Affiliates React to 16.5


With sweet, sweat angel kisses, it is time to bid the 2016 CrossFit Open goodbye. It seems like just yesterday 16.1 was announced, and Affiliates were attempting to figure out how to do 25-feet of overhead walking lunges in their space. Or watching their members PR squat Cleans. Or taping up ripped hands after trying, or even succeeding, to get bar muscle ups. The final week, however, was a throwback — both in the workout and location.

Not that he’s a creature of habit, but CrossFit Games Master Programmer Dave Castro surprised few by programming thrusters into the final workout of the 2016 Open. Two years ago, Castro programmed thrusters and burpees over the bar for 14.5, which he duplicated for the final workout this year (RX 95/65 pounds and scaled 65/45 pounds). Those who had done 14.5 were already familiar with its pain. Three of those athletes included Mat Fraser, Rich Froning and Ben Smith, who faced off in 16.5 at the Ranch in Aromas, California. Between the three, Fraser finished first, completing the workout in 8:06, followed by Froning then Smith.

Read how three Affiliates celebrated the 2016 Open in their respective Boxes and how they plan to use the excitement leftover from the Open.

Wendell Webber of Midcoast CrossFit


 Did you do anything as a community to celebrate the Open this year?
“We always have a big Box-wide party at the end like many Boxes do. Our members workout and play hard.”

How are you feeling now that the Open is over?
“I think, as an owner, there is a lot of excitement and anxiety this time of year. There is pride in my athletes. [I am] happy they all did very well even though we had to console a few who felt they didn’t live up to expectations.”

When 16.5 was announced, what was your reaction as the Affiliate?
“It was the “ugh” heard around the world. Lot’s of anxiety surrounded this WOD because the athletes didn’t have a time cap and had to get the work done. I had to remind them we do longer WODs at least once a week here, and none of them ever quit and always got it done. I think that helped them get their head around it and realize it was just another workout.”

As the Affiliate, did you do anything week to week to ensure your members were ready for the next workout?
“Lots of mobility. We offer recovery options on all our daily workouts. This takes the ego out of the choice of RX, RX+ and scaled. An athlete can say, ‘I have a lot of volume this week but I have to stay loose, so I choose the recovery WOD.’”

How do you plan to keep the Open’s momentum in your Box?
“We are already on to the next ‘projects.’ We have a big fundraiser in two weeks to support a little girl that has leukemia in our town. We usually have at least seven events like this a year. We are also launching a competitors class to train/prep the athletes we have for CrossFit comps and endurance events.”

What have you learned from the 2016 Open that you will utilize in your programming now or for the 2017 CrossFit Open?
“If anything, it has reinforced our programming mindset. Our varied WODs were key to our athletes this year. Mental toughness and the ability to work long was key. Supporting our specialty Coaches, be it Oly or endurance and skill clinics will be areas we will further develop.”

Beth Campos of CrossFit Eden


How did you get your members excited about the 2016 CrossFit Open?
“We had about 62 members sign-up, and then we divided them into five teams … It went over the top more than I expected. Just community involvement. We had people coming to the gym who were coming to the gym maybe two or three days a week, do the workout and leave immediately. They weren’t really involved with the community. And then, this past Friday night, they stayed here until we closed the doors. So it kind of helped people who were on the fringes, not really involved members. And now, we’re packed … Everybody is super involved. We had a good mix. We had two or three Masters on every team, two or three teenagers on every team. We had some scaled athletes, some RX athletes. We ended up having a team winner. We called it The Affiliate Cup … We actually got the concept from CrossFit Fast Factory.”

At your Box, how did the Open change from last year?
“Last year, we weren’t very organized with it. We were just like ‘come in and do the workout.’ And it got to be where people were trying to one up each other … so we didn’t allow makeups this year. We just tried to keep that the community spirit was what mattered. Not necessarily somebody’s ranking over the other person. So last year, I hated it. I was so glad it was over. But this year, I feel great. This year, we had a DJ, a videographer and we had a photographer. We sold T-shirts. So we just tried to make it a fun event.”

How are you and your members feeling now that the Open is over?
“It’s kind of funny. We were like, ‘What are we going to do next Friday?’ Almost like … a sadness. People were relieved to get back to their normal schedules. But a lot of people are super impressed with how they did.”

Did you give any tips or strategies for 16.5?
“There’s no way that it’s not going to suck. Just don’t think about it. I said, ‘It’s the last week, don’t leave anything in the tank. It’s the last one you have to do for 11 months.’ We told our newer people, of course, to break it up. Anybody who could do a 65-pound or 95-pound thruster, I was like go for it. It may take you longer, but go for it.”

Any sweet stories from 16.5?
“Stacy, who qualified for Masters [Regionals], his father-in-law has been sick with cancer. And he worked Thursday, he’s a firefighter, but he came in Friday and did the workout and then Friday night, he text me Saturday morning and said ‘I had to go stay with my father-in-law last night. He fell out of the bed and my mother-in-law couldn’t help him up.’ So Stacy went over there, took care of him all night, then went to work on Sunday, and then came back in here yesterday, beat his time and then last night, his father-in-law actually passed away. And a lot of our members didn’t even realize that he was dealing with that. But he came in and he knew he needed to have a good place in the Open so he would carry a good score in the Regional qualifier so he could possibly make the Games.”

What did you learn from the Open this year?
“This year, it took a lot of time on my side, on the organization end of it … The work of this is definitely worth it. I’m doing the exact same thing next year. I’ve already taken notes of things that I will even do better.”

Ryan Fischer of CrossFit CHALK


 Did you do anything as a community to celebrate the Open this year?
“We teamed up with a local car dealership, South Coast Subaru, and they give me a bunch of money to give to the athletes. I give $100 to the first place men and women scores. And we have a Friday Night Lights event and I try to attract other people to come just so they can try to win some cash and just to kind of up the vibe a little bit. I think giving money away helps push people a little harder.”

How did you get your members excited about Friday Night Lights?
“I have the Wodify system for the gym and everyone signs in and they’re all looking at the workout … and every time they go on there, there’s a little announcement in yellow and it just says ‘Friday Night Lights is tonight. Make sure you’re there,’ so I think that helps … And then I have a headset that you put on kind of like a group instructor … I go around and kind of hype it up a little bit. People really get really into it … I love the headset. Everybody calls me Richard Simmons. I have the short shorts on and everyone is making fun of me.”

What was your reaction to 16.5?
“I like those movements. My first thought was ‘Friday Night Lights is going to be a long night,’ because it’s going to take 20-plus minutes for that workout.”

How did you prepare your members for the workouts each week?
“The day or two leading into the Open, I would do like a lot more EMOM style workout. Or just a little bit less volume than I would do any other days. I would tell everybody, ‘I know today is not the hardest day ever, but I just want to make sure you guys are cool for tomorrow. I don’t know what tomorrow is going to be, so let’s just stay conservative today and we’ll unleash on Friday.’ I make the whole gym do the workout on Friday. My class WOD is the Open workout on Friday.”

How are you and your members feeling now that the Open is over?
“I think everybody is ready to get back to regular workouts. And I think my favorite part about having members sign up is they just know they’ll never go that hard on a workout on your own in the gym. And I think as soon as people realize that they’ve signed up for something and that the whole world is going to see their scores, it puts a lot more stress on them.”

Do you have any plans to keep the Open excitement alive at CrossFit CHALK?
“We do Friday Night Lights all year. We’ll take a month or two off now, and then I’ll have my own Friday Night Lights where I’ll create my own workouts. And then I will invite anybody who is around town to come out. And I’ll still give money away. It’s a pretty average thing around here at CrossFit CHALK.”

You and another Coach are going to Regionals! How did you accomplish that this year as an Affiliate?
“I actually wasn’t going to do Regionals. The only reason I did it was for a bet. I put one of the Open workouts from last year for the class workout and a bunch of members from the gym … were like, ‘If you get a top 10 score in the world on this workout, let’s make a deal and say you have to do the Open this year.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m in that good of shape, but sure if that happens, then fine.’ And I would have gotten fifth. So I was like maybe I don’t suck, I’ll do the Open. And I didn’t really care all year, and I wound up getting 8, which is cool.”

How do you plan to keep members just as excited about Regionals?
“It’s not very hard. I just tell everyone I’m going and everyone is so tight-knit at this place that they’re all going to go and they’re all going to be there. Everyone is already talking about renting rooms and being down there for the weekend. So I haven’t really had too much stress on that.”

Hayli Goode is the former digital editor for Peake Media.