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.

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.

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 

10,000 Swing Challenge

We started the 10,000 swing challenge a few weeks ago. We have 16 small group strength classes a week and we do varied single- and double-arm swings in each class that can range from 100 - 500 swings per class. Some gym members are doing them at home and on-the-road too.


Over a period of a few months, we'll rack up 10,000 swings and we'll have a celebration at the end.

The original 10,000 swing challenge was 500 swings in 20 workouts designed by Dan John with a set program as described here. We are not taking that approach because there are other lifts and movements we need to do in classes that better suit the fitness levels and goals of our gym members. The single- and double-arm swings have different benefits to the body, so we are doing both (more detail about the differences in an upcoming blog post.)

Why are we doing the 10,000 Swing Challenge?

Because the kettlebell swing is the key foundational movement for kettlebell athletes with incredible strength and conditioning benefits to the body.

It builds a high level of cardiovascular endurance that is not only safe, but hard to match with any other movement. I truly believe every athlete, at any age, can benefit from a RKC hardstyle swing because it builds a strong body, head to toe, with explosive hip power, torso, and legs involved, both the anterior and posterior chain.

The swing leaves you feeling energized, strong and ready to tackle the rest of your life.

I tell people that swinging is like running with weights, but without the wear-and-tear on the joints.

People are often surprised by the cardiovascular benefits of swings. A former intern of mine ran a 1/2 marathon without running at all. She did snatches and swings for her conditioning and she finished the marathon injury-free and with a respectable time.

With swings, you get the endorphin rush kinda like running, along with amazing metabolic and muscular benefits. With the swing, you are using a large majority of muscles in your body -- in particular the lower body, glutes and hamstrings. People think when they see it, that your arms are doing the work. Nope. It's a lower-body movement that makes the entire back of the body work hard.

It is time-efficient and very safe-to-the-body because hinging the hips is a natural movement the human body is designed to do. Kettlebell athletes use their hinge in their daily life for all sorts of tasks thus saving their backs and knees from unneeded stress and strain.

We use Russian Hardstyle Kettlebell technique and we constantly seek to improve our movement efficiency with the swing. Learn swing technique from an RKC certified coach to prevent injury and then there are no limits to what you can do.

Fall in Love with the Swing

The key to falling in love with the swing is to first learn to move well. You learn to hinge your hips, pack your shoulders, engage your lats and glutes, relax your arms, use hardstyle breathing, activate your cylinder of strength (all the muscles in your torso), understand the movement timing and much, much more.

There are literally hundreds of cues and regressions for the swing, depending what issues present when you are learning it.

It is often not easy to learn if you have not used the backside of your body in strength training before. People often want to squat instead of hinge at their hips. No worries though. An RKC will get you swinging with hands-on coaching.

Mindfulness is a requirement for safety. Swinging a ball of iron is serious stuff, so you have to focus. Our form of training includes no shaking or flailing of limbs. We use precise and controlled movement efficiency with every rep.

Athletes at MoveStrong Kettlebells learn what muscles we are using, why and when and how to engage them with an understanding of the timing of tension and relaxation in the movement.

From a coaching perspective, this is nirvana. The swing is a beautiful movement that becomes poetry in motion when you feel and understand the movement in both your body and in your brain. Watching my students soar is an amazing privilege.

Earn the Weight with Proper Technique

We teach the swing in the on-ramp program before people come to class. Then when they start attending classes, they refine their technique with more coaching and their conditioning increases over time.

Our students select the kettlebell weight they are comfortable using although I may make recommendations depending on the programming. With consistent and moderate kettlebell swings, they get very strong.

Do the Work and Surprise Yourself with Unlimited Strength

We have both men and women swinging 62 lb. - 150 lbs. -- and I promise you they never thought they would ever touch a weight that heavy, let alone swing it! And they do it with outstanding technique (a prerequisite of course.) 

Several members nearly swing their bodyweight.

Don't Discount the Fun Factor

Don't discount the fun factor in swinging a kettlebell. It is fun to swing. Ask any of our gym members. Managing a heavy load well is empowering, mentally and physically, and that manifests into increased confidence in the rest of your life. You develop a I Will Try and I Can Do attitude about other things in your life thanks to the swing.

At first, I hesitated to do swing challenge because I didn't want to overdo the swing and risk people responding with, 'oh no, not more swings!' But I don't think that's possible. Our gym members are getting even better at the swing, and in turn, they seem to like swings even more. 

The swings work well with the other kettelbell and bodyweight movements we do in our classes. A 100 single-arm swings can be completed in a under 5 minutes, so this is not an obsessive, time-consuming task. I can sneak swings into our programming without calling much attention to it.

Example:

Barbell deadlifts: 2 sets of 5 (at 50-80% of max lift)
Single-arm swing: 10 left / 10 right
Double-arm swing: 2 sets of 10
x 4 rounds = 200 swings
Finish with ab wheel, plank or push and hollows

Train Hard, but Train Fresh

RKC-trained kettlebell athletes are taught to never, ever go to failure. We learn to listen to our bodies and stop before fatigue sets in. We train hard, but we train fresh. Safety and Performance are one. We lift light like it's heavy and heavy like it's light, always.

Here is a Sample Training Session

There are many swing variations to keep our body and brain safely challenged. This is a sample training session that we did recently as a class resulting in 400 varied swings. We did sets of 5, 10 and 20 with different amounts of weight and recovery periods.

Swing Saturday

Single Bell - Alternating Hand - 100 (warmup)
Double Bell - 50
Single Bell - Eccentric - 10
Single Bell - Heavy - 50 
Single Bell - Low Swing - 10
Single Bell - Overspeed - 10
Single Bell - Pendulum - 20
Single Bell - Single Arm - Pendulum - 50
Single Bell - Single Arm Swing in sets of 10 - 100

Contact Lori if you would like to learn the hardstyle kettlebell swing or have any questions about the 10,000 Swing Challenge.

Strong Member Spotlight: Jayme Mattimore

Jayme Mattimore joined MoveStrong Kettlebells about 7 months ago. She has achieved some great results and she shares her fitness journey and results below. As a coach, I am impressed with her consistency, patience with conditioning and her laser-focus on achieving excellent technique.

Jayme enjoys all the movements / lifts we do in the gym, but her favorite is the Turkish Getup. She can safely lift the 18kg on both sides and recently had a PR with the 20kg bell on her right side. My goal for her is 24kg on both sides in 2015.

Jayme's journey in her own words ...

1. What led you to kettlebells?

As a former gymnast, I’ve always been strong and in shape. Gymnastics was a huge part of my life, and my physical strength and fitness primarily came from my involvement in the sport. Without this continued involvement, my body just didn’t twist and turn like it used to. So as most of us do, I joined a local gym and went through the motions of working out each week.  I consistently went to the gym but found that I was not achieving the same results that came naturally with gymnastics. Finding the motivation to workout everyday became a bit of a struggle. Then in May of 2014 I met an individual that shared his experience with kettlebells.  I was inspired by his experience with kettlebells and how they transformed his life.  His story led me to join MoveStrong Kettlebells. 

2. What do you like most about using kettlebells at MSK?

No matter what your fitness level, every member at MSK comes together to workout utilizing kettlebells.  Classes are always challenging and individual attention is given to all members for instructions, corrections and fine-tuning. At MSK there is always a positive, energetic and supportive atmosphere that empowers everyone to perform to their capacity without any judgment. The camaraderie that everyone shares in watching one another excel is invaluable.  

3. What results have you seen?

I couldn’t be happier with the results I’ve seen thus far. During my first six months with MSK I lost 9 lbs and 12 inches off my body. But most importantly, I’ve gained more strength, energy, confidence and new respect for my body and what it is capable of doing. I feel fantastic!

4. What goals do you have for 2015?

Make eating healthy easier. I enjoy eating healthy and nutritious meals, but I don’t always have time to prepare meals from scratch. My goal is to make sure that I set time aside once a week to prepare simple and delicious meals/snacks that I can grab throughout the week.

Continued Education. Since the start of my kettlebell journey I have been interested in the certification opportunities that are available. My goal is to complete the HKC Certification this year and start training for the RKC Certification and the 100 snatch timed test!

Physical Fitness goals. I want to successfully tackle a pistol squat, strict military pull up and swing the beloved beast!

5. Any surprises about this way of training?

I was surprised at how diverse training is with Kettlebells. There are so many variations of moves that you never get bored. I was also surprised at how much cardiovascular strength is incorporated in the training as well. I’ve had some of my best cardiovascular workouts at MSK.

Final thoughts: I’m amazed every day how this training has affected me. Kettlebells have given me a purpose to my training. The kettlebell commands your attention. Training with it takes practice, it is a skill that has to be learned and refined over time. Just when you think you’ve mastered one move, you are introduced to an advanced variation of the move you thought you just conquered. These countless variations continue to motivate me physically and mentally. You must focus on the task at hand. Being in that moment allows my mind to let go of all other distractions. Kettlebells are my daily dose of meditation!

PCC Calisthenics and a New View of Strength

I had an awesome Progressive Calisthenics Certification (PCC) experience.

It was amazing to learn from Al and Danny Kavadlo and now the all MoveStrong KB members get to share in the joy of more bodyweight training ... which is simple, fun and has amazing strength, stability and mobility benefits.

Read the full story on Dragon Door here!

The Number One Rule of Fitness

The Number One Rule of Fitness is Consistency. And that may be the hardest part.

I posted on Facebook recently that when people think about exercising to make themselves more fit and able to serve others, rather than doing it just for themselves, that can really increase their consistency.

consistency_message.jpg

Regardless, getting to the gym day-after-day takes drive, motivation, goals.

People start out full of zeal and then life gets in the way. Accept it when it does, hopefully short-term, but don't let it get in the way long-term. Work, family, travel, illness. It can stump us all for a little while, but we can always get back on track.

But there has to be something that pulls us back. You have to experience all the good a consistent exercise program can bring to your life to keep the train rolling along.

When I was running a small marketing company, there was a period of time where I was so busy, and so excited and interested in the work I was doing for my marketing clients, that I left exercise for 9 months.

My husband intervened. He said so much had changed about me without exercise ... how I moved, my moods, my energy, my enthusiasm, confidence.

Back to gym ... the cheapest, quickest fix anyone could ask for (in my opinion). And we found a really good coach who helped me get on track and even inspired me to do this job (fitness coaching) full time.

So here are some thoughts about how to build consistent exercise into your life:

  • Just show up - your coach (a good coach!) will figure something out for you to do even when you are not feeling it (Turkish Getups and a few swings are my favorite when I am 'not feeling it')
  • A lot going on in your life? Let your coach know to adjust the day's workout a bit. Have a mindset of your exercise time as a break from life -- you'll be thinking about the movements and lifts, so you won't have time to think about your to-do list.
  • Put it on your calendar a week in advance -- plan ahead - your health comes first. If someone misses a week, I call them to see what's up.
  • Insomnia? Zero in on why - working with a medical pro if needed - and this is when you SHOULD NOT exercise -- as you are at a higher risk of get injured if you are not rested. Have your coach give you some stretches and simple movements to do at home. Figure it out, make some lifestyle changes and then get back in the gym. Often exercise helps alleviate insomnia, but proceed with care exercising without proper rest.
  • Motivation waning? Select an event to train for like an HKC or RKC, a cycling event, running event -- or any of the many obstacle races -- Ninja Run, Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, etc.
  • Can only get there twice a week? That's okay. That's the minimum to keep you on track toward goals and preventing too much soreness. Once a week is not enough. Three or four days is even better and working up to that is fine. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Can only go two days in a row? It's okay to train back-to-back with the right programming/coaching and supported by good food choices, rest and recovery strategies.
  • Pain or Sports Injury? Don't let that be an excuse. See us for a Functional Movement Screen. You may need to see a medical professional or you might just need to get your body moving again.
  • Work is too busy? Go light, but still get a workout in. You need it for stress relief. If you absolutely can't get there, let it go! No worries. Eat clean and try to keep all the other lifestyle factors in check so when you get back, it isn't so hard.
  • Impatient for results? With us, you will see lots of encouraging results along the way to your end goals such as technique improvements, understanding of your body, lifting heavier, moving with more ease and grace, less soreness, more confidence in the gym and in other areas of your life. You'll see changes Day 1, but give it at least 3 months, and it really gets amazing after a year of consistent exercise.
  • Not a morning person? Don't let that stop you from trying an early morning class. You may go in feeling less than optimal, but everyone comes out feeling good! I promise! If your schedule doesn't permit mornings, an evening class is a great option. Make sure you add in a small afternoon snack for energy -- it's a long time from noon until 5 p.m. We offer noon classes and 8:15 a.m. classes if your work schedule is more flexible.
  • Not looking forward to your next trip to the gym? It might not be the right place for you ... that's okay, keep looking, there are plenty of options out there.
  • Busy schedule, lots of traffic, hard to logistically get there? Pay close attention to how you feel after your training session ... happy, energized, content, nicely sore. That's what will get you there tomorrow. Explore other time slots for classes if you have flexibility or other routes to the gym to make the logistics easier. Studies show that the most consistent exercisers work or live within 12 minutes of their gym.
  • Need a change? Get outside! Take a day and move in different ways in the park. Or take your kettlebells into the backyard. We mix it up at the gym with indoor, outdoor, MovNat, Nature Runs, Stretching class and more.
  • Traveling? Ask your coach for some workouts to do at the hotel room, hotel gym or outdoors. If you are driving, take a kettlebell and go to it anywhere.
  • Invite a friend or family member join you for accountability. Having a friend assist with accountability is an awesome idea for both of you!
  • Identify the roadblocks preventing you from getting to the gym consistently and address them head on. Are you struggling to learn the movements? Are you always running late and feel rushed, stressed, embarrassed to walk in late? Do you feel too sore later? Not eating optimally and feel this process of getting healthy is futile? Talk to your coach -- these are all surmountable and a good coach wants to help you make exercise a consistent healthy habit and will work with you to find solutions.
  • Find a coach who cares. The best part of life are the people in our lives. Finding someone you like, will keep you safe, challenge you, care about you as a person as well as a gym member, and who will go that extra mile when you need it. Smaller gyms build their business on having knowledgeable, people-oriented, caring coaches.

The bottom line is this ... find a gym with a program that is fun and delivers results with coaches who care. That's what we strive to do at MoveStrong, so let me know if this is what you are looking for and how I can help.

Unraveling your Movement Story

This week I have been using the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) to assess foundational movement for new members and re-assessing current members to determine training effectiveness.

I don't always use the FMS when someone is brand new because it can be frustrating for your first experience at a new gym to be 'tested.' Even though it is not a test, that's how people often view it.

But after a short time of teaching you kettlebell lifts and watching you move in class, I like to put some numbers around your foundational movement skills so I can plan your programming accordingly.

In a way, I am unraveling your movement story to help you reach your full potential.

I work corrective exercises into the regular class programming, your personal warmup, and I may give you some extra stretches to do outside the gym.

Current members continue to see progress as they eradicate pain (many come to MSK with prior sports injuries). They are also becoming more conditioned and seeing improvement in core stability and overall strength as indicated in movements such as the squat and pushup.

The FMS tells me if the training we are doing is working well with your body.

We all come from different fitness and movement backgrounds and that greatly impacts how we move and use kettlebells and the other tools in the gym.

Learning what you do well, and where you can grow, is important for me to know to safely challenge you.

Kettlebells make that fairly easy as we can change up the movements and lifts, reduce or increase weight, reps, sets and regress or progress the movement depending what you need.

There is another piece too ... your fitness personality.

Some of us naturally push ourselves to the edge of our ability -- maybe just enough or maybe too much. Others move forward more cautiously -- or perhaps we've been injured too many times to take chances.

Some of us thrive under high intensity and others like a balance. Some like to move fast, others slowly.

I learn all of this about you as we train in class and it impacts how I program and coach you.

I use my best judgement to try to push you or pull you back and program to meet your needs -- but I depend on you to listen to your body and be open with me about how it is all feeling inside your body and in your brain.

Factors such as food, stress, work, family, life all impact our movement story and how we move.

Getting back in the swing of moving like we did when we were kids -- balancing, running, lifting, carrying, jumping, climbing, reaching, stepping, rolling, crawling ... can be just what you need, and for others, it can be a little frustrating.

We explore it all, stop where we need to, and move forward when and where you are ready.

Your movement story has chapters that reflect the specialized sports, general physical conditioning and hobbies you enjoyed as a kid, and what you are doing currently, whether you do a lot of sitting, standing, or working in a physical job, your current hobbies, stress, how you eat, sleep and hydrate, any medical issues are you dealing with now or in the past. It all impacts how we move.

Crazy that our movement story is the history of our lives that unravels a little at a time as we begin learning a new physical skill like swinging kettlebells.

It will be very interesting to see where this new movement chapter leads you ... some to a kettlebell certification, others to new successes in specialized sports. For others, more confidence, mobility and strength for the challenges presented in everyday life.

No matter where you are, delivering life-changing progress is our goal.

Quality of Life Coach

After people have been exercising with us for a few months, it is pretty exciting to hear some of the changes they experience, such as:  less pain, more energy, sleeping better, eating healthier, feeling happier, excelling in specialized sports, getting stronger and losing weight.

I sometimes think instead of referring to myself as a Strength and Movement Coach that I should call myself a Quality of Life Coach.

That is really why we add physical activity to our lives, right? To move better, feel better and be better to enjoy the rest of our lives more?

And if our fitness program isn't delivering that, then we need to look at our program and make adjustments.

If what we do in the gym has no application to daily life, then why do it?

This might be a shift in thinking for some of us.

Many of us start our fitness journey with an exterior focus and goals such as reducing body fat or changing how certain areas of our body look. There is nothing wrong with that, but I think people are often surprised when a fitness program delivers that and much more.

People start to move better with walking and running, they starting thinking about their posture, adding squatting and hinging to tasks they do in their daily life. They sit less often. They find opportunities to be physically active throughout their day. They head outdoors looking for ways to move in nature. They begin sharing their excitement with others.

Sometimes people will say things like ... "I had no problem gardening for two hours and then played with my kids for another hour, took a walk with my husband and still had energy at the end of the day!" Nothing makes me happier than to hear stories like this, so please continue to share those with me.

Last week I received this hand-written note in the mail:

Dear Lori,

This is Carol from your Strength and Stretching Class at the Cancer Support Community. I just wanted to say thanks for doing that class. We know it was an effort with the bad weather we had last winter.

For me personally, I think it was the first class I’ve done that has strengthened my lower back/surgery area. I have continued to be conscious of my bending and lifting and also I have taught my husband.

Thanks for doing the class as it was very helpful to me. Good luck and best success with your business.
— Carol, Class Participant at the Cancer Support Community

What I want to help people achieve is a happy and healthy lifestyle where they can be active and do the things (physical and non-physical) that give them joy.

By moving their bodies more often, and in a healthy manner, learning new skills with kettlebells and barbells that challenge the mind and body, people gain strength and a new body awareness that can be life-changing.

My over-arching goal is to enhance our quality of life through safe and efficient movement. I want you to feel good!!!

This is a win for you, your family, friends and employer. The better you feel and move, the better you can be for others.

So if you think that taking time out to exercise is a selfish endeavor, think about all the people who depend on you. Think about how a healthy and happy you can serve them well.

Giving you my best,

Lori