4 Arguments for (and Against) the 2022 CrossFit Open
It's easier to criticize than to createLinda Rappoport
The above quote meant nothing to me until I began creating. Workouts, writing, photography - you don’t realize the overwhelming amount of work that goes into something that looks or reads simply. Hours at times for a blog or an 8-week program only to have someone within minutes point out all of the obvious flaws without providing solutions or what they may have done differently. I’m much kinder in my assessments now and I try to “seek first to understand”. That being said let’s take a look at this year's CrossFit Open.
I’ve been in the CrossFit world for a decade now and I was still 4-5 years late to the game. When I got involved Rich Froning hadn’t won the games yet to put things into perspective… The program was unlike anything I had ever seen or heard about. The workouts were brutal to the point of having to scale the scaled version. But it was about more than the workouts. The website, the articles they put out, the bitter hatred towards Coca-Cola and other companies profiting off your sickness. What the hell was this thing? As someone who grew up more likely to throw a middle finger at authority instead of accept and obey, they were a beacon of hope and information. A light in an otherwise dark world if you will… They didn’t care who you were, where you were from, or anything like that. All that mattered was fitness.
I promise that this will get to the 2022 CrossFit Open workouts. First though I think it’s important to understand how far off of the original idea CF now is. Look no further than their new sponsor, Monster Energy. They are owned by Coca-Cola. If CrossFit accepting money from Coca-Cola doesn’t seem laughable then we are talking about CrossFit as a company from two very different perspectives. You can make the argument on the surface this means they are just paying CF but I can’t help but think there are old men in tall buildings sitting in conference rooms laughing and smiling at the battle they have won.
Ok, back to the workouts and what I believe to be a nuanced view of 22.1, 22.2 and 22.3 (keep in mind I didn’t sign up for the CrossFit Open but did participate as a gym-owner and athlete). As far as complexity and skill-based movements this year was lackluster. I loved and enjoyed the workouts personally, for what they were, but the lack of Oly lifting, higher-level gymnastics, and only 108 total double-unders made this year the most “grunt-style” I’ve ever seen. I’m not against "grunt-style" workouts. Hell, I can refer you to some friends of mine that used to have to suffer them with me. It was the blending of grunt and style in the past that made the Open special and you don’t have to look that far into the past to know what I mean.
The way you worked into pistols in 20.4 or the fact that 20.5 would wear you out even if you didn’t have RMU. How many people though got their first pistol or RMU in those workouts? Or possibly better, how many people re-devoted themselves to practice so that the next year they would have those movements locked away. In the past there was a natural progression from year to year in the open (think repeat workouts). This year seemed to be a new style. So, let’s look at the different arguments one could make in regards to this open.
Argument #1 COVID lockdowns forced the equipment list t be restricted
While true, I think it’s more likely to have a set of rings than a pullup bar. The price difference alone makes rings more viable. I’m fine with no machines making the cut, but if a wall is required for wall-walks why can’t we do wall-balls? Maybe the ceiling is too low, but if so how are you doing BMU? Just some things to think about…
Argument #2 The Quarterfinals is where skill work comes into play.
I agree with this. There should be a definite line in the sand between us normal folks and the top 10% who get to move on. But the amount of folks who will ever break that barrier is tiny by definition. If I look to this year to improve my abilities I need to be doing deadlifts and bar-facing burpees for a year to improve my engine, that will get boring quickly.
Argument #3 Inclusiveness
Make the CrossFit Open truly for everyone, even Bob. Remember Bob who sucks at double-unders? Well lucky for him this year was probably his best showing. In my personal opinion CF has always been inclusive, all you needed was fitness to play. While I hope we continue to grow as a country and a world in being inclusive, I fall back to my original thoughts about CrossFit. They were the “inclusive” gyms before it was promoted. Being a certain color, sex, or having a high enough dollar amount in your bank account is not required to play "crossfitter". Fitness is the requirement. As a gym-owner I try to tell everyone that FITNESS IS FREE, you pay for Coaching. Fitness allowed you to do certain workouts and have a certain status - you know the saying “writing checks your ass can’t cash?” Yea, I’ve done that often with my fitness level and found myself in deep waters. But it had to do with my level of fitness and only that. You have fitness or you don’t and if you don’t guess what? You can obtain it and no one can stop you from doing so.
This year's Open to me was a showing of how accessible CrossFit is and that wasn’t always the case. You used to have to fitness your way into the room. This kept me out of the room more often than it let me in and I LOVED it, it made me work harder. Last thing on this topic, if inclusiveness is the goal, only allowing the top 10% to compete at a skillful level isn’t very inclusive…
Argument #4 Rx vs Scaled
The above items are the main issues that I’ve read about others having and/or that I had with this years CrossFit Open. There is however one sliver-lining in my mind. A long-time member of ours has wanted to break into the Rx world for a long time. This year he was able to do so on all 3 workouts. That does matter and it is cool - the excitement shown for doing so will 100% carry over into our normal group fitness classes. It’s hard for me to believe that this newfound confidence won’t mean huge fitness gains for them this year. Does this directly conflict with argument #3 - yes it does. Welcome to nuance and trying to perceive items from anothers point of view.
As a business-owner I understand that at the end of the day CrossFit is a business and businesses want to grow. This could mean taking sponsorships from your enemy, I guess, or watering down the Open to hopefully get more sign-ups. That's one way of looking at it. However if CrossFit still has the goal to get more people “off the coach” then maybe this approach is good. It has the potential to get those who truly need fitness up and moving towards a healthier lifestyle. The goal of helping as many as you can and providing the few who stuck around with what they want doesn’t always mesh. I think we are watching that happen in real-time on a big stage at the moment.
As a wannabe athlete I do wish that there was a chance for me to use skill work to beat others in fitness as I tend to keep the pain cave at arms length these days and this years Open catered to those comfortable walking around inside of it. But if you have an opinion on this year's CrossFit Open or went as far as writing them down like I have, you should probably realize you don’t need a governing body to work on your fitness nor does CrossFit owe you anything. I hope this helps to show you can hold multiple viewpoints at the same time and whether you like it or not it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day none of these arguments are the ONE thing that happened, welcome to nuance. Try and be nuanced, seek first to understand, and create something on your own. It’ll make you a better person as well as increase your level of fitness, if only between the ears.