A few months ago I started a new position at a place called the Athlete Institute. I have taken on the role of Performance and Strength Coach for not only the 3 basketball teams there, but also new individual clients who come in looking for elite, sport-specific training. This has been an amazing opportunity and it is, without a doubt, a dream career for me. The fact that I get to work with such amazing athletes, many of our current basketball players will most certainly play Division I basketball at some of the biggest schools in the USA, a few may even make an appearance in the NBA some day, such as this gifted and extremely focused/talented young man - Thon Maker:
One other training option we offer at the Athlete Institute is CrossFit classes. I have had many opportunities to observe and even help instruct classes while there. Our CrossFit program has been extremely busy and popular so we are not only looking to expand our current class schedule, but we wish to take an even bigger step towards participant safety and enjoyment.
This is where CrossFit and I cross paths.
On top of training the basketball teams, I will take on the role of assessing and training all new CrossFit athletes. I will assess their current abilities, focus on their abilities to perform common CrossFit workouts safely and effectively, and also lead them through a multi-stage fundamentals course where I decide on whether each individual is ready or not for regular CrossFit workouts. I am the one who decides whether an individual is competent to participate, or require even further training before engaging in full CrossFit classes.
I am literally putting my money where my mouth is.
For those of you who have been following me for some time, it is no secret that I have been vocal about my displeasure with certain aspects of CrossFit. Although there are some aspects that I am still not a huge fan of, I am taking a hands-on role in squashing some of my displeasures with a workout program that is undeniably one of the most popular fitness trends, not only recently, but possibly of all time!
I figure this is as good as time as any to go through the blog I wrote over 2 years ago now, and discuss the "cons" that I have previously written about and what my current thoughts are heading into this position.
Rhabdomyolysis is actually a fairly large topic in the CrossFit manual. There are some very valid points raised. I will admit that I have taken a step back on my previously-held opinions on this. Sure, rhabdo is dangerous. No, it doesn't happen as often as you may think. And it most certainly is possible to get with any type of physical exercise. One thing that is for certain, this is nothing to joke around about and will definitely not be considered a "badge of honour" under my watch.
Yup, you can get your certification in a weekend. It is expensive ($1000 USD), which may already turn quite a few people away. I found the instruction to be extremely well-done with a lot of emphasis on modifying for individuals' needs. Consider the Level 1 course as an "intro to CrossFit," and although you may be able to run CrossFit classes, you can't market yourself as such unless you are working at an official CrossFit affiliated facility. A facility that will more than likely either a) not hire you without experience/other certifications, or b) won't allow you to lead classes on your own without more experience/certifications.
Specificity Training (or lack thereof)
Without a doubt, if you wish to train for something specific, CrossFit can help you get in really good shape, but there comes a time when your training needs to focus more on specific needs of your sport. Does a basketball player need to learn how to do a kipping pull-up? Probably not. Does a football lineman need to be able to run a fast 5km race? Probably not. There are more effective ways to train athletes for specific sports, and to be honest, CrossFit seems to be more than ok with this. In fact, this was the very first topic of discussion at their certification course.
If you are interested in becoming fit and prepared for real-world situations, then yes, CrossFit can help get you there. It is designed to get you fit and strong in a wide array of health and fitness aspects. If you wish to run a 2.5-hour marathon, it may not be for you.
The workouts don't really make any sense
Here is another topic I am going to take a step back from my earlier thoughts. Yes, CrossFit programming is pretty random, but this relates almost directly to the last point. CrossFit isn't about becoming really good at any individual aspect, but good at a wide range of things. Despite their seemingly lack of scheduling or structure, there was actually a fantastic lecture towards the end of the weekend by Matt (CrossFit Laval) detailing CrossFit's methods to their madness.
Yes, CrossFit can be extremely dangerous, but as I mentioned above, my goal is to play a part in minimizing the risks involved. I don't really want to get into the whole "you could get in a car accident driving to work" kind of discussion because there are certainly some inherently heightened risks associated with a fitness style like CrossFit, risks that you wouldn't see in many other forms of exercise. Keep in mind that risks are exacerbated by not only the individuals practicing, but also the instructor(s) pushing limits too far. If there's one thing I have learned about training individuals, especially athletes, is that one of the best things you can do for someone, at times, is pull them back a bit so that taking one step back can allow them to take two or three steps forward down the road!
There are some pretty egotistical CrossFitters out there, no doubt. I always throw out the line, "How do you spot the CrossFitter in the room? Don't worry, they'll tell you!"
Do you know what though, that exists with virtually any group or organization, especially those that are health and fitness-related. Hell, I am a Beachbody Coach and have been for over 2 years now. Trust me, I have seen plenty of egotistical Coaches as well as folks who more than willing to sell you something. Let's face facts, because I know that many of my readers follow me because of my unbiased and open opinions. There are jerks and assholes around nearly every corner you turn. There are also stubborn folks who never change their opinion on anything because rather than face facts, they would rather stick to their stubborn opinions.
I will fully admit that I have disliked CrossFit for some time. However, I saw an opportunity and have decided to act on it. I am approaching this with an open mind because there is one thing for certain - CrossFit isn't going anywhere, any time soon, so I want to be able to be a part of making it as safe and effective for people as possible.