As members “mature” in their CrossFit experience, whether it be through the advancement of skills, or simply the passage of time, many look to move into “Open Gym”. While this is admirable and does allow advanced CrossFitters looking for additional training time the opportunity to get added volume in a quality environment, it can also be rushed, destructive, or simply unnecessary.
Those moments in class where our instructors are breaking down the Power Clean or Snatch (as examples), are not simply there to improve the skills of the rookie members. Everyone has the ability to improve their technique and by extension, their performance by reviewing the basics.
I know a baseball player who has been playing since he could walk. His dad was a major league ball player, and he has followed in his father’s footsteps. So you would think he would have picked up all he needed early in life and that would be that; absolute baseball mastery.
Not so fast, Scott practices every day during the season, and through the entire offseason after a brief “sanity break”, and he does so under the watchful eye of coaches. Coaches that identify small variations or problems in his batting stance, his swing, his follow through. Coaches that make him take hundreds of reps at first base, left field and right field on a daily basis, all for an opportunity to utilize those skills 0-to-a-few times in a game. The continual pursuit of efficacy for fleeting moments of performance.
Going further, we have a coach that placed 7th in the world in her age group at the 2013 CrossFit Games at the Home Depot center. Did Karen do this alone? Not on your life. She asked Melissa early on to be her coach, and they worked tirelessly for months on efficacy. Getting it right, getting it perfect.
There is nothing wrong with open gym time. It is a great supplement to coached time, but don’t be naive and think it is a full replacement. Where your movement is not viewed and appraised, your movement can very quickly deteriorate, and poor habits take its place.
If you do take advantage of open gym time, use that time to work on your technique. I strongly recommend utilizing an App, like Coach’s Eye, to record your lifts. Slow them down and take time to review and analyze your technique. If you don’t have a device capable of this, ask another member to watch you and appraise your movement. Feedback is important no matter who you may be.
Simply using open gym time for extra reps (or class replacement reps) is simply inviting problems. Have a purpose well thought out for each session, and ensure that you or a buddy is evaluating your work.