My Experience Attending the CFL1 Certificate Course

*Disclaimer: this blog post is a high-level overview of my personal experience. No details about the format and content of this course will be disclosed.*

Attending the CFL1 Certificate Course

At just about four years into my CrossFit journey: I finally bit the bullet and went for my CFL1. To those who don’t know what that means, it stands for CrossFit Level One, and it’s a certificate course that provides introductory education on the fundamental principles and movements of CrossFit.

So, why four years in did I decide to pursue it? It’s something I’d thought about more than once as I started to grow as a CrossFit athlete. For one, I loved the discipline and confidence I gained through CrossFit and wanted to share that experience with others.

Then, once I became an NASM personal trainer, I knew I would have to take CEU’s (i.e. continue my education) to keep my certification active. Since all my NASM studying occurred at home, on the internet/with a book, I wanted my next endeavor to be an in-person seminar, like this.

As I started to look into the certification further, I saw that the CFL1 course was being offered in Charlotte shortly after my move. Something that had deterred me previously was the cost: not only is the course itself $1000, but it’s typically offered in bigger cities (aka, not Syracuse) so I would’ve incurred travel expenses on top of it. (Sometimes it’s really hard to justify investing in yourself, but that’s a topic for another day.) With the course coming to my city, it would significantly reduce the cost, and I was out of excuses. It was time to dive in!

Here are my biggest takeaways from the weekend I spent at the CFL1 course:

  1. It’s humbling. I always refer to CrossFit as humbling because there’s so much going on that it’s impossible to be good at everything. But this course was another level of humbling. Four years in, I’ve made a ton of improvements. I’ve “won” a lot of workouts in the gym. I’ve gone to non-CrossFit gyms and been complimented by coaches, telling me that I move well and they can tell I’m an athlete. But in this course, I was surrounded by CrossFit experts, critiquing my movements and efficiency and challenging me on things I thought I knew so well. I received an overwhelming amount of critical feedback on the simplest movement, the move that most of CrossFit is built upon: the air squat. And it wasn’t just me: all 50 athletes in the room with their own levels of CrossFit experience received a wealth of critical feedback. Which brings me to the other reason this experience was so humbling: the caliber of the other athletes also participating in the course. In most social circles, if you do CrossFit, you are (among) the fittest of your friend group. People at work refer to you as the fit one. You stand out for your love and pursuit of fitness. Not in this room: you’re now the norm, one of many. In a way, it’s a super cool experience. Think of the last time you attended an event and not one person was overweight. I know it’s not the case at most sporting events, concerts, fairs or festivals. In a room of other CrossFitters, your “edge” is gone!
  2. I’m better for it. This was one of those experiences that was pretty far outside of my comfort zone. I knew that by attending, I would be opening myself up to criticism and to different ways of thinking, which is a position I don’t often put myself in. I know that putting myself out there like that and opening myself up to that experience has already made me better as a person and as a coach. It reminded me that I can’t be afraid of revealing that I’m not perfect, and that the only way to improve is to do things like this!
  3. I learned a lot about coaching fitness that I didn’t already know. Being in person with lots of other coaches and athletes exposed me to so many different ways to coach someone. I learned helpful new verbal cues and I also learned a ton about tactical cues. I’ve never used tactical cues when coaching, and I’ve very rarely been coached with tactical cues, but we used them a ton this weekend. I realized just how much more effective they are for me to learn. In the middle of a workout, my brain shuts off and goes into “just get it done” mode, so when someone tells me verbally to change something I’m doing, I don’t always have the awareness to correct. My brain isn’t always aware of where my body is in space. Based on what I saw this weekend, I think a lot of people have a similar experience when they’re pushing hard in a workout, so I’m excited to have a better way to help people moving forward!

So where am I going from here? I hope to use this experience to improve as a coach and as an athlete. I plan to take what I’ve learned about myself (just how much my weight ends up in my toes/midfoot when I move) to improve my own form and grow as an athlete. And I plan to use the techniques, methodology, and cueing I learned this weekend to coach others into their fittest selves. Who’s with me?!

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