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.

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: 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!

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

High-Energy Saturday

Saturday classes are off-the-chart fun. I can’t wait for Saturday -- great things, unexpected things, always happen.

The people, the energy, what will we do? A little of everything ... it’s Saturday; Saturday is always good.

Today we started out by exploring the edges of our stability with water-bottle Getups. 

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What is stability? At times, a muscle may act as a stabilizer in order to allow a different muscle to function as needed during a movement. For example, the hip joint muscles may contract to stabilize the pelvis so that you can effectively engage the abdominals. Much muscle assisting, or stabilization, occurs in the Getup.

It’s surprising how taxing it is to maintain alignment and move through the seven steps of the Getup with a water-bottle on your knuckle. 

More mentally challenging than physical -- as you move in slow-mo completely focused on control and precise movement with each step.

Breathing, posture, speed, tensing and relaxing muscles at certain times -- it all impacts whether the water-bottle stands firm or falls.

So what’s it mean when one side is easy and the other side isn’t cooperating? 

Could be that some muscles aren’t firing or they aren’t strong enough. Injuries, even minor ones, can throw off our motor control and the ability to stabilize due to compensations and/or weaknesses. Even a lack of practice makes a big difference in our movement quality.

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The water bottle slows us down and forces us to really refine, focus and reset with each step. 

Yes, we are out of breath, sweating; it's exhausting.

It was actually a relief to move to the Getups with the Kettlebell and several members had personal bests after training the movement pattern with the frustrating water-bottle.

Our met-con today included KB push presses, MovNat climbing, exploring abdominal strength with ab wheel training, calming down enough to do single-leg dead-lifts and wind it back up again with high-pulls to swings. 

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On Saturday, we close with 100 swings -- and kudos to our newbies for doing this so recently after learning the technique.

The thing about High-Energy Saturday is that we can do a whole lot more together, and we do it much better, than we would ever do it on our own.

The energy of Saturday is unmatched and it propels us into Recovery Sunday and Back-to-it-All Monday.

“Individual commitment to a group effort ... that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ~Vince Lombardi