I’m back! My CrossFit Level 2 Seminar Experience

By December 21, 2016CrossFit, Exercise, Jessica

Hi everyone! Long time no see. I never mean to disappear, but this has been the busiest couple of months I have EVER lived. I hate that I won’t have written thoughts and memories to remember all the amazing work and times we’ve had, but you can only do so much and I hope to start getting back into a regular routine now that things are becoming…well somewhat more doable.

CrossFit Level 2 Seminar

As you might have heard, I just completed my CrossFit Level 2 certification! It was my big 2017 goal and I completed it just in the nick of time.

What is the CrossFit Level 2 Seminar?

“This course is ideally suited for any CrossFit trainer serious about delivering quality coaching. Students enhance their understanding of the CrossFit methodology, program design, and implementation, and they advance their skills while coaching others in movements and workouts. Students need to come prepared to be heavily engaged; each leads individual and small-group training sessions, and classroom sessions are discussion-based. Peers and instructors provide feedback and evaluation.” (source: CrossFit Training)

In short, the Level 2 Certificate course is that “next-level” intermediate step that builds on the methodology and movements of CrossFit learned at the Level 1 Certificate course. It aims to build on the understanding of essential mechanics of functional movements, fault identification, and correction, essential qualities of an effective trainer, effective programming design, and evaluation, and class management strategies and structure for effective group workouts.

The Level 2 is the second out of three (soon to be four) certifications offered by CrossFit for coaching.

Why did I want to take it?

For those who are just starting to know me, I’m a Learner and an Achiever (StrengthsFinder). I always want to know about everything, and I thrive on achieving things.

When I started CrossFit 5.5 years ago, I had never really done sports or “working out” before. I got hooked quickly once I realized CrossFit wasn’t just “hitting the gym.” It had a methodology that thrived on testing and retesting measurable, observable and repeatable fitness movements and benchmarks.

Along the way, I also fell in love with coaching and being a working part of the community. Just like the workouts themselves, coaching CrossFit has its own style and methodology that thrives on constant variance and improvement. And as one of the early (second!) female coaches in COMO, I’ve always felt women needed to special representation (because we own), as well as “from scratch” athletes who started from the very beginning like me.

I wanted to take the L2 specifically because I wanted to attack weaknesses I know I have in front of groups and public speaking, as well as fine tune some strategies for cueing and triaging (that’s an official term) movement patterns.

How did I prepare for the seminar?

I think every certification or test has its horror stories, and there was no shortage of them for the L2 when I started thinking about registering. I’m a part of the CrossFit Affiliate Owners and Coaches group on Facebook, and I regularly stalk the CrossFit subReddit. People talk, and if you know me, you can guess how that might have sent my anxiety into THREAT LEVEL MIDNIGHT CODE RED SURVIVAL. I suffer from crippling performance anxiety when it comes to public speaking. Oddly enough it’s never been an issue coaching unless I’m doing so in front of 10+ people.

With that all said, the biggest help I found was talking to people, mainly Tyler, Angelo, and Nate. I read the extensive LEVEL 2 TRAINING GUIDE & WORKBOOK from the CrossFit Training website. I also discovered several YouTube playlists of videos (here and here) captured at Level 2 Seminars. They were very helpful in allowing me to kind of priming my mind for the lectures and demonstrations. The CrossFit YouTube channel, as well as the CrossFit Journal, has tons of available resources. If you aren’t taking advantage of them (even as an athlete) you are missing out!

My Level 2 Seminar Experience

Day 1

My CrossFit Seminar Staff consisted of Steve and Natosha Haydock, a married couple from CrossFit Springfield where I attended the seminar. Steve’s intense (in a good way):

The softer side of Steve…

In addition to being a part of the coveted CrossFit Seminar Staff, they now hold the distinguished role of being witnesses to my Level 2 experience (haha!).

The first day began with the six criteria needed for effective training (teaching, seeing, correcting, group management, presence/attitude, and demonstration).

We then broke into groups and practiced teaching and correcting static and dynamic positions in the 9 foundational movements. It was very nerve-wracking to essentially circle your fellow participants repeatedly and cue their movements, not to mention the fact that it was being guided and prompted by the Steve or Natosha.

Subtle dynamic faults are definitely something I need to be more mindful of. In the world of group fitness classes, it’s all too easy to attack only gross faults, especially in those who are new to CrossFit or working out. Often this leads to intermediate and advanced athletes being coached less, and I know I’ve been guilty of that.

After lunch, we dug into class structure and group management. We built off the discussions over the effective coaching criteria and applied those approaches to how we approach a one hour class or session. Natosha led us through a “mock” class and demonstrated how many opportunities there are for coaching and how every one of our athletes should come away feeling like they’ve received valuable feedback, one-on-one attention and ways they can improve. That was the part/idea that, even though I knew it already was my biggest “aha” moment of the weekend (there were more for sure).

Our workout (we always want to know what the workouts are at these seminars don’t we?) was:

21-18-15-12 (reps of each)

  • Sumo deadlift high pulls (95/65)
  • Overhead lunges (95/65)
  • Push-ups

This was my jam, although eating Chipotle 1.5 hours before not thinking there may be a workout was a mistake.

We closed Day 1 with one more daunting group exercise where we had to pick a foundational movement, teach it to another member, then triage and refine their movement to what is better and closer to “optimal.”

Needless to say, the rumors are true, you are WORN OUT.

Day 2

Day 2 dug heavily into teaching and programming for the methodology of CrossFit. I’m fascinated by programming, mostly because I’m an Instructional Developer by day. That is what got me hooked on CrossFit in the first place. How all the pieces come together to meet the desired stimulus or performance outcomes. Yum.

While the Level 1 Seminar dedicates just a little piece of Day 2 to programming, The Level 2 Seminar digs further into not only developing programming but analyzing its effectiveness. They offered great insight into how to really develop for variance well, offering great templates and techniques for writing and developing workouts, proper scales and accommodating heavy days.

The final big exercise was a teach back/group coaching — teaching and cueing a movement (mine was overhead squat) to an entire group. Boy, that was tough — and I can definitely tell that I’m used to much smaller and one-on-one coaching. I could not stop jumping around instead of projecting and commanding from one place. Yikes.

Reflections

While daunting and very much like ripping a band-aid off some major hang-ups and anxiety, I’m so happy I completed this seminar. I feel like it’s given me renewed motivation and better context for what I should aim for in my coaching and position at CrossFit Fringe. Too often, I sit on the side and assume other people would be better-suited to things than I would, and that really isn’t always the case. I got great feedback, and feel assured that my coaching is valuable and needed.