“Wo Man in the Arena” by Alejandra Morisi

“I love the Open because it’s humbling.” Those were my exact words to Tony like 4 weeks ago. And, it’s true. For 5 weeks, we are literally judged while we do workouts designed in a way we cannot control. There is no cherry-picking of the workouts, there is no miscounting reps, there is no cutting corners with our movements. There is absolutely no hiding. What you’ve got is what you’ve got.

And I think it’s humbling because it is easy to deceive yourself if you regularly do any of the things mentioned above. We are really good at believing our own excuses and at deceiving ourselves. But there is no hiding in the Open and it exposes you— your habits, your strengths and your weaknesses.

My own words were particularly true for me with 18.3. That workout came to a screeching halt at the ring muscle ups. Many of you know this, but I really struggle with the kip. Amazingly, I can do many things strict and the muscle up is one of those things. But it’s not efficient and every single muscle up I do is a fight with everything I’ve got. And while that can be honorable in its own right, that’s not what this post is about. It is exhausting and inefficient. As I fought the rings last Friday, all I kept thinking was, “Why am I still here? Why is this still an issue?”

I often joke about “Open magic.” It’s when amazing things happen…people get their first pull-ups, muscle ups, etc. during the Open workouts. And I think we all hope for that. Even when we haven’t been putting in the work. We still hope to be able to come in to the gym and to kill the workout. But, here’s the thing, that “magic” only happens to those who have been preparing and training consistently. If you’ve been working on your pull up strength after class and you’ve been consistently coming to the gym, then you will probably get a pull up during the Open. But it won’t happen if you have put zero work toward your fitness and movements.

So, on one side of the coin, we have that exposure. Our weaknesses are highlighted and I think that’s a gift. You can take a raw, hard look at what you’ve been doing and assess what you want to focus on moving forward. I already started a mental list of every movement that could have taken me to another level during each Open workout. And I can’t wait to start working on them.

On the other side of the coin is this important truth: you are still kicking ass. I am grateful that I got to do those ring muscle ups. Prior to this year, I had not done any muscle ups for months because of my right shoulder. The fact that I got healthy enough to do those ugly strict ones IS magical. Give yourself credit for doing this; for stepping up to the plate and for being the “wo/man in the arena.” It’s easy to avoid this kind of test and exposure of your weaknesses.  But you did not do that. You still registered for the Open and you still show up to do the crazy workouts. Like the Teddy Roosevelt quote says, you are striving valiantly and if you fail, you fail while daring greatly.

“It is not the critic who counts; … The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  –Teddy Roosevelt.