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Monday, December 19, 2011

Ring In the New Year with Kettlebells!

New Year's Day Kettlebell Lift! @ Body Balance Health and Fitness  2747 Iris Ave, Boulder, CO
Sunday, January 1st  12 noon - 1:30 pm
All kettlebell lifters (current and those on leave) are invited to this event as my holiday gift to you!

A one-hour set! We will start warm-up at 12 noon, kick-off the hour-long set at 12:15 pm, and cool-down/recover for the remainder of our time.

Long Cycle is the preferred lift of hour + sets, but it's a great opportunity to practice any kettlebell moves for the duration. There are no rules, just keep a weight in hand as long as you can. Feel free to join for any amount of time, work on your lifts and sweat with fellow Kettlebells lifters to start 2012. 

If you are new to kettlebells, please contact me asap to determine a reasonable goal for your current level of conditioning. Join in the warm-up and lift for as long as you want. Much can be learned from watching!

All participants please be ready for the mobility/warm-up at noon.
Please eat breakfast and be well-hydrated before arriving.
I look forward to seeing you there!

IKFF Certified Kettlebell Teacher (CKT) Level 1:
Lakewood, CO, Feb. 24 - 26th, 2012
Special Price for friends of Kettlebell Fitness! 
Coach Blackburn has offered my students and friends an excellent price for CKT certification and to audit the Level 1 workshop:

Level 1 Certification - $700 (with two-payment plan available). Link to payment
Audit Level 1 with no certification - $300. Link to payment

I cannot emphasize enough the amazing training methodology Ken Blackburn offers. His workshop will shoot your training to the next level.
For anyone who wants to re-certify with new and improved skills, this is what you're looking for!

Best wishes to all for a safe and blessed holiday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Now What?

Almost Winter, between holidays, competitive season is at a lull, so Now What?
If you should find yourself in the place between seasons, or just don't know how to deal with the holidays, I would like to suggest the following food for thought:

Decide to rest (or not to rest) After the hard push at the end of a sport season, our bodies need rest to recover. Allowing the muscular and adrenal systems to recoup fully will assist in a fresh start to the next training cycle. This does not mean stop moving. Simply cut back workout intensity, practice "fun sports," and GPP (general physical preparedness) programs.

Decide when and how to exercise If all the shopping and holiday parties are interfering with your exercise routine, be okay with it. Maybe winter sports will take the place of gym time. Plan ahead and supplement the routine that supports your health and fitness goals, then just enjoy the season!

Communicate with classmates and workout partners Simple as it seems, letting others know our holiday plans helps us stick with the program. If you need a buddy to motivate you, ask!

Maintain a daily food intake schedule Many wellness advocates recommend miniature fasts as a method to support complete digestion and manage a natural body weight. To the extreme, make your latest meal at 3 pm! More realistic, don't eat after 6 pm. Your body will rest more fully on an empty stomach.

Be okay with not being in peak condition for the season If that's what will work best for your peace of mind. Enjoy yourself!

Wishing everyone a wonderful month!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What are your goals?

It's true, you will achieve that which you give the greatest focus. I have a few first-hand athletic experiences to pass on regarding this exact thing.

Story 1: On my first off-road bike trip, I was following two more experienced riders on what can only be called a 4-wheel drive track. It was a dirt road in the "out back" of Thailand, intended for one lane of traffic. Due to the heavy annual rains this road had crevices within crevices, leaving 2 to 4 inch ledges to ride on for long stretches. After watching me pull myself and my bike out of the road for the third time within a quarter mile, my riding buddy called out "Only look where you want your wheels to go!"

Story 2: For my first international ranking kettlebell competition, I set the goal of Rank 1. With the advise of my coach I determine my goal rep count, then calculated 110% and programed "percentage set" workouts. Being a hard core type, I decided to make my goal higher than the rank requirements, preparing to make Rank 1 and possibly win my event! 
About three weeks before the meet I accidentally arrived at the gym without my training journal. Rather than take a trip to look up the previous workout, I estimated a number that might be the 110% .... but might be more, and programed the entire week in a different notebook. I trained with that specific rep number, working hard to learn the rep per minute pace for the entire week.
The week before the meet, it was time to reduce my percentages, keep the rpm's at "race pace" and get more rest. I looked over my notes and found that, in fact I had been programming at 120% of my goal rep count. No wonder I was so tired!
At the competition I performed more than 120% of my goal rep count, easily making Rank 1 and winning the event.

The morals of the stories: First, when setting your goals, please please please, focus on what you want! You will get whatever you put your focus on.
Second, practice the way you want to perform. Replace one botched effort with six super-focused, correct repetitions. Learn more efficiency during the practice sessions, you will fall back on your training when the pressure is on. So train well!

Please feel free to leave comments or email me with your own success story in reaching a goal!

Friday, September 2, 2011

What Motivates You?

All of us at some point will need to answer this question: "What motivates me to do this?" As there are so many arenas of life, (work, family, friends, love, play...) we can ponder this query from many angles, and about many activities! Today, I invite you all to look at your athletic/sports activities in this light.

Here are some ideas to help deepen your answer:
An aspect of your Self....
Self Love:
I feel the pull toward this, it addresses my being and truth. Plus, I'm really good at it!

Self Fulfillment:
I know I can excel with more practice. I enjoy being engaged in the pursuit of excellence.

Self Awareness:
I want to become an expert at this. I love using my mind to refine my performance.

Self Improvement:
I can change my life with this. Before I started, my life was not as good as it is now.

Perhaps there are other people involved in your answer...
My friend/partner does it, and I want to be with him/her.

My arch-enemy does it, and I want to beat him/her.

My kids do this, and I want to support them in every possible way.

My parents didn't do this, and they lived miserable lives as a result.

Finally, in my opinion, the most fun motivation is The Reward....
I can eat more cookies if I do this regularly!

I will have more trophies and can brag about what I did!

I can show-off my skills and knowledge to people with less experience!

I enjoy bringing out my "before" and "after" pictures at social events!

Please reply with any comments or feedback to this post, or email me at
Happy pondering to you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Upcoming Kettlebell Fitness Saturday Events!

Saturday Park Practices:
August 27th: 11am to 3pm @ Parkside Park *this weekend*
on 26th St. between Juniper and Kalmia (Folsom north of Iris Ave.)
September 10th: 11am to 3pm @ Scott Carpenter Park 
meet at the grassy area by the 30th St. parking lot.
**Everyone is welcome to join these practices, no matter how many or how few Kettlebell Fitness classes you've taken. They are free and offered to support everyone interested in using kettlebells as part of self-guided workouts. A great way to gain skills and meet other kettlebell lifters. Come any time during the 4-hour time frame and leave whenever you're done.**

Kettlebell Mountain Club hikes:
Saturday, September 3rd : Green Mountian and South Boulder Peak
Meet at Chautauqua Ranger House @ 8am
A double summit excursion! 10.7 miles with a relay vehicle at NCAR. Please let me know if you plan to attend so we can arrange enough seats in the end-of-hike car.
call: 303-514-1445

As we are coming to the end of the Summer months, Saturday events will be coming to a close. No events are listed for the last two weekends of September due to travel and workshops. Take advantage of the events in this newsletter. A possibility exists for indoor weekend practices in the Fall.

Student appreciation months continue through September!
$10 classes on Wednesdays noon to 1pm, and Thursdays 6:15  - 7:15pm at Body Balance gym!

For more information contact me by email or call:
call: 303-514-1445

Monday, August 15, 2011

What is this GS (Kettlebell Sport) anyway?

GS stands for Girevoy Sport, but most folks just calling it Kettlebell Sport, due to greater name recognition.
Girya is the Russian word for the kettlebell itself. The lifter is a giryavik. To safely lift girya overhead is quite an accomplishment, recognized mainly by other weight lifters and folks who have experience carrying buckets of water/chicken food, etc.
Now imagine lifting a bowling ball with handle (kettlebell) overhead for 10 minutes.
That's Girevoy Sport.+
So how does one compete in Kettlebell Sport?
First, learn the "classic lifts" correctly. These are Jerk, Snatch and Long Cycle (Clean and Jerk). It is vital to learn these lifts correctly, meaning that all the stopping places are well trained, because form also counts.
Second, get "pro grade" kettlebells. These are kettlebells of a standard diameter, with standard handle size and dimension. Each weight is the same size (dimension-wise) so that lifters can practice with different weights without being required to adjust to different angles of pull. To easily spot a specific amount of kilograms, the weights are color coded. Pink is 8kg, blue is 12kg, yellow is 16kg, etc.
Third, practice the classic lifts for time rather than rep count. Start with Snatching for 1 minute each hand just to see where you stand. If you find that this is your type of sport, clean for 2 or 3 minutes per side, or clean double weighted for time. If you don't already have training in the Jerk, find a weightlifting or kettlebell trainer to help with this move. It is the most technical lift, and is required in 2 of the 3 GS events. If you can Snatch a certain weight 75 times within 5 minutes, switch hands and repeat this exercise without a break, you might consider training to compete with the next higher weight (advice swiped from Catherine Imes, first woman from the US to rank in GS).
Fourth, rest and recover. In between sets, do mobility and recovery. Exercise antagonistic muscle groups with windmills, squats, rows, pull-ups, scorpions, pistols, etc. Rest in between workouts. Do cardio work on your day off, stretch or play a sport for fun. Just don't get hurt because that could interfere with your GS training! Remember, Kettlebell Sport is a strength endurance sport. Many giryaviks, myself included, train for two or three years before their first competitive event. Part of the "endurance" is patience, practice and just plain growth. Every GS athlete rips skin off his/her hands by refusing to stop soon enough and practicing with incorrect Snatch form. "Patience, young Jedi."
Fifth, find a coach, register for an event and get ready! There are a few KB teacher certification groups. Look for IKFF, IKSFA, WKC (to name a few) certified trainers. The first two have YouTube channels to teach you basics, advanced technique and amaze you with actual footage of Kettlebell Competitions!

+That's Girevoy Sport in a nutshell. On the competitive level, lifters are organized into weight categories, much like wrestling or judo players. Within each weight category are the kettlebell loads (16kg, 20kg, 24kg, etc.) and the specific event with that load. Each weight category has a men's and women's division. Within the divisions are youth, open, professional, and masters divisions, varying among the hosting entities.
The events, roughly outlined, are: for men: Biathlon (Jerk with two kettlebells and Snatch as two separate 10 minute events), Long Cycle (using two kettlebells), and Snatch; for women: Biathlon (Jerk with one kettlebell and Snatch as two separate 10 minute events), Long Cycle (using one kettlebell for a 10 minute event), and Snatch. The Snatch is only performed with one kettlebell by both men and women. In all events with one kettlebell, only one hand switch is allowed for the entire 10 minute event.
Specific rules: "No counts" are given for incorrect attempts (see First piece of advice above, re. learn the lifts correctly), warnings are issued for extra swings during hand switches or in the set (Snatch and Long Cycle), using two hands on the kettlebell in a single kettlebell event or resting with improper form. Three warnings is a disqualification. If the kettlebell is dropped or set down before 10 minutes runs out, the set is over.
Each weight class, weight load and event will have a winner at a competition. To mark progress and proficiency, there is a ranking structure for each division, weight class, weight load and event.

**A few of the many benefits of lifting the girya are: tremendous core conditioning, cardiovascular endurance, flexible strength and mental toughness. Rumor has it that the giryavik in old Russia also lived hearty, long lives. This certainly follows common medical logic. Correctly executed kettlebell exercise flex and extend every muscle group in the body and coordinate these movements with breathing. In simple terms, lymphatic flush and total body mobility in each workout. Any kettlebell lifter would mention the use of complete mental focus, balance and peripheral awareness, which are functions mentioned in connection with the words "aging."**

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Workout Suggestion for Kettlebell Lifters

Always do your warm-up routine. Joint mobility and core warm-up for 10 - 20 minutes to get you prepared

Technically difficult exercises first. If it's a totally new exercise, go through the motion with no weight or an easy weight before hitting the work set.

Dynamic Stretches are useful recovery exercises in between the warm-up sets.

Grind sets: Super-set 2 to 6 exercises. Maintain a protocol of 5 reps per set. Repeat your super-set 3 to 5 times.

Use cobra stretches, scorpions and tea cup exercise for recovery between work sets.

Timed sets: Use harder weights first. Take plenty of recover breaths in the resting positions. Repeat hard set once, then use a medium weight for two sets, taking less time in resting positions. Hard and medium sets could be 2 to 5 minutes. Finish your timed sets with an easy weight at a fast pace, 5 to 10 minute set.
General protocol for rest between sets is the set time plus one minute.

Use ground exercises such as the grappling drills and deck rolls to transition into finishing work sets.

"Finisher" suggestions: high volume sets of bumps, Russian twist to failure, pistols to failure.

Include any physical therapy exercises with your cool-down. Deck rolls, fore arm stretches and chin tucks are standard recovery and post work-out exercises.

Drink water and get nutrition (including nutritional supplements) within 20 minutes of your workout.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A note of Gratitude

This weekend is Independence Day weekend. As such, a pause from training and advice giving is in order. I would like to take this moment to appreciate my country, and several free women and men and women who have deeply enriched my life.

Kikuko Zutrau Miyazaki, my first Shiatsu teacher, gave me a diploma from the Boston Shiatsu School in 1998 with the words "Now go and learn Shiatsu!"

Brad Crews, my first Ashtanga Yoga teacher and fellow Shiatsu student. In 1998 he encouraged me to begin teaching what I know, especially when students want to learn.

Abel Villacorta and Jill Miyamoto, my first Ki Aikido instructors, who in 2000 allowed me to trade classes for Shiatsu sessions.

Kashiwaya Koichi sensei, Chief Instructor of Ki Aikido, whom I've had the honor of learning from over the past 11 years. He brings joy and diversity into his teaching, and encourages me by his example.

KC Goldberg, Russian Kettlebell Challenge instructor, introduced me to kettlebells and trained me for my first instructor certification in 2004 and continues to support my practice as a fellow student and teacher.

Annie Pace, senior Ashtanga Yoga teacher, picked me up as a student in 2006 and completely spoiled me on a "pure" form of yoga.

Russell Smith, Derek Nabel, Bill Stanley and Jen Trotter, senior Ki Aikido Instructors, lead me to my first and second black belts (2008 & '11) and lead their own respective dojos in Rocky Mountain Ki Society. I especially thank these folks for their commitment to Ki Aikido and the teachings of Koichi Tohei sensei.

Ken Blackburn, IKFF Chief Instructor, who certified me as a Kettlebell Teacher in 2009, '10 and '11. Ken continually inspires me as a student and teacher.

Matthew Sweigart and Dave Goetz, HeartMind Bodywork school teachers, who have helped me advance my study of Shiatsu and recognize me as a senior practitioner.

Thanks to God that I was born in the United States, allowing me to travel far and wide, learning and exploring over the years.
May we all enjoy and share the many freedoms of our country.
A fun and safe weekend to all!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Confessions of a wounded lifter

Yes, it happened, just like I warned you all not to do. After a class, without re-warming my shoulders, I injured my arm practicing Turkish Get Up.
So what did I learn?
  1. Why many coaches and gym owners fear the kettlebell - That warm-up is key, especially joint mobility. If a coach doesn't have a thorough mobility routine, watch out! With TGU, the shoulders must be well mobilized and warmed to avoid trauma. With Swings and Windmills, the hips must be adequately prepared.
  2. Why I love living in Boulder - This blog post could be called "The joys of hiking in and around Boulder." As most athletes know, injury is a horrible experience on the mental/emotional level and physically. A body that's conditioned to work wants to continue putting out BTUs regularly. To satiate my body's need to sweat, the local hiking and biking trails have been a Godsend!
  3. Even if I'm not lifting I can still teach - And thanks to a group of dedicated students, I don't even need to demonstrate!
Join the upcoming Mallory Cave hike/bouldering event, this Saturday June 25th.
We will leave the NCAR parking area at 10 am.
Please call or email if you want to join but might be late - 303-514-1445
Bring rock climbing or five finger shoes if you want to boulder along the hike! A chalk bag could be useful.

Best wishes to all for a safe and healthy month!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Group Hike to Gregory Canyon Loop, Sat. June 11th

We will start at 10:30 AM, meeting at the Baseline Parking area (continue up Baseline from Chautauqua, veer left at Flagstaff turn off, the parking area is on the left) the loop is just over 4 miles.

So far this hike has defeated me due to several unique circumstances at the time of attempt. Please come support me in finishing this local hike! Also, Slava has valiantly bailed-out with me at each failed attempt, so we've got to get him to the summit.

Let me know if you plan to join but may be late. email  or call 303-514-1445

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A note on "Getting over the Hump"

It is a task of every person to specialize in something, be it mental, physical or spiritual. In every arena of specialty there is a point to dig in, to push and work toward greater comprehension, to re-delegate time and energy to making it through the tough spot. This is what separates earnest interest from "just a passing phase." This is "getting over the hump."

If you don't know exactly what you want to specialize in, here is my suggested starting place: What do you take the extra time to learn about? What fascinates you, and has always fascinated you? What will you loose track of time doing? This is where you stand a good chance to excel.

If you've read this far you may be wondering, What does this have to do with kettlebell fitness, Christian?
I'll tell you. Lately I've had the great satisfaction of hearing how extremely difficult kettlebell lifting actually is. Many athletes dabble in the beginning, but few will "get over the hump" as one expert trainer put it.

It's true, there is the awkward beginning of completely re-aligning the lower body posture in the chair squat, add to that the never-easy chest opening experience of wall-squatting, and then there is a weight to pick up. The initial learning curve will either enthrall or disenchant people.

And that's not the end. Next there is the brutal wrist-banging experience of learning to clean the weight. Enter the time and efficiency component. We have a finite amount of physical strength to focus on any one training session, so if "putting on the glove" solves it, great! You have the makings of a true kettlebell athlete! For most of us, bruise-free cleaning is a matter of going back to the beginning, re-learning the leg work of one-arm swings, and humbling ourselves to lesser weights as we embark on building more skills.

If you are at either of these major humps in kettlebell lifting, I offer this thought. Giving a season to kettlebell skills training will improve your focus and coordination for many other athletic pursuits. Great teachers acknowledge that training a form until boredom sets in is the only way to breakthrough. There are seasons to all things, the key is being present with the current.

Finally, consider the story of my kettlebell coaches Ken Blackburn and Steve Cotter. They are currently in Russia at a kettlebell sport training camp, learning from world class coaches and athletes. In one meaningful facebook post, Steve mentioned the humbling experience of having his form efficiently dissected on the first day of camp. This is a guy who rose to fame several years ago with his impressive kettlebell-specific DVD series, including Encyclopedia of Kettlebell Lifting, joined forces with his fellow trainer (Blackburn) to break the RKC mold and sweep the world with International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation in the course of 2 years, all the while hosting and competing in Kettlebell Sport Competitions.

If you really want to get over the hump remember this: It's never too late to learn and build on what you already know.

Best wishes to all for a fantastic season,
Christian Goldberg

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mobility and Auxilliary Exercises for Lifters

It's almost Kettlebell Skills Clinic time again, and by request I'm doing a two-hour session to teach joint mobility and auxiliary exercises to weight lifters. This is a sorely needed clinic in weight lifting circles.

Mobility and range-of-motion is a down played part of physical fitness. Leave it for the yogis, right?
Guess again. It is an actual fact that low-back (particularly sacral) pain is directly related with neck pain. Shoulder, particularly deltoids pain is typically a problem of incorrect alignment within the shoulder joint. If you are an athlete with chronic problems in these key areas, you have not incorporated enough flexibility into your workouts. Much pain and suffering can be alleviated with just a few recovery exercises in between sets.

Okay, so maybe you can boast the ability to squat your hip bones down to the floor. Can you do it with your arms locked out overhead? If so, excellent! Teach me how you did that! If you are like the rest of us, there are some gaps in your conditioning due to a top or bottom heavy lifting program. I mean literally, most lifters focus only on working body parts they want to build up and ignore the rest. A well-rounded athlete will put the extra 10 minutes into strengthening the underused angles before ending a workout.

I don't profess to be a world-class trainer, but I've got some ideas to pass along to gym folk and casual exercisers alike.
Take my Joint Mobility and Auxiliary Exercise Clinic Saturday May 14th at Flatirons Crossfit, 4847 Pearl Street. 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
For $20, it's the best price you'll get for long-term injury prevention and workout know-how.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kettlebell Safety and Definitions

It's worth doing at least once on my new blog. I welcome comments and discussion on the following opinions.

Build up gradually. No matter your previous training, work gradually when changing exercise formats or increasing work days to allow muscular structure to build naturally. 
  • Newbies may start with 1 or 2 kettlebell workouts per week and can build up to 3 workouts/week within the first few months. 
  • Seasoned athletes can start with 2 or 3 and work up to 5 kettlebell workouts per week for a deep conditioning phase. 
  • As a peak training phase, 6 kettlebell workouts/week is brutal, intense and will not last as a long-term program.
Warm-up and recover. Use joint mobility and dynamic stretching to prepare your joints and raise your core temperature. Between sets, use dynamic stretching and range of motion drills to normalize the muscles around your joints and safely slow your heart rate down. If your technique deteriorates at all, stop. Rest and recover before resuming exercise. Do not work your arms or legs to the point of failure.

Practice the new and technical stuff first. If you have recently learned a new technique, put it at the beginning of workouts until it is familiar. Moves you have practiced before, such as Turkish get up and screw press, can be a dangerous challenge if attempted at the wrong time in a workout. If you need a spotter for specific lifts, don't practice without one.

Grinding work (defined as lifts that start with the weight at a stationary position, such as deadlift or squat). Select a weight that will be a challenge by the end of each set. Sometimes body weight is enough!

Super set (defined as practicing exercises that require different primary muscle groups back-to-back, such as shoulder press, followed by squat, followed by bent over rows). For a very efficient workout, make a circuit with 4 to 6 exercises that all require a different muscle action. Work through your circuit 3 to 6 times.

Momentum work (defined as exercises that initiates with the weight in motion and uses of a specific muscle firing sequence to propel the weight through it's entire range, such as kettlebell clean or snatch). Momentum sets work best when isolated away from grinding sets, as the breathing patterns are different.

Finish well. Sustained stretching and physical therapy-type drills are appropriate after a work out. Deck rolling, cobra stretches and neck recovery are excellent habits at the end of a training session. These little things will support total rest and prevent over-use stress from building up over time.

Have plenty of drinking water, a source of quick carbohydrates or protein after your workout.

See my website for more information about Kettlebell Fitness classes available in Boulder:
To be on my free event email list:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Training

Spring Training, the gateway between Winter sports and Summer sports. Most athletes make a change of sport at this time. Weekend-warriors try to reinforce New Year's Resolutions. The Earth is so inspiring, many of us want to improve our skills and establishing new short-term goals in the Spring.

How to make the most of this new annual energy? Here are a few tips:

Decide what you want to focus on and get into it! Not everyone can motivate to do solo exercise, so find your workout group, practice buddy or team mates. Exercising alone can become too serious. All athletes can benefit from having friends around to keep it light. Don't give away your workout time. If it's on your schedule, do it!

Improve your habits at the beginning! If you noticed weaknesses or missing skills last year, make it better this time. Start with the full enchilada and keep all the parts of a complete workout. Warm-up, focus on skills, push your edge during the workout, and stretch out before calling it a day.

Find an advanced trainer or coach! If you are doing a sport year after year, why not take it up a notch. Nothing adds spice like training for competition or certification.

Start at a reasonable pace! Creaky joints and unused muscles will need some time to acclimate to higher levels of activity. Pace yourself and put extra time into cooling down for the first few weeks. Early season injuries put a kink in the joy of Spring, so keep your head, start gently until you hit a good stride.

Sign up for my Kettlebell Fitness email newsletter for updates on Open Park Practices/group hikes (free!), Kettlebell Skills Clinics ($20) and ongoing Kettlebell Fitness classes!
Email me at

Ongoing Kettlebell classes and Registration available on my website:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A note on Practice Partners

I give the words Practice Partners capital letters because, much like someone you would call Mrs. or Sir, they must be given respect. On an athletic team, one missing player will affect the entire game. In kettlebell lifting, the Practice Partner can make all the difference in a safe, efficient workout. Once you find a good lifting Partner you miss them when they're gone!

In the learning phase, Practice Partners can be a mirror for correct form. Proper guidance in those first 100 chair squats will set up long-term patterns, so we rely on our coaches and workout buddies to start on the right foot. Partner corrective exercises depend upon that person.

Once the basics are in hand, Practice Partners are not only our mirrors, but can be our motivation. Take the Kettlebell Fitness group, for example. We can fit 5, maybe 6 people into a class. When we have that many, the energy is palpable. People feed off each other, watch for subtle lifting moves, follow recovery ideas, it's a contagious learning environment. If a group has worked together for even 3 practices, and one person is gone on the 4th practice, everyone wants to know where he/she is. 

In our second season of Kettlebell Fitness and Mountain Club, I'm looking forward to seeing you all in the Open Park Practices and hikes. More participants make it educational and fun!

You are all invited to Scott Carpenter Park this Saturday, the 16th from 10 am to 2 pm for however much kettlebell fun you can endure.

Thanks for practicing with kettlebells!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Consistency and the Three P's

Much as I dislike being one of those coaches who harps on people about establishing healthy habits and routines, I'm going there today because, well, it's my second blog post and I must do it at least once.

Most of us have come to understand that we are, in fact, creatures of habit. We establish rote routines throughout life via a process of careful experimentation.

"Wait, What?! Experimentation?" you might be saying. "I thought we were talking about habits here. Aren't those the mindless, autopilot activities I do without thinking?"

One word, consistency. All habits are designed with near scientific precision. We teach ourselves how to produce specific result with consistent actions. Through repetition these consistent choices develop into habits, which we use to efficiently free our energy for relaxation and more immediate problem solving.

At this point let me pass along the most complete examination of habits I've found to date. The Three P's. (My kettlebell students will recognize the Three P's as reasons for doing joint mobility and recovery exercises before, during and after a workout.)

P #1: Preparation. In practical terms this is a 5 to 15 minute physical routine, such as range of motion drills and core warm-up exercises, to prepare your body to work under load. In higher level training, this is periodically meeting with a coach to evaluate your form and develop a workout program to meet your goals, or taking workshops to freshen up your technique. Preparation is a habit that separates casual gym goers from serious athletes.

P #2: Prevention. Injury prevention is an important habit for longevity in a sport. Many kettlebell lifters use joint mobility, range of motion and recovery exercises to keep them active for decades. Another side of prevention is knowing when to stop. Overwork is a main cause of athletic injuries.  High-level athletes use post-workout recovery routines to prevent soreness and overuse injuries from intense workouts.

P #3: Performance. Often overlooked in casual workout situations, performance habits are the small physical twitches, gestures and exhalations Olympians use when preparing to compete. Consistent use of recovery exercises, specific breathing patterns and unweighted movements influence our ability to achieve higher levels of mastery.

Next time you go to the gym I invite you to take a look at how you approach the entire experience. Have you built consistency into your workout routine? Can you identify the Three P's in your athletic training habits?

Having fun is just as important as staying focused on the workout, so please take all habits lightly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kettle Balls?

A bowling ball with a handle?

Yes, that is frequently how both steel and cast iron kettlebells are described.
An old strength endurance tool from Russia, the original word "girya" indicated a counter weight for shipyard scales. The person who moved the girya was known as the "giryvek" or "kettlebell man."
This all makes since to look at the things. They are bottom-heavy, like a rounded bucket full of metal with a built-in handle for ease of maneuvering.
Once a person as seen one the shape is unmistakable, but the name is often mistaken.

As a trainer of kettlebells I've heard everything, kettle balls, cow bells, cow balls.... it's a little out of control.
In the early days of my kb lifting practice I even asked "do they ring..?" Well, some of them actually do have loose steel inside which creates a chiming sound when in action.

So to de-mystify the name for my friends and fellow lifters, I looked it up on good old Wikipedia and found the original us of the word "bell".
It all starts with dumb bell. According to my Wikipedia source, and the Oxford Dictionaries online, the solid clacker of a church bell was in fact used for strength training back in the 18th century. As it was the silent part of the instrument, the word "dumb"discribed it as being soundless.

This does not explain why weightlifters carried over the suffix with "barbell" other than the convenience of word recognition. Infact, many "old time" strongmen trained with a variety of objects, both symetrical and asymetrical, farm tools, mechanical parts, some even resembling train axles. A main characteristic of these object is that they are made of metal. This makes them very consistent, which is my favorite feature of my training tool of choice, the kettlebell.