Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kettlebell Training & Technique

I just got back from Juniata and what a great clinic this year was! I can't say enough about coach Smith or the event he puts on. We had some awesome presentations and some very exciting hands-on sessions. Job well done to all of the speakers!

My presentation was everything I had hoped it would be. I was scheduled for Friday morning at 10am in the large lecture hall. The large hall has about 6 times the seating capacity as the upstairs hall, which I was assigned to last year. I was hoping to get the large hall this time because I wanted as many people in attendance as possible. I got my wish. I would estimate that there were nearly 100 people in the audience - the largest group I've ever spoken to for an hour or more, and by far the most pleasurable speaking engagement I've had as well. I've never felt more comfortable in front of such a large group.

As I mentioned before, my presentation was titled "Kettlebell Training & Technique". I am in a rather unique position being that I am certified as both an American Kettlebell Club coach and a Russian Kettlebell instructor. These two organizations have conflicting philosophies when it comes to kettlebell training. Unfortunately, this has created a division in a very small community of people who are passionate about kettlebell training. This division is not without it's trash talk either. You have people on both sides of the fence who poo-poo the other organization/style. This is stupid. Not only is it short sighted to say there is only one way to lift a kettlebell but badmouthing of any kind does nothing good for your image or the organization you represent. I would suggest these overzealous few (and it is only a few) spend more time on the lifting platform and less time on the internet. What's interesting is that I've never heard a derogatory statement come out of either of Pavel or Valery. Take another lesson from your coach, fellas.

I stay out of it. And I tried to make my presentation as unbiased as possible, offering only the facts of each style of training. I gave credit where credit was due and the only opinions I presented were how to best implement kettlebells into a comprehensive training program. We must not forget, the kettlebell is only one tool in our proverbial toolbox. You use different tools for different jobs. But I digress...

My presentation was very well received and I think I struck the right balance with the whole style debate. I spoke to both RKC and AKC instructors that were in attendance and they were all very supportive of my lecture. In fact, I got a lot of compliments from everyone I spoke with afterwards.

The hands-on session went well too. A rain storm rolled through just long enough to inconvenience us and put us under a tent but that didn't stop everyone from practicing their clean & jerks or hitting the 100 rep swing test. It was a good time and I got some good training in between my demonstrations, the Diesel Crew's strongman session and Mike Rankin (of Drexel University) session on clubbell training.

Of course, when you put a bunch of strength coaches, trainers and athletes together it is never a dull night. It wasn't 2 hours later before we were back at the dorm rooms drinking beer, tearing decks of cards and swinging kettlebells. Partying with such people is worth the 3.5 hour trip to Huntingdon, PA itself. It's nice to sit in the lecture hall with a pen & pad taking notes but it's another thing to sit at the bar and pick the brain of the coach next to you.

Unfortunately I couldn't stick around for Saturday's presentations and I headed home early. Whenever I pass through York, PA I try to make it a point to stop by York Barbell and the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame. The museum is worth a look if you have never been. You might just stumble into the IPA World Powerlifting Championships like I did. I stopped in to watch a few of the lifters but the real treat was getting to talk with some of the guys working the event. I learned a couple grip exercises, got a lesson in Meridian Stretching, played with some more clubbells and talked some Iron Game history. The visit to York was the perfect way to top off the weekend!

Actually, I take that back... coming home and having my daughter smile at me was the perfect way to top off the weekend.

If anyone would like a copy of the presentation, I have decided to offer it for $9.99. It is a fair price considering the people in attendance had to pay for the clinic. I have put some work in this presentation and it is worth it. Email me at if interested.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pennsylvania State Strength & Conditioning Clinic

I'm giving a presentation at Juniata college this weekend for the PA State strength & conditioning clinic. I haven't had much time to blog because I work best under pressure, which is another way of saying I waited until the last minute to put together my slide show. Needless to say, that's kept me occupied for the last couple weeks. :)

The title of my presentation is "Kettlebell Training & Technique". I'm also doing a hands-on session under the same title later that afternoon. Obviously, training & technique are going to be a large portion of the lecture but being that most in attendance will probably be collegiate level strength coaches, there will be a need to discuss program design & implementation.

Coach Doug Smith puts on one of the best clinics I've ever been to. Two full days of well organized, quality presentations, and both presenters and those in attendance are treated very well. Cost of admission includes 5 meals, 2 nights room & board and 2.0 CEU's. There's usually a care package that includes vitamin supplements, annual clinic t-shirts and a sweet notebook. You can't beat that!

In other news: I got a glimpse of the new website and it's looking better than I could have ever imagined! I'm excited. The release date is scheduled for July 9th... stay tuned!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Maryland Strongest Man 2008

This year was a hot one! 97 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. By noon there were few places to hide from the sun... but hey, it's a strongman contest, what do you expect?!

I just happened to reread a contest write up I did a few years ago. I'm going to spare the specific event drama and just say it was another insanely heavy contest put on by Graham Bartholomew. 820lb yoke walk, 330 an arm farmers walk and 750+lb tire flip to name a few. Yeah. Heavy. A typical Maryland show.

However, this year was special as I was to present an award to Graham and his wife Lorraine for all the hard work they do putting on these shows. It's not just the contests but the after-parties, the training sessions, the coaching (Graham is the closest thing I've ever seen to a "strongman coach"), the friendship and for never being allowed to leave without a gatorade and something to eat. We wanted to recognize Graham and Lorraine for the good peoples that they are. A single email generated over $200 of immediate response and the donation request was only for $10 or $20 to a handful of people. People either caught wind of it or those that received the email felt compelled to forward to others. We got so much more than we asked for, we upgraded the awards (shown below) and bought $100 worth of gift card.

We embarrassed him good and plenty :)~ If anyone has pictures of the actual "awards ceremony" please forward them to me.

As for the actual contest, I felt good going into it. I hadn't been training for it (more on that later) but I was where I needed to be mentally and physically. I weighed in lighter than normal at 245lb and put up a consistent performance with the last two contests I did (the Mid Atlantic in March and last years Maryland) so I was happy with the results. I placed 4th to three guys that were/are legitimately stronger than me. Simple as that.

As for my training, I think I have to come to terms with that I'm not as interested in competitive strongman as I once was. Don't get me wrong, it's still a lot of fun and I'll probably still do contests here and there but its hard to make time to train events. Event days involve going to someones house (often times Graham's or Camp Hill, PA - both an hour or more away) and spending several hours with a crew training events... it's great, but when it comes down to playing with the boys or playing with a baby girl who calls me "daddy", the little one is going to get more of my attention. (she hasn't actually said "daddy" yet, it's more like "bob-bob").

The other thing is, I've kinda got my eyes set on a different prize when it comes to my training. But that's another story for another day.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

No Go on the Pros

I spoke with coach Rogucki on Monday, he has all the help he needs for now. It's time to make more moves as far as the immediate future of Be-More Training is concerned.

On the agenda next week is house hunting. I'm thinking a small studio store front or a slightly larger warehouse with plenty of room for lifting. It doesn't have to be pretty, just convenient and open.

It also looks as if I have found my new web designer.