Friday, December 21, 2007

Looks like a fun time

My friends Ken Blackburn and Steve Cotter recently did another Bootcamp in Fenton Michigan. Here are the highlights. Sorry I missed it..(Same weekend as San Diego)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rain on our Parade

As some know, AKC Team America traveled to San Diego in hopes of competing in the IGSF World Championships. Needless to say, it was a gloomy weekend and I'm not just talking about the weather.....

A little back story. My original intent was to go and watch with my friend Lorraine Patten. She has traveled to Eastern Europe for more meets than any other American and formed many friendships with some of the best male and female KB Lifters in the world. So, we definitely wanted to see our European friends while they were relatively close in the states.

Since I knew Dmitri Sataev was organizing this meet and based on my prior experience and the experience of others, I knew I wanted nothing to do with being a member of his "Team USA". Dmitri heads the USGSF. USGSF is an obvious "For Profit" organization. Unfortunately, he is the IGSF representative which is really a "Not For Profit" organization. See the problem yet? If will.

Sherbina is the IGSF President. My coach Valery Fedorenko had contacted Sherbina 4 or 5 times to ensure that we could compete. We would compete independent of Dmitri's "Team USA". We would pay the same registration and license fees that our Eastern European counterparts paid. We would not pay the ridiculous $170.00 fee demanded by Dmitri.

Even though we were told by Sherbina we would compete, we still suspected that there would be a snafu because of the prior dealings with Dmitri. Needless to say, he exceeded expectations.

Lorraine and Valery represented our team in meetings on Friday morning because it was clear that Dmitri had no intentions of letting us compete as independent guest lifters. After a 2 hour battle, they reached a compromise. We would pay the $170.00 to compete. We would be independent and not represent the USA. Lorraine and the AKC offered to pay part of this registration but all of our teammates were willing to contribute their fair share. We paid. We weighed. We registered. After doing this, we were all approached by Dmitri who was clearly upset. He kept babbling about his "Business" and "insults" and his house. He kept trying to bait us all into an argument and we just ignored him and went to lunch.

We returned from lunch, and long story short...We were told we would not be competing. Dmitri had raised enough of a stink ( I Suspect he threatened to pull the entire competition) to get our registrations nullified. We were all stunned and extremely disappointed, but we left it alone because we respected the fact that our friends from Europe had paid a great deal of money for travel and we didn't want to ruin the meet for them.

I can say with absolute confidence that the best lifters in the USA did NOT compete in the IGSF World Championships this weekend.

We had decided that we would attempt to be spectators on Saturday so that we could cheer for the Ukranian women.

On Saturday, we paid $20.00 to watch (that was just for Saturday!). One thing I can say is that Dmitri gave absolutely NO THOUGHT to the competitors when spending his money on this competition. I was almost glad I wasn't competing. The platforms were too small. They were on a shaky stage. Did I mention that there were no digital-visible counters? So, the spectators had no clue as to the count. They used these card counters that were not really visible to some of the competitors. They screwed up the flights and consequently people were not prepared to step onto the platform. The clock didn't work for the first few sets. The height of the professionalism of this meet came when Dmitri counted for his wife Elaina's set and could not figure out how to use the card counters. Who knows if he screwed up her score or not. To be fair, She did a pretty good job and went the 10 minutes.

There were also little things. For example, when the teams walked out in the opening ceremony, they couldn't seem to get the appropriate National Anthem with the appropriate team in some cases. However, when Dmitri took the stage the "Rocky" music was flawlessly synchronized with his grand entrance.

He claims to have spent a lot of the money on the competition. Perhaps he spent it on the absofuckinguseless jumbotron screens. Maybe he spent it on the security guards that were onsite to make sure our team didn't start trouble :) Perhaps he was too obsessed with who was talking to Valery to make sure his own meet was running smoothly? Did I mention that he tried to have security remove Valery from the meet on Saturday because a competitor approached him to talk to him? Sherbina intervened and Valery stayed.

Our Eastern European friends were less than complementary regarding this meet. I've been to my fair share of meets. In all the meets I've attended with > 20 competitors, this was the worst as far as organization and supplies. Maybe it was because Dmitri himself has very limited experience in the competitions. We know for certain that he didn't attend the World Championships in 2005(Moscow) or in 2006(Latvia). How do we know? Because members of our Team attended both meets. Dmitri sent one competitor in 2005, and no one represented the USGSF in 2006.

Trust me when I say I haven't even captured 1/2 of the drama here...As awful as this all sounds....The sun came out on Sunday and I had a great training day with my teammates. Many thanks to AKC Coach Rich Sayen for providing us with training facility and AKC Professional Bells. I would be remiss if I didn't thank Steve and Tracy Cotter for making sure we got an additional set to use.

Things I learned from this experience.....

I will never take the AKC or Valery Fedorenko for granted. They care about the sport and the competitors as evidenced by the meet in Miami and their gestures in San Diego. While they are in the business of training to make money, they know where the line is drawn for competitions. We were disappointed that we could not compete because we really wanted to showcase what we had learned from Valery.

Lorraine Patten is one of the most passionate supporters of this sport. I actually already knew that, but it was constantly reinforced this weekend. She went to bat for all of the AKC athletes. In fact, the IGSF was going to present Lorraine with an award at the competition but after the debacle with Dmitri, they had to present it to her in a Midnight Ceremony. This was recognition for all of her hard work in promoting this sport in the USA and going above and beyond many times to provide USA representation in IGSF competitions in Europe.

As long as you are with your friends you can make a bad situation good. We had a great time even though we were not able to compete. It reinforced once again that our sport and the events are not just about the competitions , medals and ranks but they are also about the friendships we forge. Our friendships and our team grew stronger this weekend. Thanks to all who made the trek to San Diego. I love you guys!


Monday, November 19, 2007


Blogging has been slow lately and will be slow until the first of December when I wrap up my weekend travel for the rest of the year.

Taught a workshop in Chicago over the weekend. It was a great group of folks and everyone did an awesome job lifting the KBs. Thanks to everyone who attended and thanks to Betty G for lending me the facility once again .

I haven't gone through all my Miamk WKC pics, but I got a few uploaded to my gallery.

Pics can be found in my gallery at

If I don't blog again this week, everyone have a Great Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Why do you compete?

I get a little reflective after a memorable competition like Miami. I re-evaluate why I do this sport, and why I will continue to do this type of training even when there are no competitions on the Horizon.

Anyone that embarks on training for KB Sport, or any sport for that matter should ask themselves some very fundamental questions.

Why this sport? How much am I will to sacrifice to get good? Am I willing to step onto the platform knowing that I won't win?

I've been competing in KB Sport in some capacity since January of 2004. I've got some name recognition thanks to this sport. I've won some competitions and I've earned a MS Rank. That stuff is all great...However, it pales in comparison to the real benefits of this training and the competitions.

Why is this sport right for me? Training for the sport has kept me focused. It has driven me to be a better athlete. I now move better. I eat better. I've lost 35lbs since 2006 and kept it off and while increasing my LBM.

My well being has been enhanced. I've compared this training to meditation. It teaches you to move and to breath. Yes, you have to do those things at the optimal level to be elite, but the process of learning those things are where the real benefits exist.

How hard have I had to work to get there? Well, I've been training off and on for the sport since Jan 2004. This past year, I've become much more dedicated. While other things are more fun or exciting in terms of training, I decided to give this a serious shot which meant that most of my workouts have been snatches, jerks and swings. The monotony and simplicity would drive many people crazy, but I have embraced it.

I wanted to be good at the exercises. It wasn't just the numbers or the rank. I wanted to be able to demonstrate the movements with fluidity so that when someone watches me they will aspire to move that way. Because I feel so strongly about the benefits of the training, I wanted to understand the movements. You can learn a lot by doing..if you pay attention. Anyone that thinks that these are just long boring sets, hasn't gotten it. You have to be mindful and focused. This is how you learn to be efficient; this is how you learn to move. It is time under the bells and if you are just going through the motions, you're missing out.

Why am I outlining these benefits? Because the competitive aspects of the sport don't always bring out the best in us. The desire for winning or rank is not a bad thing as long as it doesn't blind you to the fact that this is hard work and getting good takes a while for most of us save the few with genetic gifts.. That desire is fine as long as it doesn't keep you from competing just because you may not win or get a rank. Part of a competition is getting on the platform, giving it your best shot, and learning from the experience. If you only compete when you know you will win or where you know you can achieve a rank, YOU WILL NEVER GET BETTER . You will never realize the non-rank or non-winning benefits of this training. Quite frankly, you won't keep doing it and you'll miss out on the wellness-health benefits as well.

I spent 1500 or more last year to travel to Latvia knowing that I would not win. Why? Because I knew that the experience would make me stronger. I knew that going over there and seeing those Ukranian Freaks (I mean that in the nicest way) would be a good motivator. I knew that I would have a great time and I knew the experience would be one that I would cherish for the rest of my life.

Getting a high rank and winning a competition does require dedicated practice. There are no short cuts or easy answers. You can shop around for an easier road to obtain a Medal or a ranking, but in the end you will be selling yourself short.

You know when you've really earned it and you have respect for everyone who steps onto the platform whether they do 10 reps or 100.

I am so very proud of everyone who competed in Miami as they reflect the very reason I have stuck with this sport for nearly 4 years. The friendships formed and maintained through these competitions are probably one of the biggest benefits. We have such a great group of people. The atmosphere was so positive and everyone is looking towards the next competition.


WKC Championships

Kelly and I traveled to Miami this past weekend to compete in the World Kettlebell Club Championships.

As always these events are stressful, but they are extremely fun. The official results have yet to be posted but here are the highlights.

After several years of hard work, my friend and fellow team captain Marty Farrell earned his Master of Sports Ranking. Marty is less than 70kg. He Jerked 2-32kg bells 66 times and did 87 snatches. I'm very happy for him.

Kelly weighed in light and it turned out to work in her favor as it put her in the 50kg class. She easily achieved the MSWC ranking with the 16kg bell. She had a comp PR of 187 Jerks and 178 Snatches. She took the Co-efficient prize. Kelly won the Chair Press on the following day with a freakish 106 reps.

Ashley Hughes also achieved a MS Ranking with an outstanding performance of 180 Jerks and 187 Snatches. Ashley won the LCC&J on Sunday with 127 reps. Her pace was blazing in this event and definitely set the standard for pace with the 16kg bell and of course this made it obvious that we need a 20kg bell for the women.

Susannah Baxter is showing great promise. She had a PR in Snatches with 155 reps. That is a vast improvement over her numbers from SLC in May 2007.

All the other women were very impressive especially since it was their first time competing. I had a good day with 221 Snatches (comp PR), and 202 Jerks. I competed in the 20 min LCC&J event on Sunday and the Chair Press shortly after that. Happy that I could eek out 100 reps after the "Cardio" beforehand.

The Russian and Latvian men were very impressive. Vasily Ginko and Ivan Denisov competed in the Biathlon on Saturday. Denisov got the absolute prize while another Russian (cannot remember his name) turned in a technically flawless Jerk performance and grabbed the Mens Pro Co-Efficient prize.

Andrew Durniat had an amazing performance on Saturday in the Mens professional Biathlon event. He is very close to a MS ranking. On Sunday, he won the Mens LCC&J with a very impressive 10 minute performance. He was accompanied on the platform by Marty Farrell and Scott Helsley. Scott is another gentleman who is going to MS sometime in 2008. His LCC&J performance after Saturdays Biathlon was extremely impressive as was Captain Farrells...

David Zink turned in a very impressive performance and won the 32kg 20 Min LCC&J event. Eric Tiarks and Marty were also impressive especially given that they don't really train for this event. This was Eric's first time doing anything like this.

Ken Love is a Senior competitor (60 something) and he did an impressive 14 minute snatch demonstration with the 16kg bell. He's got a good goal of going 20 min.

Ken Blackburn had an extremely impressive chair press set...52 reps with 2-32kg bells!!!!

Matt M, Steve C, Chris Duffey, David Zink, Eric and many other guys all turned in good performances on Saturday for the Mens amateur Biathlon. Eduardo from Latvia who is 68 competed in the Biathlon and did over 200 snatches with a 24kg!!!

This was a great meet. It was great to see our Eastern European friends. It was also great to see all of my American friends again.

I want to personally thank everyone (Competitors, Judges, Volunteers) who volunteered their time to make this meet possible. Eric Liford, Valery, Jon Hoskins, Lorraine Patten, Matt M, and many others worked very hard and very long this weekend to make this meet successful.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Miami is around the corner

We leave bright and early on Friday morning for Saturdays competition.

Completed my last full workout on Tuesday night. I always ALWAYS look forward to getting the competition out of the way. This training is grueling. I'm finally glad more people are competing because misery loves company or maybe familiarity breeds contempt..something like that.

Others are discovering the mental challenges of this training in terms of preparing for a competition. Now, I know that competition stress is not unique to our sport. But, by the time the competition is here, you are ready to just get it done.

This is the first big AKC-WKC meet. So, I would really like it to do well. I really enjoy the multi-event meet. Looking forward to Sundays non-traditional events like the one arm chair press. I'm also looking forward to seeing some of our Eastern European friends compete. Even though there is a language barrier, everyone I met in Latvia was extremely friendly. We'll likely have to wait and see our Ukranian friends in San Diego this December, but it will be really cool if Denisov from Russia (175 jerks with 2-32kg bells in 10 min!) makes the trip to Miami.

I probably feel mentally and physically better for this competition than I have in my last few outings; I'm certainly not anxious this time around. I've done a very thorough job of moderating the intensity and volume of my workouts. I don't get the feeling that I peaked 3 weeks ago like I had prior to other competitions. I'm also excited and looking forward to doing the one-arm Jerk. I think the addition of this event and the requisite training has enhanced my conditioning even further.

The best thing about the competition is that I get to see many of my Kettlebell friends from across the USA. The competition itself gives me training goals, but the event has given me great opportunities to meet some very very great friends over the course of the last 3 or 4 years. Looking forward to seeing the ones that make the trip to Miami. Looking forwared to knocking back a few beers with the crew on Saturday and Sunday night!

Will post pics and a review of the competition when I return next week.

Meanwhile, here is an inspiring clip of 80kg KB Sport Champion, Ukranian Fedor Fuglev. This is a partial video of his 142 rep performance with 2-32kg bells.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Let me explain the title of my blog

I've had another bout of insomnia and decided to post my blog on a more "easier" to read venue. I've blogged on my site off and on, but decided that this was a little more edit and reader friendly than the blogging on my site

If you found your way to my blog from somewhere other than a fitness or Kettlebell related venue, then you'll have to be patient with me. I will talk about something besides Kettlebells at some point. Maybe I'll review the movie I decide to see later on today.

For now, this inaugural entry will be a simple and lengthy explanation on the Blog title. Here is a hint: I WON'T be receiving an invite to next years "Beat Me in St. Louis" S&M extravaganza. I've got the story on how I started KB lifting on my site. It's titled "We all Started Somewhere"...extremely profound I know. But, the history is there. So, I won't get into it here.

The concept of "getting comfortable with discomfort" is the main reason I've embraced Kettlebell Lifting. It has simply made me tougher physically and emotionally. But, I'll go a step further and say that it has done those things...safely. I'm not one that advocates working into pain. True pain is a sign that you should stop what you are doing and cut the offending limb from your body where applicable.

Discomfort avoidance is something that plagues our society. I should know; I've been a repeat offender. I'm not just talking about avoiding exercise because it's hard; I'm talking about avoiding situations in life because they are uncomfortable. I'm talking about finding the true path to complacency.

So, for me the process of embracing my discomfort in my "physical life" is starting to have a carryover effect outside of the gargage torture chamber. I don't avoid conflict. Note: I don't like conflict for conflicts sake, but I don't run away from it. I'm not naturally combative or even that competitive. But it is just like when I'm lifting the Kettlebells, I don't set them down when it gets hard.

It will be an ongoing process; Like my Southern Baptist preacher used to say, I will backslide. The goal is and will be to keep that backsliding to a minimum.