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

Congratulations to our New HKCs!

We recently hosted our first Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification (HKC) event at MoveStrong Kettlebells. Congratulations to all who attended on a job well-done!

Two of our gym members, Dustin Jones and Terry Butterworth, passed and are now HKC certified trainers. It is exciting for me because I introduced kettlebells to them and now they are introducing the art of hardstyle kettlebell movement to others.

We are all very proud of them and it will be exciting to see where this new knowledge leads them (besides teaching at MSK!)

We had a very strong group of 13 HKC candidates at the certification event, with Master RKC Andrea Du Cane instructing, with assistance from RKC Team Leader (me) and three local RKCs: Chris Meredith, Paul Synenky and Brandon Sallee.

Senior and Master instructors always teach this course and are assisted by local RKCs. We are proud to be RKC, so it is an honor and a pleasure to assist at a certification event.

The HKC is a one-day entry-level certification in which we teach the Swing, Turkish Getup and Goblet Squat with variations, progressions, regressions and associated mobility drills.

This is not a 'user' event with a series of workouts, but a unique, in-depth learning opportunity that attracts people with all types of goals--and are all ages and fitness levels.

Candidates came from around Ohio, and neighboring states, with a mix of fitness instructors and kettlebell enthusiasts who wanted to learn to safely and skillfully use kettlebells for their own use and/or to share with others.

No matter how experienced we are, whether teacher or student, we always learn something new from each other at the certification events.

Some of our MSK gym members provided a homemade lunch for us at the gym so the candidates and RKCs could relax and network and not have to rush out to find food on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Our HKC candidates came to the event very well-prepared--several had trained with other HKCs and RKCs--and watching them refine their skills throughout the day was impressive.

We commented that their skills were as strong as candidates we’ve seen at RKC events

Several from this HKC event expressed an interest in preparing for an RKC event in the near future. Although not required, the HKC is ideal preparation for the 3-day, more physically intense RKC certification event.

As our HKC candidates progressed through the steps of each of the movements, they practiced teaching and learning from their peers and instructors throughout the day. Candidates were formally tested on their skills.

This event delivers a positive, supportive environment focused on challenging the candidates to get their skill proficiency as high as possible given their individual abilities with the three movements.

We were able to provide 3-to-1 instructor attention to our students and 12 of the 13 passed. Typically, 20-30% do not pass that day. Candidates have 90 days to submit a video when they feel they meet the standard.

We have individual exit interviews with each candidate so they can let us know how the experience impacted them and we give them plenty of feedback about their strengths and weaknesses.

The designation of HKC means they become part of the Dragon Door family, they have a wonderful resource manual, the in-depth experience of the day, and a new group of HKCs and RKCs to network with online and in person.

It opens up a new world of potentially life-changing knowledge and experiences that extend way beyond kettlebell training.

Interested in learning more?

We’ll be hosting an HKC again in Ohio in 2015. Or consider an RKC event. MoveStrong Kettlebells is hosting an RKC event April 10-12. Registration is open and discounts apply for early registration.