Category Archives: Kettlebell Zen

Ready for another week of ‘Feats of Strength’

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

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!

Why kettlebells are good for your back!

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 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.