My Experience: The CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Course

In crossfit |

On August 29, 2018

As part of my new endeavor into coaching CrossFit, I took the CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Course this past weekend. It was held in Newark, CA at a truly impressive facility called CrossFit of Freemont.

For those not familiar with CrossFit Training, they are the educational arm of HQ, and the level 1 certificate course is the starting place for anyone wanting to become a CrossFit Trainer, or affiliate (open their own officially branded Crossfit facility). From there, participants who attend the full 2 day seminar and pass the 50 question multiple choice test can call themselves “CrossFit Level 1 Trainer” or ” “CF-L1” on business cards, resumes, etc and even apply to open their own affiliate.

One important distinction before I review my 2 day experience is that your do not become CrossFit “Certified” until completing the CrossFit Level 3 exam. Nor can you charge or advertise that you are offering CrossFit Training unless you’re offering it within an Affiliate setting. This is how CrossFit protects its brand, which they do aggressively. The cost for the course is $1000.

I enjoyed the fast paced mix of lecure and movement. The 2 days honestly flew by and left me wishing it were a three day course. I can’t go into specific details regarding course material, but it covered a mix of CrossFit training principles, programming, nutrition and the 9 basic fundamental movements, including proper form as well as spotting common faults. Additionally, it began the process of teaching attendees how to make corrections to other athletes as a coach.


Instructors – I was extremely impressed by all four instructors. Shoutouts to Austin BegiebingKatie HoganDustin Virgil, and Myles Lewis. They all had great presence, command of the material, were professional yet approachable and in my opinion made the experience so much better.

Course Flow – the course is a great mix of both lecture and movement. We we’re never stuck in our chairs for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Amount of Time Moving – much of the course is dedicated to breakout small groups covering the fine details of progressions in the 9 foundational movements and possible faults/corrections. Moving. We also had 1 short workout each day.


Time spent practicing ‘coaching’ and spotting movement faults/making corrections  – as much time as we did spend moving, I couldn’t help but look back and wonder if it was really enough instruction to be called a ‘coach’. It’s true that we all have to start somewhere. And lead instructor Austin closed the course by saying as much – “don’t try to go coach a class of 12 people…get good coaching 1 person.” But there really isn’t enough time in two days to spend a majority of it learning and coaching people through all the common movement faults in fundamental movements. And that makes me wonder if the quality of instruction suffers at some affiliates given this is the baseline requirement for training others in the CrossFit methodology.

Nutrition – I feel like the nutrition lecture either needs an update or to be condensed to the general recommendation from the first line of their Fitness in 100 Words or Less mantra: “Eat meats, vegetable, nuts, seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.”

I get that trainers are often asked about nutrition by clients (who may or may not be legally able to offer advice), but CrossFit’s insistence on teaching the Zone Diet is…weird. First, hardly anyone does the Zone diet. Those that strive to are likely not hitting a 30-40-30 Protein, Carb, Fat macronutrient breakdown. Even fewer are actually weighing, measuring and using Zone ‘blocks’. The blocking of macros made sense before there were macro calculators in all of our pockets. Apps have made calculating macros so easy, there’s no reason to add the extra step of converting a macro into a block. I agree with HQ that it’s important to spend some time weighing and measuring food (initially) to learn and be able to figure out and eyeball portion sizes going forward. However, the archaic adherence to Dr. Sears’ diet simply falls short for me. When the instructor asked for a show of hands on who has tried Zone, 1 out of 40 attendees raised a hand. When asked if we recognized the general prescription, 100% of the attendees in unison proclaimed “Paleo”. Any questions? Just eat real food, try a Paleo style elimination diet for 30 days and see what foods work best for you. Ditch the Zone.

Fish Oil Supplementation – a blanket recommendation that everyone should take fish oil is not current with science. I don’t feel the need to go into detail on this point. Eat some fish and quality meat and veggies with your real food approach and most people will get all the omega 3s they need and keep systemic inflammation at bay.


Overall I had a very positive experience. My criticisms are minor and certainly wouldn’t prevent me from recommending the course to those interested. I did pass the exam and will get my certificate in a few weeks, but regardless of the piece of paper I feel like it was time and money well spent. Especially since I’m putting it right to use at CrossFit Golden Gate, helping others move well.

What do you think? Have you taken the CF-L1? I’d love to hear other opinions, especially from those that maybe went into it and didn’t have as much movement in their educational background as I did. Was it enough to feel ready to train others? Did you like it? Hate it? Share in the comments below.

Yours in Health & Strength,

Dr. Scott
Full Body Fix

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Last modified: October 20, 2018

3 Responses to :
My Experience: The CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Course

  1. Beautiful, honest summary.

    I took Level 1 in 2009 and was very, very happy with it. At the same time, I was deep into finishing chiro school, studying Integrative Diagnosis and CSCS articles. So I just plugged it into my mind library.

    But I do had and still have slight worry for that older, previously injured weekend warrior who finds a CrossFit coach who only took a Level 1 cert and has no awareness of fitness progression and form. It makes me cringe.

    Nonetheless, much of the responsibility does fall on the individual. I’ve heard Glassman be called quite the Libertarian.

    1. fullbodyfix says:

      Yeah I pretty much agree with you 100%. I also tend to think the cream rises in the free market. So poorly coached boxes probably don’t succeed at the same rate as places with better coaching / leadership / on ramps / screening etc. Thanks Doc!

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