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Why I’m in the Open: By Assistant Head Coach Brittany Bolella


Why I’m in the Open: By Assistant Head Coach Brittany Bolella

Hi Y’all!

If you haven’t signed up for the CrossFit Open, don’t worry, there’s still time! You have until the score submission deadline on Monday night to sign up and submit. If you’re still on the fence about signing up, I completely understand as it seems rather intimidating. However, I’m going to give you a little background about my experience with the open, why I’m signing up this year, and why I think everybody should give it a try.

I started CrossFit in the spring of 2013, and I competed in my first open in 2014 with less than a year experience. Back then, there wasn’t a scaled option, only RX, so I completed all of those workouts to the best of my ability! That year there was a workout with increasingly heavy deadlifts with box jumps in between. I wasn’t as strong as I am now, so when I got to the 135lb deadlifts (pretty sure it was something like that) I slowed down, completing one rep at a time and even stopping before the time cap finished. I’m just saying, there’s always something someone can’t do or isn’t great at, and it’s not a reason to avoid it all together. The beauty of the sport and my love for it stems from it’s variance, which gives everyone an opportunity to shine somewhere. Fast forward to 2016, and I completed 50 deadlifts at 155lbs in quick sets of five in open workout 16.4.  How crazy is it to see that progress?  

In 2014, I didn’t set any expectations for myself, and I just wanted to enjoy the experience. I think I placed somewhere around 1800th in the Northeast region that year. Flash forward to 2015, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful in the open that year, even though I honestly had no clue what that meant. I was so nervous going into every workout and stressed out all week long. It wasn’t healthy whatsoever, and ultimately I think I would have performed better if I didn’t set expectations for myself. In 2016, I had just moved to NYC, and I was newcomer at the box I was going to at the time. This was ideal for me because no one really knew me, and I felt like there was no pressure. Plus (and this is a big plus), I 100% committed to the sole purpose of having fun with zero expectations of placing top whatever in the workouts. Guess what? Not shockingly, this strategy worked wonders, and I was beyond thrilled to place top 150 in the region that year, which was the top 1%. That was honestly an amazing feeling, and I’m not talking about the actual placing. I’m talking about how freeing and rewarding it felt to have fun, take chances, go hard and just completely shock myself. Had I set expectations, I don’t think I would have performed as well as I did. I honestly would have probably set my expectations lower than that placing too! I’m not saying creating expectations or goals is a bad thing. For example, this year I would love to place top 250 in the Northeast, but my happiness, self worth, and confidence is not tied to that number, and neither should yours. Don’t get caught up in the leaderboard in regular class or in the open. The best thing I ever learned is to stay in my lane, focus on myself, and never to compare myself to anyone else. That’s how my self confidence and self respect made a complete 180 in the year 2016, and my fitness made gains from that philosophy too!

The open is about surprising yourself. It’s about taking a risk, putting yourself out there, and leaving it all out on the floor. It’s the feeling of lying on the floor after the workout knowing you gave it your best effort that day. It’s about supporting your friends who are doing the same thing for their own reasons. If you approach it with that attitude, I have no doubt that good things will happen for you; maybe you get your first muscle up, or maybe you realize that you can push past your thoughts of “I want to quit” and finish the workout. The mental payoff from the open is well worth it, and that’s where I personally find the most value for myself, which is why I’m “in the open” this year.

So just remember, the open is what you make of it. It’s a loud, crazy, supportive environment where everyone comes together to support each other in getting a bit more mentally and physically fitter. Added bonus, you get to see us coaches workout and cheer us on, so we get to flip flop roles! When I see you guys push, it makes me want to push even harder. So let’s do this together.

Here’s a picture of me hitting a PR clean and jerk at 145lbs in open workout 15.1. As you can see I was super pumped. I hadn’t cleaned anything near that at the time, but I had so much adrenaline and support that it went up like butter. That’s why you do the open; as cliche as it sounds, you do things you never thought possible.

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