What is a CrossFit Level 1??

As we’re sure you’ve noticed around the gym, there are a lot of weird certificate plaques around the gym that say CF-L1,L2, or L3. There are some that say other things as well! But, when you meet a CrossFit Coach and ask them what credentials they have, they usually start with their level.

Well let’s talk about how you get these certifications and what they mean!

So You Wanna Coach At A CrossFit Gym?

CrossFit Inc. runs a strange business model compared to most large chain businesses. While a Subway or a Planet Fitness is run as a franchise model (you buy the business from the parent company and run it per their rules and regulations). CrossFit decided to grow their band as an affiliate model. What this means is that while you have to follow some guidelines to have the “CrossFit” name on your building, an affiliate is an entirely separate business that licenses the name for an annual fee.

CrossFit has just a few requirements: teach CrossFit methodologies, have insurance, pay them every year, no non-competes for contractors or employees of the gym, and a CF-L1 or higher certificated trainer must be on premises at all hours of operation. If you do all that, you’re in good standing with CrossFit and can carry the flame of the most efficacious fitness routine on this planet (or at the very least, the most fun fitness routine)!

That last part is actually how CrossFit makes most of it’s cash flow each year and the thing that has caused the most disruption in the fitness industry.

CrossFit Training is the certification arm of CrossFit and they dictate what is required to achieve each level of your CrossFit Credentials:

  • CF-L1
    • Attend a 2 day in-person seminar that is run by CrossFit Seminar Staff (CF-L3 and CF-L4 who coach or run their own affiliates who also work for CrossFit)
      • Each day is 8 hours long and consists of training over CrossFit’s foundational movements, how to coach them, and how to teach nutrition in your affiliate based off the block diet.
      • The weekend ends with the CF-L1 test that covers everything that was discussed over the weekend as well as materials from you CF-L1 handbook that you receive when you sign up for the course.
      • Once you pass the test you are a CF-L1 Trainer
  • CF-L2
    • Should have 50+ coaching hours at a registered CrossFit Affiliate
    • Then all the same things as the CF-L1 seminar except:
  • CF-L3
    • For the CF-L3 you must have 600+ coaching hours and must have that verified by an affiliate owner and submit it online along with an application to CrossFit HQ.
      • You must also obtain a CPR/AED Certification
    • You then pick a testing date at a third party testing site and study from this study guide:
    • On your testing date you will have 4 hours to complete a 200 question exam that covers:
      • Screening and Assessments of Atheltes
      • Programming
      • Teaching
      • Coaching
      • Nutrition & Lifestyle
      • Class Management and Professional Responsibilities
    • Once you pass the test you will be a Certified CrossFit Trainer/CF-L3
      • It is actually 2 separate accreditations.
  • CF-L4
    • This one is still not available to the public…despite my best efforts to nag the CrossFit Home Office for the past 3 YEARS.
      • I’m not bitter, you’re bitter.
    • Coaches who currently hold this credential passed the exam when it was the CF-L2 in the early CrossFit years or have been testing the current efficacy of their new testing procedure.
    • This is an in-person assessment performed over teaching classes for a whole day and involves 2 full class demonstrations.
      • Your passing or failing depends on whether Dave Castro approved you in the early days.
        • This has now been switched to a more objective process, but has not been released to the public.
    • Once you pass this test, you will be a Certified CrossFit Coach/CF-L4

What Does Getting Each Of These Even Mean?

Once you get at least the Level 1, you may coach at an affiliate (depending on your countries regulations for fitness professionals). Each of these credentials are certified by the third party certification board, “ANSI” and have a clear dividing line on what you may call yourself upon completion of the exams. CF-L1 and L2 are consider you to be certificated while the L3 and L4 consider you certified. The difference? You know how to do CPR and passed a test in a testing center. But, if you misrepresent that fact, you can lose your credentials and be in a heap of liability issues.

While all this bureaucracy is fun, you will find great coaches at all levels of this spectrum. As coaches grow and learn, they take the next to break comfort zones and see what they need to improve through another party’s eyes. After all, don’t we all become rockstars at our jobs once we get into a certain rhythm. Breaking that rhythm can help with growth and this is how we view the Level system that CrossFit has provided. 

While it’s awesome for marketing to say you have ______ certification, what really matters is how well you can help the athlete in front of you. It’s why we have our own Coaching On-Boarding process and materials we show our coaches to do their job the best they can! We only recommend going to that next level or getting a new certification when they feel they it will help them learn something new! The only Level we really push our coaches to aim for is the L2, as it is one of the best courses to go put yourself under a microscope! I’ve had my Level 3 for 4 years now and I’m positive that I would improve every time I took the L2 course. Studying the materials of the L3 are also incredibly valuable to improving your knowledge as a coach, I use a large amount of those articles to help our athletes every day! But, you don’t have to take the test to have the knowledge. The test just verifies that you have the knowledge in your head and then you get a paper you can waive around saying you know stuff. We provide the study to our coaches off the bat to read from and grow as they go through our on-boarding process. We test our coaches through out evaluations and coaching goal reviews, just as you do In-Body Scans and Goal Reviews!

There it is, that’s a “brief” rundown of the process to become a CrossFit coach and what those weird little L’s mean. 

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