The CrossFit Open is less than two weeks away. As an affiliate owner one of our struggles early on was encouraging our athletes to participate in as well as sign up for the Open. In our 2nd year of operation we hit the jackpot.

You may have heard of the Intramural Open idea before, but might not fully grasp how much of a positive effect it can have on your community. The Intramural Open idea was created by a man named Chris Cooper. Cooper is a gym owner, entrepreneur and a great resource for any affiliate owner. You can get in contact with him through his website,

Cooper’s idea has done amazing things for both our participation in the Open, but more importantly for our community as a whole. And it’s not too late to implement this at your gym too!

First, let me give you a brief rundown on what the Intramural Open is. I have also added a few concepts of my own to Chris’ original idea as well.

The Intramural Open Overview

In 2016, we introduced the Intramural Open in our gym. There are four teams that compete for the best score…where points are awarded to teams based on various factors, not just performance.

Four captains are chosen, not based on their expected Open finish, but on those who have the most fun in the gym.



Registration for the Open can be done at, and choose your CrossFit gym as your affiliate.


Athletes who elect to go competitive will be ‘drafted’ onto an Intramural team. They will still compete on the Affiliate team that contributes to the official CrossFit Open ranking. But to make the four Intramural teams as even as possible, try to spread these athletes evenly.

Following that draft, every other athlete registered for the Open will be drawn from a hat. Team Captains will rotate draws, and then notify the athletes of their team. Try to have a ‘Draft Party’ before the Open begins (February 23rd) to get everyone excited and rally around their teams for the next five weeks.

Scoring Points

Here is how we calculate each team’s points.

+1 Point – Attendance: every member of a team that completes an Open workout at Big Dane each week earns one point. Maximum one point per athlete per workout. This goes for Rx AND Scaled competitors!

+1 Point – Top 3: every male AND female member who places among the Top 3 at your gym for each workout (Rx only) gets an extra point for their team.

+3 Points (Team) – Best Dressed: Weeks 2,3 and 4 will have a ‘theme’ for how to dress up. The athlete that gets voted best dressed earns an extra 3 points for their team!!

+1 Point- Spirit of the Open (individual): The head coach will be watching all the athletes as they participate in the Open workout, both during their workout and before/after. Any athlete that found to be showing the true spirit of the Open (community, positivity etc) will be randomly be awarded a bonus point for their team!

+5 Points (team) – Spirit: The team with the most noise, pride, and PRESENCE each week will receive 5 bonus points. We will be announcing “themes” for each week.


While the official Open schedule basically gives you four days to complete your workout, we have a special schedule on Fridays. We urge everyone to try to make it to our Friday Night Lights event, but we do allow anyone to complete the Open workout during one of the regularly scheduled Friday classes.


Give away prized via random draws each week – think your gym gear, supplements and training packages. For the top team for the entire Open, give out a GRAND prize.

Our focus is on FUN. We want participation because it will makes the community fitter, and it brings everyone together in a fun, yet competitive atmosphere.

Take Aways

1)The single most important aspect of this idea is the selection of captains. You DON’T necessarily want your most advanced athletes for this one. You want to ask the most outgoing, fun and inclusive members in your box. They are the key to inclusion in the Open so pick members who will embrace their role and run with it.

2) This concept is not set in stone. You can add to it or take things away from it as you select. The main point is the teamwork and camaraderie that is required. For example, last year we added “theme nights” to our event. We selected random themes where athlete can dress up in silly costumes to show their spirit and ease the tension. Our themes this year are- Intramural team tanks, ‘Murica, 80’s fitness, Luck O’ the Irish (St. Patrick’s week) and the last week was themed CrossFit Big Dane family. We wanted to bring everyone together the last week to remind them that while we have had fun competing against each other the last few weeks, we are all one family.

3) Raw Statistics

  • The first year (NOT doing the Intramural Open)- we had a mere 16 athlete sign up online. AND I worked my butt off to get those 16.
  • The 2nd year (1st year of IO)- we had 48 athletes register and much more participate in Friday Night Lights.
  • This Year we had 55 athletes signed up already by February 1st! And the best part, I did very little work to get people to sign up myself. My captains have been absolute all-stars!

4) Reward your captains! My 4 captains have put in a ton of work behind the scenes recruiting members to sign up for the Open. Time they could have spent elsewhere. Even if you have a tight budget, you can reach out to some local businesses and scrape together a solid thank you package to present to them on the final week of the Open. Let them know how much you appreciate them.

5) Scoring. Adapt and tweak as you see fit. I like to have the athlete vote on most of the awards like ‘best dressed and team spirit.’ For the Spirit of the Open individual award I give it away to anyone I deem to deserve it and I don’t just give away 1 per week. ANYONE at anytime during FNLs that is awesome can earn a point.

6) Get a public scoreboard! You have a plethora of extra whiteboard space- use it! Designate part of the whiteboard during the Open as the public Intramural scoreboard. This highlights the athletes who demonstrated the most spirit and were best dressed in the previous weeks. More importantly, it keeps the positive conversation going about the Intramural Open.

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Barrett Danz is the owner and founder of CrossFit Big Dane– located in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. He brings experience as a strength and conditioning and power lifting coach prior to starting CrossFit. He has been an athlete and an avid fitness fanatic his whole life and he truly enjoys helping others find new confidence through fitness.

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