In 2007, Mike Burgener was still teaching high school students. However, that same year he began teaching a different demographic: weightlifting to CrossFitters.
Burgener, who is now the head Coach of CrossFit Weightlifting, had been involved with the USA Weightlifting when Greg Glassman approached him about his desire to have CrossFit athletes become qualified by the USAW. While not everyone was onboard with the idea, Burgener thought different.
He explained he and Glassman began exchanging workouts and performances of their separate athletes. Eventually, Burgener was invited to be involved in the very beginnings of CrossFit education. “Once a month I’d ride my Harley up to Santa Cruz and give a three hour presentation,” he said.
Eventually, that three-hour presentation turned into five seminars in 2007, each held at the high school Burgener taught at. By 2014, the number of annual seminars had grown to 125.
“It’s about getting barbells in the hands of athletes and teaching them to Snatch and Clean and Jerk … But I saw the advantage of you bring the lifts to the athletes and they’ll make it happen,” said Burgener.
Since then, those offering weightlifting seminars have grown in number. “Everybody wants a seminar because they understand that there’s money to be made in giving classes, in giving certifications, where before up until this time of CrossFit, no one was giving seminars except USA Weightlifting and NFCA,” he said.
The focus of CrossFit Weightlifting is simple: educating Coaches on how to teach clients the Snatch, the Clean and Jerk. “It’s about you being able to teach somebody, a 40 year old housewife that’s got three kids who now all of a sudden, her kids are in school, her best friend lost 30 pounds doing CrossFit, and she wants to be part of it. How are you going to teach that young lady? How are you going to teach her safely to Snatch, to Clean and to Jerk?” said Burgener.
Overall, Burgener said the course looks to educate Coaches on proper stance, positions and grip. But, stance to him is key to be taught. “In our humble opinion, 90 percent of all missed lifts in a weightlifting exercise, in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk, are due to the feet,” said Burgener.
Ultimately, CrossFit Weightlifting’s role in continuing education for CrossFit Coaches comes down to the big picture that Burgener has. “My real reason for doing this is to develop my sport,” he said. “It’s to produce weightlifters out there, with CrossFitters, and to do both and to have a good time and to have fun.”
Photo by Kimberly Cantrell Trego