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Wrapping up the Crossfit Open - as told by a “Master” Rookie

Dr. Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP

Observable - Measurable - Repeatable. We’ll that’s it. After 5 weeks of participating in the Crossfit Open I feel like I have made it through “initiation”. The Open concluded right at my 3 month anniversary into starting Crossfit. You may have read my prior week-to-week blogs on my journey, the real beginner need-to- know stuff. I haven't written in about a month, and thus a lot has happened. So much to tell you! When I first started in December, and I awkwardly picked up a 15 lb barbell I remember everyone telling me how ‘quickly’ I would progress and meet milestones or learn skills. The first skill I mastered was a handstand (against a wall) and while fun, it’s certainly not the most challenging skill. There are many more I have not mastered - pull-ups, muscle ups, walking hand-stand, handstand pushup, etc. BUT....in just the last week I did conquer three more skills - the pistol squat, double-unders and toes-to-bar. What?! There is absolutely no way that three months ago I would have thought I could do a toes-to-bar. But I have. In fact, I was able to about 10 of them during a workout the day before the last Open workout. I have by no means mastered these skills, but it is one of the best parts of this journey. Doing your first of any skill or setting a personal record (PR) for weight or time never gets old. Thus, my favorite part about this style of workout, it is Observable, Measurable and Repeatable. In other words - great for a competitor like myself.

Observable. As a naturally competitive and type-A person, I love this. Each movement in Crossfit has a movement standard, you or your coach can observe whether your mechanics are within the standard. This makes it as safe as possible. With coaches like Ethan, Loren, Kristina, Ashley, LT, and Joe at CFWP I continue to fine-tune my form. These guys do not let you cheat yourself for even one rep!

Measurable. Every workout at Crossfit has a goal of either time, reps or weight. This means that in your phone or journal, you can keep track of your progress. Ooooh, that is a word I love. Who doesn’t want to see progress? In case you were wondering....here is mine over the last three months:

Fundamentals

  • Back Squat: Starting Weight 35lbs - Now 115
  • Front Squat: Starting Weight 35lbs - Now 95
  • Deadlift: Starting Weight 55lbs - Now 155
  • Overhead Squat: Starting Weight PVC Pipe - Now 35lbs (this is the hardest movement in CF to do with perfect form, I am keeping the weight low to perfect the technique)

Olympic Lifts

  • Snatch 55lbs
  • Thruster 85lbs
  • Clean 95lbs
  • Clean and Jerk 85lbs

Benchmark

FRAN (with 45lbs and banded pull-ups) 8:00 - this workout is generally done with 65lbs and no bands (look up FRAN here)

Rowing - 500m 1:55 1000m 4:04

  • Skills
  • Handstands
  • Double Unders (6 in a row)
  • Pistol Squat
  • Toes to Bar (singles

Some of you reading this won’t know what a lot of that means or whether it is impressive or not. So I’ll tell you - I am impressed with it. Ha! And that is all that matters. What also matters is that while I started out Crossfit with high goals and expectations, I settled in pretty quickly and just aimed to do every workout safely and have fun. The safer I do the lifts, the better my technique gets, the more progress I make.

One super cool thing is that while you are making progress in one area (ie. back squat or deadlift) your body is getting stronger and stronger. So that one day, when your coach suggests that you should just ‘try’ a toes-to-bar and you do it the first time with relative ease - you stand there in awe wondering “where the hell did that come from?” It came from hard work and consistency.

Repeatable. Well, what good is it to measure your times, weights or reps if you don't repeat them? And here is the thing we Crossfitters love to hate...repeating workouts. Repeated workouts are generally either ‘benchmark’ or ‘Hero’ workouts and named after ladies or soldiers who have lost their lives. But any workout can be repeated such as in this year’s Open (ie. 16.5 was 14.5) Most of the time, however it is not the workouts, but the skills that get repeated. So any combination of lifts, skills and cardio can be programmed into your daily workout. Just because the skills are repeatable, does not mean they are predictable. There are endless combinations of torture for our coaches to come up with.

My favorite things. I look forward to workouts with rowing, toes to bar (new skills are always fun!), handstands, squat cleans, front squats, clean and jerk.

Least favorite things. I look least forward to burpees, snatches (only because it is really really hard and I keep the weight light!), assault bike and overhead squat (again - so hard!)

Progress in The Open. There are 5 workouts in the Open. One of the craziest parts is that they are programmed by Crossfit Headquarters and a fellow named Dave Castro - he’s like Plutarch Heavensbee (like that Hunger Games reference?). Every Thursday he announced the workout and every Friday we did them. When we started the Open, Kelsey and I did the first 4 workouts ‘scaled’. We either didn't have the physical ability to perform a skill (pull ups 16.1, bar muscle-ups 16.3, toes to bar 16.2) or we didn’t have the strength (95lb Clean and Jerk 16.2, 155lb deadlift in 16.4). By the time the final workout came around, we discovered that we had the strength and stamina to at least attempt the RX workout. Coach Ashley encouraged us “the only reason to do a scaled workout, is if you cannot do a skill or a weight”. In the case of 16.5 we could do thrusters at 65lbs and burpees. So....I suppose that meant that technically we could string together 84 of each for as long as it would take. Our goal was slow, safe and steady. The fastest man in the world completed this workout in 7:15. Realistically we were aiming for 40 minutes. Kelsey went first, 168 reps and 28 minutes later, she was a heap of sweat on the floor. She completed her first RX workout!! It was a thrilling moment for both of us. What a journey! Oh crap - that meant I still had to go. I was kind of wishing I hadn’t watched her (or anyone else for that matter) there was no way around it, it was going to be grueling. But I did it. I started with the mantra to just keep moving. And I did. Keep breathing, kept moving. Finished in 23:45, also a heap on the floor. One of the single best feelings of my life. (BTW, Kelsey whooped me in 16.2.)

What does the future hold Master? Oh yeah, why did I call myself a master rookie? Being 40 puts me in a different age class - which is super cool if I ever get to the point of competing in this crazy sport. So here goes, my goal is to compete in something within a year. Being a master should have its advantages there ;)

A few words about Kelsey. I want her to tell you about her Crossfit experience, but I have to give her a few high-fives here. When I asked her if she wanted to join me in this journey she was super enthusiastic, but I was a tiny bit worried. This is a girl who broke her leg on her first day skiing and again a few years later running down the steps at red-rocks. She’s fit, active, was a former Irish Dancer, but not the most coordinated human I’ve ever met. I tell you this mainly to encourage you and because I think she won’t mind (I hope). Kelsey had some minor, recurrent neck and knee pain before starting Crossfit. She tells me that it no longer bothers her and that the strength she’s developed with good squatting technique and overhead movements has brought her to place of progress. In the Open workout 16.2, she won “Outstanding Performance” as she was one of only three women in the gym to make it to the third round of this workout. Since the day she walked into that gym, she is a different person. She has been transformed by the challenges, the accomplishments and the team. We are completely different athletes, with completely different strengths, which makes us perfect WOD buddies. One thing is for sure, we both have a very bright Crossfit future ahead of us.

Lastly, to anyone participating in Crossfit, new or old - if you’ve never done it, you absolutely have to participate in the Open. The workouts are like nothing you’ve ever done before. That may not be totally true, they are similar to benchmark workouts in that they are extremely challenging. For me and most the athletes at my gym, Crossfit Wash Park, the purpose of competing in the Open was not to actually make it to the next round (regionals), but to compete on teams and for ourselves.

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