Non-CrossFit Lessons Learned From The Crossfit Open

I’m admittedly not a CrossFitter. In fact, I’ve never tried a CrossFit class, so I don’t have strong feelings one way or another on the to-CrossFit or not-to-CrossFit debate. However, I’ve always been a big fan of classes offered by CrossFit gyms to those of us not ready for Olympic lifting, including the metabolic conditioning classes at Atlas and Brick.


On a recent Thursday, I found myself hanging out at Brick Chicago after a tough B|X class. I hadn’t realized that, during the CrossFit Open, Thursday is the night for the announcement for each weekly workout. Although I wasn’t quite ready for the challenge they threw out to the CrossFit community, I learned it could share some important lessons.

  1.       Twenty Minutes is Plenty of Time for a Butt-Busting Workout

Many of the workouts in the CrossFit open have time caps that hover right around 20 minutes. To those of us accustomed to scheduling our days around an hour-long workout, the idea of only spending 20 minutes at the gym seems like just not enough. Watching the athletes participating in the Open made it very clear that, if you work hard enough, 20 minutes can be enough. Next time you want to avoid a workout because you don’t think you can squeeze it into your day, take a note from the elite CrossFitters and find a circuit that will have you working at max effort for whatever time you have available.

  1.       You Have to Find Your Limit to Know Your Limit

In the many group fitness classes I’ve taken over the years, I’ve noticed both men and women hesitating to pick up heavier weights. As they were announcing the squat snatch ladder in workout 17.3, I couldn’t help but think, “holy moly that’s a lot of weight.” And yet the folks at Brick were grinning, because they knew that this type of ladder would push them to find their limits. It’s a lesson we can all learn from. If we hide from the things we’re scared to do, whether it’s running a 5K, lifting a heavier weight or hopping on the AirDyne, we’ll never know what we’re capable of. Are those things hard? Heck yes they are. But your body is capable of way more than you give it credit for.

  1.       Teamwork

I was lucky enough to be back at Brick on Friday when the classes were trying their 17.3 workouts, and as much as I was impressed with the athletes, I was perhaps more impressed by the folks cheering them on, helping them set up their barbells and tracking their scores. Not only is everything better with friends, somethings are way harder without friends. We need each other to push us through tough workouts. To drag us to the gym when it’s snowing. To run alongside us when we decided to run our own made-up marathon (looking at you, Cass and Theresa). To remind us what we’re capable of. The best version of you can’t be found in a vacuum. You need to be held up by those around you, and give that love right back.


While I’m not quite ready to pick up CrossFit, I’m happy to keep hanging around their gyms. I think there’s quite a few things we can learn from each other.

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About Dani Kruger

As a proud New Englander at heart, Dani loves the outdoors and anything maple-flavored. After a decade in the Midwest, she moved to Seattle where she loves the mild temperatures and mountain views. Dani's competitive nature is no secret, whether she's trying to do yoga at all of the state capitol buildings (23 so far!) or seeing how much vertical she can run each month in the mountains of the PNW. By day, she nerds out behind the computer as a data analyst for a health care consulting firm, where she works to ensure all individuals have timely access to high quality health care services.

2 thoughts on “Non-CrossFit Lessons Learned From The Crossfit Open

  1. I really want to try out a cross fit class. I’ve never been and kind of nervous I won’t be able to hack it. Do you have any places you would recommend to a newbie?

    1. Hi Jen! I’m not familiar with all of the great Crossfit gyms in the city, but if you’re new to Crossfit I definitely recommend checking out an Academy program. They’re designed for people who have never tried Crossfit before to learn the skills so that you can safely participate in all of their classes. Most Crossfit boxes/gyms will have you take about 7 Academy classes before you jump in to Crossfit.

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