I had reserved my final weekend in the States for a CrossFit seminar, appropriately called Level 1 Trainer Course: Fundamentals. This course came complete with a 45 question test and a 115-page instruction manual you were supposed to have read before the class. Needless to say, I didn’t do any such thing (despite the best of intentions) before the weekend started.
Class started at 9am and I did not want to be late so I woke up at 5am, got my stuff together, and hit the road. This is when I would ordinarily whine that because it was too early in the morning to eat I had no appetite but I got hunger pangs, so I stopped at a rest area to fill my water bottle, to which I added my homemade protein shake mixture, minus any of the things you add to make it taste halfway decent. Oh, wait, I guess I did just whine about that, huh?
I arrived about 15 minutes early and made a bee-line for the coffee because I somehow didn’t notice the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru right next door. I was pleasantly surprised to see that our head trainer was none other than Boz (Adrian Bozman, who I had met a few days ago in San Francisco). It was actually funny, when he met me the first time he asked if we’d met before. This time, he remembered me and even enough to express surprise that I was still in the country! That, folks, is a customer-service mentality.
After checking out the rest of the training staff (Heather and Ben Bergeron, among others), I grabbed a chair alongside 49 other eager-looking people. Well, actually some people looked nervous, some people looked bored, and some people looked like they had no idea what in the heck was actually going on. And some people looked like they had just walked out of U.S. military basic training. Or maybe that’s what all American CrossFitters look like; a few days later some guy came up to me in the L.A. airport and said he swore he’d seen me in a gym in Afghanistan. Apparently I have a doppelganger who’s way more hardcore than I am.
The days were broken into a combination of theory and group practice, in which we covered some of the most basic movements (three squats, three overhead movements, and a deadlift sequence). It was a good mix of moving and absorbing information. Due to confidentiality restrictions I won’t talk about the content of the course because I can’t. But what I can say is how awesome all the trainers were in terms of knowledge, being engaging in how they passed it on, and just fun to hang out with. Two of them had been Games judges, and looking back at my pictures now I see them! Very, very cool people.
A lot of the information we absorbed was useful, a lot of it did feel for the life of me like cult indoctrination. But hey, you have to know the theory if you’re going to go around explaining it to people, and I will admit that they drilled a couple of core concepts into my head much more clearly than before. As my new favourite blog says, it’s not really our fault that we have a tendency to form groups and see others of differing opinions as outsiders, and wrong because they are others. Well, sometimes they are also just wrong. And CrossFit does give a good avenue to express one’s own individualism as different from all the non-CrossFitters around, who are of course not understanding proper nutrition and training in an inefficient way (oh yeah and wimps because our warmup is harder than their workout). And they probably couldn’t take the pain of a CrossFit workout, let alone a ripped hand. There is even such a thing as a hand-rip high-five, I learned. Get the idea? Sometimes all this “we’re better than the rest of the world” stuff bothers me a bit. But hey, I also love my tribe.
Why I took this seminar is a good question because I don’t intend to become a full-time CrossFit coach or open my own gym or any such thing. Maybe I would do some part-time coaching, but it’s good to have knowledge I can use to help when people ask me questions (because they do ask) but as Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots going backwards. I wanted it to improve my own knowledge and I did learn a thing or two, and had quite a couple of things told to me in new ways and re-enforced. If nothing else, I’ve made huge strides towards correcting a problem with not opening my hip on the Olympic lifts. And it’s great to know how to diagnose problems others are having and know what is most critical to fix, first.
This being a CrossFit seminar, of course we had to train. For the most part, everyone knew what was coming. I pity the poor fools who had never done a CrossFit workout prior to that weekend, because we did Fran (21-15-9 thrusters at 65/95lbs (29/43kgs) and pullups). I pity myself because my breakout group had to go outside for our practical sessions and I hadn’t anticipated this so I hadn’t worn sunscreen and it was hot, so I had the same problem as in California when I got dehydrated despite drinking water all day. Actually before the workout started I felt so faint and lightheaded that had it been a normal day at the gym I probably would have begged out of the workout. But this was my CrossFit cert and I sure as hell wasn’t scaling the workout (one of the requirements to get the certification is participation in all workouts, even if you scale the level of difficulty: I think half the women did jumping pullups).
As it turned out, my sun exposure didn’t help me much. I actually had to put the bar down on the round of 15 thrusters which is kind of sad and insane at the same time. The perversity of the situation is that I left all my athletic tape in Mass because I was pretty sure the workout would be Fran, and I don’t usually rip my hands until I get to about 60 pullups. Here, I managed to rip one hand in the round of 15 and the other in the round of 9. Which is terrible, yes, but on the plus side since I also didn’t have my medical kit with me I got to use someone else’s New Skin, which hurts worse than anything else I have ever put on a wound. Way worse than salt. But, once it’s done its thing you can actually do things like shower without pain. I have to admit, though, I really feared when the first application peeled off and I knew I had to put on another one.
Anyway a crew of five of us went out to dinner at this bar in New Haven (about 15 minutes drive up the road). Luckily we had a local in our midst who knew where to take us, and we went to this awesome bar & grill where we had both a smorgasbord of beers to choose from and also an amazing menu. We were all busy looking at the burgers (they had a bacon-stuffed burger, blue-cheese, mushroom, etc.), and then it was pointed out to us that we could get a cobb salad with truffle oil (that came with chicken breast, egg, and avo, with a burger on top for an additional $5). I think there were four orders of that. Hilarity ensued when I ordered and the waitress asked if I wanted the burger instead of the chicken. Funnily enough, our table was the only thing I thought to photograph the entire weekend. It was a bit laden down with food!
After dinner and the 3 beers we had there, we proceeded to try to move to another bar. I think it was called Bar. Anyway the doorman told us we couldn’t come in dressed as we were (we were so hungry from Fran (6:10, by the way) that we went out to dinner without showering or changing. So I was in spandex, the boys were wearing something else suitably unsuitable, and somehow Trevor managed to talk our way in. To add to the bonus, we didn’t have to pay a cover charge. The girls I met in the bathroom later were suitably horrified that I had gotten in there dressed “like THAT” and without paying a cover charge. Another pitcher or two later we decided to head out which was a good plan because we did have to be up the next day to learn, and train, and take our test. It was 10:30 on a Saturday night when I got to the hotel so I thought we had done quite a reasonable job of moderation. Unfortunately, my original plans to read the 70+ pages that I hadn’t read didn’t quite happen …
… I was not real happy the next day, though, when the time came for the test and after the first 3 questions which were ridiculously easy I came upon the next 3 or 4 where the answer wasn’t immediately obvious! Hectic. Happily, they scored the test there within minutes so we all found out how we did. They are now changing the rules to make it more professional whereby scores are done offsite and mailed to you. I was glad to get my results immediately. I got two wrong which annoyed me because I wanted to know the two that I got wrong. I am now reading the manual so I can figure it out. Whatever works, I guess.
Overall, a super fun time at the cert! I hit the road to go back to North Reading, pack my bags, and have a last supper with the beautiful Laura Cogan. It was great, but all too short unfortunately as we had to be up early the next morning to hit the road to Boston Logan International Airport. I was really happy to have the time, though, because we had a lot to catch up on. It’s amazing the difference that a year or two makes. It seems like so long ago that we were at Babson and my life was definitely very different back then, but as I think I’ve mentioned before it’s great when you can still really enjoy someone’s company and friendship even with the common ground of shared experience is removed.
… and this drama will resume with a narrative of my time since I’ve gotten back to SA, since I’m super behind. The trip (Boston to Chicago to LA, change terminals & airlines, LA to Dubai, 8 hours layover in Dubai, then on to Cape Town) took forever and a day. Well, actually a day and a day. Luckily we got to Logan super early because Terminal B was closed and the security line was about a million people long. Not that bad but it took over an hour to get through! Not much happened in Chicago. I had a double cheeseburger without the bun. Should have had it without the cheese. In LA, I talked my way into double exit row seats on Emirates (yay for the extra room!). This came in handy when on the 16.5 hour flight to Dubai I slept somewhere close to 11 hours, and spent another one talking to one of the flight attendants about life in Dubai. On the flight to Cape Town I sat next to some [South African] mercenaries who were on their way back from Iraq (they did not mistake me for military), and was unable to sleep much because the seat was uncomfortable.
In lieu of yet more CrossFit photos, you can check the random things I took photos of on my plane trip.
Then I was home! That was actually about two weeks ago now. Been busy, but I’ll get around to updating this thing soon. I hate being behind.
• “It *is* hot out here!” – Ben
• “Are you doing it again?” “Fran twice in 30 minutes? I’m not THAT sadistic!” – Rob & Ellie
• “They must be wondering: who ARE these people?” – Trevor