Sunday, June 21, 2009 by Daniel

CrossFit Level 1 Certification, Day 2

Day 2 dawned with moderate soreness. Mostly I was just happy to have the Fran experience behind me. We jumped straight back into class with a Q&A session with Dave Castro, who then went on to fill in some more info from his "What is CrossFit?" section the day before. Then we went outside for a brief session on the two most complicated and frequently mis-performed fundamental movements, the push-jerk and the medball clean. From there we went straight into the WOD.

Everyone was expecting Fight Gone Bad, and when they started wheeling out the rowers and the 15# plates, we thought for sure that's what we were in for. Well, not quite. In a pleasant surprise, they gave us a team variation on FGB that wasn't anywhere near as punishing. It went something like this:

Teams of 4. In 15 minutes, perform AMRAP of:

Row: 10 calories
75#/45# Push-press: 15 reps
24" Box Jump: 10 reps

Each team member must be at their station until everyone has completed their reps, then they can advance to the next station. One designated counter marks a round when they get to the rest station.

My team, a coed team, was one push-press shy of 4 rounds. This was a pretty typical score. Two teams managed 6 rounds. I acquitted myself very well on the rower (10 calories = 12 strokes) decently on the box jumps and tolerable on the push-press. At any rate, I didn't feel like I was a hindrance to my team. I was glad they did this workout - it was more fun than FGB, which everyone has done, and was a good example of adapting a classic WOD to a slightly different format to accomodate given circumstances. Even with all the gear they had, I don't think they could have done FGB in one heat (someone should count, after all, which means two heats) and I got a sense that they really didn't like running heats.

Following the workout, Pat Barber led a session on nutrition, which quickly became a session on the Zone diet. I didn't take any notes here, as it was all very basic (and often oversimplified) stuff. I pulled my old-school by-hand mathematics out of the dusty closet to figure out my blocks without a calculator, and came up with somewhere between 16 and 17 blocks. I'm toying with the notion of doing a monthlong strict zone challenge, just so I can have the experience of having done it and come from a more informed place when I describe it to clients (it is the official diet of CrossFit, after all), but I have no idea how I'd make that work with cooking for Rebecca, leftovers, and all the eating out we do.

Another delicious lunch prepared by the Castros, and we watched the trainers do their own workouts. A brief session on the Glute-Ham Developer with Stefan followed, then we broke into five groups for a series of 15-minute skill workshops:
  • PVC snatch with Stefan - he basically taught the Burgener warmup. Emphasized snatching from the hang position as being 90% adequate for lower-skilled athletes until they could reliably snatch from the ground.
  • Rowing with Freddie - he went over basic mechanics then had us race 500m. I came in second, with 1:30.2 (a PR!), but this other dude who was also 6'4" but 230lbs came in first at 1:26.5.
  • Muscle-ups with Pat and Jason - the rings were too low for me to get a decent kip, so they just told me to work on my ring dips. Which I DO need to improve.
  • GHD with Jolie - even at its maximum extension, the GHD is too short to allow me to do back extensions (as opposed to hip extensions. True back extensions require trapping the hip on the pads). I can do hip extensions and situps, though.
  • Kipping pullups with Austin. He went over the progression from the mainsite video (ie, lying on the floor, etc). Not much to learn, here, other than I could probably be pushing away from the bar more.
The trainers are good, but with groups of 12 people and a window of 15 minutes, they could really only go over the most basic elements of each movement.

Freddie led the last session on programming. He emphasized the superiority of 3-on, 1-off, but acknowledged that it's an extremely difficult cycle to make work in a real-world setting. He also went over the basic breakdown of movements (W = weightlifting, M = monostructural, G = gymnastics) and how to combine them into singles, couplets, triplets and chippers. Throughout the weekend, the coaches warned against programming too many workouts at an hour or more time domain, and also seemed leery of CFSB, CF Football and CFE - they clearly wanted the emphasis to be on plain vanilla CrossFit, at least for us. Though they said they do encourage boxes to do their own programming, thereby letting the Games be the mechanism by which they discover whose programming is superior. When the Frequently Asked Questions came up, they all came back with standard party-line responses (Go heavy and slow or light and fast? Yes. Two-a-days? If you can workout twice a day you're not working out hard enough. Etc.)

I was ready to leave when it ended, so I collected my certificate and took off. I missed working out with my CFEB friends, and hoped to make it back in time for the evening workout, despite feeling pretty thrashed. I DID make it back in time, but the workout looked too heavy for me to do in my current condition, so I wound up going on a five-mile trail run with Alex that was a lot of fun and completely kicked my ass. I haven't been as thrashed as I was after this weekend for quite a while.

My overall review? Pretty much unchanged from before I went. The level 1 cert is not worth the (very high) cost, UNLESS you intend to become a CrossFit trainer. In that case it is valuable, and not just because it allows you to legally pursue a CF career, but it also gives you some direct experience at the hands of a variety of coaches. But the vast majority of the information taught at the cert is widely available to anyone with a CF Journal subscription, a membership on the boards, and a measure of self-motivation. There is this mythology out there that you need to take a cert in order to "be serious" about CrossFit, and that's totally not true. You'd be better served with simply going to an affiliate as often as you can. I don't feel as though I'm a significantly better CrossFitter at the end of the weekend as I was at the beginning (although I AM motivated to fix my goddamn squat), nor did I find the experience itself to be terribly enjoyable or fulfilling (Great Fran Humiliation aside).

However, I DO want to become a CF coach, so I'm glad I went. I look forward to getting the opportunity to train others, and ultimately going to a level 2 - I think that might be more of what I'm looking for.


Nikki 2-K said...

The L1 Cert looks like a killer weekend BUT it does come at a price tag. My husband is going for his in Oct and this gave me a lot of insight on it all... Great Blog.. So did you become certified?

Jenn said...

Good review. The certs, as well as affiliate membership, is cost-prohibitive for me at this point, so I stick to the journals and reading the blogs of folks like you. ;)

Jack Gayton said...

Daniel, Thanks for the insight. Part motivating, part scary. I'm going for my LI cert in October also. Sounds like the same reason as you, I'd eventually like to turn my passion into a career.

Usually it's just the sunshine and roses when it comes to the certs. It's nice to hear a no bull-shit assessment.

I'm off to work on my squat..

Thanks, Jack

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