Just kidding! Well, sort of. I spent two long, long days at the CrossFit Level 1 Certification course, hosted by CrossFit Charlotte, most of which was spent learning essential components of movements, progressions into more difficult lifts, and how to scale exercises for less advanced athletes. We also did two workouts (hence my soreness), and had some theory lectures about why CrossFit is designed the way it is and how fitness can be objectively measured, as well as a surprisingly long lecture on nutrition.
The nutrition lecture was somewhat of a surprise. Granted, it had a lot of faults (such as a 100% focus on macronutrient ratios, and the suggestion to literally count almonds), but I was impressed that they did give a decent amount of credit to the Paleo diet, and particularly Robb Wolf’s work. They also mentioned Gary Taubes a significant amount. So while there were many holes in the nutrition lecture (that I was dying to raise my hand and fill), I was impressed that they incorporated many Paleo components into the session.
I really did have fun and I feel like I learned a lot about form, technique, and optimal workout structure.
I would say the most valuable information I learned this weekend was not only how to recognize proper technique in others (and how to correct that technique in a way the athlete will understand), but I got a TON of one-on-one training with the instructors, who were really knowledgable and gave tips in a way that was very positive and encouraging. I have a serious problem staying on my heels in most of my harder lifts (I blame 6 years of volleyball), and it was helpful to have such experienced coaches pointing out certain errors I was making and giving me easy-to-understand ways to fix them.
For example, the head coach Russell spent what felt like at least 5 minutes coaching me directly about my medicine ball clean (which I had never done), in front of my group. I was a bit intimidated and embarrassed that I was singled out as having a bad clean technique, but it was really good to get one-on-one attention from a top CrossFit coach who gave me a lot of tips on how to improve my technique both physically and mentally. A lot of these complicated lifts aren’t hard because they’re so heavy, but because they involve a huge amount of coordination and agility and motor development. So even though I was slightly embarrassed to be pulled out in front of the group to do my ugly cleans, I was really glad to get such direct coaching on a skill that I am looking forward to developing.
And then there were the workouts.
The workouts were pretty damn hard, and I even scaled mine pretty low in comparison to the prescribed workout. I was SO impressed by the number of women that did the prescribed workout though, including the pull-ups! I, for one, cannot do an unassisted pull up. Granted I’m tall and tend to have more lower body strength, but I was so impressed and inspired by all the women that were so physically fit. Perhaps I’ll never make it to a prescribed Fran workout, but I am definitely more motivated to keep training harder after seeing the abilities of my female peers, many of whom were much older than me.
One last thing I feel that I learned from this weekend that I wasn’t expecting – humility.
I often take for granted the nutrition knowledge that I have, and sometimes get frustrated and/or even annoyed when people don’t understand what I’m saying or are completely oblivious to basic information that to me seems obvious. However, I definitely was “put in their shoes” this weekend, since I was one of the least CrossFit knowledgable student there, and was making a lot of mistakes and falling short of most others’ performance. I learned what it felt like to be a novice and to be surrounded by people more experienced than me. I learned what it’s like to feel embarrassed about your shortcomings in an atmosphere where most others are more advanced than you. However, I also learned what it feels like to have a highly experienced and compassionate coach that recognizes your weaknesses and helps you improve them, rather than getting annoyed or berating you for screwing up.
I feel that this experience can greatly apply to my nutrition education techniques. Not only do I need to understand that many of my future clients will be complete novices or wildly misinformed about nutrition, but they will likely feel embarrassed about their lack of knowledge or nervous about my possible critique of their diets. Instead of getting frustrated with their beginner status, I need to always make sure that I am compassionate about their situation and encouraging towards their decision to learn more about healthy eating habits.
No one is going to change overnight. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t do a prescribed Fran workout tomorrow, despite the fact that I was taught proper technique from an experienced coach. I’m just not ready for it.
And some people are just not ready to change their diets overnight. And that’s ok. You don’t have to do a major 180 degree diet change in one day. Sure, it helps to take big steps like clearing out junk from the pantry, or making a 100% Paleo-approved grocery store visit. But we’re still going to make mistakes. Most people aren’t ready to take Paleo to the full-blown level. Heck, I’d say even I’m not ready for that. (and whether 100% Paleo for the rest of your life is even appropriate is another story.)
Long story short, it takes time, effort, and practice to make significant and permanent changes in your life. Whether that’s being able to do a body-weight pull up, or being able to permanently cut grains out of your diet, it all can’t happen overnight. So as a beginner, you need to give yourself time and allow yourself to make mistakes or get into this new diet slowly and progressively. As a teacher, you need to be patient with your clients and realize that taking the plunge into Paleo/Primal living is scary, intimidating, and challenging for most people.
I didn’t expect to learn this all from a CrossFit Certification course, but I’m glad I did. Maybe my quad muscles aren’t happy about it, but I sure am.