Did ya hear? CrossFit HQ just announced a revamp of their certification process! Well, not so much as a revamp as it is an evolution with some new offerings. The announcement seems to have been rather quiet, perhaps with so much focus on the upcoming Games this month. I’ve done some research, mainly because I have a goal to take the CrossFit L1 course later this year, but also because I want to be informed on what is going on in the CrossFit world. Here’s what I have found out so far on the new CrossFit Certifications.
New CrossFit Certifications
First thing first, there is going to be a new focus on the word certified. I’ll try and be judicious with my use of the word.
Also, just a disclaimer, I’m no CrossFit expert, I’m not affiliated with them in any way, I don’t hold any of these credentials… I’m just a CrossFit enthusiast who has a blog and wants to share what I have learned about this new process.
Four Times The Fun
Let me get my LeBron James on for a second… now there’s not one, not two, not three, but four levels of CrossFit credentials offered.
Level 1 Certificate Course (CF-L1)
It appears the L1 has remained relatively unchanged. The L1 still is a weekend course and is the prerequisite before submitting for affiliation, aka opening up your own box. The L1 must be renewed every five years. I’m pretty sure everyone reading this has a semi-decent understanding of the L1 since most people’s trainers/coaches hold the L1 certificate.
Oh hey, now seems like as good of a time as any to mention that you can help fund me to get my CF-L1. Every little bit helps and I greatly appreciate it! =)
One thing I found out about the Level 1 course, it is actually an accredited course through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the same institute that maintains some of the engineering standards I (used to) use at work! So, for all the haters that say our CrossFit training programs are a joke, at least one organization doesn’t agree with you.
Level 2 Certificate Course (CF-L2)
The L2 course is a workshop that focuses on training skills. The only prerequisite for the L2 is to hold the L1 certificate, however there is a strong recommendation that applicants for the L2 serve at least 6 months training athletes in CrossFit before attempting the L2. L2 classes address mostly hands-on time with smaller groups to enhance training methods and techniques.
The Level 2 is meant to provide students with improved skills, a strong sense of their strengths and weaknesses, and actionable ways to improve. In a vacuum, one could assume a CF-L2 trainer is a more experienced and self-aware CrossFit trainer who has spent time identifying strengths and weaknesses, than a CF-L1 trainer.
Certified CrossFit Trainer (CF-L3 & CCFT)
Here’s where things start to get a little different with the new CrossFit certifications. For starters, the CCFT is a computer-based test. Also, there are two paths in which one can become a CCFT/CF-L3 certificate holder.
The more “traditional” CrossFit path is to hold both the L1 and L2, and complete 750 hours of CrossFit coaching experience. The computerized test uses videos and photos in which the candidate must draw upon their experience and skills as a coach to answer questions. Passing this test via the “CrossFit path” allows the certificate holder to call himself a CF-L3, as well as a Certified CrossFit Trainer.
The second path is for someone that does not have their L1 and L2. This Certified CF Trainer program has been submitted for ANSI accreditation, and one requirement is that a certification to have at least one eligibility path that is independent from the certifying organization. This second “non-CrossFit” path requires 1500 hours of strength and conditioning coaching. Completion of this path allows one to refer to herself as CCFT, Certified CrossFit Trainer, but not an L3.
Both paths require accumulation of 900 CrossFit training hours every three years, in addition to 50 Continuing Education Units. This part makes me extremely happy in that there must be documented evidence of development and self-motivated training, which is a hallmark of a great trainer.
One more thing, a “non-CrossFit” path will not allow someone to apply for CrossFit affiliation, aka open their box. They must have the L1 for that, no ifs, ands, or buts. Also, the “non-CrossFit” pathers cannot apply for the next and last level of certification.
Certified CrossFit Coach (CF-L4 & CCFC)
The highest level of CrossFit credential is this, and it is strictly a performance evaluation where candidates are tested on their ability to teach CrossFit movements to others. Such a novel concept.
There is no prerequisite outside of the L1, L2, and L3 certificates. The CCFC/CF-L4 is here to provide a distinction for expert coaches within the community. As such, it is assumed that one will have several years of coaching CrossFit in a group setting in order to stand a chance of passing the evaluation.
Maintenance of the L4 is the same as the L3/CCFT.
I hope not, but if so, you can check out this CrossFit Journal article for the full multi-page write-up of all these courses.
Back To “Certified”
Only those with the CCFT and/or CCFC credentials can say they are “certified” trainers or coaches. The use of the words “certified” or “certified trainer/coach” in relation to the CF-L1 or CF-L2 credentials is a misrepresentation and is not supported by CrossFit.
There Are Going To Be Super Legit L1 Trainers Out There
That CF Journal article also touches on this; just because someone “only” has an L1 does not mean they aren’t an extremely knowledgable and good quality coach. Look at other occupations: engineers – I know plenty of certified Professional Engineers that I wouldn’t trust to design a toothpick, doctors – come on surely all of us know at least one Ph.D. holder that has the common sense of a 5th grader, and the list goes on.
These higher levels of certification allow us to be more confident in a coach without any further investigation. We can assume a coach with a L3 knows his stuff, more so than a L1 holder in the same situation. However, personal experience and word-of-mouth account for a lot! If some of my coaches never progress beyond their L1s, I would still recommend them in a heartbeat. I would also listen to others, for instance via social media, if they skewed significantly positive or negative for their respective coaches.
What Do I Think About All This?
Y’all didn’t think you were going to get out of here without me weighing in on this did you? Nope!
I think this is a good, needed move by CF HQ. Does this solve all the “bad coaches” problem? No. Is this a perfect solution? No. But it is a good step in the right direction. Sure, someone can still “attend a weekend class then open a CrossFit box”, but this topic has been beaten into the ground. These new CrossFit certifications should inspire the good coaches and trainers to seek the higher level credentials. Think about it, those of us that take our CrossFit seriously strive towards PRs in the gym; it is logical to assume those serious and passionate about training us also strive to continually improve themselves. My own personal experiences tell me that when I was passionate for something, I reached out for more information and more knowledge because I wanted to. That’s natural.
The minimum requirements have not changed. A L1 credential is necessary to open an affiliate box, and that’s all that is necessary from HQ’s standpoint. As I’ve said before, simply holding the proper credentials does not make one a good teacher of CrossFit.
I don’t think this is some kind of money-grabbing scheme by HQ. Honestly, they have plenty enough of those already. I genuinely think these new credentials have been put in place for the benefit of the CrossFit community. These new CrossFit certifications should make our sport safer. Period. And not only safer, but better. Yes, better than yesterday. Better trainers and coaches means better teaching which means better growth for all us athletes. That’s a win for everybody!
What do you think of these new CrossFit certifications?
For those that currently hold an L1, do you plan on obtaining higher credential levels?