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Story highlights

Five workouts over five weeks -- competitors have four days to do the workout with a judge or on camera and submit scores online

Each workout is kept secret, designed in an undisclosed location, where CNN were the first outsiders allowed in, albeit, blindfolded

The competition began in 2007 with 30 athletes and has grown to half a million worldwide

(CNN) —  

Half a million athletes directly competing against each other on a level playing field at the same time. A logistical and practical impossibility, right?

Perhaps not.

On February 22, in an event known simply as “the Open,” an estimated 500,000 CrossFit athletes from all over the world will begin a five-week fitness competition, which will test strength, endurance, and aspects of gymnastics.

The Open works like this: every Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern, a set workout, kept secret ahead of time, is released live online. Everyone, then, has four days to complete it in front of a judge or on tape and to submit their scores. Simple.

Every Thursday, CrossFit athletes are given a set workout which is released online. They then, have four days to complete it and to submit their scores.
Getty Images
Every Thursday, CrossFit athletes are given a set workout which is released online. They then, have four days to complete it and to submit their scores.

After five weeks the top few hundred in the world advance to the next stage of competition, eventually working towards the CrossFit Games in August. The other 99.9% however, go back to the drawing board – or in CrossFit terms, the whiteboard.

From 30 competitors to a global phenomenon

In recent years the Open has become truly global with competitors participating from every continent, including Antarctica and at sea. But it wasn’t always this way.

The competition began back in 2007, when CrossFit founder Greg Glassman visited the family ranch of one of his employees, Dave Castro.

Glassman was already making a name for himself for the new workout practices he was putting into place, fostering a sizable following online, and suggested to Castro they hold an event and make it “the Woodstock of Fitness.”

From that, the CrossFit Games were born.

On February 22, in an event known simply as "the Open," an estimated 500,000 CrossFit athletes from all over the world will begin a five-week fitness competition.
Getty Images
On February 22, in an event known simply as "the Open," an estimated 500,000 CrossFit athletes from all over the world will begin a five-week fitness competition.