the spaz of fitness has arrived

Level One Recap

In Training on February 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm

The CrossFit King of Prussia Level One Seminar

Well! This past weekend was my Level One Certification Seminar. That means I woke up at 3:30am on Saturday to drive to King of Prussia to spend nine hours Saturday and nine hours Sunday living and breathing CrossFit. Then I came straight back… and arrived in my apartment sometime past 10pm Sunday night, trying desperately not to think about two days of neglected work. Many, many thanks to the Scotchness for being my roadtrip buddy and generally quelling my nerves throughout the weekend.

The experience was… surprisingly enlightening. I’ve heard many different perspectives about the Level One seminar. First off, I do still stand that it’s obscenely priced. But that said, I’ve also heard that it was a useless experience, and I definitely disagree. While it’s impossible to cram any thoroughly educative experience into two days, the CrossFit seminar staff have at least streamlined their program so that they fit in as much as possible. Though I’ve been doing CrossFit for nearly two years now, and have read very nearly all of the CrossFit Journal…and though I’m a regular participant on the forums, though I’ve read so much of Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Mark Rippetoe, Jim Wendler, John Welbourn, Charles Poloquin and all sorts of other figures that drift in and out of (and sometimes clash with) the CrossFit world… I still learned plenty at this seminar. The CrossFit nerd that I am, I was delighted to have two days to ask CrossFit experts all the questions that have troubled my overinquisitive mind for years.

What I loved most, however, was just being surrounded by other people who cared about and lived CrossFit.

The seminar tries to cover a lot of material in two days: CrossFit’s own definition of concepts such as “fitness” and “health” and “intensity” and how their interpretations stray from mainstream conceptions. Most of this I’ve already read in the Journal. The best part of the seminar, in my opinion, is the movement workshops. They strip CrossFit down to 9 “foundational” movements in 3 clusters: Squat (Air Squat, Front Squat, Overhead Squat); Press (Strict Press, Push Press, Push Jerk); and Deadlift (Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift High Pull, Med Ball Clean). We worked in individual breakout groups with the seminar staff and they critiqued our form. And, trust me, there’s much to be gained from one of CrossFit’s elite coaches analyzing your form. Then there were more seminar classes on things like nutrition and programming. Obviously, I loved the programming block. Though I understand the reasoning, I’m sad that they save it for right before the test because then they rush through the material and don’t have as much time for questions because we need the last hour to take the exam. Nevertheless, we went through a 9 days of theoretical programming, and they really emphasized the fact that… though CrossFit is constantly varied, it’s not random. Effective programming still has thought behind it, and they guided us through an experienced coach’s thought process and many considerations in how to arrange a progression of days– how to maximize an athlete’s exposure to a wide range of stimuli.

I will find out the result of my test within 10 days, so… fingers crossed.

Of course, we also did the notorious Fran during our seminar. I love how the seminar staff stressed that you should leave your ego at the door– that this weekend wasn’t about being the fastest, strongest CrossFitter, but about doing things virtuously. Nevertheless, when Fran arrived, I saw participants immediately slip into competitive habits. I’m happy to say that most people understood the spirit of the weekend. I, for one, was happy just trying to perform the movements well, clinging to every bit of advice I could get from Mel Ockerby, Chuck Carswell, Austin Malleolo, and the rest of the veritable list of CrossFit allstars. But there were a handful of attendees who I saw eyeing up their competition. A few people who shoved other people out of the way to leap to the nearest pull-up bar. I noticed one participant raise her hand to say that she completed the WOD “Rx’d” when in fact she stripped the bar before the set of 15 (not to be a tattletell…). It makes me want to address the competitiveness in CrossFit classes. I mean… competition just makes me an anxious basketcase, but I get that others enjoy it– that they feed off of it and it makes them better athletes. But I think sometimes people lose sight of what’s important when focusing on competition– even if that competition is just beating his own record time. When you sacrifice form and integrity for the sake of the clock, you’ve forfeited your very pursuit– health, self-improvement, etc. You’re not going to get the same gains with a quarter-squat… and you certainly won’t have the same workout if your Fran rep-scheme turned into 15-12-9.

Anyway, I can’t say anything about my strength progress or not-progress since I’ve started to train differently, but I really am just enjoying the classes again without worrying too much about it. I feel so much better training in the company of others, and I’m so grateful to have experienced eyes to note errors in my form. Here’s the other thing. When I started CrossFit, every workout made me nervous… Every one was a chance to disappoint myself– to get too few rounds, to get a shitty time. Now I task myself with showing up, putting my all into that hour or hour and a half, and just freaking enjoying it. The thing is: competitiveness aside… I’m “better” this way. My times surprise me sometimes. Yeah, I have bad, high-gravity days too. But my “scores,” even though I’ve decided not to live and die by them, are actually higher than they used to be when I psyched myself out before the workout.

That’s the update for now. I’m trying to exercise that same presence of mind and peacefulness as I approach catching back up in my schoolwork! Also… dealing with the terrible stress of my living situation and the uncertainty of the coming years. But ah, one step at a time. So much gratitude to this community and to my friends for keeping me alive. And for making that life worth living.

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