Jail Time for Air Squats? USREPS’ Scheme to Stop CrossFit

An Update on Fitness Licensure

Katrina Pratt's last rep of Workout 15.5, CrossFit Chesapeake.

ACSM and NSCA would like to threaten CrossFit Chesapeake’s coaches with jail time for training this woman.

It’s time to update the CrossFit affiliate community on the ACSM, NSCA and USREPS’ schemes. This year the Russells’ Blog exposed an international conspiracy to defame, extort and criminalize CrossFit affiliates. Domestically, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) intend to criminalize the CrossFit affiliate model.

This scheme is called licensure. ACSM and NSCA have joined the US Registry of Exercise Professionals (USREPS) to promote licensure.

CrossFit Inc.’s competitors are lobbying the government to criminalize all fitness trainers who don’t acquire certifications from ACSM, NSCA or other similar organizations. If these bills are implemented, the police will charge a CrossFit L1 trainer who teaches his client to squat with a “misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.”

It’s not a coincidence that the organizations making the most noise about fake CrossFit injuries are the same ones lobbying for government favors. The CrossFit injury myths are a way for ACSM and NSCA to justify their pleas for licensure.

The media has missed this story. Washington, D.C. has passed the nation’s first fitness licensure bill, yet even D.C.’s local press failed to notice.

Since our announcement, CrossFit has taken steps towards ending this threat. We’ve also made some important discoveries that reveal USREPS’ true aims. They plan to force every CrossFit trainer to either take their certifications or go to jail. Peaceful coexistence between CrossFit Inc. and USREPS is thus impossible.

USREPS President Graham Melstrand: https://www.acefitness.org/images/aboutace/grahamm.jpg

CrossFit Enemy #1: USREPS’ Graham Melstrand: https://www.acefitness.org/images/aboutace/grahamm.jpg

ACSM and NSCA Collude through USREPS

ACSM, NSCA, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and other CrossFit competitors are colluding through the US Registry of Exercise Professionals (USREPS) and its advocacy arm, the Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals (CREP).

Below is USREPS’ strategy and history.

USREPS and its related organizations are the principal forces lobbying to criminalize CrossFit affiliates. And USREPS’ lobbyists don’t just influence bills – they sometimes write the bills themselves. For example, USREPS sends its “Sample Legislation” to state legislators. A Georgia state congressman submitted the USREPS’ drafted bill verbatim in 2014. The bill didn’t pass, but USREPS is still trying to curry favor with politicians to pass its sample legislation.

In any polity where fitness licensure is under consideration, USREPS and/or its members have influenced the local politicians. In 2015, the two licensure threats to CrossFit affiliates are taking place in Washington D.C. and Massachusetts. We’ve found USREPS’ fingerprints on both bills.

Washington, D.C. Update
Washington D.C. passed the nation’s first fitness licensure bill, The Omnibus Health Regulation Amendment Act of 2013.

Current USREPS members ACSM and the National Council on Strength and Fitness met with the D.C. government as early as 2008 to influence this legislation. 

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The USREPS graphic also states that on August 14th, 2014, USREPS flew out to D.C. to meet with the D.C. government. Check out the meeting’s minutes here.

The D.C. city government was unable to implement this bill. This June, the D.C. City Council will revise the bill and release a “technical bill.”

Massachusetts Update

Return to the USREPS graphic and refer to the “Milestone Prior to Incorporation” section. It states that ACE, ACSM, NSCA and NCSF representatives met with a Massachusetts politician to discuss House Bill 1005.

HB 1005 was the 2010 version of this year’s Massachusetts House Bill 185. And this year’s HB 185 is nearly identical to HB 1005, the 2010 bill that ACSM and NSCA influenced. HB 185 requires either an educational degree in an exercise-related field, or an NCCA-accredited certification. NCCA-accredited certifications include those of USREPS members ACSM, NSCA and ACE, but not the CrossFit L1 course, which is ANSI-accredited.

Representatives Robert Fennell (D) and Louis Kafka (D) introduced HB 185 in January 2015, but the bill hasn’t progressed since then. If it does, we’ll let the CrossFit community know.

Louis Kafka  is one of the sponsors of the MA bill: https://malegislature.gov/Images/MemberProfile/Web/lkafka.jpg

Louis Kafka sponsored the MA fitness licensure bill: https://malegislature.gov/People/Profile/llk1

USREPS Writes its Owns Legislation

CrossFit has acquired the sample legislation that USREPS wrote and sent to politicians. You can review it here. While this sample legislation isn’t currently under consideration anywhere, it indicates USREPS’ aspirations. USREPS met with D.C. and Massachusetts politicians; this bill indicates what they aimed to achieve in those meetings.

Note the criminal punishment section:

Any person who violates Code Section 43-XX-7 shall be guilty of practicing as a personal fitness trainer without a current registration and shall be punished as for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature by the imposition of a fine not to exceed $XX, or confinement for not more than XX months, or both.

In Georgia, the state that introduced this USREPS bill last year, a “misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature” is punished by up to 12 months in jail. A trainer convicted of teaching air squats without an ACSM, NSCA or other similar certification will also pay up to $5,000 in fines.

Also note that USREPS’ legislation is carefully designed to include group CrossFit classes as “personal” training. It defines a “personal fitness trainer” as someone who,

… develops and implements an individualized approach to exercise using premeditated, non- choreographed exercise programs, utilizing collaborative goal-setting, behavioral coaching techniques, and other strategies to increase self-efficacy, motivation, self-regulation, overcoming barriers to change and technical coaching and instruction in physical fitness and conditioning for an individual client, or organized groups of clients, who require pre-participation evaluation or instruction prior to engaging in the exercise regimen.

Group exercise instructors are exempt from the legislation, but USREPS also uses a peculiar definition of group exercise that excludes CrossFit classes. Its sample legislation states that,

‘Group Exercise Instructor’ means a person with specific qualifications, who receives compensation, to provide choreographed exercise leadership to music, with or without modifications for participants, using varied pieces of equipment to groups of people.

USREPS carefully drafted this sample legislation to impose itself on CrossFit trainers. This bill forces all CrossFit L1 trainers to choose between paying for a useless certifications and risking a prison term and thousands of dollars of fines.

USREPS must think most CrossFit trainers will only pay for ACSM or NSCA certifications if the sole alternative is jail time.

CrossFit affiliates such as CrossFit 858 are improving their clients' health. USREPS would like to make this a crime.

CrossFit affiliates such as CrossFit 858 are improving their clients’ health. USREPS would like to make this a crime.

ACSM and NSCA Aren’t Qualified to Help CrossFit
Dr. Adam Schulte studied the conjecture that ACSM, NSCA, and similar certifications make CrossFit training safer. He found no support for it.

After surveying 569 CrossFit affiliate members, Dr. Schulte found “there was no significant association between the level of certification and self-reported injury.” In other words, taking classes from trainers with certifications from companies such as ACSM and NSCA made no significant difference on injury outcomes.

Schulte’s study is called Level of Coaching Certification as a Determinant of Self-Reported Injury in CrossFit Athletes.

Is this surprising? In order for NSCA and ACSM to improve CrossFit training, they’d first have to learn basic facts such as what the word “parallel” means.

The NSCA’s third edition of Essentials of Strength and Conditioning presents the following as the “Lowest squat position” and claims that it places the “thighs…parallel to the floor” (p.350-351).

According to the NSCA this is a full squat.

According to the NSCA this is a full squat.

Grand Strategy:

We will get into further detail on this topic in later blog posts and Journal articles, but let’s briefly consider USREPS’ grand strategy. For USREPS, fitness licensure is step one. Their long term goal is to insert all fitness training into the health care system.

ACE states that USREPS/CREP is,

established to secure recognition of registered exercise professionals as qualified to deliver physical activity programming as a preventive service within the healthcare system.

Before USREPS existed, Coca-Cola and the ACSM began this initiative with the “Exercise is Medicine” campaign. See page 26 here to examine Coca-Cola’s introduction to the ACSM program.

Coca-Cola, ACSM and USREPS share the same goal: to make gyms more like doctors’ offices. Under the Coca-Cola/USREPS plan, doctors will refer their clients to fitness trainers and health care coverage will pay for the fitness training. The government will only allow trainers with ACSM, NSCA and other similar certifications to practice in this scenario.

Source: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/doctors-orders-exercise-can-save-your-life

Coca-Cola and ACSM want to get government favors for their chosen fitness certifications: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/doctors-orders-exercise-can-save-your-life

CrossFit Inc. Protects its Affiliates from USREPS

CrossFit’s counter-attack is occurring at multiple levels. Above USREPS is the International Confederation of Registries for Exercise Professionals. In 2014, ICREPS’ chairman Richard Beddie falsely accused CrossFit of killing six people and leaving an Australian man paralyzed. Beddie then contacted CrossFit affiliates and let them know he could help them with their bad publicity if they partnered with ICREPS. CrossFit sued Beddie for this extortion attempt.

CrossFit Inc. recently added ICREPS as a defendant to its lawsuit against Beddie. Since then, Stuart Turner has replaced Beddie as ICREPS chairman. It’s not clear yet if Chairman Turner will continue Beddie’s extortion strategy.

How can floundering fitness certifiers such as ACSM and NSCA afford a nation-wide lobbying strategy? The most obvious funding sources for the anti-CrossFit campaign are Coca-Cola and Pepsico. Coca-Cola has supported ACSM’s advocacy efforts for at least eight years. Pepsico is the largest sponsor of NSCA and ACSM through its subsidiary Gatorade. In fact, Gatorade advertiser Michael Bergeron was the lead author of the first baseless ACSM attack on CrossFit. 

A rash of deaths from over-hydration has forced Gatorade to back down from its extreme hydration guidelines. How useful will ACSM be to Gatorade now that it can’t tell athletes to drink “as much as tolerable” to prevent heat illness and cramps?

As 60 Minutes covered this Sunday, CrossFit Inc. sued the NSCA for knowingly publishing fraudulent injury claims about a CrossFit affiliate. This suit met considerable success and no meaningful opposition. All relevant subjects from the study have sworn to federal court that the NSCA study’s injury claims are false.

As long as USREPS pursues this strategy it can not coexist with CrossFit Inc. The two organizations conflict at a fundamental level. CrossFit Inc. will not let USREPS turn its affiliates into criminals for making their clients healthier. And CrossFit Inc. will not let USREPS members publish fabricated claims about injuries to justify government favors. CrossFit Inc. has hired “one of the most powerful” lobbying firms to end USREPS’ threat to its affiliates. Stay tuned.

CrossFit Games Masters competitor Shellie Eddington participated in the study conducted at CrossFit 614. She never heard anyone talking about injuries.

CrossFit Games Masters competitor Shellie Eddington participated in the NSCA study conducted at CrossFit 614. She never heard anyone talking about injuries.


  1. Pingback: Licensed to CrossFit? - Rubber Flooring Direct Blog

  2. Russ, let me begin by saying I deeply appreciate the efforts CrossFit, Inc. goes to to support and defend affiliates.

    That said, I think CFHQ undermines CrossFit’s image by publishing photos like the one of the man attempting what looks like a power clean in your “Jail Time for Air Squats” post on the Russells blog. Immediately below that picture you post a photo intended to mock the NSCA’s definition of a proper squat, but any experienced coach can tell at a glance that the man in the first picture is not going to catch that bar in a good position. And the problem is that by putting that up as an example of “improving clients’ health”, there is a tacit endorsement: “this is good enough for us.” And it shouldn’t be.

    That man is probably a relative beginner, and mistakes are part of learning. That’s fine. But would, say, a music teacher who proclaims the superiority of his pedagogical method post videos of a student hacking his way through his first attempts at a new piece? Of course not. You always want to show your students (and yourself) off in the best light. That is, you do, if you care about your reputation.

    This isn’t an isolated event. CF’s media team posts photos and videos of people not moving to standard all the time. If we (CF) are better than them (NSCA et al)–and I believe we are–it would be nice if CFHQ exercised a little bit more care in selecting which media they choose to represent our collective enterprise.

    All that said, keep fighting the good fight.

    • Sean,
      There is an enormous difference between an official instructional photo and a photo of a real person attempting a real workout. You’ve implied that we are being hypocritical by pointing out that the NSCA struggles to consistently define how their movements should be taught, while showing a man struggling through a workout. This would only be true if you ignore this important distinction. If NSCA-trained athletes moved with poor technique while completing a challenging workout, you would not see us critiquing them.

      As for your view that we should only show athletes moving with perfect technique, I disagree completely. One of the most fundamental principals of the CrossFit methodology is threshold training. We do not teach that athletes should move with perfect technique during entire workouts. Instead, we teach athletes to learn to move with perfect technique, and then stress that technique under load and speed (intensity) until it begins to break down. At this point, the athletes learn to reestablish good technique during the workout. This is an incredibly important part of developing work capacity, and to selectively omit photos and videos that demonstrate aspects of this process, in my opinion, would be both dishonest and inconsistent with our brand.

      You argue that showing reality is harmful to our reputation. I wonder what evidence you have for this claim. Certainly CrossFit has to deal with people who claim we don’t care about technique or endorse poor movement, but this is just because of their ignorance. Should we work to educate them and our coaches, or sugar-coat the reality of our program so that those who misunderstand it don’t feel upset?

      • Russell, I have nothing but anecdotal evidence. Nearly every person I talk to who doesn’t CrossFit associates CrossFit training with poor form. It’s to the point I actually feel some embarrassment, at times, revealing I’ve spent the lasts eight years teaching CrossFit full-time, because I believe in CF, want people to regard it as highly as I do, and feel frustrated that we have this image problem.

        We pay lip service to mechanics and consistency, but the fact is, the needle tends to swing too far, too soon, to the intensity side. It’s not lactate threshold that’s making that athlete “limbo” under the bar. He either doesn’t know how to catch a power clean correctly, or he lacks the flexibility to get into a good receiving position. Even if he *does* know how to do it correctly, if his form is breaking down like that, it’s time for a coach to stop him and and fix it, or offer a simpler movement that preserves the desired training stimulus. (I know the post below states this was taken at a competition, but that raises a whole ‘nother can of worms–what business does someone who can’t safely catch a power clean while tired have doing a competition, anyway?)

        I stand by my statement about the necessity of curating our social media presence. In music, there’s a commonly heard term: “woodshedding”. It means to practice one’s instrument–to sequester oneself, make one’s mistakes in private, so that when it’s time to step on stage, one is prepared to give the best possible performance. In order to get the most out of practice, you have to be make mistakes, have form break down. Absolutely. What goes on in the gym is for the most part woodshedding–what we call “training”. But when we put photos of our clients up on social media, we are putting them on stage for all the world to see. Let’s not embarrass them–or ourselves. Let’s let what goes on in the woodshed, stay in the woodshed. Nobody needs to know how badly we played before we were good. Choose to post only photos of your clients moving well, please.

      • Sean,
        I don’t think we are going to agree on this issue. First, I think your embarrassment is a reflection of your own insecurities about CrossFit. I agree that there are plenty of people out there who associate CrossFit with poor form. I see this as an opportunity to correct their misconceptions. You don’t, I think because you agree with them.

        You are also stating your opinion on coaching, which is in direct contradiction to what we teach at the CFL1. In threshold training, you don’t simply stop the athlete when technique breaks down. Rather, you cue and correct while the athlete is moving (perhaps slower) in an attempt to regain good technique. There are certainly times when the fault is too stubborn to fix, or is too serious of a safety concern for this to work, but these are options, not rules. If your coaching philosophy differs from what we teach at the CFL1, that’s fine, but don’t expect us to change our views to meet yours.

        Ultimately, the biggest difference between us is that you see breakdown in technique as an inherently negative example of failure. We don’t. We recognize technique failure as an inherent part of the advancement of fitness and a reality of effective training. Because of this, we display it. You are allowed to feel differently, but don’t expect to see our media change to suit your personal feelings.

  3. Sean,

    I’ll preface my comment with the statement that I understand you are in support of the affiliates and CrossFit and my response is not an angry reply but merely adding perspective and information to your original comment. In text, it’s hard to hear tone so I’m trying to over communicate.

    I am the owner of CrossFit 858 here in San Diego. I am also the coach and trainer of the man pictured. His name is Gerardo “Jerry” Sandoval and he is one of several athletes that I coach and try to make healthier. I understand your concern over form over the one picture you have seen, but please note as Russell Berger noted it was taken during a workout and not a demo photoshoot. As a matter of fact, it was taken during a local BEGINNER focused competition. It was Jerry’s first competition and actually the first time he competed athletically in his 35 years of life. Not pictured in this one photo, there were moments like when he performed his first real pushups in competition to a roaring crowd. Also there was the moment where he fought hard to get his nearly 400lb body to step up on a 20 inch plyo box, just once. There was another moment where Jerry finished a workout and was immediately embraced by several members of my gym in a group hug as he cried tears of joy. It was a great great day.

    Just like how this one photo doesn’t fully illustrate all the great things that happened during that day, this one photo doesn’t illustrate what my affiliate and it’s members have done to support Jerry in the long term. You see, Jerry isn’t just fighting a battle against obesity. He is fighting stage 4 lymphoma, or in simple terms: cancer. I met Jerry by chance one day, heard his story, and knew I needed to do something to help him. Learning about his struggle, I offered him a free membership at my gym. As a business person running a for profit business, this is counter intuitive to the rules of profit and loss. I do not care. Its the only way to help him. As a gym, we also held a fundraiser to help Jerry with his living and medical expenses. We yielded nearly $5,000 for his fund. If you wish to read a bit more about his story, the CrossFit Journal wrote a piece on affiliate owners but had woven in his story here: http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_2014_08_Day_Achauer2.pdf

    From an athletic training perspective, yes I scale Jerry greatly. Basic squats started of as sitting up and down on a box, to box squats with little to no load, to eventually barbell squats. No kipping pull-ups here. We have Jerry working with ring rows to preserve his shoulder integrity along with properly developing his strength. We even had Jerry start off doing push ups off a wall to now finally being able to do PERFECT pushups off the floor. I also implement “traditional” movements that still illicit a response that yield him the results we want. Battling ropes, isolation movements etc are things we use for Jerry to make him healthier.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat, but I’ll tell you none of those ways require me to be certified by the NSCA. I am a CrossFit L2 trainer, who holds a bachelors degree in Neurobiology. I have countless hours in labs with hands on experience in human physiology and functional morphology. I also continuously expand my training education with additional reading and seminars. I know I am not alone, nor special in this regard. There are thousands of CrossFit coaches like me, with the same mindset and same mission: to help people become healthier and do so safely and effectively. Going back to the original point of this article and movement, to mandate that people like me need to have specific certifications or face punishment including jail time is ridiculous. That bill is the crime, not the training that it is trying to reprimand.

    -Mark Lin

    • Hi Mark! Sounds like you are doing all the right things with Jerry. Kudos to you, and congratulations to him on his courage and hard work. Unfortunately, all that context is not contained in that photo. People who don’t know you, or him, or your gym, will simply see an athlete demonstrating poor form. In this case, I’ll blame the programmers of this “beginner” competition, who were wrong to program a movement that the vast majority of the participants had no hope of performing correctly under conditions of exhaustion and time constraint. A simpler movement like a kettlebell swing would’ve allowed the athletes to demonstrate their work capacity, without forcing them to attempt exercises above their current level of skill. In any event, every photo of bad form is more ammunition for our enemies. It’s bad enough when affiliates post them, but it’s really disappointing when it’s from CFHQ. It just makes the job of every affiliate that much harder.

      • Sean, maybe if you would worry less about how other people might react to photos your job as an affiliate owner would be a little easier. Either they have assumed from a photo of poor technique that we are endorsing that technique as ideal (misconception) or they believe poor technique is a failure that should never happen in training (poor training philosophy). In either case we should work to educate the person, not protect them from reality.

    • To add to Mark’s comment- I created the competition that Jerry competed in (Rumble in Paradise). I’m the owner of CrossFit Elysium. That pic is from April 2015, our 4th iteration of the competition. By design, the competition is meant for beginners and intermediate athletes. As such, the movements and load are meant to be accessible to all. However, because it still is a competition, you will see people push themselves to the margins of their ability, and as we know we fail at the margins of our ability. While in a structured training environment the order is always mechanics –> consistency –> intensity, this order can and does go out the window in a competition setting.

      Now, in regards to the “concern” people will get the wrong idea from the pic- I don’t think they will. Those who have no idea what a clean will likely think it’s “dangerous” simply b/c a barbell is involved. Those who do know what a clean and CrossFit is will instantly be able to recognize a) this is a competition setting (note judges and multiple stations for athletes) and b) this has to be a newer athlete, who may not have impeccable technique. A newer athlete, with less than impeccable technique, who still chooses to move a barbell is COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE to me. Lastly, those who know what a clean is, but don’t “get” CrossFit likely will find a whole host of other reasons to criticize, and/or are biased anyways, so who cares?

      This is a good post Russ(es).

  4. Until every photo of bad form posted on social media comes with a disclaimer, people outside the community will take them at face value as evidence of low standards. And unfortunately, there’s no practical way to educate the millions of people who might make that mistake, especially when that putative evidence only reinforces their misconceptions.

    • You’re still projecting your own insecurities onto hundreds of thousands of people who view CrossFit.com media, the majority of which don’t know enough about fitness to see most technique faults. Those who can identify technique faults related to functional movements are probably only capable of doing so because they have learned to through interaction with a CrossFit affiliate or L1 trainer. I hate to say it Sean, but the millions of people who are outraged and confused by seeing a less than perfect power clean only exist in your imagination. There are very real threats to our brand and community that we should spend our time discussing, like the original topic of this post.

      • The original topic seems like a matter for lawyers and lobbyists–way above my pay grade, although if CFHQ asks me to call my Congresspeople about it, I will.

        “Millions” was hyperbole, but it is likely those photos are seen by hundreds of coaches, athletic directors, PTs, chiros, medical doctors, and others who *can* distinguish good body mechanics from bad. If their perception is that “CrossFit doesn’t enforce good form”–whether or not we claim that we do, the evidence we present is theirs to interpret as they see fit–they can influence the public, which seems likely to have a direct bearing on support for licensure bills. So again: let’s put out best face forward. It can only help the cause.

  5. Mr. Berger,

    I think you have completely missed the point of why ACSM and NSCA are pursuing licenses for personal trainers. It has far more to do with legitimatizing or industry than it does with “ending” crossfit. As an outsider to crossfit, I am always baffled that crossfit participants, trainers, owners, affiliates think that everyone is out to get you. No one is out to get you, I promise you no one is lurking around dark corners. Having trainers meet basic requirements for their field is an excellent way for the field of fitness/health promotion to become legitimate in the eyes of the public. Why is crossfit so worried about having to pass a basic license exam? Everyone outside of the crossfit community fails to see the problem here. This doesn’t just apply to crossfit trainers, this applies to all trainers. Can you imagine if we had a license exam which enabled us to be a form of treatment for obesity related illnesses, can you imagine being a legitimate field which insurance companies utilize to make their clients healthier and thus lowering healthcare related expenses? I am baffled that the crossfit community thinks that legitimizing the field of health and wellness is a bad thing. Doctors, physical therapists, speech therapists, lawyers, nurses, and many, many more healthcare professionals all have licensing exams which elevate their fields. Why shouldn’t we?

    • Trevor,
      CrossFit’s competitors in the fitness industry are collaborating to pass legislation that would make it legal for trainers to work only if they possess our competitor’s credentials, and illegal if they posses only ours. They are doing this despite the lack of evidence (or perhaps because of it) that trainers without their credentials offer inferior or dangerous training. You are suggesting that we welcome an anti-competitive government enforced monopoly in order to make people like yourself feel “legitimate,” a word that carries more emotional meaning than practical. Perhaps you should consider a career in cosmetology.

      • The simple solution is for Crossfit to start teaching the same exercise science fundamentals that the “Big Boys” teach.

        Standards and basic science knowledge are important, and they are unbelievably low for a CF level 1 cert. No trainer worth their salt will believe that one weekend is enough training time to make a good trainer.

        There are a lot of optional resources for CF trainers to learn from, but they are not *required.* That means there’s no way to control quality, and that is absolutely the biggest problem CrossFit currently has.

        For a level one, CF should really require 400-500 hours worth of study time, video training on exercise form and correcting bad form, and a successful “pass” on a written test, administered in a neutral location, that is on part with the basic science knowledge of a NSCA CTP certificatoin. That should be the standardized prerequisite for someone to be able to attend the weekend Level 1 certs.

        CF could easily get those tests administered at testing centers and certified by the BOC, at which point they’d be on equal standing with ACSM and NSCA in terms of licensing credentials and ahead in terms of required hands-on learning.

        If CF really wants to show they mean business, they need to start widespread research in all the boxes on honest injury rates, and at what point the injury occurred. They have the money, and they have an incredibly supportive community. All they lack, at least right now, is the stomach to take a look at their own shortcomings and improve them.

        Failure to do that is nothing but second-rate bullshit.

        If you want to be the best, BE THE BEST. Show ACSM and NSCA just how good you can be, and just how much you can accomplish, and make them admit that your standards are better than theirs by using the highest quality basic science, not this pissing contest about who can be the loudest while complaining about the other side.

        Every CrossFit client really is owed this level of respect, especially when CrossFit wants to say that it is better than other fitness organizations.

      • Joshua,

        I don’t see that you have ever taken the CrossFit L1, so you must be speaking from something other than personal experience when you criticize the L1 as having “unbelievably low” levels of “basic science knowledge.” If by “science” you mean fluency in the scientific method, CrossFit surpasses all others in the fitness industry by actually defining and measuring the term ‘fitness’ empirically. If instead you mean anatomy or physiology, we include terminology and principals of both in our L1 curriculum. These concepts are tied to our instruction of the function movements we teach at the L1 course. Either way, your critique misses the mark.

        Your argument from here is that ensuring CFL1’s are competent trainers isn’t possible in a weekend. That is true, but it also isn’t the goal of the CFL1, which is to ensure that trainers are exposed to and understand the fundamental concepts of our methodology. Competence as a trainer can only be gained through real work experience. Knowing this, CrossFit includes over 5 hours of practical movement instruction in the CFL1. Compare this to the NSCA and ACSM CPT certifications, neither of which include any face-to-face instruction or practice of movement. Any argument you make that CrossFit trainers are under-qualified can be extended to NSCA and ACSM CPT’s.

        As for injury rate, three external studies of CrossFit gyms have been conducted, and two published in peer-reviewed journals. They found that CrossFit has an injury rate of between 2.4-3.1 injures per 1000 hours of training. This would make it safer than walking, and safer than, or as safe as general fitness training.

        Did I miss anything?

    • I rarely reply or post to comments, but I feel I should. I am a Crossfitter, that being said, at the CF I belong to we have many different types of athletes. There are gymnasts, baseball/softball players, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (which my CF trainer is a black belt) and marathon runners as well as us plain old CF’ers. Among all of us there are many certified/licensed trainers as well as licensed nutritionist and licensed PT’s. One of the things about CF is learning new things. Our “cash outs” and post wod chats usually consist of what we need to work on, how to eat better and live healthier lives. Not one time have I ever heard from any of our college/licensed athletes that our trainer was not knowledgeable, If anything they ask questions and advice. I don’t think you can get that from a piece of paper.
      I also bring my 15 yr old, whom I’m sure will make it to the CF games someday. I wouldn’t trust anyone else to help her achieve her goals. This is only my experience of course, but what a great experience it has been so far. 🙂

      • It sounds like you’re at a great box. They are not all like that.

        I’m at CrossFit Encompass in Macon, GA and let me start by saying that I love the collaborative, can-do atmosphere.

        What I don’t like is the willingness to watch bad form. They say things, but they don’t stop the workout and say “Hey, Mr. J, you need to work on your front squat form for a while before we have you doing cleans and snatches… put the bar away and do Kettlebell Snatches instead so you get the workout in but don’t keep hurting that shoulder..”

        What I do see is an adherence to the clock, and a failure to have straightforward conversations about these issues and intelligent exercise substitutions.

        I quite like the owners as people. They are just knowledgeable enough to understand a reasonable bit about most exercise form, but don’t understand enough about correction or the importance of substituting out exercises that a client isn’t ready for. They stand by and allow new clients to do things fairly poorly at times, which really bothers me. I realize that there are people you can approach every day with the simplest fixes to make them stronger and they’ll just keep doing their own self-destructive thing, so I gave the benefit of the doubt on this, assuming that the people they allow to mess up are those people. I have seen that twice, I can’t fault them for eventually letting those people self-destruct if that’s their decision.

        The new clients, however, are simply not being taught correctly. I’ve been to other boxes, and to be honest this one is much better than many, but certainly NOT on the level of CrossFit North Atlanta. My box’s owners would deserve the lawsuit if one of those clients decided to sue them for injury and failure to adequately coach them. I personally think it would be upheld in court for the clients I am thinking of. I’m sure that will never happen, because people here are generally not vindictive people as far as I can tell, but they literally don’t know what they aren’t getting.

        I am licensed, insured, and in medical school. I am a certified exercise physiologist,I have my degree in exercise science and extensive additional knowledge and practical experience in a very wide variety of physical training and expression. I have expressed, word for word, that I am willing to pay for my own CF certification just so that I can help field these issues, with no pay. I just wanted to make their place better, and if they wanted to I’d make time to teach them what I know so that they can be even better than they already are. They don’t have to employ me, I have my own corporation and we can write a contract that specifies all matters of liability, arbitration, etc etc. They would be less liable with me than they are with their own trainers.

        They’ve seen me fix people, they know what I’ve done for their O-lifting trainers and several of the people in the O-lifting class, including the manual therapist that they send several clients to. They know I’m the real thing. There’s no question about that from them.

        And yet… I can’t teach for free. The excuse was that they don’t have space for more trainers… but I see new trainers. They don’t have to pay me, they don’t have to insure me. I am more qualified than anyone in the building, both on paper and in practice.

        Near as I can tell, I my competence is apparently some kind of threat to one of the owners, though I can’t for the life of me figure out how. I’m never rude, I don’t intrude (unless you .

        My point in writing all that is that you should not judge other boxes by the place you have found, or assume that most of them are like that. All I can say is that I’m glad you are at a good box.

        This high degree of variability in quality between locations really illustrates exactly why certification and licensure are so important and why CrossFit trainers should be required to have a much better baseline standard than they currently have. Believe me, the big organizations aren’t much better when it comes to practical knowledge. They teach the science pretty well, but there’s no form training for any exercises, and you don’t have to have experience lifting weights to teach people how to lift. That’s complete insanity to me.

        Even for CSCS, you don’t *have* to attend a form training seminar, and some of what they teach, such as squat depth, is not really directly harmful but is not optimal either, despite the fact that the top NSCA researchers consistently publish presentations and studies that show that deep squats are not harmful. These presentations are hosted prominently bu the NSCA themselves, which is just ridiculously hypocritical and unprofessional in my opinion. So, there’s plenty of changes that need to happen everywhere, not just at CrossFit.

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