Box Review: CrossFit Julia and the Tough Pumpkin

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Me during the farmer carry

This post is well overdue. It has been over three weeks since I competed in the Tough Pumpkin at CrossFit Julia. I competed in the “Rookie” competition with three other members from my box. It was a two male, two female competition aimed at CrossFit competition rookies. I know one of the girls on my team was a rookie and it was her first comp, the other female has been in a few competitions just this year, but her range of motion is just barely adequate and she is still working on a few of the basic movements (pullups, for example). This was my third competition this year (and my third ever) and the second male was a college swimmer, but I am not sure if he has competed in a CrossFit comp before.

Julia is a fairy small box located in pretty much the exact opposite corner of the Denver metro area from where I live. I live in Southeast Aurora and Julia is in Louisville or what could be considered outside the Northwest corner of the Denver metro area. While the box was small they appear to do a great job with storage of equipment and have adequate floor space. I would guess that if they have a class of 15 individuals they are pretty tightly packed. But, hey, so are we at my box.

Julia does have a nice entry way with a desk and seating area and a decent sized room for children. They have some cabinets where I’m guessing some members might keep post-workout nutrition along with other basic eats.

I heard really good things about this competition from last year and was looking forward to the WODs. Last year I heard they included some sort of football toss, catch and run into a WOD.

This year the first WOD was an eight minute AMRAP of sorts. The team of four had eight minutes for each member to find their three rep max deadlift. To mix it up they had a rower and a stationary bike (without a seat) that two members used for the eight minutes and each rotation of the bike wheel (set at a difficult setting) was one bonus point and every five meters rowed (rower set on damper setting 10) was a bonus point. The second WOD was a team chipper. At station “a” the men (or women) had to do 50 box jumps while the women (or men) did 50 ground to overhead with a keg – and then they switched. The team couldn’t move to station “b” until all box jump and keg reps were completed. At station “b” the teams had to perform 100 front rack lunges (50 men, 50 women) and 200 jump ropes with a heavy rope (100/100). Finally, station “c” required 100 (50/50) hay bale burpees (like bar hopping burpees, but over a bale of hay) and six (3 each) round trip farmer carries with bales of hay. The final WOD each member had to complete two 30 foot rope climbs, 400m run and then traverse a 20 foot slack line. This was a relay race so only one member worked at a time. If a member couldn’t do the rope climbs they had to do 20 burpee “rope pulls” (kinda like a burpee pullup) and if you didn’t traverse the slack line in three attempts you had to do 10 burpees with a Halloween mask on.

That is quite a variety of movements and time domains. For a rookie competition I think they were all really good and I never felt exhausted. Or, if I compare to the Battle of the Rock: these were definitely “rookie” WODs. Battle of the Rock obliterated me and I felt completely fine after the Tough Pumpkin.

So far, so good, right? Well, there are a few complaints with the competition.

The WODs were a fun selection but each one had issues.

There were two teams from Crush competing and the other Crush team was in the first heat for each WOD. In WOD #1 their bike was set to a more difficult setting than the other bike. One of the females jumped onto the bike and could barely move the pedals while the other team was having a much easier time. One of the co-owners of Julia spotted this about a minute into the WOD and ran over and adjusted the bike for the other Crush team – making it easier. To add to that bit of unfairness the second Crush team was also mis-counted in their total deadlift weight. The judge didn’t verify their weights (the judges did so for the remaining heats) and they were out 20 pounds of weight. This isn’t as big as the bike because even with the additional 20 pounds (20 points) they would not have gained any spots in the standings.

The second WOD was supposed to be 25 reps for the men and 25 for the women on the keg ground to overhead and front lunges. That was how the WOD was prescribed on the Tough Pumpkin website and on the white board in the gym. During the first Crush team’s heat the men got done with their 25 keg ground to overhead and thought they were done – they weren’t, apparently. The judge informed them that they had 25 more to complete. In the end all of the teams had to do 50 reps, but that is an oversight that shouldn’t be made during a competition.

On top of the incorrect rep scheme in WOD two, Julia used hay bales for the farmer carries. These were not well thought out. They weren’t tied well enough so they slowly fell apart – and completely broke for one team while the men were carrying them. They were built that if a female was short enough (about half of the females were too short) the ladies had to drag the bales of hay. This, of course, lightened the load for each following heat. I like the idea of carrying hay as part of the WOD, but it needed to be planned better.

And the issue I had with the third heat is mostly with the judging standards. If an athlete couldn’t perform the rope climbs they performed a variation of a burpee pullup but used the rope. Some judges made their athletes get their chin over the line on the rope while others barely got the top of their head near the line, much less chin over.

And speaking of judging…

In WOD two it was noticed numerous times with various teams that knees were not hitting the ground on the lunges, chests were not hitting the deck on the burpees and in even one case a male didn’t jump over the bale of hay after his burpee and the rep was counted (it was clearly stated that the rep begins with the burpee and finishes when the athlete jumps over the hay).

For the first Crush team their judge in WOD two wasn’t even counting the females rope jumps when they first began. Thankfully I was counting so when the judge finally started paying attention I could tell by reading her lips that she was off by five reps. When she finally announced to the team that they had completed 25 reps I told her she was wrong and that they had completed 30.

Keep in mind I only watched our heats for the most part with the exception of the event performed outside (burpee over bales of hay and farmer carries) so who knows what other judging faults there were. It is a “rookie” event, but judging needs to be fair and if someone should be “no-repped” they need to be “no-repped”. There was one guy I saw who missed chest-to-deck on nearly every one of his burpees.

All in all, for a rookie event at a fairly new box, it was still a fun event. My team took second in the first WOD, but then slid down the ladder each of the next two WODs and finished seventh out of 12 teams. Even with the faults listed above (which will hopefully be corrected next year) I recommend this event in the future based almost solely on the quality of the WODs and the imagination put into them.

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