I showed up at CrossFit North Atlanta early on a Saturday morning. I arrived just a few minutes before the start time and the primary meeting room was already mostly full. I found a seat next to a couple athletes from CrossFit Rx and waited for the course to start.
Mike G (Michael Giardina) was the primary facilitator of our course and introduced the other CrossFit staff that would be helping to teach the course including Leah Polaski and his wife Beth Giardina, along with few others.
Mike G outlined how the course would go: there would be classroom time that included lectures and exercise technique demonstrations. These would be followed by break-out sessions in which participants would practice exercise techniques. On both days of training, the whole class would perform a WOD or workout of the day together.
It was expected that you read the CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide before taking the course. I was a good boy and did my homework (well I had read most of it…okay…about half of it) so I was reasonably comfortable with the material. I had also been doing CrossFit for about a year, which helped as well.
Here are some highlights from the weekend taking the Level 1 Certificate Course.
Who Was There?
For the most part it was a gathering of the CrossFit faithful. Taking the course in Atlanta, CrossFitters from all over the southeast had come: Birmingham, Dothan, Tuscaloosa, and from all over Georgia and from South Carolina.
While most of the participants were practicing the sport, there was one surprising exception. One guy had come to the course who had honestly never once darkened the doors of a CrossFit box. True to our heritage though, we cheered him through the course, although I must admit that watching him try to perform a clean was a little painful!
Here is a picture of our class! Hey guys!
Demos and Exercises
We went over lots of exercises during the demo and group portions of the course: squats, cleans, snatches, thrusters, sumo-deadlift high pulls, pull ups, muscle ups, GHD sit ups and more.
First, during the demo portion of a lecture one instructor would describe how to do the movement while another instructor would show you how by performing it. The demo portion would always be followed by a splitting up into groups so all of the participants could practice under the tutelage of the instructors.
It was a full weekend going over many of the primary movements and exercises that make up CrossFit. And while you certainly cannot become an expert in all these movements in one weekend, I thought the staff did a great job teaching.
Personally I found the lectures very interesting. The instructors were engaging and knowledgable. And me, being naturally curious and interested in the science behind human performance, I found the discussions about the various metabolic pathways and nutrition easy to listen to.
As you would expect, the concepts core to the foundation of CrossFit were discussed including the ideas of increasing work capacity and the measurable factors used to increase performance: load, distance and speed. We also talked about the importance of technique and performing movements correctly before worrying about speed and things along those lines.
There was also a lecture on programming in which the class came up with WODs that included the various components of gymnastics, olympic lifting and metabolic conditioning. Of course, the key was to keep it all constantly varied!
We performed one WOD in class each day. I believe in times past it has been customary for participants to do Fran, but due to the number of us and limitations on the pull up bars, we did a similar workout, but not exactly Fran (see workout #2).
8 minute AMRAP
10 squat cleans with a med ball (20/14 pounds)
10 sit ups
This was obviously a very approachable workout that everyone could do.
For time, we performed:
21, 15, 9
Thrusters at (95/65 pounds)
This workout was certainly more difficult than the previous day’s WOD and many scaled it as needed. For me, I think the burpees were more painful than doing a true Fran with pull ups!
Just like everything in CrossFit, the course is measured. In this case, the measurement is a test and you have to pass it in order to actually get a Level 1 Certificate. I am not a big note taker (lots of other participants had been scribbling notes throughout the weekend), but I had listened well during the lectures and had read a good bit of the training guide so I felt pretty good going in to the test. You have an hour to take the exam and it consists of multiple choice questions.
CrossFit does not release your exact scores for the test, but after a couple weeks you’ll find out if you pass or fail. If you pass you’ll get one of these — a crisp clean certificate with your name on it!
Whether you pass the test or not (hopefully you do!), you’ll get a cool CrossFit t-shirt from the course along with the education! I personally love the shirt because it simply describes all of the core principles in a very compact space. Check it below:
“Constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements” (front)
“Increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” (back)
Who should go to a CrossFit Level 1 Course?
If you want to coach at a CrossFit box you need to go. But even if you are not an official coach, it can be a rewarding learning experience to hear from experts that know the intricate details of how CrossFit works.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and join thousands of others who’ve taken the CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Course!