When the CrossFit Open was first introduced in 2011, an entirely new era of competitive fitness was born. Now, what had once been a local throw-down event at someone’s ranch in California, has become a platform in which people from anywhere in the world can participate, compete, and compare themselves with peers, rivals, and the world’s best.

The barrier to entry was, and continues to be, very low with the entry fee only US$20. Participants are allowed to do the workouts anywhere they have the equipment, and the rules have generally been clear about how to submit scores.

The competition has evolved and taken on new forms in the subsequent years, and this year is no exception. Historically the Open has taken place in February and March; this year it’s been moved to the autumn and will run from October 10 to November 11.

That means this year, for the first, and likely only, time, there will be two CrossFit Opens in the same calendar year. However, they are part of different CrossFit seasons.

So why did it move to autumn? CrossFit has historically positioned the Open at the start of each competitive season. In 2019, this did not happen, but starting with this inaugural Fall Open, that is once again true.

As an athlete, your job is to prepare the best you can, and then perform to your maximum potential under the rules and guidelines. It is a known and expected thing that rules will change and evolve over time; it happens in all sports to varying degrees.

Mat Fraser won the last CrossFit Open and the Games. Can he do it again in 2020? Photo: Michael Valentin

As a fan of the sport, this is something to be excited about. Once the Open starts on October 10, there will be relevant, exciting, and competitive CrossFit events taking place on a majority of weekends running all the way up to July 2020. Then there will be about a one month dead period before the season’s culminating event, the 2020 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin, in August.

For the second year in a row, there are direct paths for qualification from the Open to the Games. The most direct path is to be the fittest man or the fittest woman in your country by the end of the competition. The concept of national champions representing their countries at major sporting events is not new to sports, but when it was introduced to CrossFit last year some controversy came with it. Are they really fit enough to be at the Games? Does it dilute the title of being a Games athlete? How will they manage having hundreds of competitors instead of a few dozen? These, and many more questions dominated conversations among fans and long-time participants.

Hopefully, all those questions were answered this August when we saw the product of what the people who organise the Games created. The event directors were prepared for the number of athletes and programmed the early portion of the weekend to account for and accommodate them. Elimination rounds were introduced, and as weaknesses in athletes were exposed and the fittest on earth rose to the top of the leaderboard, the size of the field was narrowed into a manageable number for the final couple of days. In addition to that, there was an excellent opening ceremony celebrating the diverse population of the sport, and fitness culture, that CrossFit has become.

This year, in what will be year two of national champions having the opportunity to earn direct qualification via the Open, I believe we will see even more countries who have men and women who are both capable and competitive, doing the Open workouts, submitting their scores, and earning the opportunity to prove their fitness at the Games against the world’s best.

The Open has always been a celebration of the community. It is both the chance for the fittest on earth to awe and inspire, and a place for the rest of us to challenge ourselves. Whether you’re competing against your friends, against members at your gym, or just against yourself, it is certain that the competitive nature of the Open breeds opportunity for growth, accomplishment and the realisation of what each of us is capable of.

From the competitive lens, to the macro level, to the personal level, the Open should be a time to celebrate. Competition is often fun to watch, but the realisation that hundreds of thousands of us are fit and healthy is so much more powerful. Whatever your level of participation is this year for CrossFit’s first Fall Open: here’s to you, the heartbeat of the community.