How to Approach The NOBULL CrossFit Open 2023 as a Beginner

nobull crossfit open 2023

How to Nail The NOBULL CrossFit Open as a BeginnerHearst Owned

If your social media feeds have been awash with CrossFit content but you’re not sure whether you want to take on the Open – the first, online and entirely accessible stage of the CrossFit season – allow the cream of the London community to give you a push. Gathering at an activation hosted by NOBULL – a training footwear, apparel and accessories brand, as well as the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games – they spoke to MH about what the annual event means to their regular members and how you can approach the workouts with the right mindset as a newbie.

sam kitchen

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Sam Kitching, GM of NOBULL Europe

‘NOBULL was born out of the CrossFit community. The founders, Marcus and Michael, were CrossFitters and they participated in The Open – its where CrossFit was shown in its best form. For me, it’s the center. It’s an opportunity, no matter what your goals and objectives are, to just really enjoy the moment.

‘The way it’s programmed makes it so accessible. Everything is scalable. Some people have the view that they don’t want to do the Open because they’re “not there yet”. But you can participate very much and be a part of it. There is a special feeling you get from doing it. I’ve been doing the Open for eight years, and I’ve never done RX (workout as prescribed). And I’m perfectly happy with that!

nobull crossfit games 2023

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‘What’s amazing is that the coaches, give up their own time to put on the Friday Night Light events. When I looked at the Open and the community, I thought we needed to do more to say thank you to the coaches that make these affiliates in such special places at this time of year. At NOBULL, we pride ourselves on going above and beyond with experiences. The first CrossFit Games that we sponsored, we got an amazing amount of positive feedback on the athlete experience and the locker-room feel we created for them. I wanted to give the coaches that experience and really say thank you.’

joh douglas

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John Douglas, CrossFit Catford

Men’s Health: Why is the Open so important to you and your members?

Joh Douglas: It is your yearly review of all that time, effort and work that you put in. Sure you’re putting your fitness to the test against other people but instead of worrying too much about the leaderboard, it’s more about your own performance. If you do it year by year, you start to see the big-picture gains. You start to see that all this time, energy and money that you’re putting in is actually giving you results.

MH: And if it’s your first year doing it?

JD: Then you’re just drawing the line in the sand. It’s the next year that you want to see improvements and the year after that. You can start with the foundation level now that they’ve added that in. Then move up to scaled and the year after that you might be doing the RX movement. If you are only just starting with CrossFit, you get this little list of things you want to get better at that before the next year.

MH: What would you say to somebody about to begin their first ever Open workout?

Don’t stress about the movements and whether they’re ‘good’ for you or not. Speak to your coaches. They will be able to give you the best advice and help you come up with a game plan. Then do your best to stick to it and just have fun. You’ll be surprised what you can do under the pressure of putting yourself to the test. The workout is hard and everyone’s going to suffer in their own way. It’s a communal suffering. That’s the point. We all cheer each other on, and we’ll all go for beer afterwards.

jamie boston

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Jamie Boston, TIO CrossFit

Men’s Health: What does the Open represent for your community?

Jamie Boston: It’s about getting people together to actually try and legitimize our sport. People have come to us from different sporting backgrounds, or just general training, and they don’t necessarily quantify their fitness. They come in, get in a workout and go home, all without knowing whether they’re getting better or worse. The Open at TIO is a fantastic way to measure that fitness.

MH: How should someone who has been doing CrossFit for a bit approach the Open?

JB: My advice would be to treat it like a normal workout. So it’s just as if your gym is hosting your normal Friday class. If you’re hosting on a Saturday, it’s just your Saturday class. It’s all to easy to build it up too much, but at the end of the day, it will never be as bad as you expect. It can just be another workout on the list of those that you’ve done throughout the week. Don’t take any extra days off, just try to do a little bit less the day before. We all know what it feels like if you’ve had a few days off – that first session back is always a bit rusty.

MH: And with 60 seconds to go, what would you say to them?

JB: I’d say take a deep breath, and just focus on the first thing you have to do. Focus on movement number one and get the first rep right. A friend of mine used to talk about (Steve) Redgrave and (Matthew) Pinsent and how they would focus on the very first stroke at the start of the race. They felt that, if they got that right, the next one would take care of themselves. I apply that same principle to myself in my own training and my members. Don’t worry about the exercise you can’t do at the end of the workout. Just worry about the ones you can do!

chi yeo

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Chi Yeo, CrossFit Tufnell Park

MH: Do you feel a sense of responsibility running the Open for your members?

Chi Yeo: Five of us who trained at another gym thought that it wasn’t necessarily as community oriented as we wanted. So, on top of our day jobs, we started CrossFit Tufnell Park. For us, it’s not about it being a super-commercial business. Our jobs pay 90% of the bills. It was very much about creating the kind of space that we enjoy training in and giving back to the community; about showing people what a CrossFit gym could be like

The Open is a fantastic focal point to bring everyone together and there is real pressure on us to make sure it’s a positive experience. There’s so much that can be gained out of it for everyone, what they can achieve, how much fun they can have just training with each other and pushing themselves. There’s no bigger pain than what you can put yourself in through the Open. But it translates into a much greater feeling afterwards. Coming out afterwards, you feel fantastic.

MH: Which pitfall would you warn newbies about during the Open?

CY: If it’s your first one, just really try and throw yourself into it and give everything that you’ve got. Use it as an opportunity to get to know people. For the slightly more experienced, don’t get too hung up on beating someone, or getting a certain time. If you put in your best effort, then you’ll get the best reward.

MH: What is your mantra for your members just before the clock starts?

CY: Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. Try and keep consistent in your movement pattern. You’re going to want to try and change the way you move to go faster but the more you can move in exactly the same way throughout, the better your result will be. It’s hard in the moment but enjoy it, The more you enjoy it the more you’ll get from it. Smiling helps!

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