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Should I Get My CrossFit Level 1?

November 16, 2014
It only looks like they're worshiping me, really, I think they're swearing at me.

It only looks like they’re worshiping me, really, I think they’re swearing at me.

It’s usually right as an athlete’s been working out with us for a year or so, they start making noise about getting their CrossFit Level 1. It’s the natural progression of questions: “Can I / Will I get bulky?” “Do you think I can compete?” “Should I get my Level 1?”

No. No. And No.

With caveats, of course.

First, the first 2, cuz I can to that real quick like.

On being bulky: If you are genetically programmed to bulk up, you’d already know it. Few of us are, and bulk does not always equate with strength. So don’t sweat it. Also, as you begin to focus on and be impressed with what your body can do, you’ll just care less about what you look like, I promise.

On competing: Depends on what you mean. Is it possible that you’re going to make it to the CrossFit Games? Probably not. That’s just statistically unlikely, so let’s get that out of the way. The small handful of us who might make it to the Games are already training in a way that is altogether different from how the rest of us do CrossFit. Their lives are dedicated to winning, which is awesome for them.

Can you compete at that level? Probably not. Sorry. But there ARE a bajillion competitions that you can do every weekend, and you should. Because they are really fun, and the adrenaline involved in competing will push you to do things you never thought you could, which will up your game both emotionally and physically.

On getting your Level 1: Probably not. I used to encourage people to do it, now I don’t. Because there’s no point, unless you really want to be a trainer.

So first, ask yourself why you want to get your Level 1. If your answer is anything other than, “I really want to be a CrossFit trainer,” then there’s no reason to do it. It’s expensive, it’s geared towards coaching, and there are far better ways to learn more about all aspects of the sport.

The Level 1 is about coaching, and it does NOT make you a coach. It is the first, very expensive, step in being able to coach. I know everyone does it differently, but at Rocket, having your level 1 only means that you meet the bare minimum qualifications to start a 6 – 9 month internship with us, and still no guarantee that we will hire you, just that we will spend that time helping you be a better coach.

If that’s what you want to do, then the Level 1 is for you.

But are you asking because you love the sport and want to learn more? Because it’s changed your life and you want to see what more there is? Because you want to be able to contribute to the community of your gym without the responsibility of actually coaching? Then do other trainings. You’ll get more out of them. In fact, you should do all of them!

Should you keep learning and keep training? YOU BET. HELL YES! Do all the classes, just not the CrossFit Level 1 (or 2 or 3 or 4 or..), because that’s not what you’re looking for. I promise.

So, what excites you about CrossFit right now?

Kettlebells? Do these:

Strong First has a bunch of workshops that are all based on the RKC method, the “originals.” ( And I still think the RKC methods are the way to go, but I know that goes against the CrossFit dogma.)

Jeff Martone, aka “Tactical Athlete”, does great seminars (including the CrossFit kettlebell seminars) that are worth the time and money, even if they don’t give you an official “cert.”

You do know that the CrossFit method of Kettlebells is only one method, right? (And one that I very often disagree with, because – and this should be a separate post, and is literally the only thing my husband and I will argue about, THE AMERICAN KETTLEBELL SWING IS STUPID and dangerous and unique to CrossFit. It’s just fucking dumb, and I’ll go to the mat about that. Even though my favorite picture of me ever taken is doing an American Kettlebell Swing.)

WeightLifting? Do these:

Catalystic Athletics Oly seminar is supposed to be one of the best out there, though I have yet to take it. (Many of my friends, coaches and husband have loved it.)

USA Weightlifting has a coaches cert that is awesome, and different from CrossFit’s. Same Oly Lifts, different progressions and theories.

Bob Takano is a well-known trainer, and puts on seminars often, with a team of other great trainers.

Coach Diane Fu (yay, a woman!) does weekend seminars around the country.

Pendlay offers seminars through Muscle Driver.

And remember, CrossFit teaches one method of lifting. I love Coach B, but his method is only one method of Oly Lifting, and he’d be the first to tell you that. (I loved his seminar though, totally worth doing. And he’s as adorable as he seems.) Good lifters find their own variations, and good coaches learn as many methods as possible to help each athlete find their own proper position.


It’d be hard, if not impossible to go wrong with a Carl Paoli seminar. Naka Athletics has you covered with those. They’re the good folks that bring you Gymnastics WOD, a site that should be bookmarked in every athlete’s browser.

I’d follow Ido Portal anywhere. And his classes are amazing. (At least according to my  loved ones who have done them….  man, I need more time in the day to do all the classes I want.)

CrossFit in general?

Not sure it gets better than a weekend of Outlaw Camp. Outlaw CrossFit goes deep and intense on training at a competitor level. Will you be the “weakest” person there? I know I would be. But I’d be better for it, and so would you. (I think this is what my daughter will get for Christmas.)


Lest you think I’m just dissing CrossFit, here’s where I tell you that the specialty courses are awesome. They are. Gymnastics, Kettlebells, Oly, Mobility, Endurance….. All of them. And for most of them, you do NOT need your level one. You get the same training, the only difference is that you’re not “certified” as a trainer. You just get a certificate that says you took it. With which you’ll likely do the same thing I did with all of my certificates – lose it. The specialty courses cost less than the L1, and you don’t need a L1 to take most of them. So if it’s “just” about learning, start there.

And, even easier, do a CrossFit Road Trip. A good trainer at a good gym will teach you something new. Brady and I love to go to CrossFit gyms in new cities when we travel. (As I write this, he’s working out at Bridgetown in Portland, and learning so much. I’m learning just watching and nursing a broken neck flare-up!) Rather than spending $1,000 on a cert you won’t use, spend $20 a pop meeting new gyms and new trainers. Every trainer will have a slightly different way of coaching a move, and you will learn something new. I know that at Rocket, we go out of our way to make sure that our trainers are all different, and we’ll do a weekly pass for you to get to know yourself, with our awesome trainers as tour guides.

We also pay for them to go to lots of trainings, most of which aren’t CrossFit. We believe in the power of education, and we put our money where our mouth is.

Don’t want to spend the money, or don’t have the time? Watch videos. Yup, we curl up in bed and watch Snatch Videos all the time. Not as sexy as it sounds, but we’ve both got all the certs and done all the classes, and still want more. Watch videos, and then practice at home, or during Open Gym hours at your gym, or ask you trainer for their opinion.

Look, I love to learn as much – if not more – than your average person. And I’m a CrossFit believer. I love the sport enough to dedicate my life to it. It’s changed my life, and it helps me change the lives of hundreds of other people, for which I am eternally grateful.

But no, I don’t recommend you do the Level 1, because there are too many other better ones out there, that cost less.

And really, CrossFit didn’t invent any of this stuff. (Except the Sumo deadlift high-pull, and maybe the American Kettlebell swing, both of which are dubious contributions.)  CrossFit is not novel or unique. It’s like a recipe book of ingredients for fitness that other people created. I don’t know of a better recipe for fitness, I really don’t.

But I also don’t know of any reason why you can only read one cookbook, and would have to cook your eggs the same way every time.

Variety is the spice of life. And fitness.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. barbara dussel permalink
    November 17, 2014 5:59 am

    I think this is worth your reading time.


  1. Deload Week 11/17 through 11/22

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