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...