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5 Tips for Watching the CrossFit Games

Ah, the CrossFit Games! CrossFit’s annual contest to find the “fittest” man, woman, & six-person mixed-gender team “on Earth.” The Games are amazing. The Games are humbling. The Games are inspiring. The Games are not CrossFit. These are things to keep in mind while watching, discussing, and trying to understand what you are seeing. Try to keep the following in mind while watching this amazing event:

1) The director of the CrossFit Games, Dave Castro, states unequivocally that the purpose of the Games is to “test fitness”. It is not just a competition to see who can complete certain tasks with the best average score, like the decathlon. As a test, it must be extreme – it must push athletes to and beyond their limits. So, when you see athletes struggle – and even fail – (like this – see 11:00 in), that is why. It isn’t a test without the possibility of failure.

Related: What Do You DO at a CrossFit Box?

2) The CrossFit Games workouts are sometimes announced ahead of time, but not always. Imagine preparing for an athletic event without knowing what the events are. Imagine athletes qualifying for the Olympics in the discus then having to compete in fencing. Even though you can be sure some things will be in there – they’re going to do pull-ups at some point – this uncertainty is central to the CrossFit Games.

“Fitness is not just in the gym. Fitness is outside of the gym. It’s life. Anytime you find yourself saying, ‘Damn it, I can’t do that,’ you have a hole in your fitness.” –Matt Chan

3) The Games are deliberately a spectacle. The intention is not only to test fitness, but to put on a dramatic show. While drama comes out of competition in other sports, in CrossFit it can come both from the competition and from the task itself. New, unknown, and unfamiliar challenges are the hallmark of the Games and what makes it so different from all other athletic competitions. New, crazier challenges, like pegboards, test not only fitness, but problem solving and emotional resilience as well.


4) You are watching professional athletes. Most of the Games competitors train somewhere between 2 and 7 hours per day, six days a week. Now, that time includes a lot of resting between sets, but it’s still a full-time job. Most of them have also been training at that level for several years now. While you and I can do the same workout, we need to manage our expectations. We can also swim 200 meters freestyle just like Michael Phelps, but comparing our times to his really isn’t fair to us. The same holds true for the workouts at the Games.

Related: CrossFit? But I’m a (Bike Racer, Runner, Obstacle Course Racer, Triathlete, etc.

5) Remember why you do, or are interested in, CrossFit: to move better, to be able to handle life’s challenges, to live a fuller, more engaged life, to challenge yourself, and in meeting those challenges, learn more about yourself, and gain confidence that you can face whatever life throws at you. As Matt Chan, a six-time Games competitor has said: “Fitness is not just in the gym. Fitness is outside of the gym. It’s life. Anytime you find yourself saying, ‘Damn it, I can’t do that,’ you have a hole in your fitness.”

As long as you are improving, challenging yourself, and setting and reaching new goals, CrossFit is benefitting you. So let the Games inspire you, not suppress you.

–John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer