Saturday, June 20, 2009 by Daniel

CrossFit Level 1 Certification, Day One

Today was the first day of my level 1 CrossFit Certification, and I am pretty wiped. This hotel has really crappy wi-fi and there’s nothing on TV, so I think I’m just gonna try and write up this post, then maybe take a bath, try to do some stretches, and go to bed.

It was a long day. And highly illustrative of how much further I have to go in just about every aspect of my fitness. The certification is broken into learning sections, each taught by a different local trainer, interspersed with practical application sessions and a couple workouts. From everything I’ve read and seen, it is a highly typical cert. None of the information presented has been new to me – it’s all widely available in Journal articles and videos online, sometimes nearly the entire lectures. However, the breakaway sessions have been informative and useful in many ways, both personally and (future) professionally.

We started out with “What is CrossFit?” led by Andrew (Drew) Thompson, the overall coordinator of the cert. From there we went straight to the first fundamental movement group – the squat series (air -> front -> OH), led by a guy named Stefan. We broke into smaller groups and went outside to practice. Austin from CF Unlimited was our coach for this session, and he immediately pulled me into the center as his demo of “what not to do” – why? Because I lose the lumbar arch quite quickly, and lean way forward – which I knew. And, apparently, collapse my knees in, which I didn’t know. He gave me some effective (and painful) work to do to try and fix that, and proceed to hammer me on my knees throughout the rest of the day – nearly every movement we did, he was at me telling me to get my knees out. So, apparently, there’s something new to focus on.

Afterwards, we did bottom-to-bottom tabata squats, which were VERY painful, especially as I tried to do as much as I could with my new cues to good form – it’s so much easier to do it wrong! I scored 8, and it looked something like this:


My hip flexors were KILLING me afterwards, and I was walking somewhat wobbly.

As an aside: I’ve been thinking the past two weeks that my squat is really bad. I don’t know if it’s actually WORSE than it was, or if I’m just more aware of it, but I do know that my hip flexors hurt more than they ever used to. I suspect I may have ingrained some poor movement patterns with my poor-form heavy back squats – not to mention strengthened my body out of balance (ie, quads). I have a lot of work to do in undoing those faulty patterns and re-establishing (or establishing for the first time) proper form and ROM. I’m going to really focus on this, starting immediately, as I will never be able to do well with front or overhead squats until I get my air squat sorted out. I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to realize how much I suck at such a fundamental movement after working at this so long, but that’s pretty much the story of my whole day.

Session two was “What is fitness?,” led by Dave Castro (whose parents own the ranch, apparently). His folks were kind enough to cook us all lunch (there are about 60 of us!), so we got homemade steak and chili and salad instead of having to head into town for food. It was awesome.

The afternoon sessions were devoted to the send sets of fundamental movements. Freddie Camacho led a session on Press, Push-Press and Push-Jerk, and apparently my chest goes forward too much even on the slight dip of a push-press. Then Jolie led the section on Deadlift, SDHP and Med Ball Cleans, and also trained our breakout group – again, she was constantly telling me to get my chest up.

The classes were done, and all that remained was the final workout. Past history suggested it would be Fran, and indeed it was. Jason Khalipa led the warmup running the hill, thereby providing me my only moment of the day of feeling relatively fit. There was an awful lot of walking and bitching as we made our way up the hill, but after the hell Gita’s been putting us through, it really didn’t seem that bad to me. I ran the whole thing, and was not more than a little winded at the top. Of course, doing it after heavy deadlifts is another story…

I had a bar claimed for the first heat, but I went to try out the pullup bar and it got stolen from me. This led to my Great Fran Humiliation, which I hope to never repeat. I didn’t get into the second heat, either, which put me in the final heat. They capped the first two heats at 10 minutes, to make room for subsequent heats. Do you see where I’m heading with this yet?

You see, I’ve never actually done Fran before. I did a heavily scaled, very poorly executed attempt when I was barely beginning, before I could do pullups and when 95# thrusters would have simply crushed me into the floor. Somehow, in over a year of extremely frequent crossfitting, I have managed to miss Fran every time it has come up. I swear it’s an accident. So, heading into it for the first time, I really just wanted to get it under 10 minutes. With all the people knocking it out in under 7-8 minutes, I began to think maybe this was something I could do. Turns out no.

I was in fairly good shape through the first round, but then my time plummeted. Part of it was Austin, yelling at me to get my knees out, which made the thrusters REALLY fucking hard. But I can’t blame him – I was slow, and my pullups (I did C2B for the first round, then abandoned that) were one at a time and crappy. In a half-full heat, the finishers narrowed down to just three guys. They called 10 minutes when I was 5 thrusters into my last set. Then Drew said “let’s let them keep going.” To which I believe I responded, “Oh, fuck.”

One guy finished almost immediately, and the other guy gave up. Which left just me, and a circle of 59 people plus coaches yelling at me to finish. It was not pretty. I eked out the remaining thrusters and moved to the pullup bar, where I did 5 pullups and then my grip failed and I nearly took a sideways spill to the concrete. The last four pullups were singles, and barely chin over bar – my grip was completely shot.

95# Thruster

12:12 RX

So there you have it. My first RX Fran, and it was NOT under 10 minutes, and it wasn’t even (entirely) chest to bar, and it was really, really embarrassing. My thrusters have always been terrible, but since I gained these 15 pounds (without really doing any pull work), my pull-up power has plummeted. So it was a perfect storm of movements I am very bad at, at least now. Yet more to work on.

I’m feeling relatively beat-up (never has work with a PVC dowel been so exhausting). All the signs point to tomorrow being Fight Gone Bad, which at least I have some experience with. Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself too much with that one.


YPA said...

D. - this sounds both awful and hilarious. Thanks for sharing.

Jenn said...

Urgh. Stories like this don't encourage me to save money for a cert. :p Hope the rest of it went a little better for you.

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