Melbourne’s Best Kept Personal Training Secret

The fitness industry is funny. On one side we have the many – the tens of thousands of new and inexperienced personal trainers that either enter the industry each year or struggle to meet the demands of their clients. On the other hand you have the few – the professional trainers who have years of experience, thousands of hours of training time logged and have spent many thousands on their education.

When you consider that the lifespan of a new personal trainer is less than two years it makes me feel a little funny sometimes to realize that I am a veritable dinosaur with my nineteen years of experience. What makes it even funnier is that the new trainers are taught to look for more and more complex ways of trying to deliver results to their clients. They’re shown so many tools and variations of ways to perform the same exercise that they can’t possibly know which exercise to pick at what time. In fact, the course I wrote and taught for Certificate IV in Fitness had so many different variations of exercises I used to not bother teaching most of them.

Because the best kept secret in personal training is exactly what your grandmother used to tell you – the simple things in life work the best. Deadlifts and push ups are an awesome workout combination and Rock, Paper, Scissors is still fun no matter your age. And there is a lot to be gained from delving deep into the skill side of these “simple” things.

Check out the video below for a brief dissection of the Swing by Senior RKC Shaun cairns and I.

Considering how simple the Swing seems to be you’d be excused (well, maybe not) for thinking that simple meant easy. We say, in the RKC, that our system is “an inch wide but a mile deep”. And certainly the Swing with all its subtle nuances and hidden secrets is exactly that. Recently I spent almost two months on developing my Swing. On fine tuning some of these hidden depths that increase force production. What’s so special about the Swing, you ask?

For starters, in the kettlebell world, without a solid grasp of the Swing you will never be able to Clean a heavy bell. Because the Clean precedes the Press, if this isn’t done well you will never develop serious upper body strength training with kettlebells as the Press is our prime upper body movement for both strength and size. Likewise you will probably never master the Snatch and you will probably finish each training session short because either your hands will be a ripped up bleeding mess or you will be banging up your wrists and forearms. The Swing done well can alleviate both of those problems.

While many people complain of a sore lower back – as many as 80% of the world’s Western population is believed to have possible lower back trauma (although asymptomatic) – most gyms do little to try to reverse that situation. Given that the biggest stress that can be applied to a spine is sitting how helpful are gyms really being by pushing programs such as Spinning or exercise machines that require being used from a seated position? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to fortify the back to protect it against further complications? Leading spine researcher Dr. Stuart McGill says that the leading cause of back injury is not a maximal strength issue, rather a strength endurance issue. In other words, very seldom do people hurt themselves picking up a maximum attempt, but rather they tire out their spinal stabilizers to such an extent that the spine can no longer be held correctly and BOOM – blown discs. Given that most people therefore need to increase the strength endurance of their back, an exercise like the Swing fits the bill perfectly. By being able to teach the body to load correctly from a bent position – ie to hinge at the hips as the video above shows and place the stress on the hips rather than the lower back, as well as being able to repetitively perform this action with a relatively low weight the body can be safe guarded against further injury.

The body is this amazingly complex interwoven machine. Somehow it knows how much force to produce, how fast our heart should beat to send oxygen to the straining muscles. It figures out how to dissipate heat by sweating. It knows when to be fast and loose and when it needs to be strong and tight. These two things – tension and relaxation – are two sides of the same performance coin. Too much of one leads to injury while too much of the other leads to sluggish movement. There is no better movement to teach both than the kettlebell Swing. It can be loaded to any level to allow everybody from my seventy year old mother to elite strength athletes to perform it. Because the Swing teaches so much about tension, relaxation, the ability to react to force and redirect it as well as linking body software together. Compared to the Frankenstein approach favored by gyms – where you work parts in isolation to one another before trying to tie them together – the Swing allows the body to work in unison, as it should. Everything from grip activation to core control, proprioception to cardiac conditioning are all worked at the same time because that’s how the body does things – all at once, all systems working together to do the job optimally.

The final reason why the kettlebell Swing is the best kept secret is obvious – no one knows how to do it properly in Melbourne. With only a handful of authentic RKC trainers in Australia there are a lot of people proclaiming to be kettlebell instructors who have learned their trade from a book or a DVD. As RKCII Danny Sawaya says, “that’s like taking fighting advice from someone who watches UFC”. The difference between a trained, skilled trainer and the rest of the field is easily visible when you get the opportunity to see them work. Like any skilled craftsman there is no doubt left in people’s minds when they witness a true master of their trade work. Coming to Melbourne October 15 will be Master RKC David Whitley, one of only six elite Master Trainers in Pavel Tsatsouline’s world famous, world leading RKC system. These opportunities are rare indeed and should be taken at every single chance. I’m again looking forward to spending time learning more about kettlebell training from him when he teaches the HKC at Dragon Door Australia.

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

For one more thing to think about check out this short video from our new “One Thing” series.


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6 Responses to “Melbourne’s Best Kept Personal Training Secret”

  1. TC Says:

    Awesome blog post Andrew. They’re too many personal trainers trying too many fancy tricks on their clients when they can’t even squat and deadlift properly. As a results, these poor customers get injured. No surprise there. How can you run when you don’t even know how to crawl?

    Any personal trainers in Australia who wants to stand out from the rest of the market will not regret going to the RKC crew. I’m speaking from personal experience and my clients are getting better results and happier with my services I could provide. I’m glad signed up to see the Master RKC Iron Tamer for one-on-one session as he may come to Australia next year.

  2. TC Says:

    Sorry I meant to say the Iron Tamer may NOT come to Australia next year.

  3. Andrei Says:

    I have been taking note of the stuff that you have posted recently on the Swing. I have been one of the ones making the mistake of going too much towards the drinking bird style of swing. It is not hurting or tiring out my back at this stage but I think that I could do with a lot more pushing out of the hips.

    Although this is a simple concept for me to understand in my mind, without an instructor to help me, I am finding this incredibly difficult to achieve by myself. Watching a video, (even if very well broken down and explained) is not enough for me to improve alone. Unfortunately at this stage I see no solution as the only RKC in Holland is a name of a football team.

    These post at least help to point me in the right direction, it’s damn hard without instant feedback from an RKC though.

    I will start by getting my ass to the wall more πŸ™‚

    • Andrew Read Says:

      Love it – “RKC is a name of a football team!”

      Andrei – you’re fine. Everyone looks slightly different and it takes time to build it correctly. You’re very flexible which does lead to that overly flexed forward position. As Muzz said on FB – the bottom Swing position is essentially the hang position of a Clean or the point the bar would clear the knees in a DL.

      The wall is a great tool. I warmed up every day for two months with 3 x 20 reps of wall touches and learned a lot.

  4. Cole Summers RKC Says:

    Excellant Andrew…informative as always!

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