We're just a few short days away from the CrossFit Games Invitational, so I thought it was very fitting to make this post this week. I really struggled with this topic and I've questioned myself as to why I struggled with this topic so much... then it hit me - there's just too many reasons that you should be following the CrossFit Games. It's very easily to relate to these incredible athletes because of the community built around CrossFit. These athletes are everyday people just like you and I. Except that it's their full-time job to train, eat, and sleep - that's it. So, when you put the best up against the best, you're guaranteed a good show!
The Showcase of the Fittest
When you workout four, five, six, even seven hours a day, you become very, very fit. At the end of the week long test of work capacity, mental toughness, and heart, CrossFit has earned the right to label the winner of the competition "Fittest on Earth." Forty athletes battle head-to-head over a wide-range of workouts covering all aspects of fitness: cardiovascular endurance, speed, agility, weightlifting, powerlifting, and gymnastics.
With several gender and age divisions, the competition is specifically designed to find the fittest woman, man, teen, master (40+), and team. When CrossFit unveiled the CrossFit Games, it gave them the opportunity to test their abilities. As the human physical abilities started to evolve, so did the sport. Each year, the tests become harder and harder. Individuals had to lift more, run farther, and endure more than the previous year. The teams have to work together more efficiently to complete more complex tasks in order to complete the workout. It truly is incredible to watch.
These world-class athletes are normal everyday human just like you and I. They understand that they were once just someone looking to get in a good workout. When a professional CrossFit athlete meets with fans, they recognize that they both started CrossFit to become better. That's why we all started CrossFit in the first place, right?! The connection between athletes and fans rivals any other sport out there. This connection is what makes the CrossFit community so great. The CrossFit Games does a great job involving the community in the sport with community driven events, spectator interaction at events, charitable contributions, and much more. Think of the connection between us inside of the gym, that is exactly the kind of community CrossFit tries to bring between the professional athletes and spectators.
There's No Off-Season
The road to the CrossFit Games does not start in February. It starts the day after the CrossFit Games ends in July. In order to become better at the sport and compete with the best in the world, you can't stray from training one bit. The tests start in February with the CrossFit Open. This is a 5 week online competition designed to filter out the best from the rest. Does this mean only the really fit people can participate? Absolutely not! The CrossFit Open is designed to bring the CrossFit community together from around the world (another spotlight on Community). Last year, 250,000 people participated in the CrossFit Open and I'm predicting a large increase in that number this coming year.
Not only does the CrossFit host the CrossFit Games, it hosts a number of other competitions throughout the year. The next one being the CrossFit Invitational this weekend. The CrossFit Invitational is four of the best athletes (two male and two female) from four different regions around the world competing to find the fittest country. USA, Canada, Europe, and Australia all fight for one day to see which of these regions hold the fittest athletes. Among the Invitational, there is also the CrossFit Team Series (similar to the Open, but for teams of four), and the CrossFit Lift-off (one weekend of lifting and a workout similar to the Open). All year long CrossFit hosts events for the community to become a part of something much bigger than "just a workout."
With the overwhelming support of the community, these professional athletes push themselves further than they ever thought possible; much like in a CrossFit gym where you see cheering and encouragement from others when you go for that new PR! I can recall just from this past years CrossFit Games where Josh Bridges missed his last clean in the clean ladder but had time to go for one more rep. With the roars of the crowd behind him, and the rest of the competition floor surrounding him telling him he could do it, he stepped up to the bar. Almost missing the lift, he fought to get that bar to his shoulders and stood it up all the way for a good lift and completion of the workout. That showed will and determination to fight for something that he wanted.
It's an Excuse to Buy New Gear
All of these athletes are sponsored by CrossFit apparel companies, equipment companies, and supplement companies. Following these athletes on social media is cool because you can see the lastest and most awesome gear out! I don't know about you, but anxiously awaiting UPS to arrive with my package of new shoes, a sweet t-shirt, or new lifting belt is just awesome! These athletes showcase products that you might not have checked out if you didn't see them reppin' it. Every year in June, Reebok drops the newest line of Nanos. Nike releases its newest Metcons every February. So it's definitely something to look forward to throughout the year. Christmas is coming up and it's a requirement for every CrossFitter to have at least 3 CrossFit gear items on their list!! (Totally kidding!!)
Unknown and Unknowable
The CrossFit Games are a true test of fitness where only the people behind the scenes know what's coming next. Athletes during the Games are only notified prior to the start of the event; maybe even a day or two ahead of time. The CrossFit Open, Team Series, and Lift Off are similar to where the workouts are released on one day and you usually have 5 days to complete them. The Invitational this weekend is similar to the Games where the athletes won't know the workouts until prior to the start of the event. So that means these athletes have to be efficient in strength, speed, endurance, power, and flexibility prior to the event competition. They can't train to be strong in one aspect because they will then be weak in another and therefore fall behind due to not being physically prepared.
Sure, there are some workouts that you kind of scratch your head at and think to yourself "well, that is stupid," or "how does that relate to CrossFit." If they program the same workouts for these athletes year to year, they will know what is coming at them and therefore allowing them to become specialized in one area of their fitness. CrossFit uses the methodology where you shouldn't be great at one thing, but be good at everything. It isn't just a test of lifting a barbell 10 times, it also encompasses carrying a log up a mountain, running 7km, swimming 500m, and wheelbarrowing sandbags across a stadium. The test is truly a test of the best, so sit back and be amazed by the true capabilities of the human body.