Photo Credit: Marius Vérité
Stop 1: Finland (Turun Tuomiopäivä)
Stop 2: Utah (The Iron Games)
Stop 4: Madrid Championship
Stop 5: Sweden (Halmstad Throwdown)
For the first time on the trip, we’re in a place where there is no competition going on…but that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of worthwhile memories, lessons, and life changing experiences pertaining to CrossFit (and disc golf) while I was there.
When I found out I’d be in Norway for a few days I got in touch with Joakim Rygh, one of the coaches behind the arsenal that is becoming CrossFit Oslo on the worldwide competitive CrossFit scene. He was nothing but excited and generous and despite the fact that many of their athletes would be competing the previous weekend in the Norwegian National Championships for IF3, he invited me to come to the gym with the athletes who were training on both Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 8:30 in the morning. Roger was keen to make that happen, and we were there 15 minutes early Tuesday.
Not long before arriving in Oslo I found out that my friend Marius from Truth Films would also be there at that time, and sure enough, when we walked in both Joakim and Marius were there- a warm greeting from some friendly faces and experts of their respective crafts.
Summaries of our training from those two days can be found on Sept 19 and Sept 20 entries in September Friendly WODs, but more than the training, having the chance to get inside the mind of Rygh and the Kriger training thought process was both an unexpected surprise, and one of the intangible things this trip delivered on personally.
Although the numbers were quite low relative to a typical day there, Rygh and Simen Aaslund took time to explain to me that on most days there are upwards of 20 or 25 semifinal caliber athletes at their training sessions. When managing that many athletes, in a sport that requires proficiency at a countless number of lifts, skills, movements, and time domains, the delicate process of making sure everyone is getting what they need becomes quite the challenge.
I’ve spoken with other programmers and coaches who have had similar success with their athletes in the past. And at least so far, everyone program or training methodology or camp has some distinct similarities:
- There’s a balance between what everyone does and what each individual does.
- There’s a very conscious perspective about who is competing with whom and who, and more importantly how to avoid unwanted moments of competition within training days or cycles.
- Athlete’s have specific phases of their training relative to the last time and the next time they’ll be competing.
However, there are also some noticeable differences, and I think that’s important too. I’m not going to give too many of Kriger’s secrets away here, but they communicated a few things to me which are different from conversations I’ve had about similar topics. So far they’ve had pretty good success with their athletes on both the individual and team side. Certainly there are some inherent advantages right now about having the support from the Norwegian government when it comes to functional fitness athletes; but I believe their unique approach is contributing as well.
CrossFit Furuset could not be much more different than CrossFit Oslo. It’s in the industrial part of the city and 95% of the population who attends would have no idea who Tia-Clair Toomey, Mat Faser, Laura Horvath, or any other CrossFit Games athlete (outside of maybe Kristin Holte- and that’s only because she was on a popular Norwegian TV show) are or have done.
They are working class, multi-national, and members of the community. Roger has helped build the clientele here and he speaks very passionately about who they are and what they’ve created. On Tuesday evening he organized a “workout and seminar” with his friend, Brian, from America. It’s unlikely any of them would know a single thing about me other than that, but the fact that Roger’s friend from the US had come to Oslo to talk to them had piqued their curiosity.
Earlier in the day Roger asked me to write a low barrier to entry, teams of three, AMRAP style workout for the group- no problem. Then he asked if I knew what I was going to talk about for the seminar; I lied and said ‘yes, of course’.
For these sorts of things (of which I have not done many in person in this way), I have found it best for me personally to prepare very little. I can get away with doing that because I have prepared for the last ten years by living it.
After taking them through the workout and watching the intensity rise as the clock ticked towards zero, I decided to start with movement quality, specifically pertaining to the full range of motion of the hip joint. There was a youth (13-15 year old boys) hockey team in attendance, and then a wide variety of age, experience, and limitations amongst the 15 or so adults who had shown up.
After talking about the importance of movement quality I navigated the conversation in a variety of different directions as they felt appropriate. I could not possibly remember everything that I said, and I kind of like it that way. I don’t think I ever want to be a speaker or a coach who sticks to a template or formula. I want to be organic in delivery and purposeful relative to the audience before me. There are principles and stories which that group of people stirred up in me by watching them move and the answers to the interactive questions I asked which I didn’t have to second guess; I just let it flow. If you really know and understand something, I believe you should be able to do this too.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how big of an impact it would have on me. A few of the people who had shown up shared pieces of their story and journey during the seminar when given a chance. Others stayed behind afterwards to ask questions, say thank you, or mention that they were inspired by something I’d said. Even Roger put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘damn, I didn’t know that one, very cool, I’m going to use that’, in reference to a story I remembered and recalled that Greg Glassman had shared long ago.
I hope I get the chance to do more things like this. If you happen to be reading this, and have interest in something similar for your community, let me know, and we’ll see if we can make it happen!
Thankfully, Lena Richter (fresh off her team win at the Madrid Championships) was very keen to do so, and had mentioned that Coach Simen also played. We were all on the same page about where to play, because there are no better views of Oslo anywhere than from Holmenkollen. While it is primarily famous at this point for the massive ski jump from the Oslo Olympics which rises above the tree line on the mountain that already overlooks all of Oslo, there also happens to be a disc golf course there.
It rained for 90% of the time I was in Oslo, but if you watched the video above, you’ll see that we were blessed with perfect weather for the couple hours we were up there. Quite possibly the most picturesque place I’ve ever played.
Oslo Throwdown 2023 Site Visit
The last major thing we did while in Oslo was visit the site for the Oslo Throwdown, which is scheduled to take place at the end of October.
This is the second time in a couple of days I had the chance to visit a site location for a competition, or potential site location for a competition, with Roger and Alex (who as I have mentioned run more, big competition annually than anyone else I’m aware of).
Selecting a site is critical in terms of a competition’s overall success, so being able to observe both early and late stages of that process is something I don’t take for granted. In this case, being about six weeks out from the competition, final details about floor plans and layouts, access points, vendor/sponsor areas, and camera positions for broadcast, were among the things being discussed.
It was far too short of a stay in Oslo this trip, but it’s what I had time for. There are many things I’d like to pursue further there, as well as in Sweden. Don’t be surprised if we end up there again soon.