War Against the Car, Cubicle and Couch

What is Kettlebell Zen?

May 4, 2014

Best to Bust a Move!

#1 on Forbes 'Healthiest Cities' List - Minneapolis

#1 on Forbes ‘Healthiest Cities’ List – Minneapolis

If there is one thing that I’ve quickly come to learn, it’s that Kettlebell Zen folks are always on the move..and that ‘s a great thing! People have traveled to Mexico, Paraguay, Thailand, Taiwan, England, Madagascar and assorted stops throughout the United States. Well now, it’s my turn! Next weekend I get to spend a whopping three days in the fine cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Twin Cities!

Lucky for me, not only will I get to partake in a Foley wedding, but I’ll also get to hang-out AND celebrate my grandmother’s 96th birthday! 1918..are you kidding me! Speaking of longevity, I’ve got memories of all four of my great-grandmothers. They all lived into their 90′s.

I’ll also get the opportunity to meet folks with my community of strength and movement. As a StrongFirst Instructor, I’ve got access to some of the top trainers in the world!

On Friday, I get to meet with StrongFirst Instructor Jen Kalmes. She recently completed the Progressive Calisthenics Instructor certification with the amazing Kavadlo Brothers.

Later on that evening, I’ll be meeting with Sarah Miller of Spirit Fire Fitness and Micheal Rendle of NE Kettlebells. Micheal is a Senior Team Leader within StrongFirst and a National Coach at Primal Move.

Lastly, I get to see StrongFirst, Level II Leslie Branham in St. Paul on Sunday morning. We will be tackling a 175 step staircase (multiple times) in a very scenic part of the city.

My mission is to keep on learning from the best and delivering it to you! In the meantime, take advantage of this great weather and my personal favorite time of the year…MAY!

February 23, 2014

Poznaya Sebya – Know Yourself

Skyline Wilderness Park - Napa, CA

Skyline Wilderness Park – Napa, CA


I don’t get the opportunity to escape the noisy urban life as much as I’d like. So when an opportunity arose to go to Skyline Wilderness Park near Napa, I jumped! A fairly steep 9 mile loop trail that led us up to the “peak,” of Sugarloaf Mountain (1630ft). We were able to  see the Golden Gate Bridge and Sutro Tower. There was also a string of Tibetan prayer flags strung across the limb of an Oak. An auspicious start to my second year with KBZen.

I look forward to more days like this. Situations where real conversations and interactions can flow unencumbered by electronic devices. Places that allow me the opportunity to clear my mind and connect with a deeper sense of self. Natural settings that inspire awe & possibilities. That’s the thing that will bring me peace of mind.

It was also a chance to learn! My dear friend and mentor, Cecilia Tom, is about to embark on the Master Trainer’s program with Z-health. She has a wealth of information on helping people get out of pain and move better. I’m like a sponge around her and I’m grateful that she is such a giving person!

“Z-Health is a way to elicit maximal gains in athletic performance in minimal time by targeting the nervous system. Why the nervous system? It is what actually CONTROLS movements. Muscles are dumb and only do what they are told to do by the brain and nervous system.”

Meredith got a heavy dose of Z-drills today and we seemed to get a little break-through with her hip hinge and swing. We employed ankle tilts, toe pulls, pelvic tilts, vision drills, camshafts, hip & lumbar circles. It’s all connected, so we will continue to assess and reassess using these drills!


February 9, 2014

Bulldog Get-up!


Taming the Bulldog (40kg)

Taming the Bulldog (40kg)


December 31, 2103


15 Strong for Hindu Squats in the Rose Garden on NYE 2013

15 Strong for Hindu Squats in the Rose Garden on NYE 2013


December 9, 2013

Ohhhh (COLD) Snap!

What does your gym look like?

What does your gym look like?

Weather karma’s going to get you. They say living in California too long and you will grow soft. I combat this softness, by not letting the temperature deter me. I channel my inner Midwesterner, layer on the clothing, and start throwing iron around. Just this morning at the Foley Dojo, the temps were at 26 degrees. The Bulldog was downright frigid, but he was the key to allow me to generate heat almost instantly after two minutes with him.  It’s really not that often that we get to experience such weather..so revel in it!
 December 2, 2013

Biggie Gun Show

Armor Building...for life!

Armor Building…for life!


“3 months training 3x a week with Thomas Patrick Foley @ KettlebellZen and now I can deadlift 175#s and do an unassisted chin-up. Oh and now I have these guns. ”

Cindy Liu (aka Biggie Brawls)




December 1, 2013

A November to Remember

Lift heavy things up, put them over your head...rinse, lather, repeat!

Lift heavy things up, put them over your head…rinse, lather, repeat!


I’ve lived in California since 1994. I can’t remember a November where it hit a high of 70 degrees with regularity. We are certainly spoiled and need to revel in it while we can! December 1 was more of the same..downright beautiful!

I also enjoy the cool of the morning. It is also my time for self reflection/meditation and strength training. The mental toughness to arise from your super cozy bed can be significant. Luckily, my early risings are automatic and that’s the way I like it. (thank you Grandpa Foley & Grandpa Gregor). Seizing the day like this builds momentum, jump-starts your metabolism and just makes you simply more productive as a human being. The added bonus..you’ll be better prepared to fend off the parries and blows (literally and figuratively) that come at you each day. Jumping into to the chilly temps, when a warm bed is calling your name, takes initiative. You need to get to sleep by 9 or 10pm. It’s worth it (for me). What I am finding out though, is that when temperatures hit the 40′s, or even 30′s, we begin to accelerate and grow even more. The chills we temporarily had are eliminated (ironically enough) by cold iron bells. Your layers will soon be shed, so join us! Weds. & Friday, 6am @ Beach Field


November 29, 2013

Building Social Currency, one swing at a time!



Joaquin Miller Park Swingin'

Joaquin Miller Park Swingin’

I’m not sure where this kettlebell train is going, but I like how far we have come. Such good souls that I have met over the last nine months. Some of you have even been with me for over 18 months! I have to kick myself sometimes because I’m actually getting the opportunity to do what I really love. Isn’t that what life’s all about? I always heard that phrase, “do what you love, help people, and the rest will take care of itself.” I’m a believer!


I’ve gotten to know so many incredible and diverse sets of people. Pastors, derby girls, architects, marketing mavens, attorneys, artists, small business owners, psychologists, healthcare providers and government employees. All brought together under the KettlebellZen Umbrella. We share information and encourage each other. Best of all, I get super-inspired by your enthusiasm, and the inevitable PR (personal record) that happens for virtually everyone when we meet.

October 25, 2013

Guest blogger Vee Bell and Kettlebell Zen regular, Derby Girl and Life Coach – Vee Bell – gives us some perspective on her transformation journey. It efforts like hers that inspire all of us!





October 13, 2013

The Foley Dojo has been prepped and cleaned for another week of  ‘Feats of Strength.’

Mia Kettlebell Familia

Mia Kettlebell Familia


Highlights from KettlebellZen – August 2013


Mark with farmer walks in the Oakland Rose Garden

Group Get-ups at Emeryville Marina

Ginny practicing her thoracic bridge

Scott getting in the groove with the 16kg swing


A well-balanced approach to peace of mind and strength

A well-balanced approach to peace of mind and strength



PURE AWESOMENESS – Christine Rand with the strict 16kg double Military press. Her hard work and consistency are paying off. Talk about Boomer Power!

Kettlebell Zen Gazette – May 27, 2013

Strength is a Skill

Bulldog Swings (40kg)

Bulldog Swings (40kg)

Thank you. All of you. You kept me on my toes. 12 weeks ago I really needed to focus on nailing my recertification. You helped provide that focus for me and for that I am eternally grateful.Two years ago it was the Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC). Moving forward, it’s Pavel’s StrongFirst Girya, the Gold Standard in kettlebell instruction.

Unlike other professional “personal training” certifications, StrongFirst requires that I maintain a high level of proficiency with basic kettlebell movements. These standards must be maintained at least every two years. There was also a written test at the end of the three days.

Going into the 3-day weekend, I felt prepared. There were 80 students split between four teams. One Team Leader and two assistants were on every team. They drilled us on the Big 6 movements: Swing, Squat, Snatch, Military Press and Get-up.

The Snatch Test was completed first.

24kg bell – 100 reps in less than 5 minutes. I finished in 4:50. My new goal is 4:15. I’m not sure if the high altitude affected my performance. We were at 4,440 ft.

My performance testing included the following..this would be the same for any male that I know considering this path. Females 123.5 lbs and higher use 16kgs, under use 12kgs.

Double 24kgs – 5 reps

Front Squats
Military Press
Swing – 10 reps

Single 24kg
1 get-up each side
5 snatches each hand

I received invaluable feedback in all of these areas that improved my form and technique. The major lesson that I learned is that I need to collaborate more with my fellow colleagues and get out of the Foley Dojo (aka Garage Gym) a little more often!

My Team Leader was Andrea U-Shi Chang. Talk about an eagle eye for detail! She was amazing. If you are ever in the Seattle area you must check out her studio – Kettlebility! Here is an article that was featured in Oprah Magazine about Andrea.

I believe that each one of you could attain these levels with consistent practice and focus. I’m there to help you do it. I think Mike Simpson might be the first to take the plunge..we will see!


We hear it all the time. “I’d hurt my back if I picked up that kettlebell…..”


1) Kettlebell exercises strengthen the glutes – those who sit in chairs (see my cars, cubicle, couch article on Kettlebellzen.com) have tight hip flexors..therefore they are likely to have “gluteal amnesia.” Learning how to swing and squat will allow you to “find,” your glutes and provide some relief from low back pain.

2) Kettlebell exercises stretch the hip flexors – weak glutes = weak hip flexors (we are sitting too much)

3) Kettlebells develop back endurance – the more you swing and/or snatch (with good form) the more you will be able to swing and snatch!

4) “Bracing” is superior to “hollowing” for spinal stability – I will show you all the “active static stomp,” this week.

5) Ballistic loading (swings/snatches) are highly beneficial to your joints – joint cartilage subjected to regular repetitive loading remains healthy and copes very well with impulsive loads..whereas slow cardio jogging causes the collagen network to lose its cohesion and the cartilage deteriorates.


Schedule for May 28- June 2

Tuesday & Thursday, 10am – Oakland Rose Garden (Olive Street)

Tuesday, 6 & 7pm – Foley Dojo (391 Euclid)

Wednesday, 6am – Area 51

Thursday, 7pm – Foley Dojo

Friday, 6am – Lakeside Park (where Lenox runs into Grand Avenue)

Saturday, 9am – Estuary Park – just b4 the entrance to Jack London Aquatic Center

Sunday, 9am – Oakland Rose Garden

Introductory Packages continue to be $25. That covers a Beginner’s Lesson and two group class (to be used within 1 week of purchase). Tell your friends..and your friend’s friends!

If you create an act, you create a habit. If you create a habit, you create a character. If you create a character, you create a destiny.
- Andre Maurois

Kettlebell Zen Gazette – April 1, 2013

Easter Bells & Spring Beginnings



It was a record turn-out this past weekend! I want to especially thank the Saturday participants who all came together after a last minute shift in location.

Highlights for the week include:

Lauren (pictured above) and Autumn pressing the 16kg for multiple reps!!

Mike pressing the 28kg with authority

Quang and Andrew displaying some serious sprinting skills

Angelica & Amelia swinging the 28kg for the 1st time

We are all putting the Beast (48kg) in his place with confident sumo deadlifts,

and the mysterious snatch was finally let loose! Expect much more of that as we move forward!

Here are some articles as “food for thought.”

#1. Eat Your Egg Yolks

#2 Myths about cholesterol

#3 Restoring intestinal flora


1. Dangerously Hardcore

2. Functional Performance Systems

3. The Danny Roddy Weblog

4. Michael McEvoy Nutrition

Schedule for the WEEK (not for the weak…but it should be)

Tuesday 10am – Rose Garden
Tuesday 6 & 7pm – Dojo de Foley (see Rocky IV)
Wednesday, Friday 6am – Beach Field
Thursday, 7pm Witter Field (Piedmont HS)
Saturday 10am – Crocker Park (Piedmont)
Sunday 9am -Lakeshore Park – where Lenox Avenue runs into Grand Avenue

Thurs or Fri @ 10am TBD

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” Isaac Asimov

Kettlebell Zen Gazette – March 25, 2013

There is Power in Vision

The Power in Vision

The Power in Vision

Spring ahead is what we did. We did not look behind. In fact, it’s best to stay in the present, especially when hoisting orbs of iron weight above our heads. Tune into your body. Don’t bounce off the bottom of a squat, lock out that press, snap those hips, call upon each cell in your body to get that extra rep. Don’t psych yourself out!. Summon the strength that is lying dormant within your mind. Take it to the next level. Baby steps…consistency…showing up.

Let’s not forget that the road to healthier, stronger body is something that lasts a lifetime. It’s sometimes hard to know when to put the pedal to the metal and other times when to take the foot off the gas. (see Intervention link to the right) I think it’s very important to find ways to use your growing strength and endurance. Whether it be cycling, training for a half-marathon, playing tennis, practicing yoga or getting your Roller Derby Girl on, take the time to explore the different ways you can use your body. That being said, there were several of you that made great strides toward the (5 & Dime Challenge) that I threw down last week. In fact, I think there are one or two people ready to take on the Challenge!

One of the things that we talked about this past Saturday was about sharing information. I’d like to share with you some ideas that have been helpful to me. Check them out and tell me what you think!

Raw Carrot Salad
17 Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
Bulletproof Coffee recipe
Health Benefits of Magnesium Oil
Dan John’s “Intervention”

In the week ahead, we will be meeting at the following locations:

Tuesday 10am – Oakland Rose Garden
Tuesday 6am & 7am – Foley’s Dojo
Weds & Friday, 6am – Beach Field
Thurs 7pm – Witter Field
Friday, 10am – Cesar Chavez Park (Berkeley)
Saturday 10am – Willard Park (Berkeley)
Sunday, 9am – Rose Garden

*no class Thurs @ 10am (moved to Friday)

My kettlebell compendium is still a work in progress, but should be completed within the week!
Stay Strong!

Coach T
Kettlebell Zen

“there can be no power in a square”
-Black Elk


Kettlebell Zen Gazette – March 18, 2013

It’s Just a Tool!

The sledgehammer’s made their first appearance this week. It’s such a great complement to the kettlebell. We have yet to give each hammer a name, but two moves were created this week which will go down in legend. The first, the “Fireman Chop,” with the cue of “breaking through the wall,” and the “Save the Baby” overhead chop were born. We can thank dear Amelia for the latter! The right cue can really make the difference. I’m always stressing the quality over quantity aspect of the practice and these cues help to provide the brain with the right messaging to make each repetition count. More sledgehammer moves will be added as we forge ahead.

Highlighting last week was our first get-together at Witter Field (Piedmont High). Talk about the perfect setting for some “Beautiful Strength,” aka the Turkish Get-up. We will be meeting there again every Thursday evening at 7pm. The first 20min of this class will always be devoted to the get-up.

Where there are Redwoods, there is Peace - Foley

Where there are Redwoods, there is Peace – Foley

This was also Week 2 of the SSS WOD (SwingStaircaseSprint) at the Rose Garden. 20 swings, then the 100 step sprint to Vernon Street and back.

Men – 20, 32kg swings
Women – 20, 16kg swings

Virtually everyone improved their times from last week!

I’ve also issued the 5 & Dime Challenge

What is it?

Double Clean & Press (10×5)
Double Front Squat (10×5)
Two-hand Swings (10×10)

In order to qualify for the prize (yet to ordered Kettlebell Zen t-shirts) you need to complete the entire circuit in 30min.

Women use 12kgs, Men use 20kgs for the doubles work.
For swings, Women use 24kg Men use 32kg.

If you go through this program twice a week for one month, I can guarantee you that you will be seeing major changes in your appearance. That being said, in my eyes, you all look great!

I also want to give my heart-felt thanks to those of your that have given me these awesome YELP reviews. Thanks to Quang, if someone is looking for a “kettleball” instructor, I’m right there near the top of the page!

Here is the line-up for this week’s classes:

Tuesday & Thurs – 10am @ Oakland Rose Garden

Weds & Friday – 6am @ Beach Field

Tues 7pm – Foley’s Dojo..farmer carries, sprints and pull-ups

Thurs, 7pm – Witter Field (Piedmont HS)

Saturday, 10am – (pending feedback on Clubbell Workshop) Estuary Park, Oakland


Sunday, 9am – Oakland Rose Garden

“The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.”

Swami Vivekananda

Lastly, we all miss Chris Pufpaf very much. We want you back as soon as you are able!


Kettlebell Zen Gazette – March 5, 2013

Power of Attorneys

Power of Attorneys

The stairs are your friends. Embrace them!
Month 1 in the books!
Just a quick shout-out to all my students. I’m always impressed with the dedication that you put toward your practice. Allowing me the honor to be your coach is very rewarding and it’s my aim to keep learning to make sure that we are all the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly be.

So may great stories are be written as I type this…

1) Ginny – hearing the pitty-patter of her feet coming down Linda Ave on Weds & Friday morning..farmer walking her kettlebells 2000ft to their final destination at Beach Field. She is down to 3 stops (from 5) in just a couples weeks time!

2) Angelica – SO proud of her first push-up this past Sunday. Even more impressive was her squatting with the 20kg for reps while facing the San Francisco skyline!

3) Quang muscling through the Racked Clean program and challenging himself to the 16kgs on the final round.

4) Andrew with his first time EVER deadlifting and pulling 190 lbs off the floor!

5) Jeannette feeling some muscles popping in on her biceps. She is now swinging the 24kg with authority!

6) Mike with his great time of 1:15 in the 20 swing/Rose Garden stairs sprint. I’m thinking he’s got a little left in the tank.

7) Gayathri starting to take command of the 12kg with her squats. She has come a long way and will continue to get stronger!

8) Jessica with her first of many 24kg swings!

I’m excited as this will be the first week we will be checking out Witter Field (Piedmont High School Football Field) on Thursday evening at 7pm. Expect lots of crawling, get-ups aplenty and 100 yard waiter walks! Oh yea, they have stairs there as well!

Next Saturday we will be at Joaquin Miller for a 9am start. Sunday we return to the Rose Garden (also at 9am).

I’m also having an unscheduled meet-up this Wednesday at 10am at Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley. Call me if you are interested in joining – (415)710-5918

I’ll be recertifying my kettlebell credentials with StrongFirst in a little over 2 months in Salt Lake City. I’ll be tested once again on all my skills, including the snatch test – 100 reps/5mi w/24kg. Good times! In preparation, I’ve just started a program call the “Secret Service Snatch Test Prep Workout” – Secret Service agents need to snatch the 24kg bell 200 times in 10min. It was the same program I completed before my initial certification almost 18 months ago.


Sincere apologies for my calendering SNAFU this past week. I’m hoping this is all cleared-up. In order to see the location of the class, you need to be logged-in to your account. You should then be able to see the CLASS NOTES for where we will be meeting.

Take time to enjoy some of this incredible weather we are having this week!


A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind – Morihei Ueshiba

The three C’s: Car, Cubicle & Couch. Sitting, the death knell of the human race – especially for Americans. As a 20 year corporate citizen, the effects of sitting were taking a toll on my body. Tight hip flexors, kyphosis (slouching posture), and poor food choices that left my belly hanging over my belt. The bottom line (including weak glutes & rhomboids) is that prolonged sitting is linked to increased mortality! I’m here to help you undo this unacceptable path and provide a plan on how you can reverse this pattern. Time has come today!

Cubicle Farm

Cubicle Farm

The Solution? A mixture of Kettlebells, bodyweight conditioning and (Z)en Circles!

Awakening and Enlightenment from an Iron Ball? Come again?

Looks scary!

It’s interesting, I hear this response frequently. It it just fear of the unknown or getting hurt? My system stresses safety at every point in the process.

I’ll get bulky, (HINT, you won’t)!

That looks hard! (that would be correct). If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you!

The Kettlebell Zen Mission? “Helping people forge undiscovered strength in mind and body.”

SFG (StrongFirst Girya) is a curriculum developed by Pavel Tsatsouline, who pioneered kettlebell training in the West and developed the gold-standard RKC program. When it comes to kettlebelling, you want to be with the cream of the crop…no skimping! I’m a “Permanent Beginner.” One who is always seeking new information to help people feel and move better.

You’ll be learning some of the basic human movements; pushing, pulling, squatting, hip hinge and one that you will grow to love..loaded carries. It’s fun. My clients will tell you, it feels like we are playing. In addition, we will employ an athletic performance system called Z-Health. “Z” drills target the nervous system and provide techniques to help us move better, move out of pain, move into efficient athletic performance, and ultimately improve that performance to achieve & surpass goals.

The magic lies within your mind. Be consistent with your practice and you will find results. Dig deep and become proficient with three or four kettlebell movements for 6-12 weeks and you will start to see your body take on the form of which you imagined. You need to lift heavy things up, put them over your head, and set them back down. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Just be consistent!

Beautiful Strength

Beautiful Strength

This is what Amelia S. had to say…

I really love the kettlebells, which I would never have thought were for me! They look so big and intimidating. However, under Tom’s wonderful guidance, I have quickly become much stronger and my technique is really improving. I love this class and it truly does not feel like you are working out because it is so fun and different. If it weren’t for my body being sore EVERYWHERE the next day, I wouldn’t believe I got such a great workout in. If you have ever wanted to try out a workout growing in popularity, give it a shot! Tom is great, the class is fun, and your body will thank you!

Kettlebells will be one of the main tools in the practice, but I will also employ bodyweight exercises and other tools to keep things fresh and challenging. There will be certain strength and flexibility thresholds that we will continually strive to achieve. No longer will we say that we want to “lose 10 pounds,” or “finish a marathon.” Goals tied to strength measurements will help everything fall into place.

Enter the Kettlebell

Enter the Kettlebell

We live in such a beautiful part of the world. Classes will be held in a variety of inspiring places to take your training to the next level! New student will need general proficiency with basic bodyweight maneuvers before handling kettlebells. Safety is of paramount importance at all times.

Join our community of women and men dedicated to making strides on their road to a stronger life. For decades the world of advertising has promised us special lotions, pills, shakeweights, & kettlebells that weigh less than your purse. Truth be told, there is no quick fix.

Sign-up for your FREE 1 hour Assessment || CALL (510) 470-4430 or thomasfoley66@gmail.com

Z-Health Joint Mobility diagnostic
Review/Discussion of Strength goals you’d like to achieve, challenges you face
A program to launch you on your way..a community of support

Mindful Practice at Work -- Impeccable form!

Mindful Practice at Work — Impeccable form!

What you can expect?

*Increased energy and strength
*A Posterior-Chain Extraordinaire (aka Buttisimo)
*Faster metabolism so you burn calories faster and more efficiently (Even when at rest)
*Trim your waist and blast your abs- swimsuit season is right around the corner
*Look Younger / Feel Younger!
*Builds confidence and wards off sickness and depression
*Sleep better and helps you deal better with stress and anxiety
*Combats the three C’s – Computer, Car & Couch..because we are all sitting TOO MUCH!

Strength ***************** Flexibility ****************** Peace

War Against the Car, Cubicle and Couch was last modified: July 22nd, 2014 by Thomas