The Intramural Open is now a staple for hundreds of gyms worldwide.
It all started at Catalyst, and the idea has been tweaked or improved many times over.
In 2017, the largest change is the timing: we’ll hold the draft much earlier. This will allow gym owners to plan at least one six-week specialty “Open Prep” group in their gym.
Just in case this is your first time, the Intramural Open is a fantastic way to bring a “fraternity” feel to the CrossFit Games Open. Our focus is on inclusion instead of competition; points are awarded based on participation instead of finishing time. Captains are chosen from among the most FUN clients (not coaches), and they encourage others to play for their team. There’s no “last one picked”.
It’s easy to run, and many affiliates say it’s the best thing they do all year.
I’ll divide the Intramural Open season into four stages: Draft, Pre-Open, Open and Post-Open.
- Choose four Captains. These shouldn’t be the top athletes in your gym, but the members who you’d describe as “most fun.”
- Each Captain chooses a team name.
- Create five Facebook groups: one for each team, with you (the gym owner) and each captain as an ‘admin.’ Create the fifth for you and the Captains only, so you can get messages to Captains and teams quickly. Note: these aren’t your official Affiliate teams. I could still be on the official Catalyst team attempting to make Regionals AND the “Kipping It Real” squat (my Intramural team.) There’s no need to build all four teams on the Games site.
- Divide your “serious” competitors between the four teams with a Draft. In our draft, we presented the Captains with a list of athletes already registered for the Open on draft day. Each were allowed to “protect” two athletes–mostly spouses or best friends–for their team. The rest were thrown into a hat.Draft order was determined each round by randomization (e.g. 1-2-3-4, 4-2-1-3, 2-1-4-3, etc.) This year, Captains drew names randomly; last year, they could choose their athletes from the list of preregistered Open athletes. It’s up to you. If the draft isn’t done by random choice, I recommend keeping the order of the draft secret so no one is the “last one picked.”
NOTE: At this stage, ONLY the “competitors” in the gym are drafted. The rest of your gym membership will be recruited by the Captains later.
5. Immediately after the draft, the rest of your gym membership is open for recruitment. Captains can bribe, coerce or otherwise attempt to sign up any member for their team. Members sign up on the Games site [link: http://games.crossfit.com] to indicate their intention to compete. Captains report the recruitment of each athlete to in our Facebook group so two teams don’t lay claim to the same person. 1. Remind your clients that your goal is to provide fun, collaborative competition. Here’s how we presented it. Copy last year’s post if you like (just link back to the catalystgym site from whence it came.)
6. In our case, because scoring favors the largest team, we have a recruitment limit to keep things even. Any team can recruit up to 25 members–but must then wait for other teams to recruit 25 members before recruiting more. We have two Captains who are VERY good at recruiting–one left the draft with a list of texts already waiting on his phone. Expect more people to sign up for the Open because they’re asked by the Captains; this is the whole point of the Intramural Open. We had 22 signed up before the Draft, and hit 60 before 6am the next day.
Leading up to the Open, consider the main areas of potential “Bright Spots” for clients:
- First time hitting a gymnastics skills, like toes-to-bar
- First time reaching “Rx” in a workout
- First time eating for performance
- First time competing like an “athlete.”
Schedule a six-week specialty seminar for different skills or habits for the six weeks leading up to the Open. For the method we use to properly price specialty groups, click here.
7. Encourage teams to celebrate their spirit with shirts, noisemakers, etc.
8. Points are awarded to encourage participation and FUN.
9. A sixth event is added to level out the scoring. Last year, we did “Captains Gone Bad”.
The Intramural Open is built to increase participation and fun. Scoring reflects those goals:
1. Teams are given 1 point for every athlete who completes a given Open workout.
2. Teams are given 3 points for every athlete who finishes among the top 3 women or top 3 men in the gym per workout.
3. Teams are given 5 points if they win the “Spirit of the Open” award on any given week, including Week 6 (your secret “fun” event.)
A free scoring template is downloadable here:
1. All regularly-scheduled groups on Fridays during the Open will host Open workouts. Athletes can attend any group and score points for their Intramural team.
2. We promote the Friday evening group heavily to get as many people in the building at once as possible.
3. Members of our competitors’ program go first at 5:30, followed by everyone else. We try to have 1-2 members of each Intramural team represented in each heat.
4. We also host a “last-chance qualifier” on Sunday afternoons for athletes who can’t make any group on Friday or those crazy enough to attempt the workouts twice.
Admission fee for the Intramural Open is simply the athlete’s registration on the Games site. I believe it’s important for them to register.
Athletes attempting a “redo” on Sundays (or visiting from other gyms to be tested at ours) can purchase a special 5-class punch card. Registration in the Intramural Open at Catalyst includes being judged one time per event.
We sell a “2017 Catalyst Intramural Open T-shirt” – designed by ForeverFierce.com – but most teams will show up with homemade Team shirts. That’s great.
Many gyms do a “Friday Night Lights” event. Since you know how to run a group, I won’t write about how to promote the actual workouts. But make it loud, and make sure your gym is spectator-friendly, even if only temporarily.
Keep the hype level high. Build up to Dave Castro’s event announcements; interview athletes on video after each workout, and share them through the week. Talk about point spreads with “expert commentary.” If you see something done on the Games site, you can do it too: client stories, interviews, commentary.
Tag your photos with your gym name, #crossfitopen, #intramuralopen and #twobrain (so we can share your gym’s pics!)
Our “grand prize” is a private BBQ for the winning team.
ADDITIONAL POINTS TO CONSIDER:
This is HQ’s largest branding expense of the year. Capitalize on it!
The Intramural Open is a fantastic excuse to invite families and friends into the gym. Using our “Mavens” strategy, approach spouses and ask them to take pictures, or run the BBQ, count reps or otherwise help out; reward them with a gift certificate for free OnRamp to be used within the next 30 days.
If you don’t have a photographer on staff, hire one. Tell them to focus on the human element over the sweat. And let them bring lights if necessary, but don’t let them stand directly in front of anyone with a flashbulb.
The top team should be celebrated with some sort of “medal ceremony.” We’ve used shiny wrestling belts, medals and trophies in the past. But last year, we raised a banner to the winning team, and they took pictures of themselves with it. Great social media hype!
Follow the Open with a plan for expansion, like Fit it Forward. You’ve stirred up all sorts of pride and love within your gym; now turn that outward.
Finally, this is a fantastic opportunity to have a goal-setting session with your clients (unless you’re already using the “Bright Spot” system, in which case you have that covered.)