Monday, August 16, 2010

Just Added WKC Fitness Trainer and Coaches Certifications

We've added several new courses for the fall. The dates for Australia will be advertised soon. But, we are targeting mid-Feb 2011.

There will likely be a few more added. If you are interested in attending any WKC Coaches Certification course or the Fitness Trainers Certification, please contact me.

Fitness Trainer and WKC Coaches Certification.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Different Roads

I had the pleasure of teaching a great group of folks at Complete Kettlebell in Niles, OH over the weekend.

Inevitably, the question (or some variation) always arises: To what degree should we emphasize technique with our clients who are only interested in Fitness?

Steven Khuong elegantly stated the case for technique. I'm going to go a step further.....

There seems to be an attitude that KB Lifting techniques used in the sport are too technical for the non-competitive masses just seeking fitness. Personally, I think that is elitist bullshit. It stinks of someone who thinks that most people won't be able to pick up on the techniques at a safe passable level. Sometimes it resembles rank inexperience and it could be that they lack confidence in their own capabilities as instructors to teach techniques in a manner in which folks will grasp. Perhaps they lack knowledge to develop effective programs/protocols with KB exercise selections that are geared towards fitness or could serve as an addendum towards an existing GPP program.

Is the fitness enthusiast going to do the volume or put in the time to perfect the technique with the same zeal as a KB Sport competitor? Probably not. They probably aren't going to use the same weights or same protocols either. However, there are movement fundamentals and mechanics that can and should be taught to everyone who wishes to pick up a KB regardless of their competition aspirations, and whether they do only KBs or integrate KBs into other training. Everyone can benefit from learning how to breath correctly and how to employ tension and relaxation at the right time. This all enhances body awareness which will have carryover to other activities.

We can debate those fundamentals, the mechanics and the protocols that should be prescribed to learn them, but I think everyone reading here knows which side of the fence I sit on this matter.

Thinking like an Athlete.....

I've been lifting KBs for 7 years now. I've been competing in some capacity for over 6 years, and teaching for 5. Over the last 2 years, I have done many things in terms of teaching to get better at teaching. I will teach anyone. You don't become a better coach or instructor by only teaching athletes who pick up on things easily. I'm a better teacher from taking on the more challenging assignments. I take pride in the fact that I have taught folks who considered themselves to be un-athletic and got them moving better!
One of the most empowering things you can do with your students is to get them to think like an athlete whether or not they will ever step onto the platform. As Coaches or Trainers it is our job to teach people movement (Motor skills, ect) and give them training protocols that will facilitate learning those movements. It is much easier to just put people through a workout and have the effectiveness of that workout measured by the sweat on the ground, torn hands, ect. Teaching skills and getting your trainees at some level to appreciate the skill is far more challenging. Training should be physically challenging and if you are a good enough coach or instructor, you can build skills and find ways to make sure your students still get an effective workout.
Why emphasize skills for those that just want a workout? Well, I won't talk too much about safety, because it's already been discussed. How about building coordination? In teaching skills, and good movement, we create body awareness. How about building their confidence? Believe it or not, folks don't just train for aesthetics. Folks want to feel better, and one way of getting them to feel better is getting them to move better.
Fitness is building the sport.....
Most if not all KB Sport competitors in this country picked up KBs initially for fitness. The sport is actually contagious. Competition gives folks goals and incentives, and many people who never thought they would compete are finding their way to the platforms. Many walked into their respective gyms to lose weight or get fit, and what happened? They saw the challenge of the sport and the ranks and decided to pursue it. I've seen this phenomenon occur in several gyms across the country: Ice Chamber, Club Liberty, East Coast Kettlebells, and Complete Kettlebell just to name a few.
Are Kettlebells the only way?
Of course not. Many folks take up Martial Arts for primarily fitness. Martial Arts are another arena in which learning skills is emphasized as much as just getting a workout, but in many cases (Depending on the Art), both can be done. I took MMA classes for years for fitness, but I went to each class and practiced the techniques just as if I were going to compete right alongside the men who did fight.
Any training modality that treats and respects their movements as skills is viable.
Once again Empowerment....
Is it any wonder that many of the folks that are dedicated to training for fitness today have previous athletic backgrounds? It's been stated that children that compete in sports are more likely to stay fit as adults. So, why not take Adults who don't have that background and empower them to become athletes whether or not they decide to rank or compete? I for one think it will make their pursuit of fitness much more enjoyable and enriching. They'll be much more likely to make fitness a lifelong pursuit.
Different Roads......

You may have found your way to Kettlebells because you were already an athlete and you were seeking a new competitive athletic challenge. You may have found your way to Kettlebells because you were looking to get fit and feel better or you wanted something different to add to your current training. Regardless of the road that was taken, everyone should have the benefit of learning the best techniques because everyone regardless of goals can benefit from them.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How to pick an Online Coach

Emily was gracious enough to do an interview with me awhile back, and I felt it is worth reposting:

How to Pick an Online Coach...


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Current Workshop Schedule the remainder of 2010

So far this is the schedule of the Fitness Trainer courses that I will be teaching and the WKC Coaches Certification for the summer and Fall (I will be teaching/assisting Head Coach Valery Fedorenko)

September 25-26 - WKC Coaches Certification in Richmond, CA @ Ice Chamber

October 1st - WKC Fitness Trainers Certification in London (UK)

October 2-3 - WKC Coaches Certification in London (UK)

October 16th - WKC Fitness Trainers Certification in Elizabethtown, KY

October 30th - WKC Fitness Trainers Certification in Union City, CA

November 12th - WKC Fitness Trainers Certification in Bethesda, MD

November 13-14 - WKC Coaches Certification in Bethesda, MD

December 3 - WKC Fitness Trainers Course in Cincinnati, OH(Location TBD)

December 4, 5 - WKC Coaches Certification in Cincinnati, OH (Location TBD)

We are currently working an Australian Certification for next year. Stay tuned for additional dates.

If you are interested in attending any of the above certifications or hosting a Fitness Trainers or Coaches Certification please contact me @


Friday, March 19, 2010

Another Great Interview by the Ice Chamber

Just so happens to be one of my students this time :)

Kukka Laakso Interview


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Potential Energy

This is a technical article I have written for the World Kettlebell News site.

Potential Energy


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Great Interview with my Coach, Valery Fedorenko

Maya Garcia co-owner of the Ice Chamber interviewed our Coach, Valery Fedorenko.

Interview with AKC Head Coach Valery Fedorenko


Friday, February 12, 2010

Embracing Minimalism (Repost of An Old Article)

I wrote this a few years ago and posted it at my site which of course is in horrible need of a makeover.

I re-read it today to make sure that I still felt this way and to see if anything had really changed. I think the only thing that has changed is that I'm not driving to Madison, WI anymore..haha. I guess not everything stays the same.

Embracing Minimalism.

I have spent the last few years “embracing minimalism”. In my late teens/early twenties I was obsessed with material things. I spent too much money on booze, clothes, and gadgets. Consequently, by the time I was 23 or 24, I found myself in debt.. I worked a better part of my mid-late twenties getting myself out of debt. The more money I made, the less money I spent. Over time, I became less concerned with spending money on things that I really did not need.

I’m not sure what the real turning point was for me. I think I realized somewhere along the way these material things were not making me happy or healthy and often not utilized.. That’s not to say that I still don’t get caught up in some material things. I like to keep myself in a newer car, but it is mainly for reliability because I spend so much time driving. I also love a few gadgets like my IPOD which keeps me from having so many CDs in the floorboard of my truck and I also enjoy my Sirius radio which keeps me company on my long-frequent trips to see Kelly in Madison, WI. For the most part, I now save my money for things like travel and other things that are more “enriching” than clothes or the latest gadgets.

Embracing Minimalism is a concept that has found it’s way into my training. I used to buy anything I could on training be it magazines, books, DVDs, ect.. Some of these products served me well and did have a profound impact on some of the training changes I made over the years. Many of the materials are great resources but all of the information became almost overwhelming. I didn’t want to stay trapped with Analysis – Paralysis syndrome.

A couple of years ago, I came to the realization that dedicated focus on one rep maximal strength was not the best thing for me nor were the training routines associated with the goals of increasing maximal strength.. At one point in time, it was definitely important and the priority of my training. However, at that time, my ego ruled my training and I found myself driven by the weight I could lift even though it did not correlate to my fitness or well being.

Over time, I became more concerned with my longevity and my health. Moreover, I wanted my training to benefit my emotional state. That’s hard to do when your focus is on constant tension and Lord knows I have enough of that outside of my garage gym. That’s not to say I don’t backslide and get caught up on occasion by how much I can lift. That is also not to say that I don’t have a tremendous amount of respect for athletes who push themselves to go heavy, e.g. Olympic and Powerlifters. I just know there is something better for me at this stage in my life.

Obviously, as a kettlebell sport competitor, I try to do as many reps as possible and initially that was the primary focus of training high rep snatches, swings and some jerks. But, what I’ve found is the process involved in this training has made me more “connected” and physically aware. This training system is more than a competitive outlet for me.

I have learned that when I can remove my ego from the effort, I tend to have an easier time making progress and going longer and even faster. I found myself struggling before the last competition. Even prior to Nationals, workouts were a struggle because I was too concerned with numbers. Right before the competition, I just kind of let it go and had a great day….

What I’ve realized is that I don’t need a multitude of exercises or exotic routines. Minimalism is my friend. Too many things are a distraction and if you’re like me, you’ve got enough distractions in life.

I have the confidence to say now that all I need is couple of full body movements like the swing, jerk, snatch and maybe some variation on those movements. But I have an overriding need to stay connected and this training modality that I’ve found through Valery Federenko and the American Kettlebell Club is the best way to do that; it is very similar to a martial art.

How do we get to this connected state? In order to be successful, you’ve got to learn the skills and apply those skills for time. Even for the non-competitor, there is a specific-simple way to do this. You focus on making your reps good through slow and deliberate practice. There is no need for complex training routines with this approach. This is simple, but not easy. It is certainly not easy for those who have spent years training tension or training to crank out mindless reps in a particular lift.

Going slow is a sure fire way to bring out flaws. Even going slow, you cannot last if you have bad technique. Going slow allows you to get a true feel for the movement. Going slow also allows you to go longer which of course is a critical component of building work capacity. No one has a true appreciation for this until they do a timed set where they can’t switch hands multiple times or set the bell down. This one component is the single most important component in my opinion. Nothing else forces you to become connected or increases your ability to “stay”. How can you reach this connected state if you set the bell down after a minute or even two minutes when it starts to get hard?

You might wonder what I mean by connected or when I use words like stay? Connected to me means that your body and mind are in harmony; you know that even though it is uncomfortable, you can keep going because you are physically capable. I don’t hit this state every workout. The days events or personal problems may find their way into my thoughts during training and I’m distracted; those days longer sets are a huge struggle. But, the goal is to reach this state and to do that I must clear my mind of the days events which is skill in of itself. No one said relaxing under stress was easy and we should never trivialize that skill! This training is tough; but you will learn to become tougher and the voice that is telling you to stop will become quiet.

The greatest carryover for some is that they learn how to stay by not setting the weight down even for a few seconds. In almost every other strength and conditioning modality involving weights, you can stop or set the weight down for a break. We train to hold onto the weight so even when we are resting we are working. We are forced to learn how to accept a safe level of discomfort.

This is definitely a modality that can boast effective short duration workouts that will definitely improve your overall fitness and well being. After a short time, I found that I recover between workouts quickly and I am rarely if ever sore. I have found that I can increase my volume gradually and things that once seemed impossible are now completed goals. There are times when my ego does get the best of me; I still find that I can grab a 32kg and press it or deadlift a respectable amount of weight even now weighing 35lbs less than I did in early 2006, and without any dedicated pressing or deadlifting practice.

This minimalist modality has been very liberating. It has given me the confidence to go heavier at times, but it has also given me the confidence and ability to go lighter or to do things for an extended period of time because the successful execution of this training works your mind just as much as it works your body. More times than not our mind is what limits us from doing truly remarkable things.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Technique First

Technique First

This article was written by very good friend Steven Khuong. He and his wife Maya Garcia own the Ice Chamber Gym in California.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kettlebell Workshop In St. Louis On January 23rd

I will be teaching a KB Workshop at The Studio on January 23rd. I will provide in depth coverage on the basic KB Lifts, the Swing, Clean, Snatch, Press, Push Press and Snatch (and Jerk time permitting).

Please visit The Studio website for registration details.