As I write this post I’m literally sore in parts of my body I didn’t know existed!
The reason? This past weekend I attended a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer course at Reebok CrossFit1 in Canton Massachusetts. And after 2 days of lectures, ‘moving’ (practicing what we learned) more lectures, more moving and two CrossFit WOD’s (workout of the days), I have a new found passion and a huge appreciation for CrossFit and Reebok. You may remember I’ve written about CrossFit here before on the site and hailed its benefits – well now I’m an even bigger fan!
I could write pages about what exactly the CrossFit philosophy is, but that’s not the purpose of this post. What I’ll share with you are some finer points about the CrossFit program that represent what I feel separates it from other modes of training. For one, there’s no mention of bigger biceps, how to get more toned glutes, bulging pecs or how to impress anyone at the beach. At the core of the program is this – you being the best, most physically capable human being possible. Just when I thought that nobody cared about actual physical fitness or the state of health of our nation, I find CrossFit.
As you can imagine, in my 20+ years as a personal trainer I’ve attended my fair share of certifications, seminars and lectures. And if you’ve read some of what I’ve written in the past you’ll know I’ve become quite jaded towards these types of events because many of them are just…well a colossal waste of time.
So with that in mind I wasn’t sure what to expect when I headed to Canton for the first day of class. I can tell you that in addition to this CrossFit being located next to Reebok headquarters, it’s an impressive sight in its own right! There are monkey bars, turf, hanging rings, dumbbells, kettlebells, racks, barbells, rowers, sandbags and all sorts of tools around. What you won’t find are any mirrors for you to gaze at yourself! As a nice side benefit, this teaches you to learn correct form without seeing what you’re doing – to FEEL the movement. Coaches in CrossFit want you to ‘know’ where your body is in space without seeing it.
The team of coaches was simply amazing! If these individuals can’t inspire you then you must not have a pulse. Now I have to be honest here – the coaches who lectured were CrossFit Games athletes and included Spencer Hendel, EC Synkowski, Austin Malleolo, Ben Bergeron and James Hobart. Not a bad group to learn from right? Plus there were a few other athletes to help with learning movements and understanding the 9 core movements of the CrossFit program. All of the staff had a clear passion and enthusiasm for CrossFit and were bursting to share it. I seriously took home a ton of information just listening and all of them were available to answer any and all questions – truly a professional, articulate and inspiring group.
So here’s the deal – CrossFit just makes sense from nearly any angle you approach it. And I’ll say that until you read the handbook and take a lecture you won’t know what it’s really about – I didn’t. Sure there are many people who say it’s too dangerous and not appropriate for everyone and to that I say bull. The beauty of CrossFit is that ANYONE with ANY ability can participate. The only thing that’s asked is that you challenge yourself and push yourself to be better – whatever level that is for YOU. You can’t simply look in and take a peak at the program or a WOD and make a decision as to its safety. And this is HUGE – form is everything. Hours are spent ensuring that trainees are performing all movements safely, effectively, and to their fullest potential.
I’ve NEVER seen so much attention paid to the smallest of details and body mechanics. Coach Glassman who created the CrossFit program freely admits that what he’s done is take the best parts of existing exercise programs and put them all in one. Make no mistake CrossFit is not about biceps curls, crunches or leg extensions – it is about using your body to its fullest potential in the most functional, organic and natural way. And they believe in intensity (relative to you) meaning that you should be pushing hard, enough to stimulate change, but safely and effectively. Because in the end we want RESULTS.
I’m getting amped up just writing this post because I’ll be honest – I had my ass handed to me BIG TIME. Here I am, a 20-year trainer and fitness enthusiast, who pushes 1,000 pound leg presses and lifts 100+ dumbbells for fun. Yet during a classic CrossFit WOD named FRAN, I was horribly inept and lacked the athletic conditioning that many other attendees had. Now don’t get me wrong – I came in under the allotted time (not by much!) but I was crushed. That was very humbling to me and gave me passion to become what I preach – to BE fit, not just look it.
What was Fran exactly? 3 rounds of two exercises – Thrusters with 95 pounds, which are similar to the bodybuilding push press – you basically fully squat below parallel and then press the weight overhead with each rep followed by kipping pullups, which metabolically place a much higher demand on the body then the traditional variety. I said 3 rounds remember? First round was 21 reps, second was 15 and the third was 9 – no planned rests, just get it done as fast as you can. Man did it challenge the heck out me and I felt it everywhere. I was instantly hooked.
So here’s the deal – I’m taking the next week or so to familiarize myself with all of the terminology and movements and going to spend a lot of time practicing them. By November 1st I’ll be ONLY performing CrossFit workout through the New Year. That shows you how strongly I feel about this program and ideology. I’ll be sharing some of my workouts via Facebook and Twitter and you may even see a few Angry Trainer WOD’s come your way – so make sure you’re an ATF You Tube subscriber!
I encourage all of you to look deeper into what CrossFit really is, not what people think or tell you it is, and give it a try. My experience at Reebok CrossFit1 could not have been any better and it’s given me newfound passion and a sense of hope for the industry with which I work. I want to thank Reebok for extending this invitation to me. I had an amazing experience and I’ll be visiting again very soon.
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