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Crossfit enthusiasts around the world are now competing in the Crossfit Open. Why I'm not one of them.
By Samantha Brennan | Posted March 14, 2013
Team competing in the 2012 Crossfit games.
CrossFit, Inc.
Team competing in the 2012 Crossfit games.

March is the month of the CrossFit Open, an exciting time for CrossFit enthusiasts like me.

What’s the  CrossFit Open?  From March 6th-April 7th t138,000 people—including 25,000 Masters—will be competing in the CrossFit Open. During the Open, a new workout is released online each week and athletes have some days to complete the workout and submit their scores online. You can either take part at a CrossFit affiliate or submit a video of your workout. After the Open, top performers advance to regional events, including 12 such events in North America.

What’s a typical workout look like in the Open? Well, there are no typical CrossFit workouts—one of the things I love about the whole thing. But here’s a what the first workout of the 2013 CrossFit Open looks like.

Workout 13.1
17 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of:
40 Burpees
30 Snatch, 75/45 lbs
30 Burpees
30 Snatch, 135/75 lbs
20 Burpees
30 Snatch, 165/100 lbs
10 Burpees
Max rep Snatch, 210/120 lbs

You can watch the video of how the workout must be completed and scored here. A bit intense, you say? decidedly.

I’ve been doing CrossFit for almost a year now and I’m a huge fan. I love the workouts and the community. I loved kettlebells from the start and now, after some time, even burpees are growing on me. I’ve written about the motivation CrossFit provides, about what I love about CrossFit and about the women of CrossFit, but today I’m writing about the CrossFit games and why I couldn’t quite talk myself into competing in the CrossFit Open. Partly that’s because I tend to think of CrossFit as not quite a sport in itself but rather as training that helps me with everything else  I do. While fitting everything in can be a challenge, I’ve tended to think of CrossFit as a best supporting actor, not the star of the show. I also tend to view the competitive element of CrossFit as competition with oneself. I found this year, thinking about the Open, that I wasn’t quite ready to start comparing my performance to that of women around the world ages 45-49.

Partly my reaction has to do with a kind of aversion to competition when it comes to exercises just done for training purposes. Burpees? Sure. But competitive burpees? I’m no so keen.

Now, CrossFit has a competitive element built into most of the workouts, and you can’t really like CrossFit and loathe competition. It’s called the “sport of fitness” for a reason. The founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, noted that when workouts resemble competitive events they become sport. Our competitive nature means that no one wants to finish last. He attributes the intensity of CrossFit workouts to this competitive element. Almost all workouts are done ether for “time” or for a set time for “as many reps as possible” and are scored accordingly.

I track my CrossFit workouts in a journal and using an app on my smart phone. I love being able to see improvement over time. But when I’m competing against myself, I don’t need to care about the performance of others. There are feminist considerations against competition, though I’ve worried that too many women miss out on the fun of competing.  I’m hoping I feel better about seeing how I do stacked up against others of my age next time round. Certainly the people taking part at my local CrossFit look to be having a lot of fun. My plan is to take part in the CrossFit Open next year and give it a try. I may not be in the same league as “Iceland Annie,” Annie Thorisdottir, currently the international lead woman in the 2013 CrossFit Open. But I can at least dip my little toe into the pond of competition, and see how I fare. Wish me luck!

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