This past weekend I had the privilege of spending some time with the CrossFit Level 1 training staff. I say privilege because this group of athletes and coaches were some of the most knowledgeable and experienced fitness trainers I have ever met. Our group leader was a 3 time CF Games Individual competitor and this year his team took 13th place overall. His insight into training and diet and what it takes to make it to the competitive level in CrossFit were priceless. Without exception the instructors were the epitome of humility and professionalism. The only real question then is if these weekend Level 1 seminars are more or less standardized; why are so many CrossFit coaches and participants at the Level 1 bracket such douche bags and complete idiots? Why are so many so inept at programming when it’s laid out plainly in great detail at these seminars and on CrossFit’s main site and in the journal? Why are so many coaches so clueless when it comes to introducing basic movements such as the squat and press to beginner athletes when its broken down into methodical progressions that are both simple to learn and easy to follow?
I’m astounded, I really am. As I posted over the weekend on Facebook; if more trainers and coaches would simply follow what they learned at the level 1 seminar I truly feel much of the criticism directed at CrossFit, its methodologies, and its belief structure would evaporate quickly. Unfortunately and this is just my opinion, I think too many attendees to these seminars feel that a Level 1 Certification provides them with the complete knowledge base needed to set up shop and start coaching athletes in a professional capacity. Of course our training staff made it quite clear several times that it would be wise to shadow an experienced trainer for at least a year before striking out on one’s own path to coaching, and to continue the education process in much more depth especially if this Level 1 cert was their first foray into coaching and training for pay.
So if the training staff and program aren’t to blame, who is? Where’s the mis-translation between what’s being taught to trainers and what trainers are teaching to clients? This is the real mystery and one that won’t be solved anytime soon I think. I have my own theories of which I’ve been pretty vocal about on this blog but I didn’t attend the Level 1 seminar to poke holes in it or expose anything. I went to learn and to answer my own questions about CrossFit; what are they about, what are they trying to accomplish? These are the questions I went to answer and they were in great detail with facts, science, and real world experience. I learned a lot about some subtle cues and techniques to apply to my own training. I also learned that CrossFit isn’t really trying to build super human athletes, just to make people healthier over their lifetime. Rich Froning was just an unintended side effect of the CrossFit training methodology.
As a whole I enjoyed weekend. The class was a bit large and the time available to practice movements suffered as a result but I have the means available to perform these movement at my own gym as often as I like so that’s pretty much a non-issue. It was hot, stunk to high hell and I really didn’t enjoy spending most of the day sitting in my own sweaty clothes smelling my neighbor’s sweaty clothes as well but it’s to be expected at an event involving exercise. It actually reminded me of my days as a young Marine in training. I think the depth of experience the training staff had was both surprising and comforting as was the science behind the programming method. My one real complaint would be the cost. A thousand dollars isn’t cheap any way you spin it. Multiply that times 57 participants and even after labor and materials cost CrossFit still did pretty well this past weekend.
Would I recommend attending this seminar to anyone? If you want to coach CrossFit proper in an affiliated box or open your own then I definitely would, as its mandatory anyway. I should also say that the Level 1 cert is but the first step on the road to becoming what I would consider a real Coach. In fact CrossFit Inc prohibits Level 1 cert holders and attendees from calling themselves CrossFit Coaches or Trainers until after attending and passing their Coach’s Prep Course and CrossFit Trainers Course, both of which have a minimum experience threshold of 750 hours coaching in an affiliated box. If you’re curious about CrossFit and want to learn the basic movements; attending the seminar would teach you the basics and equip you with a fundamental knowledge and movement base to begin your training but then again you could just join a box and attend an “On-ramp” program. If you’re an experienced fitness trainer and coach with a nationally accredited certification this seminar might be a bit elementary for you as most of the topics covered will be redundant and less in depth and detailed then the information and techniques you went over in your own schooling (I hope). That being said it is a great refresher course for the initiated and a good way to broaden your knowledge and add to your arsenal as a trainer. It’s also a great way to peak behind the curtains so to speak and learn about CrossFit’s roots driving philosophy and community ethos. I don’t feel like I wasted my money as I plan on pursuing further credentials in CrossFit and to pursue my own career goals in the community. I do however urge you to carefully consider what a thousand dollars means because once you pay there are no refunds.