Written in March 2021
Are you trying to make a career out of fitness and win the title of Fittest on Earth?
No? Good. Me either.
So why even bother with this thing called the CrossFit Open that is an online, worldwide “test of fitness”?
Because where else, as an adult, do we get to put our physical (and ultimately mental) limits to the test, in a controlled environment, surrounded by peers hoping you accomplish more than you ever imaged you could?
And in doing so, you learn so much more about yourself, than just the number you put on the scorecard at the end.
What is a CrossFit Open workout?
CrossFit Open workout 21.2 is a combination of movements that include lifting an object from the ground to overhead, laying on the ground and standing back up and either stepping or jumping onto a target and then stepping or jumping back off of it. #functionalfitness
You can find all of the workout specifics on the CrossFit Open website, including their own suggested scaling options in the form of Divisions identified as RX, Scaled, Foundations and Adaptive. Within those Divisions you can customize even further based on your own personal limitations with any of the movements in the workout.
CrossFit Open workout 21.2 is also a retest of a previous CrossFit Open workout, 17.1.
I completed 17.1 in the RX Division in a time of 17 minutes and 25 seconds. I was 40 years old, living on the Caribbean island of Aruba and my world revolved around fitness. Just because it could. And I loved every second of it.
But my entire life is different now. I am now 44, living in Maryland and no longer unemployed. I am a new small business owner trying to build a revolution of wellness with a community focus that reaches far beyond the traditional definition of fitness.
- I am not recovering between workouts with ice baths followed by epsom salt baths.
- I am not perfectly calculating my macronutrient intake to fit within my perfectly calculated daily caloric intake.
- Let’s be honest, I am still crushing the 8+ hours of sleep a night, tho. But I’m probably not drinking as much water as my body would appreciate and I’m definitely not stretching and foam rolling and doing the kind of body care necessary to sustain an extra intense level of fitness activity with any regularity.
My daily routines mimic the lives of many of you as I am just trying hard to stay on top of life’s ever evolving demands, while staying ahead of the aging curve of mother nature.
Going RX in 21.2 is arguably unfair to my body.
I don’t exercise in the same way I did in 2017. I don’t hope to accomplish the same things with my fitness as I did in 2017. I now use fitness as a conduit to help me achieve my current life goals, which have way more to do with your level of fitness than my own.
So, why would I do 21.2 RX? 100% to retest myself. To see where this new, older-wiser-bigger-dreams-in-a-smaller-town version of myself stacks up against the all-about-fitness-40-year-old in Aruba.
To make sure we are on the right track at Heirloom. To support this theory that doing less, but with more intension, is more effective over the long term than doing more poorly.
It turns out I’m 11 seconds less fit.
11 fricken seconds.
- I exercise an average of 4 times per week, which is up from it’s low during the months leading up to our Grand Opening last year. In our 45 minute class structure, that totals 3 hours per week. Compared to the 15-30 hours of yesteryear.
- I have used the 35# dumbbell (the 21.2 RX weight) during exactly 1 other workout in the last year and a half. Happy Thanksgiving Day 2020.
- And I care much less than I once did about where my name ends up on any leaderboard that measures the speed at which someone exercises.
But I do see tremendous value in the every-now-and-again test that challenges us, our minds and our bodies, beyond the stressors that we encounter in our every lives.
It’s the worst-case-scenario test.
If I was presented with a seemingly insurmountable task, in real life, how would I handle it?
Well, if said test was a physical test, based on the feedback I am getting today, my body would be wrecked. lol
But I would have the ability to overcome it.
Lifting the 35# dumbbell 150 times from the ground to locked out overhead is an accumulated load of 2,250 pounds more than the scaled option of 20#. (15# times 150)
And my body feels every last pound of that.
- Will I start using a 35# dumbbell for our regular workouts? Nope.
- Does it give me confidence that our regular routine of focusing on finding intensity with movement quality before adding any weight is working? Yep.
- Does it reiterate the fact that finding intensity with extra weight as a first option would have detrimental, negative impact on my ability to sustain an exercise routine with the regularity that is important to counterbalance the aging process? Without a doubt.
Edited, January 15, 2022 to add: Today, I would choose to do that workout scaled. This past year has been hard on my body. This year I would choose the less strenuous workout option, because life has been strenuous enough. You get to pick and choose what you are leaning into. And only you suffer the consequences or enjoy the rewards of those choices. Remember, only you know if you are right.
What are some lower impact ways to find the same level of workout intensity?
- Make the movement more precise. You often hear your Heirloom coach say “give me your most perfect squat”. That should not just be reserved for the warm up. The more consistently we can engage the widest array of muscles while only doing one movement, the more efficient our workout becomes.
- Slow down your movement. You know what’s harder than a squat without any weight? A squat without any weight, that takes you 5 or more seconds to complete.
- Isometric holds. While flexibility is the ability of our muscles to lengthen through a range of motion, the real test of strength comes in our ability to hold those lengthened muscles in that position for an extended period of time. No movement required.
So use the CrossFit Open as that gauge.
The one that tells you if you’re on the right track or not with your physical health. The one that highlights where you are excelling and where you might be falling short. Use it to flame friendly rivalries with your gym buddies, and to push yourself that extra little bit because you know people are watching and you want to put your best effort forward.
And then take all of that feedback:
- What movements did you love?
- Which movements gave you the most trouble?
- Maybe I don’t hate box jumps after all?
- Maybe I feel better about myself at the end of a workout when I’m so exhausted I can’t stand, than when I just give barely give enough.
And then go back to your regularly schedule routine of consistency sustained over, well, forever.
If you’re local, call us to set up an appointment to come in and take a tour, or better yet, text. 🙂 443.205.3385