The Crossfit Open is an annual event that brings the fitness world together as nothing else can. About 300,000 normal everyday people competed in an event that tested their physical and mental capacity in every way.

The Open is not just about competition. The real power of the Open is providing the average person working on their fitness the opportunity to test themselves and feel what it’s like to be a better version than they were before.

When someone first starts a fitness program there is a preconceived notion about what they can do. As they improve, it’s important to test those limits and show the effectiveness of the training they’ve been through.

I’ve done 7 CrossFit Opens. I’m not new to the excitement, anticipation, and benefits of what the Open brings. I relish it every year. During the Open I hold myself to a higher standard. I try harder than I normally do, and I learn what I need to work on to get better for the next one.

I don’t do the Open because I think I’m going to make it to the next level in the sport of CrossFit. I do the Open because it will help me get to my own next level of health and performance.

What this year’s Open taught me about myself is that I can grow faster than I thought. If I focus on taking each day at a time and do what I need to do to follow my plan, then I will get where I want to be faster. If I keep thinking about the end result, I don’t put as much effort into what’s right in front of me and my progress slows down.

I learned that my Open experience is mine alone. I had to drastically reduce how intensely I was working out just 3 months prior to the Open starting (how I did in the first workout was evidence of that). I didn’t think I would be able to participate at all. I went into this year just being happy I could make an attempt. My performance was beyond my expectations. In a perfect world, I would have wanted to do better, but I know that for where I am, I did very well. I am proud of the what I did during the Open but more so for what I did leading up to it.

I learned that the Open is all about being part of something bigger than yourself. Why do we work harder, put more into it, and get butterflies before every Open workout? It’s because we know that our performance is getting put up on the board with the other 500,000 people doing it with us. It’s not the competition that matters, it’s the “Openess” the vulnerability and uncertainty we’re putting ourselves through that makes the event more impactful. When we do things in the light of day, we want the product we put out to be the best representation of ourselves it can be.

I learned that I love my fitness peeps. Every week for 5 weeks, I’ve seen people getting outside their comfort zones, working harder, cheering for each other, spreading love and appreciation, and bringing the best versions of themselves to the gym every day. Every Sat morning someone would do something they came in thinking they couldn’t do. Every week someone grew a little more, felt a little more love and we became more of a family.

At its core, the CrossFIt Open isn’t about fitness. It’s about the power of people pushing each other to be better versions of themselves. It’s about magnifying the effects of positive peer pressure, to help you get past fear, overcome an obstacle, and reach your full potential.