Testing Fitness vs. Testing Sport: The CrossFit Open

Posted on 25. Mar, 2015 by in Get Motivated, Workouts

It’s official, CrossFit is a sport.

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This year, the CrossFit Open has made it clear that they would rather test sport than fitness.  They would rather test skill than heart.

If you’ve ever played a sport at a competitive level like high school, college, or professional, you know it takes years to master your craft.  It takes countless hours and repetitions to throw, shoot, or catch a ball.

You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but athleticism only gets you so far when you step on the field.

You can be a Hall of Famer in one sport, and absolutely suck in every other.

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CrossFit is an amazing sport.  CrossFit doesn’t hand you a ball and say master this. Learn how to shoot it, learn how to catch it, and learn how to throw it.  CrossFit hands you a barbell, a pull-up bar, gymnastic rings, a kettlebell, a box, and so on.

CrossFit calls itself the sport of fitness, because as you try to perfect the sport of CrossFit, you can’t help but get stronger and faster.   Not many sports make you a better athlete as you try to perfect them, you become a better athlete so you can perfect them.

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Attempting to perfect a sport, is full of imperfections.  You have to fail over and over again until you succeed. You have to repeat movements tens of thousands of times in order to ingrain it into your muscle memory.


This is where many CrossFit athletes get frustrated because they don’t understand the sport vs. fitness concept.  Your 1-Rep Max Clean and Jerk doesn’t simply go up just because you are fitter and stronger than last year.  It goes up when you’ve drilled the movement correctly over and over again.


2015’s CrossFit Open has stirred quite a bit of controversy.  Some claiming Dave Castro doesn’t care about teams, Masters athletes, or scaled athletes.  Some claim they have alienated the majority of athletes while trying to cater to the top. Some claim it exposed their weaknesses too much for comfort.


Let me put forth a simple distinction that should satisfy the whiners and vindicate the winners.

If you currently are the cream of the crop of the CrossFit Open leaderboard, you are not the fittest in the world.

You are the best at the sport of CrossFit.  There is a strong correlation as I stated above, but when it comes time to complete a triathlon in the CrossFit Games, you better have the fitness to match the sport; the heart to match the skill.


Over the years (in my opinion), the CrossFit Games has stayed true to “Testing Fitness” and finding the “Fittest on Earth.”  This year, the CrossFit Open has not.

I think about these questions…

Where are the workouts where the only thing stopping you in your will to win?

Where are the workouts where the strength in your heart can override the strength in your muscles?

Where are the workouts like 12.1, 13.2, and 14.5?

For your reference…


7 Minutes of Max Burpees (target)


Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 10 minutes of:
115 pound Shoulder to overhead, 5 reps
115 pound Deadlift, 10 reps
15 Box jumps, 24″ box


21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:
95-lb. thrusters


I should be careful what I wish for because these workouts are usually the most painful.  They are also the most telling.  They leave you lying on the floor gasping for breath. They test you mentally as much as physically.  You learn a lot about yourself in these types of workouts.  You learn a lot about the athletes around you.


These workouts test fitness.  They don’t have a skill standing in your way of trying harder.

You don’t have toes-2-bar? Try harder.  You suck at muscle-ups? Try harder.  Your kip in the handstand push-up sucks? Try harder.

It doesn’t work like that.

Most of the movements in 15.1 through 15.4 are skilled movements, crafts that take 10,000 repetitions to master.


If you’ve spent the past year getting healthier and fitter, but not perfecting the craft of CrossFit, this year’s Open was probably a rude wake-up call; one that may discourage some athletes from participating altogether next year.


I really hope this doesn’t happen and the CrossFit Open continues to grow exponentially.

But will it after this year’s programming?

I’m not writing this post because I want Dave Castro to change his Open workouts.

I’m writing this post because I want CrossFit boxes around the world to continue programming for fitness.

Getting better at the sport of CrossFit is great. But getting better at life is why we are here.

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Continue programming for virtuosity; for fitness and wellness that goes beyond the gym walls. Keep it fun and interesting and don’t limit your WODs to the 15 movements the Open does.

At our box, CrossFit Palm Beach, we will continue to program with the same focus we’ve always had. To be the best part of your day, every day.  We won’t sacrifice that for better 2016 CrossFit Open scores.

If you are an athlete and were discouraged more so than encouraged by this year’s Open, don’t sweat it.

I’m sure you’re fitter than last year and continue to get better every day.  (Check out my brother Andrew’s post “Are You Fitter Than Last Year?”)

Who cares if you are one step further from making the CrossFit Games, you are one step closer to living a longer, more fulfilling life.

I personally want my athletes at my box to know how proud I am of their improvement in fitness and sport over this past year. Every milestone you guys hit drives us coaches to be better every day.

Keep Living Superhuman.

Join Us for our 2nd Superhuman 40 Challenge of 2015 beginning April 13th. Follow Link to Learn More. Early bird pricing until April 6th. 

-Tony Frezza

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