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The Open is Dead. Long Live the Open.

Andy Newton

The Open is Dead. Long Live the Open.

The year two thousand and nineteen will be one of a kind for us CrossFitters, in that this year Greg Glassman—founder of the methodology and proverbial St. Nicholas of metabolic pain—has bestowed upon the masses TWO Opens. The next will take place in October. This is an opportunity if only to force assimilation between Halloween and Friday Night Lights. The jovial suspense within me grows imagining all the Inflatable T-Rex Ring Muscle-up fail videos that will inevitably find their way to Instagram.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about history.

For the season that we’re in currently, the Open has just wrapped, and it was an omen of things to come:


Week one started with a classic couplet, rowing and wall ball shots. This combination was approachable for 99% of participants, but still divisive enough to find out whose pain cave had the most elaborate interior design. To us mere mortals this was a complimentary pillow mint from Dave Castro in a hotel that would in short time be engulfed in flames and prove to be inescapable. Like a naive volcanologist inching to the edge of the caldera, we all felt comfortable that an eruption was unlikely. We were horribly wrong.


Week two was a repeat. Toes-to-bars, double unders, and squat cleans. The first go at this back in 2016 (or as I call it “the Julie Foucher demo era”) wasn’t what I’d categorize as a pleasant experience for me. In terms of life experiences, it’s somewhere between getting a crown without any local anesthetics and the time I gifted a girl a Beanie Baby on Valentine’s Day and I saw her throw it in the trash. All I could hope for during my second shot was having Dan Bailey’s judge. I did ONE LESS REP than three years ago.


Week three’s intent was to thin the field’s expectations. And by employing Strict Handstand Push-ups the powers that be did just that. A few local mutants made it to or through the final movement (a 200-ft Handstand Walk), but nobody who I know well enough to hate them for it. This is was a workout I did on Friday morning and then again on Monday morning, and was the only redo for me this. My improvement was 3 measly repetitions. Although, I feel worth the effort; mentally I was in a much more equanimous headspace, and this may be proof of concept for reattempting these WODs every so often.  However, if this particular workout becomes a perennial pet of our programming overlords I will quit CrossFit and start a new life in Kathmandu; meditating in the shadow of Everest and tending to sheep. Mark my words.


Week four I was BLESSED. All of the sacrifices I made throughout the year came to fruition. Not that I gave up anything or traversed any hardship, I mean actual ritual sacrifices. Blood-laden torn palm seances, sermons of labored breathing, soreness that I can only describe as “worse than Detroit’s housing market” and mental anguish on par with asking your significant other where they want to eat had precisely zero impact on how 19.4 went for me.

I attribute my outlandish general disposition on the genes I inherited from my mother. My father’s side gets credit for my pragmatic curiosity. These are both examples of GIFTS. The fourth workout in the 2019 CrossFit Open was another such example. If I was tasked with programming this workout I may not have found such an eloquent representation of my particular toolbox. At first glance, I was skeptical of the rest period included, but then came to realize that it served as a needed respite for athletes seeking their first Bar Muscle-Up. A nod of kindness towards a community-building aspect whose purpose I feel probably went unnoticed by most.



Week five, or as I call it “Chest-to-Bar Fran + 60,” was a decimation of all comfortable parameters that had been set in the years before. The most Thrusters we’d ever been confronted with was 84, and that was in a WOD where the other movement consists partially of laying down on the floor.

By front loading 33 and 27 reps of both Thrusters and Chest-to-Bar Pull-up by trust for sanctity of our tried and true concepts living unadulterated has vanished. I don’t think it was bad programming, ambitious maybe, but not bad. This was a workout you either finish or survive, and I survived with 24 reps remaining when I crashed into the time cap.


Overall I felt like this Open was revolutionary. Be it the cringeworthy weekly announcements or the fact that it now stands as the only competition programmed by the minds at HQ other than the Games, 2019’s Open season was strange and complex. I found myself appreciating the deficiencies exposed and willpower effectively elicited in order to continue on, same as always. What more could you ask for?


See you all in October.

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