CrossFit’s burgeoning appeal continues to draw the masses exponentially. That is reflected in Cayman by this year’s huge increase in participation in the Open round, which started last month.
More than 160 Cayman athletes from CrossFit 7 Mile, CrossFit Muscle Beach and CrossFit Cayman gyms have entered the online competition, the first stage toward qualifying for the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games.
Anyone can sign up to compete in the five workouts, which span five weeks, and post their scores online.
Last year, the Open reached more than 209,000 athletes worldwide.
Entrants either perform the Open workouts at a participating CrossFit affiliate where they are judged in person, or they can film their full performance and upload it to YouTube or another video-sharing site.
The video is displayed alongside a person’s score so other CrossFit athletes can judge.
To advance to the regional stage of the CrossFit Games, athletes must finish the Open near the top of their region’s leaderboard.
Only 20 men, 20 women and 15 teams from the U.S. and Canadian regions will advance to their regionals.
CrossFit Muscle Beach is a relative newcomer to the Open. This is the first year Tersh Broderick, owner of World Gym – which runs CrossFit Muscle Beach classes – has entered en masse.
Sherwin Bouville from CrossFit 7 Mile advises the Muscle Beach entrants, and Trina Gillis coaches, particularly the newcomers.
Paul Rousseau has been a CrossFit athlete only seven months, but the teenager is already one of Muscle Beach’s star competitors.
He used to play football, cricket and basketball avidly, but since discovering CrossFit, the 18-year-old engineering student abandoned them all.
“I love [CrossFit],” he said. “I’ve never been pushed as hard as this in any sport before.”
He is using this Open for experience and hopes to be a contender within a few years. The winner of this region’s Open, Latin America, used to get to The Games, but now that the region is lumped with the U.S., competition is even harder.
Rousseau enjoys the Olympic weight lifting tests most of all, particularly the clean and jerk and the snatches.
“I’m a lot fitter than when I was playing all those sports and also a lot stronger,” he said, adding he hopes to be competing in The Games within a couple of years.
Melissa Evans started CrossFit soon after having her second child two years ago.
“I’ve lost a lot of weight, coming down from 174 pounds to 143,” Evans said. “I really recommend CrossFit to anyone, 100 percent. It’s a really good exercise and, trust me, they will fall in love with it like I have.”
Her husband Roderick is a keen CrossFit athlete too, inspired by his wife.
“It’s been good fun,” said Broderick. “Over 30 people have signed up for our Friday and Saturday sessions. We’re doing good. Overall we have some athletes in the leaderboard top 20 on island. Paul and Melissa are doing really well.”
Elliot Vernon is CrossFit Muscle Beach’s best performer so far, ahead of James Macfee. Louw Steyn is third, then Michael Fasy and Rousseau.
Broderick is eighth, just ahead of squash star Marlene West, who is the top female.
CrossFit 7 Mile has been Latin America team champions twice and can boast Wanda Brenton taking the women’s regional last year.
Not surprisingly, CrossFit 7 Mile occupies most of the top spots in Cayman’s first 20, headed by Michael Smith, Grant Cellier and Chris Spigner, although fourth placed Jason Sneah trains at Muscle Beach too.
Vernon is 17th in Cayman’s top 20, Macfee 18th, Steyn 20th and Rousseau just outside, at 21st.