Affiliates React to 16.4


As quickly as the Open started, the penultimate workout was announced last Thursday, March 17.

CrossFit Games master programmer Dave Castro stood between Katrin Davidsdottir and Sara Sigmundsdottir, two elite CrossFit athletes from Iceland who impressed many at the 2015 CrossFit Games. Davidsdottir took home the Fittest Woman on Earth title while Sigmundsdottir, received third place after a defeating battle with handstands.

But Sara shined in the long chipper Castro programmed. It was a 13-minute AMRAP of 55 deadlifts (225 pounds for men/155 pounds for women), 55 wall balls (20 pounds for men/14 pounds for women), 55 calorie row and 55 handstand pushups. Scaled, the workout was 55 deadlifts (135 pounds for men/85 pounds for women), 55 wall balls (14 pounds for men/10 pounds for women), 55 calorie row and 55 hand-release pushups.

Based on Dave Rubin’s of CrossFit Durham and Sara Huntsman’s of Letrono CrossFit feedback, members are still motivated well into the fourth week of the five-week, international competition. In fact, Huntsman said her members will even be sad when it’s over. Read how these two Affiliates prepared their members for the Open, what tips they gave them for 16.4 and what some of their male athletes complained about this week.

Dave Rubin of CrossFit Durham


How did you prepare your members for the Open this year?
“I won’t take credit because it’s not a holy original idea. I saw it last year that a lot of Affiliates were doing it. I think it came out of Chris Cooper’s consulting company… We have about 120 athletes signed up for the Open this year and what we’re doing is a team intramural concept. So those athletes are divvied up into seven teams. We assign team captains. Those captains were able to draft athletes and recruit athletes to their teams…. We really made a huge emphasis just on participation. Athletes get points for their teams just by doing the workout. They get another point if they enter their score in the game system for the workout. And then we put a lot of emphasis on team spirit.”

What would count as Team Spirit points?
“It’s kind of subjective, determined by me, team spirit points each week. We’ve been doing bonus point opportunities for folks. One week it was take a picture in a CrossFit Durham T-shirt, post it on our Facebook page, of somewhere around downtown Durham. Everyone can get a point for that. People get bonus points if they hit a PR or get their first pull-up or HSPU in one of the workouts. Couple weeks ago, if they posted a video of them lip synching their favorite psych-up song, they got bonus points. So people have really gotten into the team concept.”

Are you doing anything as a community for the announcements or workouts?
“It’s twofold: We’re doing viewing and announcement parties every Thursday night when Dave is announcing the workouts. And we’re having two guys and two girls, at a minimum, do a face off right after he announces the WOD. So we’re barely even watching the Games athletes do it. We’re taking the announcement, waiting for the standards to come up online and having our own guys go at it and kind of do a preview. And then we’re doing [the workouts] Saturday mornings in our Box, just because we thought that would give us the most time and a chance to get everyone together. So Saturday mornings, from 9 a.m. to noon, is our competition time. And we certainly have a few people doing the WODs outside of that time if they can find a judge.”

How are you planning to finish the Open?
“We have 3 more weeks — we’re doing a bonus event that we’re calling 16.6, which will actually be a round-robin dodge ball tournament for the seven teams. So it will be fun and fitness, but not an actual workout. And we just launched this week, from now through the end of our tournament, so through 16.6 on April 2, bonus points. We’re doing a dog food drive for a local animal charity. The team can get one bonus point of scoring for every pound that they donate. In the last couple of days, we have over 400 pounds of dog food brought into the gym. It will change the whole dynamic of the point scoring because, frankly, after three weeks the leading teams have 150 points or so. And now with $50, they can bring in 100 pounds of dog food and totally change the scoring. And that’s kind of what I was going for. Our goal is [to] raise 2,000 pounds.”

How did you get your members excited about the Open?
“We’ve been around since as long as the Games have been going, so we’ve always been a part of the Open. I think our largest participation prior to this year was around 60 or 70 athletes, and that was probably the first year they did the Open, when people were all excited about it. And I noticed in the last couple years, there was really a drop off in enthusiasm because a lot of the athletes who knew they had zero chance of going to the Regionals, which we all know frankly is almost everybody, a lot of them were like ‘Why bother? What’s the point? Why pay $20 for workouts we’re going to do anyway? Why do I need to see that I’m 6,000 in the world?’ I really wanted that to not happen again. I would see these other gyms and I was like, we’re missing something. So it was really as simple as tweaking the template for this intramural concept, putting it together in our own way.”

How did your members react to 16.4?
“No one really reacted to the movements, but as he was calling out the 55, people we’re definitely reacting. I know we had some groans over the 55 deadlifts at that load ­­— the 55 calories, definitely. And then, for the HSPU was a big one. At our gym, we’re going to have a lot of people do the workout RX and we’ll have plenty of people get into the HSPU, and some of them will make a pretty good effort to get through a lot of them. But then we have others where they haven’t even tried a handstand yet … Overall though, I actually think the reaction to this was a little bit more accepting than some of the other ones.”

Any predictions for 16.5?
“My only prediction is complete unpredictability. We’ve seen it all … I think everything and anything is on the table for 16.5. Who knows?”


Sara Huntsman of Letrono CrossFit  

How did you get your members excited for the Open?
“We talked about it at every class. We kept telling them they don’t want to regret it. You don’t join a 5K race or run a marathon because you’re going to win. You do it for the experience. Athletes always get hung up on, ‘I’m never going to make it to the Games.’ Well, no, but it’s the fun of trying to get there or just wanting to push yourself. So it’s a lot of communication of, ‘Do this for you. This is our sport. This is your sport. You pay your kids’ soccer fees, you go to soccer tournaments. This is your time. It’s $20. Have fun.’ And then we turned it into a competition with our class times.”

How have you kept them excited throughout the Open?
“We told them it’s going to be a great five weeks — we’re going to have prizes, we’re going to do awards. So each week we did themes. For 16.4 the week’s theme was the 80s, so we threw back to the 80s. With that, people came in whatever 80s replica they wanted to show off. We had some legwarmers, leotards and some dressed up like Richard Simmons. They just had a lot of fun with it. And then, each week of the Open, we always do the Open workouts on Fridays, but we also do a Friday Night Throwdown every Friday, and then encourage our athletes to come and watch.”

Leading up to the Open, did you change your programming at all to prepare your members?
“We’ve done a little experiment this year with following this Invictus Program. Just their strategy … We worked on loads and seeing if that would be beneficial for the Open. And I would say that it has. A lot of our people have done a lot better this year than they have in years past… we programmed, more specifically, an additional competitive piece for our everyday workout. So we did our every day workout and then those that really wanted to train extra, we gave them more work to do … We said as long as you do the workout of the day, and you want to stay after, you can come back, whatever to get that extra piece in. because it was taking a good 30, 40 minutes outside of regular class time to get it done … It was a EMOMs, where they’re building their strength but going fast.”

How did your members react to 16.4?
“We didn’t think it was going to be another long chipper. We were thinking it was going to be more of a heavy, one-rep max type of deal, just because we haven’t really seen that yet … The guys were complaining a little bit about the weight discrepancies between the men and the women RX. The women’s RX was 155 and the guy’s was 225. They were whining a little bit about the weights.”

Any predictions for 16.5?
“I think my prediction is going to be that it’s going to be something heavy, just because we haven’t seen something heavy. That’s not what I want to see, but I think that’s what it’s going to be.“

Anything else you want to share about the Open?
“Include everyone. The Open is perceived for those people who do really well and score high and lift heavy weights, but we made it more about our everyday athlete who is just there to be fit. We just wanted everyone to have fun and we made a conscious effort to make sure that we were recognizing those people who just listened to us [telling them], ‘Do this for a year. You’ll be surprised about what the competition piece will do for you in your performance.’ And to hear them say, ‘You guys were right. This has been awesome. I was finally able to do this. I increased my time by this.’ It’s just creating that unity and your community with everybody.”

Hayli Goode is the former digital editor for Peake Media.