Deadlift Day and Moments of Greatness

Friday was barbell deadlift day.

deadlift day!.png

It reminded me how many Moments of Greatness occur at our gym every day, in every class, as nearly everyone gets better in some way each time they walk in the door. 

Moments of Greatness are specific to each person. No two moments are alike. My definition of a Moment of Greatness might be different than yours. 

We had a lot of deadlift personal bests today. Those are Moments of Greatness, but also key to providing us important feedback about our overall fitness journey.

Mr.-Rogers-deadlift.jpg

First, it shows us that our strength and conditioning program is working. We don't deadlift that often -- probably two or four times a month. We don't have to do it several times a week to see improvements -- our functional training approach works the entire body, so we are in essence, 'deadlift ready' at all times.

We are staying injury-free and getting stronger ... without killing ourselves with hours and hours in the gym. The average gym member makes great strides with three 45-minute classes a week.

But more exciting to me is that the deadlift technique was beautifully executed. Get the movement right, and you can keep improving ... literally forever if you pair smart training with proper recovery and nutrition.

And even more exciting to me is that our members are learning to listen to their bodies and challenge themselves appropriately when the time is right. When they are not feeling it, they train where they are comfortable that day.

Another Moment of Greatness is when I hear members cheering on other members to personal bests. Getting excited about the achievements of others is inspiring.

My hubby joined in 6:30 a.m. class today (we usually train together between classes at 7:30 a.m.) and he was having so much fun watching Theda and Scott reach new PRs with their deadlifts, that he didn't even add up what was on his barbell.  Al is competitive and I have never seen him NOT add up his weight. So that was a special Moment of Greatness.

Our 10,000 swing challenge is building resilience, power and strength that applies to everything else we do, including deadlfits.

Another Moment of Greatness is watching people stop to foam roll, or stretch or adjust if something feels funny at that very moment ... to prevent injury and missed time in the gym. 

Happily, I don't remember the last time I referred someone to the chiropractor.

It is paramount to appreciate the Moments of Greatness that occur in the gym every day because we are training to be awesome in our everyday lives.

And if we are strong, healthy, happy and energetic, we can do a lot of good for others. That makes me the happiest of all because that puts us on our way to a Lifetime of Greatness..

Our gym members already excel in life and this helps them to reach new heights as confident, clear-thinking, active, vibrant people who are not afraid to tackle new challenges, both physical and mental.

If you aren't training with us, we'd love to have you!

And if you can't, train with us, find a gym with a positive environment where you can learn to move well first, get strong, and then celebrate Moments of Greatness with each other daily. It feels good.

Strong Member Spotlight: Patrick Baum

Patrick came to MoveStrong Kettlebells last Spring seeking to increase strength and overall conditioning for the sport of Rowing. Patrick is a member of the Greater Columbus Rowing Association and is a sculler -- so he is used to moving fast.

There are really a lot of similarities between using kettlebells and rowing as I found out when I began talking to Patrick and also when I read a book about the sport that Patrick loaned to me. 

So Patrick began using kettlebells and barbells with us and I would say that the kettlebell swing presented a bit of a challenge for Patrick at first, as it does for many of us. But when he got it, he became pretty excited about the explosive power and strength benefits from it.

Patrick also began to look at how he was eating in an effort to increase his performance. There was a period of months where he was cycling, rowing and swinging kettlebells so it became especially important to fuel properly.

He began eating more whole and natural foods,, and to date, Patrick has lost 66 pounds.

The weight loss was not necessarily his goal ... he wanted to feel better and move better. As I tell people, do the work in the gym, and in the kitchen, and the rest will fall in place with consistency and patience.

Patrick has been swinging the 124 lb. kettlebell for sets of 10 as a recent strength challenge. He had a deadlift personal best of 285 lbs. He has been consistently training 3-4 times a week and his movement quality with squats and lunges has steadily improved.

He recently achieved his first strict pull-up (from a deadhang) and that was very exciting for him and for the entire class.; we revel in each others accomplishments!

I look forward to seeing how Patrick feels when he gets back on the water very soon. I expect he will move as quite a different athlete with nearly a year of strength and movement training behind him.

One of things I enjoy most about coaching Patrick is his openness to cues and corrections. He welcomes them. I also enjoy watching him occasionally smile or chuckle in the middle of the movement. He will feel either something move really well, or not so well. Either way, he will work it out in his body and in his head until he gets it right. He has learned how to be mindful when using kettlebells.

Here are some thoughts about this journey from Patrick in his own words ...

2014 included my third season of masters rowing. I went to sculling camp in Vermont, and was in six seat of an eight boat when sweep rowing. I felt fairly good about my progress, but could not achieve the level of performance I really wanted.

My technique was improving under excellent coaching at the Greater Columbus Rowing Association (GCRA), but I did not have the physical ability to get to the next level. So I made a commitment to become a better rower through improved fitness. But how?

My winter training plan came down to a choice between two philosophies: practice on the rowing machine (erg) primarily, or focus on weight-bearing exercise and body movement for overall conditioning.

I had been “erging” for many months with little improvement. Intuition and logic pointed toward increasing my fitness level; erging occasionally to stay sharp in the off-season; and then improving rowing technique on the water in the spring.

I decided to do more kettlebell workouts because of their ballistic yet rhythmic movement combined with the loading of the weight. On the strength of Lori’s coaching ability, I committed to between 3 and 5 workouts per week at MoveStrong Kettlebells over the winter months.

Now, the ice won’t melt here in Columbus, Ohio for a few weeks yet, and water temperature won’t be safe for rowing until April. So how kettlebell conditioning over the winter will affect my rowing has yet to be seen. But there are hints foretelling of success.

There’s the weight loss; the new awareness of and control over body movement; the endurance of kettlebell workouts (which I find similar to rowing in terms of effort over time); the drastically improved erg times.

In brief, I can’t wait to hit the water in 2015!

One other encouraging note: I am 54 years old and have never been as fit as I am today.

Yes, I row and bicycle – great. Yet I attribute my new sense of health, confidence, and well-being to practicing kettlebells under a great coach and mentor.

If you’re getting older, are feeling out of shape, and your doctor clears you for heavy exercise, kettlebells will deliver for you – if you train with a great coach like Lori Crock. Believe me – you do NOT want to try swinging a 124 lb. kettlebell without a certified trainer (no matter your age)! Plus, it’s really fun. So go for it, if you can.

Body Care to Prevent Injury

Myofascial release is a manipulative treatment that attempts to release tension in the fascia due to trauma, posture, or inflammation. Connective tissues called fascia surround the muscles, bones, nerves, and organs of the body.
— Spine-health.com

One of our practices is to use a foam roller and/or lacrosse ball for myofascial release before every class and afterward as well.

Mobilize in Every Class

Foam rolling / lacrosse ball use mobilizes muscles and fascia and the body sends blood and nutrients to those areas. This primes the body for vigorous physical activity. This practice can help break up adhesions in the fascia that help to loosen up muscles and may help prevent injury.

We also mobilize before class with standing or ground-based dynamic body movements such as half windmills and hip-flexor stretches, light kettlebell movements and lifts (such as halos, bottoms up, good mornings, hip openers, t-spine and lat warmers) and we use the TRX and Clubbells in different ways to get the body mobilized we start the kettlebell circuit, chain or complex. We do some static stretching at the end of our training sessions. We especially like the Brettzel, Bretzel 2.0, frog, up and down dog, tailbone to heels after training.

No matter how much we mobilize before and after class, focus on perfect technique, and dial in the right volume of lifting and moving during class, muscle twinges can occasionally occur.

Be Aware that Former Injuries Pose Risks

Many of us have a lifetime of health issues, former sports injuries and mild weaknesses and asymmetries that we are working to improve, so we are diligent about stretching, moving often, resting, hydrating, eating nutrient-dense whole and natural foods and managing stress the best we can.

At MoveStrong Kettlebells, we ask members to inform the coaches if an ache or pain pops up at any time. And they are very good about doing so.

Address Twinges Immediately

A muscle twinge can be a tightening, spasm or a slight pain. Whatever it is, we assess what might have caused it. Is it a previously injured area? That is important to know because the most likely place to be injured is the location of a former injury. What movement caused an issue? We may want to leave it alone. We may need to stretch and/or foam-roll it. It depends. It may be something that needs attention from a medical professional depending on the severity and if it keeps popping up.

Whatever it is, we take it very seriously.

Technique, Technique, Technique

We will always review technique to make sure you are moving with good alignment and with the best technique you can produce for your body.

My father-in-law, God rest his soul, did wood-working after he retired. He used to say measure twice cut once because it saves time and energy in the long-run. We do that as well.

We address the twinge with great care and attention immediately to prevent it from becoming an injury. Sometimes a couple days of rest now can prevent a couple months off from training to nurse an injury later.

If you are training at our gym, and training at home, or at other gyms as well, it makes us less effective as coaches because we are not able to fully manage your programming, training volume and recovery. If this is the case, you will be managing more of that on your own, and you will need to be very careful not to overtrain; overtraining puts you at risk for injury.

We'll Keep You Safe and Safely Progressing

If something repeatedly causes an issue, we'll adjust or remove it. If lunging hurts your knees due to prior knee issues, but squatting doesn't, squatting is an excellent substitution. However, we will continue to work to get your lunge form corrected with regressions to keep you progressing safely and without pain.

If your shoulder is healthy, but you have had prior shoulder issues, and you tell us that you want to skip a certain lift or movement, that is no problem. We can always adapt another movement that will keep you progressing toward your goals.

Kettlebells can be a great tool for restoring mobility, stability and strength with the right individualized programming and eagle-eye coaching. Kettlebells are not a cure-all. Picking up heavy stuff is serious business and there is no one-size fits program. Work with an RKC kettlebell-certified coach who has a DO NO HARM philosophy.

You May Need to see a Medical Professional

If there is pain, we refer our members to trusted medical professionals such as Columbus Chiropractic and Rehabilitation to address the issue before it becomes a full-blown injury. We are strength and movement coaches, not medical professionals, so we do not diagnose the issue.

Our members are very good about sharing feedback from the day or two before. We ask before every class, every day, how are you feeling? Is anything hurting or feeling abnormal? We ask them not to attend class if they didn't get good quality sleep because it can put them at risk for injury. Mindfulness is required when using kettlebells.

Kettlebells are Safe When Taught with the RKC Methodology

Honestly, because hardstyle kettlebells are very safe to use with the RKC methodology/technique, hands-on RKC/HKC coaching, and with appropriately weighted bells, people rarely have injury issues. If something fires up, it is usually a prior injury area that is at risk when technique isn't spot on.

It is our job, as coaches, to check and recheck technique and intervene when someone isn't handling a kettlebell correctly. We ask people to put a kettlebell down if the weight is too heavy or the technique is off. That is an act of injury-prevention. This is why you hire a coach ... to keep you safe and safely progressing. We don't care if your heart-rate didn't get up that session because we worked on technique instead of doing a high-intensity circuit. We are teaching you to fish, not giving you fish so technique trumps intensity every time.

This is a long-term, life-changing view of exercise as a tool for improving overall health

You earn the right to lift heavy by demonstrating perfect technique for your physique. This is what allows us coaches to sleep at night ... knowing that we did the best we could to keep our gym members safe and safely progressing.

Summary

To summarize, here are the ways we can address a muscle twinge:

  • Stop and assess where it is firing up
  • Check and correct technique / run the FMS if needed
  • Foam roll or mobilize (stretch) the area in question / use biofreeze to temporarily calm the area / or completely leave it alone!
  • Use a lighter kettlebell, no kettlebell or change the tool altogether
  • Regress the movement or lift
  • Momentarily rest or stop for the day ... or for several days ... or longer
  • Mobilize at home using FMS correctives to support what we are doing in the gym
  • Eat healthy foods and rest to reduce systemic inflammation (an injury risk factor)
  • Avoid using anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibruprophen) as they can wreak havoc in your gut and slow down soft tissue repair and not give you the pain feedback you need to know how to care for it
  • See a medical professional for pain, lingering issues or immobility

Contact Us to Learn More

Do you have questions or concerns about getting started with us? Contact Lori. We welcome new students post-rehab if you are cleared by a medical professional to train.

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!

Become a Better Time Manager

It's simple. Start a regular exercise program, with a coach to keep you accountable, and you will begin to manage your time better.

There is no way to commit to an exercise program without managing your time well.

                           A recent Saturday morning group for class.

                           A recent Saturday morning group for class.

Our best-attended class is at 5:45 a.m. and those MoveStrong Kettlebells gym members are at the gym at that time because it’s the only time it fits with their work schedule.

But that means getting to bed early enough to be able to get up and function well in class and function well for the entire day.

They become good sleep managers.

They eat breakfast after training early, and they have a plan in place for lunch, dinner and snacks for the day so they can recover from training and come back the next day.

They become good food managers.

Gym members who come to the evening classes have to get out of work on time, or early, to make it in. Getting their work done, and knowing what can wait until the next day, makes evening exercise possible. 

They become good work managers.

For many who have desk jobs, exercise is an important outlet to keep their energy up all day. Studies show that exercise helps us manage stress better

They become good stress managers.

For those who live farther away from the gym, or those are driving to the gym at a busy time traffic-wise, some extra time and planning may be needed to get to class.

They become good logistics managers.

And for those who have flexible schedules, it can be easy to skip a day, but they don’t, because they see how this makes them even better for the rest of their life.

They become good lifestyle managers.

It’s funny ... you might not realize the relationship between exercise and time management, but I see it every day and I greatly appreciate the effort that it takes for people to make it in for class consistently. 

Keep up the good work and thank you for your herculean effort it takes to manage your time well to fit in exercise!

Achieve Pain-free Cleans

The Kettlebell clean is an important and challenging movement that seems to take longer to refine than any other kettlebell movement that I teach. 

Over time, I have developed some cues that help my students land the kettlebell more smoothly.

The end goal is avoid the thump on the forearm and wrist upon receiving the kettlebell in the racked position.

Read my post about the clean on Dragon Door here.

Special thanks to MoveStrong Kettlebells member Jayme Mattimore for her willingness to demonstrate her technique in the video.

Mindfulness

I first learned about mindfulness, and my lack of this skill, when I was in West Virginia for week at a MovNat workshop many years ago. I kept falling off logs because I couldn’t or wouldn’t focus on calming my body and mind down enough to stay steady.

Also, I wasn’t truly listening to the cues from my teachers because I was in such a state of frustration. I realized I had a lot of room for growth ... and not all of it was physical!

One of those teachers was the MovNat founder Erwan LeCorre. I can still hear his voice inside my head with his French accent, “Loorrrriiii, relax and think about what I have been teaching you!”

I couldn’t balance worth a darn. I blamed it on my age. Erwan would have none of that.

Then it hit me. I discovered there was a  lot of noise inside my head. I was hearing the cues -- but not actively trying to assimilate them into my body. I had a lot of negative self-talk going on, due to the stress on falling off everything, so I wasn’t really trying to let my brain and body work together -- and I couldn’t (or wouldn’t!) actually feel what my body was doing when I was moving.

I realized I couldn't focus and I had very little proprioception -- awareness of the relative position of parts of the body and strength used in movement.

I also began to see that in nearly every area of my life at that time, (this was many years ago) that I did almost everything too quickly.

Our group at the MovNat workshop in West Virginia

Our group at the MovNat workshop in West Virginia

As the week in West Virginia went on, I began to understand how much value there was in moving more slowly and mindfully. In many cases, people who were less fit than me, could do a lot more easily, because their mind and body were more in synch.

I also had fear -- fear of falling, fear of looking silly, a fear of getting hurt and maybe even a fear of coming to grips with fear ... because admitting that made me vulnerable. 

Unfortunately, fear wipes out mindfulness.

This realization was a turning point for me. 

So after falling off a big, scary log in the final MovNat challenge in front of the whole group, I stopped. I got up. Something had changed. My fear was gone. I fell far and hard, but I didn’t get hurt. My peers applauded me for trying. 

The internal fight with myself was over.

As I got up out of the creek and back on the big, scary log, there was a new humility and a new confidence -- interesting how these two work together to create good.

All the sudden I knew what had to be done, but more importantly, I knew how to do it. The process became clear. I focused, I mean really focused, and crossed the log mindfully, and without falling off for the first time.

I was released from ‘just getting through it’ and I entered a new zone in which I was finally open to understanding, feeling and responding to how my body was moving and interacting more methodically with my environment.

It was liberating and exhilarating.

Mindfulness became a new skill that I worked to nurture from that point on -- incorporating it more fully into my work life (at that time it was marketing) and especially into my practice of athletics at MovNat Ohio, and now, years later, with everyone I coach at MoveStrong Kettlebells.

Fast-forward to Mindfulness with Kettlebells

Some people come to MoveStrong already equipped with the skill of mindfulness. It may be from their Pilates, Yoga or a specialized sport experience. They might have a background in dance or the martial arts where they had to learn to be very intentional in their movement. It may just be their nature to be comfortable inside their heads while their body is moving.

Other people are more like how I started. They come from a background of moving fast ... running, cycling, swimming where Mindfulness isn't as critical to safety. 

There is a lot of learning and understanding what you body is doing when using kettlebells. I just had a new member tell me that she is really enjoying the process of learning about how her body is moving and what muscles are engaging at different points in the movement. 

People discover their lats, glutes, hamstrings and begin understanding the meaning of rolling knee-caps into quads, rooting feet, packing shoulders, breathing diaphragmatically. It can seem like an endless sea of cues. If the student is patient with the process, they can achieve these moves, and hundreds of others, with power and precision, but mindfulness if key.

Don’t think about the bell .. think about how your body is moving. Mindfulness is key to your safety and success.

This is a skill that is refined with practice. It is vital. My RKC friend Chris refers to kettlebell training as yoga-with-weights to stress the mental calm that is required. Over time, the body begins to take over; there is still thinking, but less, and more feeling.

That is when you begin to fall in love with the how the movement feels inside your head and inside your body. It is fun to watch people get really comfortable with this process.

Very soon, you won’t have to work at mindfulness. It becomes second nature and that focused calm feels really good.

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!

Strong Member Spotlight: Cindy Ray

Cindy Ray had a birthday this week. She is now 65 years strong and there are no limits to what she can do.

She is one of the strongest female barbell deadlifters at our gym with her personal best currently at 190 lbs. Cindy had never used barbells before training with us and she loves it.

She also deadlifts the 150 lb. kettlebell easily.

She loves to practice her flexed arm hang -- which I think she could do all day.

Cindy tracks all her training sessions and is consistent in her training. She truly believes that what she does in the gym applies to real life. She and her husband Glen own a property that has plenty of outdoor projects and Cindy doesn't balk at anything physical.

I thought I was as strong and as fit as my body was able to be. Through Kettlebell training (and TRX, and MovNat and body weight training), I’ve discovered that my body will become as strong as I will let it get. And it’s pretty powerful to realize that I control the journey and the process. I’ve learned to slow down, something that has always been difficult for me to do. I’m also more willing to test and to try new things, whether in the gym or in my life. Zip-lining on 10 lines in Costa Rica is something I would never have considered 2 years ago, but I did it!
— Cindy Ray

But if you know Cindy, you know that the coolest thing about her doesn't have anything to do with numbers -- it is that she is a caring and positive person.

She is always the first to ask about someone's recent trip or to welcome someone new to the gym.

Cindy is truly a role model for us all as an athlete and a well-rounded person who enjoys life, family, friends and hobbies and does it with grace.