Editor’s Note: Dr. Lon Kilgore has published a new article in the CrossFit Journal that discusses “the biased belief that university degrees are the gold standard for personal trainers.” CrossFit Lubbock owner David Barnett responded that he “learned more in 2 days at my CrossFit L1 about human movement than I did in 4 years at a tier 1 university getting a BS in Exercise and Sport Sciences.” We asked David to tell his story on the blog:
My name is David Barnett. I graduated from Ruidoso High School in Ruidoso, New Mexico and entered Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. I felt extremely honored to be attending an out-of-state University.
With the absence of multiple sports, I literally gained over 50 pounds my freshmen year. I spent my first summer doing two things: waiting tables and working out. I lost all 50 pounds and more doing interval runs, isolation movements, and calisthenics while following diets from Muscle and Fitness magazine.
I changed my major to Exercise and Sport Sciences for my Sophomore year and was excited to really start learning the intricate details about how the body works and how to help change people’s lives the way my life was changed. I was disappointed. After three semesters, and a few summer courses of almost entirely unrelated prerequisites, I got into the actual Exercise Science courses.
Here’s what I learned: Despite having many labs that were described as “hands on”, I took very little away from many of my major-specific classes. For example, in Anatomy and Physiology, I learned how to identify and name all the muscles of the face using a real, preserved, cat cadaver, but I don’t remember any of these today.
In Resistance Training and Conditioning our teacher showed us some of the programs the football team and other D1 athletes used. We even had the opportunity to go down to the Recreational Center and try the routines out during class time on several different occasions. There was no coaching, contrary to what they’d promised us in the beginning of the semester. For example, the program read “incline dumbbell press, 3 sets of 12.” They pointed me in the direction of the incline bench and I just went for it based on what I had seen guys do in the past. 3 sets of pull-ups to failure? Why not? Our teacher, an assistant strength coach and masters student simply pointed, “there’s the pull-up bar.” None of the ladies even attempted a pull-up or were taught how they could progress toward doing a pull-up.
In Exercise Physiology, I learned how to take a VO2 max, resting heart rate, and blood pressure. This was my first exposure to CrossFit. A student in my lab, Steven Willis, had the lowest resting heart rate and best blood pressure. He did CrossFit. We ended up having more classes together and I always enjoyed hearing his more practical input in courses. He invited me to his gym that he coached at. I was less than a year away from graduating.
I walked into an affiliate with 3 semesters of formal exercise and sport science education. The WOD was 7 rounds for time of:
– 7 deadlifts (275/185)
-7 bar facing burpees
I looked at the bar resting on the ground and I had absolutely no idea how to pick it up correctly.
At that moment I could name every amino acid and identify every major nerve in the body. I could explain in detail, how a muscle contracts and how carbohydrates are metabolized. I stood there in my $65 under armor shorts and I had no clue how to correctly pick shit up. It was embarrassing. I clearly lacked a ton of practical skills. I was taught, like everyone else. I had zero advantage over anyone else in the room. In fact, I was way behind. Everyone in the room had more background and understanding about spinal positioning and hamstring activation than I did.
A few years later, I went to my CrossFit Level 1 seminar at CrossFit FX TX. I was taught, via moving my own body and seeing others move, the nine foundational movements. I still apply these lessons in my life outside of the gym every single day. Lindsey Smith placed her hands on my rib cage and forcefully pressed it down as I held a PVC overhead. “This is a neutral spine David. Don’t let this move when I remove my hands,” she said.
In between sessions, a drawing of vertebrae and intervertebral discs was drawn on the board. “Here is how over-extension effects the spine.” Matt Chan grabbed my elbows and said, “Show me your armpits. Next time, I want to see you start in that position. Follow me?”
The CrossFit Seminar trainers taught me a functional definition of fitness, in detail. I knew while hearing the definition and the three different models to explain it, that this was what I was blindly striving for over the past 4 years. Fitness is work capacity measured across broad time and modal domains. More importantly, the CrossFit Seminar trainers taught me a practical blueprint for how to build fitness and, in turn, change lives.
I learned about the Zone diet and how to apply and adjust it to anyone looking to maximize performance. In two days, I got what I was looking for, for years in my formal education. The instructors made abundantly clear that I wasn’t done. They told me where to go next to learn more.
David Barnett is a 27 year old husband and father to a two-year-old daughter. He opened, grew to 200 athletes, and sold CrossFit FMS in Midland, TX. Shortly after, he opened CrossFit Lubbock in Lubbock, TX. They have been open 6 months and have 75 athletes. David has trained athletes for 6 years and looks forward to making this a life long career. He has a B.S. in Exercise and Sports Sciences from Texas Tech University and has taken CrossFit’s Level 1, Coach’s Prep, CrossFit Football, CrossFit Mobility and CrossFit Endurance courses.