Attitude Nation Certification Review

11 Jun 2013 by Chuck, No Comments »

attitudenationHere I am, sitting on Delta flight 1753 heading to Seattle to coach for CrossFit Gymnastics. Here I am, listening to another old Weightlifting Talk podcast; Adapt – November 08, 2012, for those who are interested. In that episode, there is a caller who references being on the phone with Jon North as, “being on the phone with The Attitude Nation.” Without missing a beat, Jon stops the caller and clarifies, “You’re not in the presence of The Attitude Nation, you’re always in the presence of The Attitude Nation, because you are The Attitude Nation!”

That mindset, mentality, and attitude is what transitions this collection of words into my review/write up/recap of one of the best days that I have had, not just in the fitness and exercise world, but in a VERY long time. We’re talking years. That day was May 26th, 2013 at the 42nd Attitude Nation Certification at CrossFit Pinnacle.

For those of you who don’t want to read past this paragraph, here’s the Cliff Notes: It was awesome and you would be doing yourself a huge disservice to not take advantage of spending a day with Jon and Jessica.

Now for the rest of you, let me tell you why this was such an amazing experience that will forever impact not only how I lift and coach, but how I navigate through the maze of life (mostly other people’s views of what’s “right”).

My (now) wife (Vanessa) and I met through the CrossFit community back in 2008. One of our first “dates” was actually going through our CrossFit Level 1 Certification together. Several months later, we went through a CrossFit Olympic Weightlifting Certification as another weekend long date. I guess you could say that our idea of fun attitudenationblackandwhitetogether is a little outside of the norm, but if you’re reading this, you probably fall into that same camp. In the years that have passed since that first cert, we’ve both finished school, gotten married, made 6 moves, started 2 businesses, and traveled a TON. Most of that travel was in the name of fitness and involved attending education pieces, competitions, and functioning as coaches. In that time, our interest in weightlifting as a sport, rather than a piece of CrossFit has continued to grow. So, to continue our “exercise date” tradition, I decided to surprise my wife with a trip to an Attitude Nation Certification.

Now, I’m a massive Jon North and Attitude Nation fan and am in the process of bringing my wife into The Dark Orchestra. That being said, heading into the morning, I was super excited while she was a bit anxious and nervous. Making our 2.5 hour drive to CrossFit Pinnacle was mostly full of morning talk radio and small chat. Upon arriving at the gym, it was obvious that there was a tangible anxious tension in the air. Within minutes of Jon and Jessica arriving, the mood began to change as they walked the room to shake hands, make introductions, crack jokes, and drink coffee; the jokes and coffee would be a constant through the day.

Soon after Jon called us into a tighter group for he and Jessica to begin their opening lecture, it was obvious that this would be a different than the fitness industry “standard” cert/seminar model. In the first 10 minutes of the lecture, Jon had named no less than a dozen weightlifting coaches that had guided, influenced, molded, and contributed to his own style of weightlifting. This referencing and crediting of other coaches is not something that is common in an industry full of self proclaimed “experts,” but Jon and Jessica were continually paying homage and giving respect to a huge number of coaches through the entire day; even coaches with whom they disagreed about technique, coaching, and theory. I have never been through an education piece of any type, fitness related or not, where so much credit was given to individuals other than the instructor.

As we moved further into the lecture piece, we rode an emotional roller coaster through Jon’s storytelling. Fantastic stories of training experiences transitioned into explorations of past drug and alcohol addictions. Celebrations of lifting competitions he had dominated drifted into discussions of time spent homeless. The openness and honestly shared by this amazing husband and wife team was inspiring and motivating. Next time you’re bitching about a workout because you left your jump rope at home, realize that there are people that have slept in cars and scrounged up change to eat off a dollar menu, but have still shown up to battle a barbell in the snatch and clean & jerk.

Immediately following the introduction lecture, it was game time. Lifting shoes and knee sleeves on. Thumbs taped up. Grab a barbell and find some space. There was no time spend looking at lifts on a white board or trying to “figure things out” with a piece of PVC. Every drill, cue, and correction happened with bar. This practical application was fantastic because it sped up the learning process dramatically. It was never a matter of “try to imagine X,” it was, “do Y, think of W, and feel Z.” Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Now, I won’t go discuss all the movements and drills that we went into and dissected, you’ll need to pay for the cert for that. Which, by the way, is a freaking bargain at $200! I will say that some of the cues that they used to create and correct movements were fantastic. Some of the subtle ways to think about and mentally frame what is happening during a lift were pure gold. One of the key things that stood out to me was that everything we did had a reason. Now, most fitness education pieces  tell you, “this is just how it is, trust me.” The reasons and “why’s” for the AN methodology were continually explained to us through stories of Jon’s failures, rather than successes. For any of you that have been around this industry for a while, you’ll realize how unique it is to have the lead instructor to illustrate coaching cues and points of performance by explaining his own failures, misses, and poor performances as they related to technical breaks in what they were teaching. Hearing these things was very refreshing and did much more to drive the point home than the standard, “everybody listen to how great me and my athletes are.”

slambarsOh yeah, the PRs. Can’t leave those out! Look, we’ve all had bad days, weeks, or months in the gym where you would literally pay money to make a lift or to have some sign of progress. I’m virtually certain that every person in the room had a PR, some had 2 or 3. My wife and I both hit PR C&Js and PR Cleans. Feel free to look at the price of the cert like that: Pay for a PR. $200 is nothing to make some serious progress in a single day.

Moving to wrap things up: here was the kicker, here was the piece that has stayed with me, here’s what other coaches need to learn from, and here’s what matters outside of the weight room: If you don’t like pieces of the technique, that’s okay. Do what works for you. The same goes for every other facet of training and life. Eat what you want. Lift how you want. Do what you want. Be yourself. Again, do what works for you.

I could keep going for another several hundred words, but I’ll end on that note. Just go and just be you. Windows down, A/C up. Black sheep. Johnny Cash. Slam bars. Kill PRs. Attitude Nation 2016.

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