This past weekend I attended the CrossFit Level 1 class in Golden at the State Patrol building and it was pretty awesome.
The seminar staff that presided over the class was two guys who trained directly under Coach Glassman (Zac and Hollis from Santa Cruz), Cherie and Matt Chan (the 2nd Fittest Man in the World), Sarah (former USA Oly lifting member) and Pat Barber who, along with Tony Budding, spawned all the CrossFit media (videos) we see today. It was a pretty well accomplished group of individuals. This was awesome because there was no doubt that these folks knew their sh*t.
The seminar I attended was at the Colorado State Patrol office/campus or whatever in Golden. I am pretty sure I lucked out because there was a lecture hall of sorts that we used where as most of these seminars are held in CrossFit gyms and I don’t recall ever seeing a CrossFit gym with anything resembling a classroom. We weren’t stuck on fold out chairs, clipboards and using our knees as desks for 45-60 minutes at a time during the lectures. Our backs surely thank us for choosing this venue as opposed to the others.
And that was one of the really cool things about the seminar: we didn’t sit for very long at any given time. There were plenty of breakouts in which we either practiced movements or worked out.
That was also the bad thing as we did “Fran” the first day. And I sucked.
Each of the seminar staff had great personalities and liked to keep the lectures light. Zac and Pat did a great job including humor into their lectures and Hollis was great as involving the group during his. Matt is intense. Plain and simple. He emanates intensity. Makes sense because one would have to be intense to follow a strict enough workout regimen along with an even more strict and dedicated diet to place 2nd at the CrossFit games at the age of 35. (Or any age for that matter, but doing it at 35 in a game that is CLEARLY a young-mans game is even more impressive.) Cherie exuded confidence and when she gave her nutrition lecture there was no doubt that she not only fully understood the material but that she has lived it, both personally and through others (her athletes). And then there was Sarah – what a beast! The perfect example of a great looking female who is clearly stronger than pretty much anyone else in the room other than Matt and Pat. Whenever she spoke to me I felt like I should respond with “yes, mam!” or she might decide to snatch me overhead and throw me through a wall. And I would enjoy every second.
The lecture material was, for the most part, taken straight out of the manual, but the pieces where we got to move, that is where I really learned a lot.
- Squatting: I have felt that I have been a pretty good squatter for a while and I think that showed with the exception of my ability to keep a nice lumbar curve in the very bottom of my squat. In our first breakout section I was surprised how many people were taking the Level 1 without being able to simply squat below parallel I guess it isn’t uncommon to have very inexperienced athletes taking the Level 1 as there is no prerequisite to taking the class. The front squat I have down pretty well, too, and didn’t need a lot of help during this portion as my squat isn’t immature and I am able to keep a fairly upright position even at the bottom of my squat. By far my biggest problem was the overhead squat, I ain’t got it. My arms rotating externally into the locked out position, with the shoulders active and high…my shoulders were weak for quite a while after this portion of the instruction without lifting anything heavier than a PVC pipe.
- Pressing: I learned quite a bit here, too. The strict press is easy, suck in the got, lock yourself down and then push the bar straight up (move your face), but the push press and push jerk I learned some good stuff (and why I did so much extra today involving the jerk). I have always striven to keep my knees from not advancing past my toes, but in the push press and push jerk they come awfully close of traveling past the toes, if not just past. Keeping the torso upright and driving straight up, quickly, was new. I always tended to lean slightly forward. And this just doubles on the jerk as there are two knee bends.
- Deadlift/Sumo/Med ball cleans: This came on day two and the day two WOD demonstrated how taxing med ball cleans can be. This was the lecture I was most interested in because I know my deadlift is better than the current 1RM of 265 pounds. While I am happy with 265 since I couldn’t do 200 not all to long ago, I know I have 300 in me – and more. I really listened to the instruction and tried to put it to practice on my first day back at CrossFit Crush but I just can’t keep a freaking loaded barbell pressed against my shins the entire time. It hurts too much. When the load gets heavy I also round my back: not good. I need a day when I go in and do a bunch of deadlifts at about 135 and just work on really solid form.
- Snatch/Muscle Up: When I read in the book that we would get muscle-up practice and coaching I was ecstatic. I want a muscle-up so badly…I did not get one during the instruction but I got some really good drills I am going to work on so I can get one. The snatch is what it is. I feel fairly comfortable in my movement (not even saying mine is great) and I just need to get comfortable getting under the weight when it gets heavy. That will come with practice.
The two WODs were fun but as I outlined in my WOD post for Fran I was a bit disappointed in my results. I was so worried about the no-rep that I could only think about form. As a golfer I know how BAD it is to think about form when in competition. That’s why CrossFit is so great is you still work on form during the warmup (in most gyms) and then put it to practice during the WOD. During the WOD you should just be moving as fast as you can – without displaying such horrid form that you will get hurt, of course.
Even in a “class” of 60 as we had this weekend the seminar staff took us through warmups and cooldowns. During the programming the discussion was about variety and smartly picking that variety. Targeting weak spots but not biasing the work outs to avoid weak sports. It was in these discussions and the general class form that really hit home in my experience at CrossFit South Aurora and how bad it is there. It also got me thinking about how often I saw someone either on their website or on their Facebook group that said something along the lines “when I get better I will be back!” At the time I didn’t put two and two together but I wonder how many of those people were hurt at CFSA? For as much as the seminar staff this weekend stressed that you don’t let someone overhead squat before they learn to squat and you don’t even let them overhead squat with weight until they can prove to be profficient in overhead squat form, all I saw in the back of my brain were the coaches at CFSA loading up brand new athletes before their first WOD and showing them how to snatch and giving them a LOADED BAR TO SNATCH for their very first WOD. Forget proper squatting or proper snatch form: just do it.
Anyway, it was a great two days. Lots of fun with people who love doing what I love to do. I hope to take the next step in the near future and continue to grow my CrossFit knowledge and impart what I have learned and what I have done to others who need help.