Five Lessons Learned from Strength Coaching in Small Group Classes

I have been blessed to work as a strength coach full-time for five years. Here are some key lessons I’ve learned teaching small classes:

  1. The more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know. It is that way in any field, but when you see people three or four times a week, you have a real opportunity to help people make serious changes in their lives. I continue to study, practice and teach daily to help you advance in their strength, movement and to improve your overall health. I appreciate your trust and patience; you inspire me to continue to learn and grow as a coach.
     
  2. Each person must be addressed individually and kept safe. You bring your movement history with you into class; that may include physical and emotional injuries and experiences that might not have been positive with fitness professionals. Personal attention is required to keep you safe. I am tough and set on my ‘no train with pain’ policy because there is no good long term result when you train with pain. Working with a medical professional to remove pain is always the appropriate course of action before starting a strength training program.
     
  3. Teach the basics well. People think they want variety, but what they need is to learn movements that will make them stronger and keep them functional in life, sports, hobbies and care-giving roles. Specifically: deadlifts, swings, goblet squats, presses, turkish getups, lunges, plank/pushup/pullup and carries deliver what we need. This is our core program. We can vary these, in many ways, but that’s not essential to meeting our goals of being strong for everyday life. If we do only these three movements well, we are going to see life-changing results: kettlebell swing, turkish getup and goblet squat.
     
  4. Not every person is a fit as a client. Strength training is a skill that takes years to perfect. It requires commitment, practice, mental focus, honesty and humility about what we can and cannot do. For many of us, proprioception, or an awareness of our limbs moving in space, is not something we’ve developed in our past, so learning to move and lift can take time (months or years). Perseverance, patience and an openness with your coach about how the movements feel in your body is necessary to make continued progress.
     
  5. Mobility is more important than strength. Moving well is a challenge for many of us because of how much we sit, were previously inactive or injured, or never coached on proper technique. Getting people moving with ease is why I do what I do. Helping people  safely explore a deep squat, learn the turkish getup (and do it gracefully), practice proper plank and pushup form, improve shoulder and t-spine mobility, hang on a bar with confidence, swing a kettlebell, and so on, makes me incredibly happy. I don’t care how much weight you lift, ever! If you are mobile, pain-free and lifting something that helps you leave the gym feeling better than when you walked in, then we are a successful team.

Move strong, be healthy, and never stop moving your body. ~Lori

Strength Training and Mental Toughness

Mental toughness is necessary for strength training and it is also a result of strength training.

Athletic endeavors reveal character, focus, attitude, thought patterns, motivation, determination and decision-making. Having confidence in yourself and in your physical and mental abilities can be helpful in unexpected ways at any time. 

Mental toughness may manifest in small ways, such as navigating a fall, or in bigger ways such as using your physical strength and mental acuity to save your life or the life of another.

The goal of everything we do in the gym is help us to move better and be stronger outside of the gym.

Patty applies her mobility and strength to all areas of her life; enjoying grandchildren, travel, walking, hiking, yoga and moving heavy things as needed.

Patty applies her mobility and strength to all areas of her life; enjoying grandchildren, travel, walking, hiking, yoga and moving heavy things as needed.

I believe that people who are mentally tough are often attracted to strength training because they desire the physical and mental challenge. I define strength training as lifting heavy things in different ways to increase physical and mental strength with application to everyday life.

Strength training produces positive changes in nearly every system in the body: integumentary (skin, nails, hair), skeletal, muscular, lymphatic, immune, respiratory, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, digestive, reproductive, and fascial. The key to strength training is to deliver the right dose; not too much and not too little. It is my job as a coach to manage that for my gym members.

Check out this article and other resources for understanding and developing mental toughness.

People of all fitness levels, and all ages, desire to move their bodies in interesting ways and to push safely to the edge of their ability. I believe that strength training is as much for the mind as  for the body. The result is increased confidence, enthusiasm, energy and mental toughness.

Steve deadlifts 245# and gets stronger almost every time he walks into the gym. He is mentally tough and physically tough and getting tougher each day.

Steve deadlifts 245# and gets stronger almost every time he walks into the gym. He is mentally tough and physically tough and getting tougher each day.

What we do with kettlebells, barbells and bodyweight movements requires serious focus and patient practice to complete the movements with safety and with precision. 

With strength-training, we learn to think and feel what our bodies are doing. This tuning it to what is happening both physically and mentally helps us feel more connected, more knowledgeable and honest about our physical and mental strengths and weaknesses; I argue that this contributes to our mental toughness. We become can-do people. What that means will vary for you and for me. We feel different and we are different after these training experiences.

Jennifer is new to us and is learning the 7-steps of the Turkish Getup. She is a professional organizer that places serious physical demands on her body. This training will help her get stronger and know how to move, lift and carry heavy boxes and other items on the job.

Jennifer is new to us and is learning the 7-steps of the Turkish Getup. She is a professional organizer that places serious physical demands on her body. This training will help her get stronger and know how to move, lift and carry heavy boxes and other items on the job.

With strength training, we can increase our strength if we are honest about what is truly happening in our thoughts and identifying what we feel in our bodies. As a coach, it is my job to help people focus on what they think and feel, help them stay positive and in-control as they manage how the load is reacting with their bodies.

The ability to dig deep and practice when we don’t feel like it, when we don’t like doing a particular lift or movement, when it’s difficult (but not dangerous), and even when we might even be a little unsure if we can do it, can help us develop mental toughness.

I am proud of people when they are honest about what they do well and can admit where they can improve. This is mental toughness. They persevere because they know they need it. They want to meet a challenge head-on. It requires being humble and confident at the same time. This is a skill that carries over into our professional lives, relationships, hobbies, and in serving at church and inn the community.

Terry is one of the hardest-working athletes in the gym. She is up for any challenge, but as a coach, she also knows when to back off; mental toughness is knowing when it is time to go and when it is time to stop.

Terry is one of the hardest-working athletes in the gym. She is up for any challenge, but as a coach, she also knows when to back off; mental toughness is knowing when it is time to go and when it is time to stop.

Many of our gym members are lifting weights they never dreamed they would be lifting. Some never considered themselves athletes or participated in anything athletic activities as a youth. Some are re-starting their athletic careers with strength training in their 50s and 60s after years of doing other activities.

A willingness to try new things is a sign of mental toughness. The willingness to hang in their when it gets harder reveals and builds mental toughness.

I argue that feeling physically strong gives you a mental edge that perhaps you can’t quite explain. You might feel happier, more confident, energetic and enthusiastic. There might be a new sense of freedom because you can do more physical work with ease. 

The RKC System of Strength requires safe lifting; we never go to failure. We are not seeking dangerous thrills. My gym members are not defending their country with our lives or working as first responders. I think the RKC Snatch Test (100 snatches at a prescribed weight in 5 minutes) is an incredible test of physical conditioning, but even mores a test of your mental toughness.

Eric prepared for the RKC with perseverance, focus and a great attitude. Mental toughness is one of his strengths and I believe as a new RKC he will be able to coach other people to do this well.

Eric prepared for the RKC with perseverance, focus and a great attitude. Mental toughness is one of his strengths and I believe as a new RKC he will be able to coach other people to do this well.

The result of our way of strength training is that we feel energized and invigorated, both physically and mentally. We feel good being challenged and we are mentally and physically renewed.

It is difficult to wrap the words around mental toughness because it is impacted by our upbringing, our athletic past, life experiences and personality traits. 

Mental toughness is revealed in our desire to get just a little bit better, in small ways, every day.

Being around other people who have that same desire also helps us build mental toughness. In our strength-training community, we learn from each other and we inspire each other to new levels of greatness. Cindy(video below) is an example of a gym member who greatly encourages and inspires others.

Getting just a little bit better gives us the courage to keep striving to improve, in some way, daily, weekly, monthly and over many years.. Mental toughness might not be why we started our strength journey, but it becomes a key reason we keep coming back for more.

Seasons of Training

Our physical training can have many seasons depending on factors such as our current state-of-health, goals, hobbies and current conditioning level.

We just hosted an RKC-I event at MoveStrong Kettlebells. The participants, including two from our gym, were focused on mastering the six skills they were required to test. They also prepared to test 100 snatches in 5 minutes with a prescribed kettlebell weight and they worked hard to increase their overall conditioning to make it through the 27 hours of the event. They were in the season of Event Preparation.

Event Preparation. When we have paid and registered to participate in a competition, workshop or certification event, very specific training is often necessary to get the most out of the event. In my experience, this includes at least 2-3 days of week of specific skill preparation. The other 2-3 days can include mobility/movements that complement the event preparation. Our two RKC candidates prepared by attending kettlebell classes regularly 3-4 days a week. I made sure the programming was appropriate for them with technique emphasis, conditioning and snatch test preparation. This same programming benefited all of our general kettlebell students with occasional modifications.

Standard Training. This is training to be happy, healthy and mobile in everyday life. This is how we (at MoveStrong Kettlebells) train most of the time. This is a mix of upper and lower body push and pull 3-4 days a week using hardstyle kettlebell movements and lifts, lots of mobility and bodyweight work and occasional barbells lifts. We seek to improve in some way in every session. Some coaches refer to this at the 1% rule (get 1% better at something every time you train.) Standard Training can actually be quite extraordinary because there is a lot of learning and progressing without the pressure of preparing for an event. Personally, this is my favorite way to train because it is a mix of light, medium, heavy training and exploratory movement, with rest days as needed, over the course of a week.

Training Toward a Personal Record. Our general physical preparation is varied, yet strategic, so that progress is made consistently over several months. If someone has a specific goal, we can train toward that over time. We don't always have to train, for example, barbell deadlifts, to keep that skill high. However, for an experienced athlete who is seeking to improve a lift by, for example, 20%, that athlete needs to train it regularly with attention to load, volume and rest to achieve that goal. That student may want to follow a specific written program with steps to progress intentionally to that goal. This can be challenging in a group setting where all the needs of the group must be met. Some additional work with your coach may be needed outside of classes. 

Adaptive Training. Sometimes a new or former injury fires up and we need to carefully step back and train differently to allow the body to strengthen and/or heal. Perhaps a weak area of the body is causing a compensation in another area. Special attention is needed to progress in our weak areas to protect our health and to keep safely progressing. For example, if low back pain occurs because of rounding in the lumbar during pulling activities, the focus is on improving pull technique, repositioning the load to prevent compensatory movement or perhaps using no load at all until the movement is perfected in the body. Some additional strengthening exercises, more mobility, or even time away from the gym may also be necessary to move back into Standard Training.

Specialized Sport Training. Many students have a specialized sport they enjoy for a portion of the training year. I like them to continue their strength and conditioning with us two days a week to keep their kettlebell skills high and to help them stay overall strong and therefore more resilient to injury. But of course, when they are in 'season', our general training is secondary to their primary sport. My goal is to keep them injury free and moving well. They are not training their heaviest with us when they are in season and I ask them to manage their overall physical and mental fatigue. I have found that hardstyle kettlebell training is highly complementary to specialized sports with appropriate loading and rest days.

Summary. Our gym members fall into different seasons of training at different times in their lives. Yet, we all train together in small group classes. How is that possible? It is surprisingly easy to do with the RKC System of Strength which allows each person to adapt with varied training loads, volume, intensity and rest. Small group training is a cost-effective and a safe way for people to train if they are moving safely and mindfully. With small group training, you have peers to support you, a coach to guide you, and the programming to help you progress at your own pace in a non-competitive environment.

Do you want to learn more about our training methods? Contact us as we'd love to share our training approach with you. ~Lori

The Power of Inversions

One of best things I ever did was add gymnastic rings to MoveStrong Kettlebells. After learning how to use them myself at the PCC (Progressive Calisthenics Certification), and then how to work with beginners (thank you Master RKC Max Shank.) I began using them often for shoulder mobility, stability, and strength.

I also highly recommend this book, Rings of Power,  by Mike Gillette.

We are already strong and mobile from our kettlebell and bodyweight training, so inverting on the rings is possible for many healthy, physically strong and active adults who have normal blood pressure and are cleared by their physician for this type of training.

Strong abdominals, internal and external obliques, upper and lower back are essential for inversions ... along with a courageous spirit.

Three Observations about the Rings

First, the rings are safe. We are unfamiliar with the rings because female gymnasts don't use rings, so we weren't exposed to rings as kids. Even most men haven't used rings unless they have a background in gymnastics or calisthenics. This is a tool that is not found in most gyms because close monitoring / coaching is necessary for safety.

Often the feeling of blood running into your head feels odd, but the more you do it, the more you relax and get used to it -- and the brain is protected.

Second, the rings are fun. Remember hanging upside down on the monkey bars as a kid? Sure you do. It's still fun and it feels like play once you get comfortable.

Third, the rings can help conquer a fear of being off-the-ground and upside down. That is where a coach can help. I was nervous at first as well. But there are safe regressions that help us to progress slowly and comfortably. Make sure you have a spotter and know how to dismount safely before you invert. We started practicing initially with a giant, thick mat under the rings for some peace-of-mind (whether real or imagined) so we were not upside down over a wood floor.

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Other Ways to Invert

There are many ways to invert even if you are not someone who relishes hanging upside down. Other ways to invert: down-dogs, handstands, headstands, frogstands, head-bridges, full bridges and tripod headstands. A down-dog is a great place to start to get your head below your heart to see how it feels.

How long to invert? A couple of seconds to a minute is common. If you are on the floor. In the yoga community 3-5 minutes is common for advanced students.

Health Benefits of Inversions

Inverting the body has many health benefits. Here are a few that I found based on my experience with people in the gym and in researching this topic in the yoga and physical therapy communities.

Empowerment - it feels great to conquer a fear of being upside down as an adult -- even if we hang for only a few seconds. All ages and fitness levels, 20s-60s, men and women, are training this in the gym.

When a dragonfly flutters by, you may not realize, but it’s the greatest flier in nature. It can hover, fly backwards, even upside down.
— Louie Schwartzberg

Defy Gravity for a Few Minutes - According to David Coulter, Ph.D., who taught anatomy at the University of Minnesota for 18 years, when one inverts, tissue fluids of the lower extremities drain. Congestion clears. Coulter claims, "If you can remain in an inverted posture for 3 to 5 minutes, the blood will not only drain quickly to the heart, but tissue fluids will flow more efficiently into the veins and lymph channels of the lower extremities, abdominal and pelvic organs, facilitating a healthier exchange of nutrients and wastes between cells and capillaries."

Improve Shoulder Mobility - because the rings allow for a neutral shoulder position (not internally or externally rotated) it is safe and even helpful for shoulders. The movement is great for shoulder joint range of motion work. As students progress to skin-the-cat and other movements on the rings, there can be even more beneficial shoulder and fascial mobilization.

All Systems Go - inverting has been shown to positively impact the cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous and endocrine systems with increased fluid flow, blood flow and immune system benefits.

More Calm and Mental Clarity - this is feedback from gym members and I have experienced this myself. How do we explain this? The common assumption is that an inversion floods the brain with freshly oxygenated blood and the brain is 'refreshed.' Also, inverting flushes the adrenal glands to stimulate release of neurotransmitters and endorphins that help us feel good.

Rest the Heart - inversions give the heart a break from the work of constantly pumping blood. Receptors in the brain that regulate blood flow sense the change and signal the heart rate and blood pressure to lower. 

Reduce Muscle Tension - one study (LJ Nose) found that EMG activity, which is a measure of muscle tension, declined by 35 percent within 10 seconds of inverting. Inverting has been shown to assist with reducing muscles spasms in the neck, back, shoulders, ease headaches caused by muscle tension.

Relieve Back Pain - clinical studies show that when inverted, the separation between the vertebrae increases. This allows the absorption of moisture into the soft tissue of the discs. The result is increased nutrient content as well as the plumping of the discs for better shock absorption and flexibility. 

 Align the Spine - the pressure in the spine drops to zero in an inversion of 60 degrees of more, with pressure off the vertebrae. This is why Inversion tables are so popular.

Contact us if you'd like to stop by the gym and learn more about inversions or to give it a try.

Strong Member Spotlight: Kristina S.

When Kristina came to MoveStrong Kettlebells, she was timid about using the weights and a lot of the movements were new and challenging to her. She was very patient with her body, and with me! and she was willing get outside her comfort zone to learn, think and feel the movements.

She began to really enjoy the complex movements like the swing, snatch and Turkish Getup. She also enjoys barbell deadlifts and how powerful she feels doing them. 

I would say that Kristina is one of our most improved members. She is now moving with more grace and ease, using heavier weight than ever before, and most importantly, she is becoming more mobile and flexible every week. 

She believes in herself, enjoys her classmates and has a great attitude about training.

Her work schedule doesn't always allow her to come to class as much as she'd like, but she is very good about coming to Sat. Mobility class and doing some kettlebell work at home.

She has adopted a strength lifestyle and I am very proud of her progress, her willingness to take a rest day when her body needs it, and I am excited for her to continue to grow as a hardstyle kettlebell athlete and a confident young woman.

In Kristina's words ...

Why did you start kettlebell training?

“I needed more muscle!” That was one of the thoughts which came to mind. I was in need of becoming a stronger person. In the past, I have used different strength training methods, but with mixed results. I had not heard of kettlebells until recently. It looked interesting and was intrigued with swinging weights rather than just lifting weights.

What do you like most about kettlebell training?

I feel like I have accomplished something important for myself. I get excited about the progress I’ve made since I started. I love how it’s made me a stronger person both inside and out.

What is the biggest surprise about training with MoveStrong and with Kettlebells?

I love how the training is dynamic and ever changing to suit each of our needs. For instance, the last several months, Lori has incorporated stretching time at the ending of the workout into a five minute flow. My flexibility has improved. You can come to consecutive classes in the manner in which they are structured and focus on different muscle groups or focus more on grip strength or flexibility, etc.

What are your two favorite kettlebell or bodyweight movements and why?

Snatches and pendulum swings! Snatching is a complex movement. I remember when I first tried it. Now, I’ve grown into it. It’s a movement you must absolutely focus on. You must have all the muscles work together. I dare say it’s poetic! For pendulum swings, they feel relaxing to me on one level. At the same time, they tax my legs and other adjoining muscles in a good way.

What advice do you have for someone who is interested in getting started with kettlebells?

Make sure you find an instructor who teaches you the basic foundational movements safely. Once you have that, you can build upon it and grow. It took me a while to get adjusted to the movement of the kettlebell swing. Give your body time. Don’t give up. I’d say the first week is the most challenging. Every movement you do builds into something stronger. It’s amazing to think the body reshapes and rebuilds with more strength each time you apply yourself. So I will continue to do just that.

Strong Member Spotlight: Patty Rinella

Patty joined MoveStrong Kettlebells after she retired from the City of Dublin. I had met her in some classes I was teaching at the City and I always enjoyed her willingness to try new things. Patty has an infectious laugh which makes her a blast to have in class.

Patty also enjoys yoga and walks regularly so when she came to MoveStrong KBs, she was already a very good mover and she learned the kettlebell movements quickly. 

I will never forget the first time she walked into class and saw the barbells all lined up for deadlifts. She turned around like she was going to leave! But of course she didn't -- and now she loves deadlift day and has a PR of 185#.

Patty likes to lift heavy. The heavier the better with deadlifts, sled pushes and carries. She also excels at squats and swings. The cardiovascular work we do with swings, snatches and cleans is challenging for all of us, but Patty never backs away from a challenge. 

When Patty first started, she attended noon classes, and after I moved out of Old Dublin, I didn't have the foot traffic to support noon classes any more, so Patty adjusted her schedule (and her life!) to attend the 7:30 a.m. class --- for which I am very grateful.

Kettlebell Training in Patty's words ...

What surprised you the most about strength training?  

The variety of workouts and training programs; it's never boring, always challenging and rewarding. The amount of cardio involvement has been a real wake up call for me, and "form" really does matter. I walk out at the end of every class and think to myself, "I can't believe I do this and I love it."

What is the Impact of kettlebell training in your everyday life?  

I feel great, I'm strong and high energy. I am also more aware of what I eat. I honestly believe I'm more toned than I have ever been. As you know, for me the health benefits are a perk, my main reason for starting this journey was to keep my arms strong.

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What are your favorite kettlebell lifts?

I like the push press, it makes me feel powerful, I think it's probably because I can use a heavier bell. I also like goblet squats and after an extremely long learning curve, I really like getups. I feel like I'm using every muscle in my body when we do these moves.

Advice to someone considering kettlebell training ...

Choose a trainer wisely; you must like and trust that person. Make a deal with yourself to commit for at least 3 months and show up.  This is what worked for me along with some Biofreeze! 

The moves are not complicated, kettlebell training make me happy, keeps me moving (which keeps me healthy) so I can do what I want to in life. Since I retired, I don't do complicated. Right now I can do this, and I have fun with it, so I do.

Is This Warmup or Workout?

I have heard this a lot lately in classes and it makes me happy.

Warmup is a series of dynamic movements to get blood and nutrients moving into your muscles and joints. 

Warmup wakes up the nervous system and helps us dial in our movement patterns. It reveals any tightnesses / strengths / weaknesses / imbalances that may need attention and it gives us a sense of how we feel that day.

Our particular way of training is about half-and-half strength and mobility -- and sometimes the mobility work, that spans both Warmup and Workout, feels harder than the strength work.

Warmup should relate in some way to the Workout. For example, squat prying is a good practice in warmup if you are squatting in the workout. T-spine, hip and shoulder opening is always helpful to prime the body for kettlebell lifts. 

Prepping complex movements with lighter weight, no weight or movement regressions in warmup makes sense. For example, we don’t train Snatch-to-Lunge without doing some light snatches and unweighted lunges -- separately beforehand.

Warmup can be weighted or unweighted.

Kettlebells. Bodyweight. Olympic Lifts. TRX. Calisthenics. Primal Movement. Play. Warmup and Workout mix and match to include upper body pull and push and lower body pull and push using varied tools and methods.

Master RKC Dan John advises no separation between warmup and workout and recommends warming up with a lighter version of what you will do in the workout. This is when I most often hear these words, ‘Is this workout yet?’

We know that skipping Warmup will negatively impact the Workout and put us at risk for injury. 

Once we truly dive into the Workout, there are more reps, higher intensity, heavier weight, and more more varied movements and rest periods than during Warmup. There is a more serious mental focus and perhaps an accumulation of fatigue that builds, needs to be monitored by checking biofeedback, and reduced with some calming mobility / flexibility movements between sets.

Warmup and Workout should work seamlessly together.

Train safely. Move to increase range of motion, add stability and increase flexibility. Get stronger while maintaining or improving movement quality. Build cardiovascular endurance (yes, you will begin to breath hard during warmup.)

My role is to facilitate your understanding of how your body is moving and dosing the specific movements in just the right amount so you feel energized, re-charged and renewed afterward. I try to expand your physical horizons with varied, but targeted, warmups and workouts.

The lines are blurred with Warmup and Workout, but this makes the experience rich and varied and keeps our training fresh. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

5 Formidable Benefits of Consistent Exercise

Your body is simply amazing, just as it is, since the day you were born.

Imagine if you challenged your amazing body with moderate physical activity on a consistent basis, starting right now, so that you learn to move, strengthen and lift in new ways that transform your outlook on life. According to the CDC, only about 20% of us get the recommended amount of exercise each week, so what is holding you back?

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Now is the perfect time to start.

How does exercise transform your daily life? Your relationships? Your work? Your play? Your overall health? Your impact on others?

With the new year, people are thinking about exercise in relation to losing weight -- and that is fine, but I challenge you to look more deeply into the truly transformational role exercise can play in your daily life:

  1. Experience the thrill of learning something new. It is exciting to learn a new skill and engage the brain and the body in thought-provoking activity. We know that exercise promotes neurogenesis, which is the brain’s ability to adapt and grow new brain cells, at any age. Humans are meant to learn and thrive at all stages of life and exercise gives you a daily dose of this.
     
  2. Be the most energetic person you know. What you eat plays a role in your energy level of course, but so does the number of mitochondria you have. Mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouse of the cell. Mitochondria transform energy from food and turn it into cellular energy. Exercise increases the number of mitochondria in your body, thus improving the body’s ability to produce energy. This helps you exercise with a higher energy output (i.e. faster and longer) and the result is you feel great. Side Note: train moderately with light, medium and heavy training days and lots of mobility work, but more importantly, train consistently (2-3-4-5 days a week - listen to your body.) Learn the doses you need and you will train well into your elder years.
     
  3. Feel calm and peaceful with more mental clarity. Exercise normalizes insulin resistance and boosts the natural “feel good” hormones and neurotransmitters associated with mood control, including endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate and more. The feeling of calm after exercise is real.  With regular exercise, changes in the heart occur, including potentially a decreased heart rate which can help you feel more calm. There are positive changes in the circulatory system. Many physiological and neuromuscular changes occur in the body during exercise that contribute to your overall sense of feeling good and feeling well.
     
  4. Tune in to your true appetite. It is widely accepted that exercise, along with eating to match activity level, can help individuals achieve optimal bodyweight. Exercise directly impacts appetite along with the individual’s resting metabolic rate, gastric adjustment to ingested food, changes in episodic peptides (such as insulin) as well as the amount of tonic peptides, such as leptin. So starting a new exercise program does not necessarily mean you will eat more; you may feel like eating less (hydrating more!), eating healthier or begin craving specific foods that your body needs for muscle repair. 
     
  5. Enjoy increased creativity, productivity, optimism, joy and confidence. When the body feels peaceful, strong, conditioned and purposeful, there is the potential for increased joy and confidence in daily life. Isn’t that what we want most? Research shows that exercise can enhance cognitive abilities related to creativity, productivity and optimism.

We are currently accepting new gym members, and during the month of January, 2016, you can take advantage of one month free with a three-month commitment. We invite you to experience our way of training in a strong community of men and women who seek to be their best every day, in every way, to live full and fulfilling lives.

Goals vs. Intentions

We recently did some goal-setting at the gym.

We focused on the areas of Mobility, Flexibility and Strength. We train to be better for everyday life, so many of our goals are related to improving moves and lifts, weights or times that are not easy for us.

A few of us also have specialized sports we enjoy so our strength goals have to support and work with those efforts as well.

There are always a few people who tell me their goal is to have a goal -- and that's okay too.

                                        Goals can be anything that challenges and excites you!

                                        Goals can be anything that challenges and excites you!

In every class, I see new goals emerge organically as we identify weak links in our bodies.

Turning weaknesses into strengths can help prevent injury and help us advance our training in ways we didn't know were possible.

Working to improve a snatch technique, or single-leg balance, working toward more ankle mobility, getting swings done with more weight, or with more ease, are goals that are attainable with dedicated practice.

Goal-setting is not a one-time activity. We may not realize it, but we do it every day, in little ways; you may consider them intentions rather than goals.

Goal-setting is a way for us to acknowledge potential areas of growth and to identify new challenges that excite us and give new focus to our physical and mental training.

It also helps guide me as your coach, to know what you feel needs improvement, to help you prepare and progress in ways that are meaningful to you.

There is some accountability involved when we state a goal out loud. Often goals are kept privately and that is fine too.

If we focus on daily intentions ... our little stepping stones of improvement, done on a regular basis, we can enjoy the strength journey, rather than be concerned about the end result.

If you’re bored with life - you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things - you don’t have enough goals.
— Lou Holtz

There is never a point at which we are done growing and improving; intentions / goals can be infinite.

Hopefully, put us on a path of self-growth, self-improvement and self-discovery.

I remember when I was practicing a lot of skills to prepare my body for the pistol squat; skills such as single-leg deadlifts, narrow squats, single-leg squat- to-box, single-leg squat on a raised surface, and  a lot of mobility/flexibility with hips, knees and ankles. I was preparing for the RKC-II so this was a goal imposed on me that I would not have worked on otherwise.

I learned a lot about my body and how to help others with this skill so it became a valuable goal. I rarely did full pistols in my preparation -- I had my daily intentions to work on I patiently progressed (over several months) to my goal of doing a pistol at the RKC-II.

A more traditional definition of a goal is this: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timebound (SMART). See a great article about this here.

Goals can help motivate us, dig us out of a rut and make training more interesting, especially if we are competitive-natured. Is anyone out there competitive? Yes, I thought so.

Goals can bring great changes to our routine and help us learn something new about ourselves in the process. If we aren't able to get to the goal -- our bodies might not be capable, and that's okay, as the journey is what matters most. ~Lori 

Strong Member Spotlight: Joanne Spoth

When Joanne joined MoveStrong Kettlebells a little over a year ago, she had also just started a new job as President and CEO of The Breathing Association. I was so impressed that she was willing to commit to a regular exercise program with her busy life, but she wanted to be her best in her new job, and for family, friends, and to do all the things she enjoys in life. She truly believes that fitness = health.

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Joanne has progressed in the all areas of movement quality, mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and strength. She doesn't bat an eye when we do Tabata-style workouts and she is expert at listening to her body. 

Her pressing technique is beautiful, as is her swing, and she moves mindfully through all the kettlebell movements, especially the Turkish Getup.

Joanne is an incredibly positive person, fun to have in class, and she is a committed athlete who loves new challenges. She inspires me and helps me be a better coach with her feedback and support.

It has been fun to watch her progress and to hear stories about how what we do in the gym has helped her enjoy the people, animals and activities in her life.

Here is Joanne's fitness journey in her own words:

Why did you start training at MSK?

Training with Lori and MSK was an easy decision.  I wanted to work with someone who was knowledgeable, willing to work with me vs. having a ‘cookie cutter’ approach and was willing to challenge me – safely.  From the onboarding process to the variation of exercises and skills learned in each session; every time I leave class I know I made the right decision.  Since my work is ‘office & schedule based’ I was also looking for a program that complemented my busy schedule. MSK provides that and more.

What improvements have you seen in your body and in your life?

Am I stronger, yes; do I have greater endurance, yes and am I resting and enjoying life more, yes.  Zip lining in Costa Rica last Thanksgiving was a blast; something I likely wouldn’t have tried had I not been working with Lori. I have always been ‘in tune’ with my body; more so since my (former) days as an ‘equine sports therapist’, but for sure I am seeing that my overall well-being has been affected.  Another big improvement for me has been the balancing of my lower body muscle groups in that I came in very quad dominant but I am much stronger and more flexible in my hip flexors, hamstrings etc.

What is the biggest surprise you've seen with strength training?

For me it is the applicability of the breathing, abdominal engagement, hip hinge and TGU; I use the techniques and steps from these movements throughout my daily activities.  They are seemingly basic movements but their capacity for better, safer and stronger movement is transformative whether it is working in the yard, moving packages, cleaning in the barn or throwing a bale of hay.

What are your favorite KB movements / lifts?

Of all of the movements, two-hand swings, Sumo style deadlifts and presses are my favorites.  While the single-arm and double-bell movements are not my favorites; I know that I am getting better with them over time and as my conditioning improves.

What advice do you have for people about strength training with kettlebells?

Kettlebells are for most everyone; no matter your age, condition or strength IF you have a qualified and dedicated instructor who is willing to help you with your goals.  I have worked out with other strength ‘trainers’ in the past and didn’t believe I would ever try again given the experience.  I am so very glad that I found Lori and MSK; it makes a difference when you are coaching with someone whose overall goal is your wellbeing and improvement.  Lastly, if you do choose to start working out; once you have the right instructor and program - stick with it.  Rome wasn’t built in a day (as they say) and the only thing that is constant is change. That means you are building on what you learned, adding strength, and dealing with ‘life happens’ moments every day. 

Having the opportunity to work with a great coach; learn with others and enjoy getting stronger at MSK is one of the best decisions I have ever made. ~Joanne

Book Review: Rings of Power by Mike Gillette

Shoulder health is a primary issue for me as a coach and an athlete.

As a former swimmer, I asked a lot from my shoulders then, and I continue to do so as an adult with daily use of kettlebells, barbells and bodyweight exercises. I don't intend to give those up, but much like Rings of Power author Mike Gillette, I discovered the surprising benefits of using the rings in the gym for shoulder health shortly after attending the Progressive Calisthenics Certification (PCC) last year.

Prior to reading Mike's book, my approach to using rings was occasional and haphazard -- practicing skin-the-cats, upside-down holds and L-sits maybe once-a-week. I really wasn't aware of all the other movements I could safely practice and progress with using the rings.

As Mike details, the rings are ideal for strength training and shoulder stability; the neutral arm position with the rings reduces joint involvement while allowing the wrists and elbows to move freely.

Mike, who has a background in military service, law enforcement, the martial arts and executive protection, had suffered injuries and had stopped strength training altogether until he discovered that the mechanics of the rings allowed him to again develop superior functional movement and strength without joint wear-and-tear.. 

He summarizes the on-the-ground and off-the-ground movements with five principles: 1) gravity 2) ergonomics 3) planes of movement 4) leverage and loading and 5) tension as technique.

I prefer the off-the-ground exercises, but I am incorporating more on-the-ground moves thanks to his book with photos, points-of-performance and regressions and progressions.

It is pretty exciting to realize that I have a piece of equipment in my gym that is pure gold and practicing with it is serious stuff ... but it feels like play as I explore new ranges of motion at my own pace.

I have been using moves such as ring roll-outs, inverted ring pushups, trunk extensions, rows, dips and vertical pulling -- all described in his book in detail.

Interested? Grab the book for yourself, along with a pair of rings, and head to the gym or find a goal post or monkey bars to attach them to. Practice, train and play and feel good afterward.

Strong Member Spotlight: Scott Wemer

Scott's strength journey has been a lot of fun because it seems like every time he walks into the gym he improves his technique or lifts more weight. He has great mental focus and enjoys new challenges while being consistent and moderate in his training.

He excels at the standard barbell deadlift and he is climbing toward 400#.

His kettlebell pressing is very strong along with the swing and the snatch.

He had not done much bodyweight training previously, so his squat, pull-up and pushup have also advanced tremendously.

I think Scott was surprised by how much he would enjoy learning to use kettlebells and barbells; it is hard to believe this is a new skill-set for him as he moves so naturally making it look easy.

It has been fun to watch how his kettlebell training helps him excel in cycling and running with much less training time. 

Here is Scott's strength journey in his own words ...

What led you to start with kettlebells?

I had noticed a lot of my running friends had started strength training and their times had been improving. I decided that strength training was something I needed to add to my training and I saw an article about kettlebells. It struck me as a perfect way to strengthen my entire body and not just certain muscles. Then a few months later I saw this little sign that said “Move Strong Kettlebells” and I gave it a try.

What has surprised you the most about your strength journey over the last year?

I surprise myself all the time in class. I can do so many more pushups then when I started. I had never done a deadlift before, and now I can pick up 170% of my body weight. 

I just like the overall strength I have developed. I improve my PRs just about every time we go for them. I used to shy away from the challenging movements, because I didn’t want to embarrass myself. Now I like to give them a shot and surprise myself almost every time. I call that everyday strength! 

What are your favorite movements and lifts?

Before I started at MoveStrong, I had tried the Snatch and Turkish get up at home. I never quite got it, and I thought I was going to hurt myself. After learning the technique from Lori, I would say those are my favorite kettlebell movements. I like the mix of technique and strength you need. 

I think my favorite lift would definitely be the deadlift! I had never done that before I started at MoveStrong. I always look forward to “DEADLIFT DAY!”  

How has strength training helped you in other sports and in daily life?

I ran a quarter marathon a couple of months ago. I hadn’t run much leading up to it, but I was able to run the whole six and a half miles without running to prepare. It was not as fast as I had in the past, but I was able to run it all.

Then the next weekend I did a 100 mile bike ride, I hadn’t ridden 100 miles total in the 8 months leading up to it, but I completed it just fine, and my friends were quite surprised about how well I was able to keep up. Fast forward to now, my cycle training has caught up to my conditioning and I can ride up front with my friends who have many more miles riding. 

In daily life, well, I have received compliments about my appearance in the last few months.

What would you tell someone who is hesitant to start strength training?

I would tell them that whether you are 26 or 66 you will benefit from some strength training. You don’t need to be training for a marathon, or century ride to strength train. It doesn’t mean becoming a body builder. It helps your posture, gives you the cardiovascular endurance  and generally makes you look and feel better. I have a friend at work who started strength training earlier this year. She is diabetic and was taking 80 units of insulin a day. After training for a while she is down to 14 units. Incredible! I believe that when I am 70 I can still be out there enjoying life and not just watching it. 

Outdoors

I believe it is essential to get outdoors and be physically active while the weather is good in Ohio -- whether in a park or urban area. I kick my gym members out of the gym sometimes -- and some of them are cheering and others ... not so much.

Yes it's air-conditioned, structured and tidy in the gym, but getting outdoors is necessary to challenge the brain and body in a different way. We have to deal with the sun and heat, different surroundings,, the ground surface (some of us are barefoot.)

Get outside. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. How does that make you feel? Does it make you feel big or tiny? Because there’s something good about feeling both.
— Amy Grant

Today is Saturday and we did our Mobilizing Tight Muscles class outdoors surrounded by trees, with the sun peeking over the treetops, with a light breeze, birds chirping and a mix of urban sounds.

We use kettlebells a lot during our weekday training, so when we can mix it up with different methods and tools on Saturday, it's refreshing and invigorating.

I don't care what you say about fitness; if people aren't having fun, they won't keep it going.

So after our stretching class, we trained with battling ropes, wall ball, sledge-to-tire, sled pulls, sandbags moves, jumping rope, handstands, balance on curbs, pistol squat practice and some kettlebell juggling give the nervous system something new to process and a lot of growth and fun comes out of that process.

I love watching our members practice, learn and explore functional fitness in different ways. The opportunity for growth is boundless. Interested in joining us? We'd love to have you.

 

Listening to Your Body

Listening to your body is the most important skill you will develop in the gym.

Much like learning the kettlebell swing, or the barbell deadlift, it takes time and practice to become a really good listener.

Many of us have spent a lot of time ignoring signals from our bodies, so this may be something totally new for you.

I promise there will be times when you want to do something in your brain, but your body doesn't feel ready -- and you know it and ignore it any way.

I can't tell you how many times I have trained alone and raised the 24kg KB to start a getup -- only to put it back down. My body says no ... over and over and over. My head says yes over and over and over. But it doesn't feel right. I feel wobbly and unsure. Fortunately, I detest being injured, so I have learned to listen and react accordlingly. I will continue to listen because I have learned through experience that ignoring my body will result in an issue I will have to REALLY listen to later.

Listening usually requires a response. So do it. You know I support you. If you want to go lighter, sit out, go heavier, stretch, or go home. I will support whatever your body tells you to do.

Listening is the essential skill to keep you safe and safely progressing in the gym.

I can't feel what you feel. I wish I could. I joke about attaching a meter to you to get the same feedback you are getting. I wish it were possible.

I do see signs of what you are feeling, but I depend on you to confirm them. And most of the time, you are great about listening. You are learning to take charge of your body so that you know what to do and how to respond no matter where you are and what physical activity you are doing.

I believe that listening is the greatest PR you can ever achieve. 

And what you hear and feel will change constantly. Once moment you might feel strong and fresh and ready to bump up weight. In an instant, there could be a muscle twinge, or an empty feeling like you just ran out of energy. You could feel like you are on top-of-the-world, or tired from a lack of sleep the night before. You will experience so many scenarios that I can't even begin to summarize them here. There is never a moment off from listening, feeling, discerning and learning.

Here are some tips to improve your listening ability:

  • Nourish your body with food, sleep, water and rest so that you can really hear what your body is saying to you when you train in the gym.
  • Train with a coach who will guide you and help you discern what your body is telling you.
  • Never let a muscle twinge or joint issue, or anything that feels weird, go unnoticed. Stop, assess and address.
  • Pay attention to changes, such as a loss of balance, reduced grip strength, extreme tightness, light-headedness, an inability to concentrate, pain and so on. Listen and react.
  • If in doubt about how much is too much, take a day off and rest! Training should not deplete you; it should energize you.
  • Keep a journal to log how you feel or use our online skills tracking program to log results/concerns in the Notes section. Review often. Share with your coach if you wish.
  • Add some gentle movement and stretching outside the gym "to feel it out" if your body is sending you signals of concern. Address the signals now.
  • Talk with your coach if you have questions or concerns. Don't stay quiet because you don't want to call attention to yourself in class. I always want to know.
  • Listen during the training session, afterward, later in the day, the next morning, two days later and at the end of the week, month, year. How do you feel? Yep, listening, and therefore, learning, never stops. 

Being a good listener will help you keep your body safe in the gym and in your everyday life. 

Never lose sight of why you are training in the first place: to be healthy, strong and vibrant for life and sport. Nothing is worth compromising that overarching goal.

Strong Member Spotlight: Maddie Revis

When Maddie joined the gym late last year, she was very motivated to get strong and she had just started on her weight loss journey. She learned to use kettlebells quickly and made a commitment to training with consistency and moderation. She loves being physically active and I admire how she has incorporated exercise into her social life with events like the Warrior Dash, Urban Obstacle, charity fitness events, softball and light runs in the park with friends.

Most of our members know Maddie because her work hours vary, so she is able to attend at different class times. She can occasionally attend two classes a day, but she is really good about listening to her body and resting or changing up her fitness activity when needed.

Maddie is a great team player who encourages and applauds others in class. She is already developing a coaches' eye. She is humble and a lot fun to coach. She is serious about her kettlebell training, but she has fun too -- the perfect combination to make fitness sustainable over a lifetime.

With her solid kettlebell technique, and consistent training, she has become very strong. Her body has been transforming since she started because of her commitment to staying active and maintaining life balance with work, rest, training and play.

I think, like many people, Maddie was surprised at the cardiovascular benefits of kettlebells ... and how you get hooked on how good it feels when you move well and move strong.

The Turkish Getup did not come easy for Maddie, but she is now using a 48# KB and moving with ease. That is what I am most proud of at this moment. That and how well she moves with kettlebell snatches ... because not everyone does -- they are challenging -- but she makes it look easy!

Maddie will continue to get stronger and leaner ... I see no limits to what she can do in the gym and I look forward to helping her reach her goal of the RKC-I in 2016. ~Lori

Maddie's fitness journey in her own words:

What do you like most about strength training with kettlebells?

Training with kettlebells keeps me interested. I feel challenged every time I pick up a kettlebell. I started training with kettlebells just a little over six months ago, and I am still intrigued with the shape, size and variety of weight there is to use. Training with kettlebells is not a job or a task, I look forward to it. Waking up at 5:45 a.m. to work out is no longer a chore. I get this excitement the night before because I know I will be indulging in a new challenge as soon I step foot in the gym. It doesn’t compare to any other workout – I get both strength and cardio conditioning. It is never choreographed or routine. What I like most is the immediate response from my body when I train with kettlebells—the after-workout soreness in various muscle groups and the endorphins kicking in.

What are your favorite movements and lifts?

The Snatch is my favorite kettlebell movement. I am fascinated with how beautiful it is and how much control it requires. The Snatch came to me relatively easily, and that may be why I like it so much. Just recently I found my passion for the Turkish Get Up. The TGU required a lot of practice for me.  From the get-go, my form lacked and I didn’t really understand the purpose of getups. I thought it was hard enough work to get up off the floor with just my body weight. After a lot, a lot, of practice, I finally nailed the form, and I am now challenging myself with heavier weight. Like the Snatch, the TGU is also a very beautiful, intriguing movement. As much as I despise squatting, it is also on my list of favorite movements, primarily because it uses legs, which in my opinion is the strongest part of my body. I love that it takes discipline to squat, and that with kettlebells, we mix it up with racked double bells or goblet squats. We also use barbells and I am proud to say that I can Zercher squat 123 lbs.

What are some results you have seen since you started strength training?

The major results I have seen with strength training include weight loss and development of muscle mass. It took 6 months for me to lose 52 lbs. in a healthy manner, with some adjustments to my diet, mainly eating smaller portions and more protein. While training with kettlebells, I have gained muscle mass in every area of my body, which has triggered a quicker metabolism. I am fascinated with how my body has changed, in fact every time I look in the mirror I am proud of it. You can ask anyone that I know—I am the happiest and most confident I have ever been. I feel great and I am pain free. On days that I go without strength training, I can feel my body craving it. Every movement I have learned with kettlebells is applicable to my daily life. I work in retail, where it is required to lift heavy objects and stand on my feet all day. I can say that both come easier to me since training with kettlebells.

Was there anything that surprised you in this process?

I think what surprised me most about training with kettlebells is how quickly I have seen results. When I started, I was focused on losing weight. I was committed to exercising every day of the week, sometimes twice a day, incorporating spinning and softball, and any other periodic outdoor activities. I have hit a plateau with my weight loss, but I can feel my body changing every day—both mentally and physically. I have slowed down a lot with the amount of extra cardio I am doing. I recently ran the Urban Obstacle 5k, and I didn’t even train for it. I was able to complete it with no problem, and I know it was due to the strength and cardio conditioning from training with kettlebells. I totally underestimated the passion that I have developed for kettlebells, and the confidence I have gained in my everyday life. It is liberating to know that not all progress made is physical.

What are your goals over the next year?

Over the next year, I will still be focusing on gaining muscle mass and losing fat. I will spend my time training to participate in the RKC certification in April, 2016. My short term goal is to barbell deadlift more than my body weight and to eventually master the strict pushup and pullup. 

Strong Member Spotlight: Joan Tussing

When I first met Joan, she hadn't moved to Columbus yet to babysit for her granddaughter. But she had some exposure to kettlebells in the past, and she wanted to add kettlebell training to her morning routine, to get stronger and to energize her for her busy days. 

I was so impressed that she was committed to doing the on-ramp program, and practicing the movements at home, even before she had moved to Columbus.

Joan started classes in November, 2014, and she has been a regular 3-4 days a week at the 5:45 a.m. class.

It has been exciting to watch her learn and progress in her hardstyle kettlebell technique, but also in her overall movement and strength. 

I am very proud of her progress on the Turkish Getup, swing, squat and most recently her KB snatch. She also excels at the barbell deadlift and has a personal best almost every time we train that lift!

I love how Joan shares with me how her training at MoveStrong Kettlebells helps her be strong in everyday life and especially to keep up with her granddaughter ... who is one and very active.

Joan always has a positive attitude and she is a joy to teach and to have in class along with our other inspiring members. She recently shared with us that she has lost 45 lbs. since she started her fitness and food journey!

Here is Joan's story in her own words ...

What do you like most about training at MSK?

As I reflect on the many exercise programs and activities in which I have been involved over many years, I would definitely conclude that my current training experience at MSK is the best of them all!  It’s the total package that I receive from my MSK training that I enjoy the most.  I am developing my skills in using Kettlebells which is both fun and challenging; utilizing total body muscle groups through a variety of strength building and cardio routines; working out with a very welcoming and supportive peer group; and probably most importantly of all, training with Lori Crock who is a top-notch teacher, coach and encourager! 

I love simply being able to go into the MSK gym at 5:45 and be assured that Lori will be ready to provide a dynamic, comprehensive, targeted, fun and energizing workout. I don’t have to think about what or how to do it—Lori will show me how!  Lori is very sincere in wanting to help each member and builds a sense of camaraderie, friendship and support among the members.  We are all rooting for each other and that really keeps me coming back! 

What changes have you seen in your body?

I have noticed that my body is more toned, balanced, strong, flexible and healthy. 

How does your KB training apply to your daily life?

Concurrently to training with Lori at MSK, I have been babysitting my granddaughter full-time who is in her first year of life.  The Kettlebell training has definitely helped me rise to the occasion of constantly being on the move with my granddaughter especially as she is learning to crawl and walk!  It’s also given me greater stamina to keep up with such a challenging routine as a 61-year-old woman. 

What else has changed in your daily routine?

For the past three and a half months, I have also strictly adopted a whole foods plant-based lifestyle which has greatly supported my Kettlebells training and total health. I have lost 45 pounds in that short amount of time and I know I’m moving much more successfully at Kettlebells because of that. Kettlebells, babysitting and healthy eating have been an amazingly positive combination of activities.

What are some KB skills or movements that you can do now that surprised you?

I have been very pleased with my ability to learn proper Kettlebells form. I know that I’m still in the learning process but I love the fact that my swing, squat, snatch and Turkish getup are definitely improving.  It’s fun and exciting to see who those movements help me in my everyday life and activities. 

A Little Play to Get Stronger

Ever since I started teaching strength and movement, I have included play components in personal training and in our small group class programming ... and of course in my own training. I refer to this as Fitness Freedom.

We all need time to explore, learn, be free from reps, sets, time and be allowed to challenge our bodies in new and different ways.

Any movement or lift can be considered a play component -- Fitness Freedom has less structure and allows the individual to make decisions about whether to push forward or pull back.

It needs to be safe, fun, and even a little bit challenging. It may be different than our typical gym programming or it may build on what we do every day.

Read my full blog post about Play on Dragon Door.

So much is gained from play: besides strength and conditioning ... there is confidence and excitement, in addition to the opportunity to develop (or improve) skills.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

 

Strong Member Spotlight: Ann Morrell

Ann Morrell is an outstanding kettlebell athlete for many reasons, but here are two: Consistency and Moderation. As a kettlebell coach, this is all I ask of every athlete.

From the beginning, Ann has been consistent in coming to class four days a week and she listens to her body to continue to progress and avoid injury -- pushing herself when needed and pulling back when her body tires -- or taking an extra rest day.

She came to MoveStrong Kettlebells with a background in kettlebells, so we worked on refining her technique and improving her mobility.

Ann is a busy professional who sees this way of training as integral to her life and she understands that moving well is a requisite for strength -- especially when her work days include sitting at a desk.

She is joy to coach and she inspires me, our coaches and our gym members with her kettlebell skills and conditioning.

Ann has been very patiently progressing to the point where she can work hard, with very little recovery time, and be energized for the rest of her day. ~Lori

Here is Ann's story in her own words ...

What do you like most about training at MoveStrong Kettlebells?

The availability of classes to fit my schedule is so great. And Lori has so much equipment. I like the kettlebell focus with the ability to mix in bodyweight work. The variety of training never gets boring.

Lori has deep focus on technique which facilitates regressions/progressions to things I didn't think I could do. She doesn't put limits on what her students can do. It sneaks up on you and you find yourself doing something you thought was out of your reach.

What improvements have you seen since training at MSK?

I feel stronger and I  am stronger because my kettlebell weights  have increased -- and I don't think I've maxed out yet. I can do vertical jumps which I was always afraid of doing and I can even hand-foot crawl which I've always dreaded.

How does what you do in the gym apply to daily life?

I've always worked out and I am not a very happy person when there are disruptions to my workout schedule. The MSK class schedule allows me to come often and stay happy. 

Is there a moment that stands out for you with a personal best or skill development?

I am thrilled that I can do vertical jumps!

Why should someone consider training with kettlebells at MSK?

It's really a body-transforming sport. You just need to add consistency to see results. ~Ann

The RKC-I Experience from the Heart

I cry fairly easy. In fact, I cry at every certification event, no matter what role I play because of the intensity of the experience.

The candidates put a great amount of time and effort into preparing ... and when they arrive an emotional and unpredictable journey begins.

We recently had the privilege of hosting our first RKC-I event at our gym, MoveStrong Kettlebells, and I was reminded of the tumultuous emotions that weave in and out of the 3-day event. This is a group of people who are striving together toward a very specific goal that is tough to achieve: to be RKC.

Men and women of different ages, fitness levels and backgrounds come together to refine their hardstyle kettlebell technique in their own bodies,. They test their metal with 100 snatches in 5 minutes. They teach kettlebell skills to each other and also to people from the community we invite in to give them a real-life experience.

Read Neal's perspective (one of the RKC candidates) in his Dragon Door blog post here.

They learn a lot about their bodies and how to mobilize them with different stretching and movement techniques throughout the weekend to complement the presentations, workouts, kettlebell skill practice and of course, coaching each other.

RKC candidates can spend many months, even years, with an eye toward the RKC.

Their understanding of RKC principles is facilitated by watching and cueing each other with instructor presentations and continuous hands-on practice. They become more comfortable and confident with each other and with themselves as the weekend unfolds.

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. we are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.
— Wilma Rudolph

The kettlebell facilitates this experience of learning how the body moves and then how to move the body better. Developing ballistic power and patience for grinds is not necessarily intuitive. It is developed with mindful practice and an understanding of power production from the hips, managing relaxation and tension combined with the proper preparation in terms of strength and conditioning. 

The RKC-I is filled with striving and growing, excitement and exhaustion, and to some degree, a stepping out into the unknown of what the body and mind can do when safely challenged like it has not been challenged before.

The RKC experience reveals something new to each candidate; it may awaken, change, disturb, surprise, invigorate or distress. Or maybe all of these, and more, over the course of the weekend. It is an experience they will never forget. It may even change the direction of their careers, and therefore, their lives.

The body and mind might tire, but the marvelous display of the human spirit marches on. The candidates relish each other's improvements and accomplishments as if they were their own -- because the group eventually begins working together as one. 

Challenge is the pathway to engagement and progress in our lives. But not all challenges are created equal. Some challenges make us feel alive, engaged, connected, and fulfilled. Others simply overwhelm us. Knowing the difference as you set bigger and bolder challenges for yourself is critical to your sanity, success, and satisfaction.
— Brendon Buchard

Some will have a few skills yet to refine after the RKC weekend concludes, but it does not diminish the experience. Instead, it presents yet another growth opportunity for these teachers-of-strength.

As with any skill, the learning process continues on, and joyfully so.

Great friendships are forged, fond memories are made and then it's home to infuse their lives with the power and energy of the RKC.

Our RKC sisters and brothers span the globe. With these skills we can touch people in gyms, schools, teams, community centers, churches, military, law enforcement, social groups, families and more.

While we are physically moving iron, we know that it is truly not about the iron, but rather how we can impact people with strength that leads to healthy, happy lives. We can't ask for much more. ~Lori Crock, RKC Team Leader 

Time to Re-think My Goals

A guest post by Al Crock.

I have been lifting weights, primarily barbell exercises, since I was 14 years old.  The initial motivation was to gain weight on a very skinny body in an effort a play some sport – any sport.

You may find this hard to believe, but after almost 40 years,  I have not appeared in a Muscle Magazine or stood on stage to show off my physique?!  What makes you/me think that will ever happen?  Why would I want to  buy an entire new wardrobe?  Time to re-think my goals.

Yet, I still lift weights beyond what a normal, smart person would attempt, whether it is the Bench Press, Trap Bar, or heavy Rows. 

Gotta do more than yesterday. Gotta do more than that guy over there. The more I lift, the bigger I will get and closer to that ‘middle linebacker’ body every male desires. 

Just read any health magazines. It's gotta be true. After four surgeries and 31 years of marriage, I think it is time to think not how much weight I can lift, but how long I can lift any challenging weights?  This thought process has only taken the last 10 years so it is obviously well-thought out.  Time to re-think my goals.

After being exposed to kettlebells (KBs) for the first time a few years ago, it still amazes me that I can achieve more strength, more flexibility and more muscle definition without being in some form of constant pain.  No wraps or gloves.  No wide belts or shoes. Just a little bit of talc powder. 

I think the reason it took so long to actually admit this revelation is because it was my wife’s constant drumming of KB benefits and instruction. “She can’t know what she’s talking about.  I have been lifting weights for 40 years?!"  The fact that she is now RKC I & II certified means very little to me. I knew her when she didn’t know the difference between a dumbbell and a kettlebell. Time to re-think my goals.

Yet, when I do sneak away and to do barbell lifts, or  front/back squat or any of the other “heavy lifts”,  I am amazed at the increase in strength, not to mention my overall better form .... and I haven’t done anything stupid in months! How is that possible? 

I never saw Arnold swing a KB 500 times. I never heard of the NFL Combines including a  KB Snatch Ladder. I was sure it was a matter of time before I fell back into my old ways. And believe me I tried. Time to re-think my goals.

Then I turned 50 years old.

I started paying attention to what my wife/trainer was actually saying. I started eating less crap and more quality food and fewer second helpings. She finally convinced me that you have to ‘listen’ to your body', not abuse your body.

I can still push myself to failure and sweat with the best of them, but I don’t have to hurt. And I watch her clients lose weight, achieve goals that people their age shouldn't be able to achieve -- and I no longer eat Ibuprofen like sweet tarts.

can swing a KB 500 times. I can perform 100 Snatches in less than 5 minutes and I can jump rope 200 reps without smacking my toes. That was just last week.  How many 53-year-old guys walking around can say that right now?

Al swings the 150# KB for several sets of 10!

Al swings the 150# KB for several sets of 10!

More practical ... I can jump up into the back of a pickup truck. I can hang multiple deer tree stands 20 feet off the ground in one day. I can give a 9-year-old kid a shoulder ride for a mile up a dirt road. How many 53-year-old guys walking around can say that right now?

I will never compete in the Crossfit games. I will never be invited to a NFL Combine. Nor, will anyone ask me to take my shirt off in public. I don’t care. There, I said it. Happy?

Because when I am able to move with power in everyday life, pain-free, and still fit into jeans that I wore five years ago, I think that I have achieved something that most of my buddies would like to say they could, but they can’t. Not today.  Time for them to re-think their goals.

I can thank kettlebells and a relentless wife.