Archive for May, 2011

One Way or Another

May 31, 2011

I often get asked questions like “What’s the best way to…?” Usually, after I answer the person contemplates, for about a millisecond, what I said and then goes and does the exact opposite.

Take training for example. I’ve spent decades, literally, learning how to do my job well. I’ve read more books than I can count, been to any number of training seminars both here and overseas and spent time in the trenches doing my job. Because the education aspect of my job is very important. It allows me to answer more questions, solve more problems and ultimately do my job better. It’s how any truly good coach or trainer sees their job.

The reality is that education costs. Gone are the days in Australia where education is handed out. Universities are no longer free nor, in reality, are most public schools with parents expected to “donate” or contribute time for various events. I know I’ve certainly spent my fair share of money and time on my education. And there’s the thing – at some point, to learn what you need to take your training to the next level, you are going to have to spend something, either time or money, on your education. If you get injured, rather than go through the hassle of six years at college learning medicine you simply pay the money and go see a doctor or therapist. When your car breaks down, you pay the money and take it to the relevant mechanic.

Yet for some reason, people think that they will be able to figure out all their training requirements themselves. I think the human body is immeasurably more complex than a car, and I’m certainly still learning about it, but people just assume that they’ll be able to figure it out. I guess, if you have all the time in the world and an unlimited budget you will eventually be able to teach yourself the necessary skills to do whatever it is you are striving to do. But for most of us, the better answer is to simply invest a relatively small amount of money, save enormous amounts of time and just learn the skills on the spot. I value my spare time quite highly and honestly would rather just pay the money to have something done instantly, or near instantly.

In Australia we have several options coming up very soon to help you instantly increase your knowledge –

Saturday June 4 at 9am we are having an Introduction to Kettlebells class. This is exactly what it says – 60 minutes of light training designed so you can see whether or not you’re interested in using kettlebells to get into the best shape of your life.

This leads straight into our regular Beginner Classes which start the following week. Our Beginner Classes are the ideal starting point for your kettlebell training. With sessions divided between technique and workouts they provide the perfect blend of safe learning and exercise to produce results.

While I understand that many people cannot make these sessions for various reasons the number one choice then is always personal training. We have people fly from all around Australia to train with me here at Dragon Door Australia seeking to finally learn safe and correct technique after having enjoyed kettlebell training but then usually having had an injury from an over zealous trainer not being wary enough of their form. Personal training is the fastest way to improve. In one on one coaching there is no way a client can hide or perform poorly. Every single session is directed towards getting the best result possible. Coming up soon we have a unique chance to get in front of the two highest ranked trainers in the Southern Hemisphere – Senior RKC Shaun cairns and I will be running four PT sessions on the afternoon of July 29. These PT sessions offer the best of the PT world – FMS work and then training with a Senior RKC. I have watched Shaun teach people a skill they were physically unable to do and an hour later have them repping it out perfectly. In fact, I’m an example of that – a year ago I was unable to do a pistol and had RKCII approaching. An hour with Shaun on my pistol, windmill and bent press saw me pass Level 2 with flying colours becoming the first ever in the country to do so!

And finally, if you’re stuck with your training, attending workshops is a sure fire way to increase your skill, education and abilities all in one go.

The decision is yours. You can either spend the time to learn everything yourself or you can spend the money to have someone teach it to you. But one way or another you’re going to spend something. If you want to waste your life struggling to figure out things that is fine. But me, I’d rather just spend a little cash and  keep my progress rolling.

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Isn’t it funny?

May 25, 2011

Now, I don’t want to jump the gun, but I may have won nine million dollars.

It’s true.

Apparently a dead uncle in Nigeria was found with the winning ticket on him and as the only contactable heir I can receive all his winnings.I only have to pass on my bank account details, identifying traits like birth date, passport, etc. Seems ok to me. Man, I can’t wait to get my hands on the nine million. That’s be sweet.

If you’re like me you get emails like these some days and instead of actually just deleting them you actually take the time to read them and have a chuckle. It’s not the only form of email hilarity I have seen in the last couple of days.

I also got an email from, well…let’s just call him another exercise equipment distributor in Australia. In it, he says that due to the high demands of his job – you know, running a mail order distribution business – that he no longer finds the time to work out much and he is annoyed at that. In response he says that starting now he is going to do something about it. That something, as it turns out, is create a blog post about it all and ask for comments.

At no point does he mention actually going and doing some training.

Now, I’ve known this guy for years and despite claiming to be an expert in kettlebells the guy isn’t even a trainer. Never has been. And in the time I’ve known him he has always been more concerned about his golf game than about training. No harm in that, but if you’re not a trainer perhaps you shouldn’t try to portray yourself as one…? Oh, that pang you just felt? That’d be integrity. You know, actually being the thing you make yourself out to be.

What makes this all so funny to me is that while he is struggling to make training important enough that he gets it done even on hectic days at work I still find the time to train. I have the exact same job as him, but in addition to running the distribution side for Dragon Door here I also have to train clients, write articles for the four magazines I write for and I still find the time to train! The reason this is so funny is that as an RKC I get tested continually. We have standards that must be complied with and failure to meet them, at any time, can see one lose your certification. As a School of Strength we pride ourselves on being uncommonly strong. There’s integrity – we say we do one thing and we have constant testing in place to ensure that that thing happens.

Not only that but in the RKC system continuing education is prized. We seek to always better ourselves and become better than what we are – both physically and technically. In the last few years I have spent about $30,000 on my education – more than a Master’s Degree. This year alone I will spend about $15,000 on attending various Dragon Door events both as a teacher and student. One of the most valuable things I think any retailer/ client relationship can have is based on service. If you buy a product from someone just based on price how well will you get looked after down the road? I know that my great little VW Golf GTi gets me free fluid and light bulb replacement for the next three years. Not a  bad little add on for a car that I was already ecstatic about. Compare that to a Hyundai – would do you get that same kind of after sales service? (And truthfully I have no idea about hyundai’s after sales service). So when people buy from me they can rest assured that I know the products inside out – I’ve done the vast majority of programs in all of Pavel’s books (including Beyond Bodybuilding, which for those who have read it will understand the enormity of the statement). If you’re not training regularly how much can you possibly know about the products you’re selling? Oh…there’s that integrity again…

And the shoe needs to be put on the trainer’s foot too. What do you do if you have a client who asks a question you can’t answer? Hopefully, you are smart enough to admit you don’t know the answer, but then you should probably go and learn some more things to give better service to your client than an “I don’t know but I’ll get back to you”. In Australia right now the choices  are easy –

First step is to attend an event like our Beginner Classes
Next would be to go to something like the HKC. Dragon Door’s HKC (HardStyle Kettlebell Certified) Instructor Workshops- U.S. and Worlwide

Click here for Certification Course Information – Register now!
After that the next best step is to attend ongoing workshops with the best people you can find. Now, I have spent years travelling the globe and spending tens of thousands of dollars so you don’t have to. You can just get in your car and drive on down to see us at our new HQ in Melbourne’s Moorabbin. And we’ve got plenty in store for your education –
From our Functional Movement Workshop on June 5 to our series of workshops on July 31 covering all aspects of vital information to maximise your impact as a trainer. From developing and learning new skills to to Enter the Kettlebell to RKC Preparation we’ve got your needs covered.

You just need to ask yourself whether you want to be involved with clowns who make you laugh or people serious about helping you become a better trainer or get in the best shape of your life.

July HKC, Melbourne

May 22, 2011

Even though our next HKC is just over two months away it is time to get the ball rolling and let everyone know exactly what will be going on.

As at our last HKC the next one will be at our new HQ in Melbourne’s Bayside. Our new location is over 300sq.m with more than 200sq.m of that dedicated to open training space. With rubber floors and no clutter in the way this means we can handle up to thirty candidates at once! Not only that but this will mark the coming together of the strongest instructor team ever assembled in the Southern Hemisphere –

Senior RKC Shaun Cairns, Australia’s first female RKC Shannon Scullin (who, fingers crossed, will also have passed all the requirements for CK FMS and RKCII by then as well), and RKCs Alby Owens and Sam Johnson as well as a New Zealand RKC Tracy Borden. Oh, and I’ll be there too. Never before will there have been so many RKCs gathered in one place for a single event to help you get the most out of the weekend. When you consider that just a year ago there were only about half a dozen RKCs in the entire country and now we are able to get a team together of four RKCs a Senior and  me then it really is something special.

Now, with our courses accredited by both Kinect and Fitness Australia we are not only bringing the highest standard of kettlebell instruction to Australia, you will also get the added bonus of having points attached to the course. While I don’t believe a course is “good” just because it has points, I do understand that for many there is a financial pressure behind choosing courses and having points awarded does remove some of the dilemma behind choosing.

Along with the great teaching team, the added bonus of the points for the courses I have a little surprise up my sleeve…Well, to be honest, it’s more like I’ve got so many surprises that they’re falling out of my sleeves!

Shaun Cairns and I have about twenty years of small business experience between us, about thirty-five in combined training experience (that is time spent training others, in terms of training ourselves it is more like about sixty years) and both of us have one other thing in common –

WE BOTH STARTED DRAGON DOOR IN OUR COUNTRIES.

Look, there are plenty of good trainers around. I know plenty. But I don’t many who are making a killing financially. That’s one of the reasons I have spent so much time over the last five years developing my sales and marketing skills. I’ll be blunt; I want to make buckets of money. If you don’t, that’s fine, but if you do, read on…

Shaun and I are both experienced niche marketers. We know what it takes to get noticed and to draw attention to yourself in a market filled with hype and under delivery. In fact, in Australia right now, I would argue that there is no one who is a better niche marketer than me. At Dragon Door Australia and Kettlebells for Africa we do one thing and one thing only and are very successful at it. And Shaun and I can teach you how to do this too.

At the last couple of HKCs we ran some PT sessions on the Friday afternoon. We combined these with FMS sessions and we will be doing these again. You’ll get screened by me, Australia’s first and most experienced FMS practitioner, and then once your movement issues have been sorted out you’ll be passed onto Shaun to work on whatever technical issues you want to check – RKC or HKC preparation, learn a new move or two or just get your ass kicked by the original Beast Tamer.

Then, in a first for Australia we’re going to give a two hour Niche Marketing lecture. We’re going to show what we’ve done to increase awareness of our brand, whether you need social media or not and how to separate yourself from the herd of trainers who don’t make much money by showing you how to sell to the right people.

Saturday, we’ll run the HKC. Imagine being in a room filled with other aspiring trainers, learning from the best in the Southern Hemisphere and learning techniques and progressions that will help your clients improve in leaps and bounds!

Then, Sunday, we will run a few workshops. There will be three workshops –

Enter the Kettlebell – we will go over the importance of the Program Minimum, teach the Clean, Press and Snatch and then run through how the Rites of Passage should be used as your training program for RKC. As an added bonus, everyone who attends this workshop will receive a copy of the Enter the Kettlebell DVD.

Kettlebell Programming workshop – Shaun and I have been at this training game for quite some time and have a number of methods we use to get massive effect from our clients. The last Programming workshop we ran was a sellout success with people having their eyes opened to many new ways to implement and use the RKC methods to bring about massive changes in their clients.

Finally, we’re going to run an RKC Preparation workshop. This will include all the differences between single and double kettlebell work as well as technical differences in exercises such as the Get Up as well as a strategy for training for and passing the Snatch Test.

All in all the HKC weekend is set to be the best ever HKC and the best ever kettlebell specific event in Australia. If you want to be a kettlebell trainer you’ll be able to learn from the best, at the best course currently available in Australia AND you’ll have an opportunity to learn how to maximise your income from doing just that! Other people pay a lot of lip service to niche marketing, claiming to specialise in various things but here’s the deal – you can only “specialise” in one thing. That’s why it’s called a speciality. And if you want to be a jack of all trades, but master of none, then go ahead. But, if you really want to make big bucks, like the kind that specialists and experts can command, then you’ll benefit more from attending the weekend workshops than any other training workshops in Australia. We’re not going to waste time talking about our life stories, or trying to showcase all the certifications we have attended. It’ll be focused on one thing – kettlebells – and how to get the most out of them physically and financially.

Details will be up on the website soon for the workshops, but the first step is to book now ———–>HKC Certification

Early Christmas

May 9, 2011

I’m not going to lie – the last three weeks have been great. I got to teach at two RKCs, meet up with my friends and learn from Pavel and a host of other incredible instructors.

But what kind of guy would I be if I came home from overseas and didn’t bring presents for everyone?

For starters we are going to have an introduction to kettlebells class on Saturday 4th of June at 9am. This will be a free class to anyone who wants to come along and learn some basic kettlebell movements and get some training in at the same time. It’s a very similar format to the way we run both our regular classes as well as the Beginner Classes that start Tuesday 7th June. Not only that, but you can stick around after and watch one of our regular classes to see what kind of tough love to expect at one of our intermediate classes.

The great thing about our Beginner Classes is that you get eight hours of hands on, face to face instruction in how to use kettlebells for half of what you’d normally pay for a single event. That’s right – I’d normally charge as much as $600 for a six hour workshop teaching all the techniques I’ll teach in these Beginner Classes. But in our Beginner format you get eight hours of instruction for only $300!

I probably shouldn’t talk about this but I will – one of the downfalls of kettlebell instruction is that it’s difficult to always ensure that everyone “gets it” in a single day. You can see this at events like the HKC where even students of other RKCs turn up not ready, due to one simple reason – not spending enough quality time with a good instructor. Even at the RKC it takes us two days to get everyone good enough to pass the technique tests, so how can you teach someone well in just a few short hours?

We take care of that with our Beginner Classes. Eight separate sessions, eight chances to hone your technique, all the while building on what you were taught the lesson before.

The Beginner Classes are also ideal preparation for the HKC. In fact, at the last HKC we had two of the guys from the Beginner Classes go and both passed easily! And unlike other instructors who train people, then insist their clients go to “preparation workshops” (and often still don’t pass the HKC), we don’t need to do that. Our clients are ready at the finish of the Beginner Classes.

So there you have it – like an early Christmas we’ve got you covered at Dragon Door Australia for all of your kettlebell training needs. From Introduction Classes to Beginner Classes and then onto even an instructor event such as the HKC. For more information contact info@dragondooraustralia.com

RKC St. Paul April 29- May 1

May 4, 2011

Three weeks ago I wrote about my incredible experiences at the first RKC for the year. I was able to catch up with friends I don’t get to see more than once a year, absorb more of the RKC wisdom and even got a chance to teach a section and run a workout! Now, two weeks later I have just returned home from the second RKC of the year where I again got to catch up with some of my best friends, assist teaching again and make a whole new batch of friends and colleagues in the process!

Team Toomey after testing.

This time I was to be on Mark Toomey’s team. Mark is somewhat of an RKC legend. Along with his role as Team Leader he is also the Operations manager for Dragon Door and brings with him considerable business and military experience. I have had a few instances in the past to get to know him and was eagerly anticipating working alongside him. Along with Mark I was also going to get to spend time with Jay Armstrong, RKC Team leader and 6th Dan in Taekwondo, who I met at Level 2 last year and got along like a house on fire. Jay is a great guy, old school and to the point and I really love spending time with him. Also in attendance were my two best kettlebell friends Andrea Chang and Zar Horton. I consider these two among my very best friends anywhere in the world and it is always such a great joy to be able to spend time with them, shoot the breeze and just hang out. When you add an RKC event into the mix it just makes the whole thing that much better. Also at the event were Dustin Rippetoe, Jason Marshall and Master RKC Jeff O’Connor. One of the things that inspires me so much about this community is that the leaders are all such great people to be around. Happy, generous, kind, smart and funny. You’d be hard pressed to find a better group to hang out with for a weekend.

Mark Toomey RKC TL, Andrew Read RKCII.

One of the things that set this weekend apart from the previous one was a massive change in format. The RKC is a constantly evolving beast and Pavel is a very smart guy who is always looking to improve on the previous version. In particular one of the things that really set this event apart from the previous one was the timing of the snatch test. But I’ll start at the beginning…

Let’s get this straight – I love the RKC. When people say things to me like “You must like the RKC because you travel so far” they have no idea. None. If you cut me I will bleed RKC red. Nothing on this planet fills me with as much joy, passion and emotion as the RKC. To have the opportunity to help out at not just one event, but two in quick succession was a dream start to the year for me. To become part of such a great, amazing group of people is something that nearly defies explanation. The collective worth of the RKC is so much more than the individuals that make up its parts. With Pavel, who is quite simply about the most amazing person I have ever met, setting such a strong example of how to act all the senior ranks lead by his example and the organisation takes on the air of something very special indeed. I think many of the candidates are a little surprised by how the RKC team works and it is interesting to see how people react in the early hours of the course.

I was in St. Paul a little early this time and organised with the Dragon Door staff to be there early to help set up. This involves unpacking crates of kettlebells, assembling the TAPS units for the Strength Tests, organising manuals for the instructors and general moving stuff around. Mostly this was done with Tim Spencer, all round great guy. Tim has been to many RKC events and is a blast to hang out with. He’s funny and smart which is always a bonus as well super nice – another perfect example of how everyone in the community should be. Always in the background is Dennis Armstrong and Tammy Drury – these two are the backbone of the RKC and anything that needs doing will be directed by them. It’s great to get to know them better as I have frequent email interaction with them. They’re just like the rest of the crew – happy, passionate, funny and  a blast to be around. Everyone should take the time at an RKC to go and thank these guys because without them the event would likely not be as good.

Everyone starts to assemble at the Thursday night meet and greet. I somehow managed to herd most of our team into a small group in the corner so Mark could weave his magic and settle their nerves. I was super excited to have four Australians attending this time, with one of them being a client of mine Sam Johnson. Sam came to us about a year ago. He’s a great young man and destined for big things in the training world. In a year he has attended and passed the HKC, helped out at two more HKCs and now passed the RKC! He’ll hate me for saying this, but when he came to us he could barely manage an hour long workout with a 16kg bell. Now he can kill three days with 24s! (And people wonder why they should come train with us…)

Friday is always a hectic start, although this time a decision had been made to swap the scheduling of the Snatch Test to the last day. I had some very big reservations about this quietly but reasoned that any direction I could argue it from had already been thought of by Pavel and all the Masters, Seniors and Team Leaders. In other words, if they believed it to be a smart choice it probably was going to be and so I waited to see what the outcome would be. Chief among the benefits was going to be additional time grooving the Swing and fine tuning Snatch technique so that the test would be easier and not rip people’s hands to shreds, which makes the rest of the weekend hard. The change meant that we were into Swing progressions early on the Friday morning.

At the previous RKC I have to be honest and say that I thought the Victim Teaching was poor. I think this was largely due to not enough time being spent on the Swing in the Friday which in turn meant that not enough time was spent trouble shooting the Swing for people and giving them corrective drills to do. One of the things that makes the RKC unique is the use of repetition as a teacher. Traditional martial artists will understand the benefit of this, as will people such as swimmers. Eventually, you find the optimal position for your body to make the most power, but it takes a few reps to get there. Because we started so early on Swings on Friday we got a lot of reps in, and a lot of opportunities for people to see how to fix the Swing. Ultimately this improved people’s Victim Teaching enormously overall and the general standard I saw in our team was much higher than the previous weekend. Given that the RKC is all about making people the best instructors they can be that’s fairly important and I am glad that we are constantly evolving to help get people the best result we can for the weekend.

Team Toomey

As is normal in any group situation we had many different levels of ability and attitude. One of the things about the RKC is that it attracts strong individuals. I’m not speaking about physical strength here, but strength of character and resolve. While this means that we attract the very best, it also sometimes means that people need to readjust their attitude so we can help them. By the end of Friday it had become clear that a few of our team, while physically powerful and strong, were just not letting us help them. They were just holding onto their own beliefs too strongly and not letting us show them what the RKC expects. And this is where a strong, experienced Team leader like Mark Toomey comes in.

Electing to give up a few minutes of team practice on Saturday morning he instead chose to speak about how students are graded on professionalism, not just their ability to heave a couple of kettlebells. And this is a massive difference between our organisation and most other fitness groups. We genuinely care about our community being filled with good, decent people and will work to seed out the undesirables early. I won’t lie and say that Toomey was all hugs and smiles. He basically told people that if they wanted to leave with the RKC letters after their names that they needed to empty their cups, so to speak, so we could fill it with our way. After all, why go to the RKC if you aren’t keen to learn all things about the RKC and adopt our methods?

This speech was so amazing that it saw three members of our team come and apologise to the instructors in the minutes after and one girl burst into tears when they realised how they had been acting. But the change in everyone’s demeanour was instant. Where we had been struggling with some to get them to listen, now you could see them fervently trying to follow our suggestions. One of the things that strikes me most about the leaders of our community is their great communication skills and after the two RKC events I have realised I have much to work on and will strive to match the amazing calm that both Jon Engum and mark Toomey possess.

The final day at this event started with Technique Testing and then the Snatch Test. I had been speaking with Pavel the night before about how much I thought this weekend’s format was an improvement over the previous one’s and was keen to see the result turn up in the teaching and technique testing. I have to say that I was holding my breath somewhat as we started the Snatch Test. The Snatch Test isn’t fun the first couple of times you do it, but once it’s been done a few times the fear factor should subside. The bottom line is that it’s only 100 reps and everyone knows what they are getting themselves into before they come as the standard is widely known. The result of the test being Sunday and not Friday was probably about the same, but with some definite benefits –

  • No torn hands to cope with all weekend. Let’s face it, despite the RKC being an instructor event people turn up without having spent enough time learning technique first. It’s pretty simple to pass the tests and the course if you have spent some time with an RKC prior. They should get your technique dialled in, ensure that you are strong and fit enough and give you a strategy to carry through the weekend.
  • Better technique during the test. At the previous RKC I had to fail three people during the test for breaches of the rules. The rules are set out in such a way as to make the test as safe as possible for people. At this RKC I only had one person “no count” out. There were people who could not perform the 100 reps in the time limit, however that is not a technical deficiency, rather a conditioning deficiency.

So overall we had less hand trauma, better technique and about the same pass percentage as before, which when you factor in fatigue is an amazing result! Another example of forward thinking by Pavel in his perpetual quest to make the RKC as good as possible.

Team Toomey gets ready for battle.

The weekend, as always at RKC events, was better than you could reasonably hope to expect. I have been to seven RKC events in the last two years and hosted four HKCs. Every single one is better than the last. I get to spend time with my great friends, learn form some of the smartest men in the world in terms of strength and conditioning, make new friends and then I get to come home and share it with everyone! Who could ask for anything more? This weekend though was more than just a little satisfying as it saw three new Australian RKCs. Massive congratulations to Sam Johnson, who ended the weekend by finishing fourth in the Grad Workout! Also to Dragon Door Australia customer Frances Bridger – great to finally put a name to the face. She was one of only four on Team Armstrong to pass on the day and was even nominated to assist at  laster date, which is quite a rare honour. Also to James McConnell who I have done some work with prior. One of the things that strikes me most about this is that since we started Dragon Door Australia just over a year ago we have now seen a 50% increase in the number of RKCs in the country with all of them coming from my home town. Coincidence…? Not to mention that I know there are a few more going later this year who have all gone through the HKC previously. The HKC continues to be the best way to prepare for the RKC with the pass rate for those attending the HKC very high.

Dragon Door’s HKC (HardStyle Kettlebell Certified) Instructor Workshops- U.S. and Worlwide
Click here for Certification Course Information – Register now!

I am already looking forward to our next HKC in Melbourne, There are a few surprises in store for people at both the event and the workshops the next day. I will just say that we are about to enter a new era in Australia of professional kettlebell instruction and anyone wishing to get in on the ground floor and dominate in this area needs to be thinking about coming and seeing us for training advice, attending the HKC and workshops in July and then working towards the RKC.
Congratulations to Team Toomey for a great weekend and to Donovan Hellkamp, Sharon Nelson and Cory Jirak on a job well done with our candidates. You guys were the icing on the cake for the weekend and I hope to get to see you all agin soon. Special thanks to Mark Toomey who was an inspirational leader and spent a lot of time with me discussing the ins and out ofs leading a team as well as, always, to Jeff O’Connor and Pavel who never cease to amaze and inspire me.