Open gym slots let athletes do their own thing so if an athlete is looking catch up on a WOD or to bring on certain skills this can only be a good thing right?
Sometimes it feels like athletes have been asking for more open gym slots since the beginning of time.
It's usually the same conversation, someone joins a CrossFit box, starts to see results, picks up some skills, then goes onto the internet for 5 minutes and decides that if they are going to continue to improve they must now start doing X,Y & Z or they will immediately start to regress and loose all of their gains - you know the ones that they got from going to classes...
As much as the above is 'tongue in cheek' you'd be surprised as to how often that conversation actually happens!
So what's the 'Good, the bad and the Ugly' of open gym use?
Be it catching up on a WOD or doing some extra skill practice/strength/mobility work these athletes have a plan in mind and are here to work.
A lot of the time their extra work has been decided upon with their coach and whilst they are social they don't let it get in the way of getting their work done (or get in someone else's way).
These are usually athletes that know that what they should be doing but let themselves get caught up with ugly traits on a regular basis.
They also tend to play to their strengths so if they are good at gymnastics they'll usually be seen doing gymnastics instead of addressing a weakness.
These athletes will turn up to do stuff. There is usually little to no plan outside of 'I need to do more'. These athletes tend to be the type who value quantity of training over quality and are quite often the ones who regularly shorten their range of motion just to get through a rep or a WOD. They also like to talk about 'what they did at the other gym' or 'what they used to lift' and will spend more time talking/posturing and trying to coach (incorrectly) than actually training (hence the need for more sessions).
Now that I'm determined to be 'The Good' how should I use open gym?
For me the simplest way to use open gym is to catch up on a class you missed during the week - trust that your coaches have a plan in mind that will improve you if you commit to it.
If you've managed to get to all classes but also want to get to open gym this is a great chance to work on a skill/improve technique or mobility, so treat it that way and train like you should - i.e. always strive for perfect movement and FULL range of motion.
Another great way of using open gym is to meet with friends, pick a WOD and throw down! Whilst this may seem like it's completely random, it's a great way of exposing weaknesses (as different people will want different movements in a WOD) so you could be forced to do something you need to practice. Furthermore it's great to forget scores on the board every so often and just do a tough WOD with friends - enjoy your fitness!
The take away. Open gyms are a fantastic resource and a chance to really hone your skills if you use them correctly, so next time you go to an open gym have a plan, stick to it and enjoy your fitness!
Stay Classy CrossFitters
Fergus and the Team
CrossFit Blackfriars London