And not a single burpee was done that year

So, The Reebok/Nike CrossFit Games Season 2015 is in the books and it’s time I put my thoughts down, rambling and disconnected as they are.

When things go wrong, go back to the beginning. (I really, REALLY, hope someone got that reference.)


I actually stopped writing to go watch this clip.

So, The Open. I didn’t enjoy this year’s Open as much as 2014 (which, I’m calling the best season of The Games so far). Granted I was homeless so had no athletes to take care of. The gym tour was fun, and something I’ll do in 2016 – now taking tenders 😛

A big complaint I heard about the Open tests were that they weren’t really workouts. We all fell in love with CrossFit because of it’s ability to bring us right slap bang into the middle of the redzone and kick us in the ass in a way you wouldn’t find outside of a Amsterdam Brothel.

This year it was way more “test” feel than workout feel. Or what people will call bottlenecks. With the exception of 15.5, most of the workouts stopped you pretty quickly. If you are bad at toes to bar (seriously, when are people going to realise these matter, a LOT), you’ll slow down. Overhead Squat/Chest to Bar you crash out on, and if you don’t have muscle ups or handstand push ups, forget about it.

One solution

One solution

As The Open and the entire Games have developed, there’s been a pretty clear statement of intent from Castro and Glassman that they want to eliminate all but the fittest quickly. They’ve reduced who makes it to Regionals, and continuously made the tests from one stage to the next harder. Inevitably The Open was going to follow this progression.

Now I’d argue elevating the heart rate more (which we traditionally associate with CrossFit workouts) before we attempt our first Toe to Bar/Muscle Up/HSPU probably would get more success than having to attempt one early in the workout. As Yogi Berra said this game is ninety percent mental. People psyche themselves out of things they’re physically capable all the time and giving it a go with no pressure or expectation can lead to unexpected victories. Tsypkin writes well on this.

As a personal aside, I didn’t like that you had to do 10 reps of the thruster in the final workout of The Open. I’m reasonably sure my judge got that one wrong. She knows who she is!

Yeah, but that’s not what CrossFit should be!

One thing we need to remember is that sport isn’t what we think it “should” be. It is what it is.

All sports have transient rules. FIFA, governing body of the most popular sport in the world, changes it fucking ball (the implement used for the sport) at major tournaments. The NFL have made Bill Belecheck’s “ineligible receiver” play illegal now. Rules of sport change.

If you only understood one of those analogies it’s because I’ve to write for audiences both sides of the pond. #firstworldbloggerproblems Now the counter argument to that is that the sport doesn’t change as much as CrossFit. Changes in sport are a matter of degree, that’s all. And the reality is we can’t tell what knock on effect a change will have until we implement it.

Regionals, and Camera Work

Regionals is when most of us get to sit back, crack open a beer, and watch other athletes. Possibly smugly thinking to ourselves, I would have done better than them. The camera work for CrossFit, while it’s improved, still has a long way to go. There’s not a single day where we don’t hear Sean Woodland scream “and outta nowhere…” for someone to steal first.

I'm sure someone's winning

I’m sure someone’s winning

They didn’t come out of nowhere, it’s just the camera focused on one or two lanes. I think a better tracking system is needed but what that is I don’t know.

Camera men, or whoever is in the broadcast suite, need to stop showing someone set up for a lift, only to cut away to someone else as well. It’s pretty infuriating at times.

Too Much?

I think the commentators will have all received a bollocking from Castro the last week. Constantly saying how brutal The Games were will not help with the haters. CrossFit is all about intensity, and brutal just seems to be a beatdown without any rhyme or reason. That it’s a pure endurance test, in that it’s who can stand the longest, not who excels across broad time and modal domains.

For the record, doing snatches after endurance work isn’t borderline irresponsible, it’s what these fuckers do ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Morning cardio. Afternoon skills. Evening Metcons. That’s what they do. Coming up to The Games these guys are probably doing one workout an hour for 8 hours or so before tapering, if they even taper.

There’s been extremely tough events every year. There was a time when the 140Kg deadlift in the Prebok Games (2010) was too heavy for a metcon. Ask Rich about 2011 and regular rope climbs, I’m sure no one has mentioned that to him. 2012 was known as the Regionals everything got “heavy.” 2013 had legless rope climbs stopping everyone. In 2014, it was too much gymnastics. Strict HSPU? Are you fucking kidding me? No way!

This happens all the time, why are we surprised still? The sport of CrossFit is aimed at exceeding what we believe humans are capable of!

Remember when guys used to miss 60Kg Snatches?

Remember when guys used to miss 60Kg Snatches?

I’ve said it before that Castro et al seem to want to draw a distinction between “fittest” and best trained, and while we’ll include the ten physical skills, fittest also means most adaptive. This is why we generally won’t see “traditional” CrossFit at The Games. He wants tests that athletes will struggle to prep for in advance.

Which leads us to…

Exciting Finals

I have ZERO problem with the pegboard. I mean, Glassman has long been a proponent of gymnastics, and “old school” training methods. If the pegboard was mentioned in 2002 then we’ve had 13 years.

As the athletes and their coaches prep for The Games, they take a risk. The emphasise more running over rowing, more chippers over intervals. Less sprints and more 20RM deads.

It’s the same as another sport. One concentrates on returning serves off our backhand between Major tournaments, or fast greens more than bunkers. There’s a (calculated) risk that what you’ll do will pay off.

We worked someone’s lifts from the hang rather than blocks. We did singles instead of 3RM touch and go. We get it right, we don’t. We take it on the chin and move on.

Personally, I like to see a more exciting final. I loved Cinco 1/2 and the “Quick N Thick”/Double Grace finals, because they looked like races. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Muscle Up/Clean Ladder at Regionals. But that’s purely because it was very “busy” to watch. But there’s absolutely a place for a sub 2 minute race, it’s CrossFit’s 400m run, so to speak.

Remember when he stole Fraser's chalk?

Remember when he stole Fraser’s chalk?

I just preferred the 2014 finals and the race was clearer and there was less failure. Having said that, a bunch of people couldn’t Overhead Squat the final weights in 2014, and Josh Bridges famously threw away his sunglasses and belt after he couldn’t get through the deadlifts in Cinco 1.

Neilsen makes the point that The Games shouldn’t showcase for TV. BUT, he also said that the MU/Clean was the coolest thing he’d ever seen and made it look like a sport.

I think, as the sport evolves, we can find a way to make it an exceptional test (with failure) and exciting viewing.

My Favourite Moment of The Games HAS to be when Briggs lapped Camille on Sunday morning. The little pat on the back said so much, it was beautiful.

You can watch the full humiliation here. It was better than a loser’s clap.

And finally, a word on Nike

I have a half assed theory that someone in HQ is talking with Nike. I can’t believe that Nike would play a game like they’re doing without greater foresight.

Nike’s “Don’t Ban our Shoe, Beat Our Shoe” just to me doesn’t seem like something a juggernaut of the sports world would do. It’s more like something a plucky young upstart would do in an attempt to go viral.

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Having said that, Nike’s attitude is actually very akin to Glassman, i.e. fuck you and political correctness, we’re gonna say what we feel. This, coupled with Glassman claiming Reebok need to sold to someone newer/hipper than Adidas, makes me believe that there’s some form of collusion going on.

My best guess is HQ is playing Nike in order to force Reebok into a better position. Back in 2011 Reebok jumped on a golden opportunity. They had some cash, but no identity. CrossFit had little cash, and an identity fit to burst. Reebok snagged a 10 year title sponsorship deal for what was, at the time, pennies.

I can’t imagine that there isn’t a break clause after 5 or 7 years in that contract. Now whether CrossFit are trying to get out of Reebok to Nike, or they’re using Nike to force Reebok to bring more money to the table remains to be seen. If I was a betting man, I’d wager it’s to force Reebok to up the sponsorship money.

But that’s the 2015 Season over now, and we all head into off season. We should just get really, really strong with a barbell and hope that toes to bar don’t show up again in next year’s Open, right?

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