For the first time, CrossFit will be adding an Adaptive Division to the Open and Games in 2021. This is another step that CrossFit is taking to be more inclusive. Though this news is exciting for fans and adaptive athletes, there’s still a lot of work to be done, according to the Director of Community of the Adaptive Training Academy, the organization spearheading the division, Logan Aldridge.
This is why on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, at 12 p.m. EST, the ATA is hosting its second Town Hall focused on creating Sport Classifications within the Adaptive Division and standards for those divisions to be added to the official CrossFit Games Rulebook.
You can sign up to attend the Town Hall here.
“We’re opening ourselves up to the community of those who have or are interested in participating in adaptive fitness competitions, and just hearing everyone,” Aldridge tells BarBend. “The last thing we want to do is to not sound like we’ve listened to and heard the community. This is a passionate community, and this is really important to us.”
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Creating Rules & Standards
Though CrossFit is adding an Adaptive Division to the Open and Games, they’re really adding multiple divisions, or what the ATA is tentatively referring to as Sports Classes. Multiple classes are vital as they allow athletes with different impairments to compete in the division that’s best suited for them. So far, there are eight proposed Sports Classes, and with each comes different judging standards and rules. It’s a lot to organize, which is why, according to Aldridge, this upcoming Town Hall is so vital. Here are the eight proposed classes:
- Upper Extremity Impairment
- Lower Extremity Impairment
- Visual Impairment
- Short Stature
- Neuromuscular Impairment
- Seated Athletes (Class 2; athlete has hip function)
- Seated Athletes (Class 1; no motor function of the hip)
- Intellectual Impairment (also known as neurodiverse or cognitive impairment)
“It is going to get tricky and specific. It’s really important that we solidify our rulebook and our standards of movements for someone to get classified in their impairment Sport Class,” says Aldridge.”The beautiful thing about what we’ll have here…is that we’ll be able to adapt alongside CrossFit from an able-bodied perspective.”
Before partnering with CrossFit, Aldridge says that his team at the ATA and WheelWOD (a CrossFit-specific competition platform for adaptive athletes that Aldridge owns with creator Chris Stoutenburg) would wait until the Games events were released on Instagram, and then do their best to replicate them for adaptive athletes. But now that the ATA is working directly with CrossFit, this opens the door to more preparation. This allows Aldridge and his team to create an event that is unique and suited for the multiple Adaptive Sports Classes.
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“For example, if an Open workout has a lot of air squats in it, we have endless possibilities for adaptations for our seated class or individuals who cannot squat,” Aldridge explains. “Rather than having to stick to the able-bodied-prescribed workout, as we had to do in the past…there is benefit in completely rewriting that workout to test [an adaptive athlete’s] fitness rather than their skill in some of these complex movements.”
However, with those varied workouts comes the need for various equipment, movement standards, and even specific rules and standards for judges to follow. (Another example Aldridge gives is figuring out how involved a judge can be when monitoring a visually impaired athlete.) To create a cohesive and competitive Adaptive Division, Aldridge and the ATA hope for experienced and interested members of the adaptive community to voice their opinions and ideas. Specifically, when it comes to knowledge of Paralympic standards, which is what Aldridge says this new division will be modeled after.
“This is the future,” Aldridge says. “I believe that this will be part of the Paralympics one day and that there will be a functional fitness aspect.”
Another important point is the creation of a recreational division for adaptive athletes in the Open.
“But also, [CrossFit] is an activity or a hobby for people with disabilities,” Aldridge says. “We want you to participate in the Open if you have no desire to compete. A lot of that came from our discussion in the first Town Hall meeting. Some people just want to do a good workout for an hour and see where they stack up in their community. You don’t have to be some hard-charger who works out five days a week, and life revolves around wanting to get fitter.”
How the Meeting Will Work
During their first Town Hall meeting on Dec. 9, 2020, Aldridge says around 250 people attended. Everyone is given access to a Google Doc that allows anyone to ask relevant questions. First, Aldridge and his team explain the changes they want to make and plan on making and why. Then, the floor is opened up to individuals with experience in Paralympic classification standards (which are the standards that the ATA are holding themselves to) and how they can be applied to all of the decisions and categories. Aldridge and the ATA also answer questions from the Google Doc.
Again, if you’re interested in attending and either listening or adding input, you can attend the meeting by clicking the link that the top of the article. Once you fill out that Google Form, you will be sent a link for the Zoom event.
Featured image: @adaptivetraining on Instagram