On Sunday I tackled the new CrossFit Level 1 Trainer test. New for this year, the Level 1 test is the first time a test has been mandatory to be a Level 1 trainer. It is a 50 question written test given at the end of the Level 1 certification. The test is part of an accreditation process that CrossFit is undergoing with a national accreditation body, the American National Standards Institute. All trainers, regardless how much experience you have, or how many Level 1 certs you have been to are required to pass the test over the next year in order to retain their Level 1 status. Level 2 trainers are also required to take the test. The certificate will have to renewed every 5 years.
This has been greeted with mixed emotions by the CrossFit community. I was one of those that had differing thoughts about the test. While I liked the idea of a CrossFit certification being accepted as equal to many of the other fitness certifications out there, I was annoyed that I actually had to go take a test. Part of my problem lay with the simple fact that I had to take a whole Sunday afternoon, drive some place, and take a test. Not fun.
However, I have to admit that part of the problem was that I didn’t think I needed to take that test. That I shouldn’t be made to do it. I mean, I took my first class with Coach Glassman 11 years ago. At the old HQ I trained regularly with Amundson and Highbarger. I am a Level 2 trainer and I have taken the old and new Level 1 cert three times, as well as specialty certs. And, between two affiliates, I have trained a lot of people–firebreathers, grandmas, firebreathing grandmas, and everybody in between. Hey, I know this stuff and I didn’t see why I had to jump through this hoop. Plus, what if I failed? The study manual that I was sent is over a hundred pages thick. C’mon, there is no way my schedule would allow me to go through the whole thing. Overall, I kind of felt like being forced to take this test was an insult to my knowledge and abilities, and I am sure a lot of people feel this way.
But, I signed up anyway. I signed up for the earliest one I could find near Santa Cruz. Might as well just get it out of the way, I thought, especially since my affiliate status depends on it. And I am really glad I did.
As advertised, the test wasn’t really difficult if CrossFit is a large part of your life, as it should be if you are being paid to train other people. But it is broad and comprehensive. It tests exactly what I would want someone who is about to represent CrossFit to know. The test examines one’s understanding of CrossFit methodology, programming, nutrition, movements, and other aspects. All that is left is the practical experience, and everyone starts at the beginning there.
Accreditation is a big and necessary step for CrossFit. CrossFit, with over 2000 affiliates, certainly has popular support. With some 7 years of communal feedback from tens of thousands of people via the internet, it has the scientific background to prove its methodologies. All that has been missing is the acceptance of the mainstream strength and conditioning community. Accreditation will go a long way in accomplishing that.
Just this afternoon I was looking at the study guide for another fitness certification, the AFAA. It was full of fancy words and questions, but nowhere did it teach or test any of the movements that one would use to make someone fitter. It asked what movements you would use to strengthen the anterior deltoid, but it did not teach how to do any of those movements, how to teach them, and how to choose the best one for each trainee. One of the things that I always really liked about the CrossFit Level 1 cert was its emphasis on the prospective trainer actually learning movements and how to teach them. To me, this was more important than the lack of a test, regardless of peer criticism. The new test will only serve to enhance the practical aspect of the CrossFit trainer process, as well as bridging the gap between other, test only, fitness certifications.
After experiencing the new Level 1 test first hand and really understanding the reasoning behind it, I welcome its mandatory inclusion in the Crossfit trainer and affiliate process and I wholeheartedly encourage my fellow trainers and coaches to take it.
Please post your thoughts on the new Level 1 test and CrossFit’s ongoing accreditation process to Comments.