at any stage of the competition and do the remaining workouts. However, athletes not doing all five workouts cannot move to the regionals.

“When you do something just a little bit more seriously than you do every day, you’re able to surprise yourself with how much you are able to do. The fact that there’s someone standing to judge your reps only adds to the excitement. I feel like adding the Open to your annual fitness goals helps give people something to work towards besides just the same old goals,” says Neha Agarwalla, co-founder of 303 CrossFit Drive in Mumbai. For those hoping to compete in the regional levels, the workouts are strictly fixed Rx’d version. This is when the weight or the repetition must be followed by the athlete to a T. For amateurs, however, a scaled version of the same workout is available. For example, a box jump can be scaled down to a step-up, toes-to-bar can be scaled to hanging knee raises and muscle ups to jumping pull-ups.

“It is exactly like CrossFit workouts in the box—there is an Rx weight and there is a scaled workout—you choose according to your fitness level and build it up from there. You can then set the benchmark for yourself,” explains Piyush Pandey, an L2 (second level) certified coach and founder, CrossFit Himalaya, Delhi.

How to prepare

If you take a look at all the workouts for the Open since 2011, the basic movements are the same. Movements like box jumps, double or single unders, thrusters, burpees have been part of the Open workout every year. Try to focus on your technique so that you move efficiently and get better results.

“The workouts measure your work capacity and conditioning—not so much your strength. Most of the workouts are short-duration, with high repetitions; therefore, you will need to build up your stamina and endurance. And understand your range of motions—every step should be as per the standards of the CrossFit workout,” says Pandey. 

It is a good idea to understand the movements and practise them before actually doing the workout. According to Luke Baker, director of Velocity Fitness Consulting and a CrossFit coach at CrossFit Robust in Delhi, “a good plan would be to focus on metabolic conditioning (exercises intended to increase the storage and delivery of energy for any activity) along with strength. Try to increase your capacity and withstand stress at light, medium and heavy intensity.”

At the end of the day, it is about realizing what you are capable of and choosing the workout level according to your physical ability. The feeling of accomplishment comes as a bonus.

The CrossFit Open is on till 27 March. Workouts for each week are announced on Friday mornings. Registration, Rs668, payable only by credit card, on Games.crossfit.com.

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