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 –


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

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.

Dragon Door Australia on TV!

April 20, 2011

Guys, if you haven’t yet seen the new DD TV episode you should check it out.

For people who haven’t been lucky enough to meet the amazing Amanda Salas she is every bit as funny and witty in person in person as she is on DD TV. What most people don’t know is that the second half of the DD TV team, Spencer O’Hara, is just as great to hang out with. These two guys have taken on DD TV and made it something I know all the RKCs look forward to each week.

Being asked to be the front man fro an entire episode was great fun and really gave me an appreciation for what goes into making anything on camera. Obviously with all the writing I do for various magazines (Ultrafit, Blitz, Inside MMA, Oxygen) I’ve had to take photos for things before which is time consuming and often difficult to get good quality pictures when you’re moving at high speed. But video is a completely different ball game. I’m still away in the US taking a break between RKC events but when I get home I promise I’ll put up some of the outtakes (minus me swearing as I screw each one up, of course).

Just a reminder – for anyone who wants to really take their business to the next level in Australia you should be planning to attend the next HKC in July. Follow this banner to go to the sign up page.

HKC Certification

The success of people attending the RKC after the HKC is much higher than those who don’t attend. At the RKC on the weekend there almost 50% of the candidates were HKCs. With the next one coming son don’t miss your chance to become one of only a handful of properly trained and qualified instructors in Australia.

Even better – our courses are now both PDP and CEC approved! That’s right. Now you get the same top quality, best in the world instruction on how to safely and effectively use kettlebells with your clients, but you also get the continuing education points that you need to maintain your registration! What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

HKC Certification

RKC St. Paul April 15-17

April 18, 2011

There’s something special about the RKC. People from all walks of life come together to learn and improve themselves. As the RKC grows, and more people begin to understand the benefits of Hardstyle training, I am guessing that this will happen more and more. As evidence of this growth the most recent RKC in St. Paul was the biggest ever with originally 120 people signed up it ended up being just over 100 over the weekend.

And guess who was there to see it all unfold?

As the first Australian to ever be invited to assist at an RKC I was eagerly anticipating this trip.

But all this changed a little in the week leading up to it when Pavel sent out the teaching assignments for the week. I was on the phone to a friend when the email came through detailing what my roles for the weekend were and the end result was that I started gasping like a fresh caught fish flopping on the deck as I tried to put everything into perspective.

Pavel had clearly lost his mind. Instead of me only assisting Senior RKC Jon Engum, I was also going to teach the Clean and run the final workout for day two. With 100 students and Pavel in the room this was certainly going to be a trial by fire for me.

I will admit that the thought of presenting at an RKC to a roomful of highly skilled trainers, Pavel and a team of RKC instructors made me more than a little uneasy. However, opportunities like this are not often handed out – as evidenced by the fact that no one else from here has ever been asked to do it!

Andrew Read RKCII, Jon Engum Senior RKC, Val Hedlund RKC. The backbone of Team Engum.

The weekend starts pretty quickly. Val Hedlund and I met with Jon Engum on the Thursday and quickly went through the snatch test and Level 1 skills test. This is compulsory for all assistants to maintain high standards. Val is an absolute machine. I had thought my time of 3.50 in the snatch test was pretty fast, especially since I felt like I was cruising, but she beat my by eight seconds! She also went on to tell me she is only four inches away from being able to complete the Iron Maiden challenge! Jon went through his expectations of us for the weekend and we spent a little time getting to know one another before the hard work for the weekend started.

What makes these events special now is that I have many close friends within the ranks of the RKC. So as much as I come to learn and help I was also happy to have the opportunity to spend time with my growing band of friends. Having had a great time with Neghar Fonooni at RKCII last year I was delighted to hear she would be assisting also and we got to hang out a lot for the weekend. Neghar is crazy strong and more fun than a barrel full of monkeys to spend time with. Along with Neghar I also got to meet Josh Hillis for the first time and can easily understand why he is so well followed as a fitness professional. Add in my new friends the Beast Tamer Dustin Miller, Alise Frye and Val plus another RKCII friend Fawn Friday, who is a local, and we had a great group of people to socialise with. The Friday night all you can eat meat dinner at Foga de Chao was easily one of the funniest nights of my life and seemed to continue throughout the whole weekend.

With Josh Hillis, fitness celebrity.

With 100 students at this RKC the teams had a lot cut out for them. With 14 people per team there were many to help all day long. Our team was a great group with a lot of variety and all eager to learn. As everyone knows the RKC starts with the snatch test. The rules are simple – 100 reps in 5 minutes with a 24kg for guys or a 16kg for most girls (12kg if under 56kg/ 123lbs). I could probably recite the rules in my sleep right now as one of my responsibilities for the weekend was to explain the rules to the group. This was great as it got me over my nerves of speaking to a large group instantly. I am guessing it also gave Pavel a chance to make sure I could actually speak to large groups and if it had gone badly I would have been removed from teaching the Clean the following day.

Team Engum had a lot of problems with the Snatch Test. I had to fail 3 of the 4 people I tested simply for too many “no counts”. You get three “no counts” which can be accumulated for various infractions such as having your non-working hand on your leg, pressing the bell out or shouldering the bell on the downward movement. These “no counts” really represent safety issues that indicate to us that either you haven’t done your homework, or you need to put the bell down before you hurt yourself. To be honest, given this test is so well known I find it hard to understand how people turn up when they can’t hit their number. It’s not like the test is hard to find details of, or training plans for. Not only that but it is the entry requirement. In other words, it is what you need to be able to do as soon as you walk in the door. The purpose of the test is to make sure you have adequate strength and fitness to safely undergo the weekend. You would think people would take it more seriously.

The RKC is a constantly evolving animal and it was an eye opening experience to hear Pavel share his reasons for swapping some things around and to watch how it affected the weekend and people’s technique. In particular it was amazing to watch the transformation of our students from the start of Friday to the end of Saturday. The teaching team at an RKC are a very select bunch, especially the Team Leaders and Seniors or Masters. I was very lucky to be on Jon Engum’s team. As a 7th dan in Taekwondo as well as having been at more RKCs than any other person other than Brett Jones or Andrea du Cane (and Pavel, obviously) he has a great wealth of knowledge and experience. Not only that but his patience and communication skills really set him apart as a great trainer.

My great friends Neghar Fonooni and Doc Michael Hartle.

Being allowed to teach the Clean was a great privilege. Usually the teaching of an exercise is reserved for the Team Leaders and Senior/ Master Instructors. I had spent a lot of time reading the manual and thinking about what I was going to say and how to fill in the gaps from just the progressions in the manual. To have the undivided attention of the entire room was a great experience. I was put at ease very quickly when Pavel, Jeff O’Conner and John du Cane all said to me early on that I was doing great and from there I really got into my groove and got a good result with everyone. I’ve had numerous emails and comments on Face Book from people all saying the links I gave from fighting to the Clean really gave them an “a-ha moment”. It’s always rewarding to be told that you’ve done something well so this was obviously a highlight of the trip. (Although I am here for the next RKC too so am keen to see what is in store for that).

Our team did a great job all weekend and vastly improved and one girl in particular, Emily Blaudow really made big steps. With the final workout looming I asked her to help me out to pace everyone else for a fairly hard swing workout. What transpired was one of the all time coolest things I have ever been part of in my working career. I managed to get a roomful of 100 people all swinging at exactly the same time. I know Dragon Door TV got a lot of great footage from it all and I can’t wait to see how it looks. I won’t go into exact details about the workout but I will say that I think I got a compliment from nearly every single person there about it from both a technical and aesthetic point of view. I was surrounded on all sides by a massive semi-circle of people all working to the beat of one drum. The sight was so powerful that I allowed myself to stop coaching just for a second and appreciate the beauty of it. Not lying for even a second when I say that I got goose bumps. To be in the eye of the storm, surrounded by my community, all working in exact unison was amazing. Thanks everyone for putting in the final hard effort for the day and making me look good!

Sunday at the RKC is a little gentler than the other two days for the simple reason that everyone is smoked. There is still lots for the teams to do with practice, testing, a marketing lecture put on by John (always amazing to hear him speak) and then the Grad Workout. The Grad Workout changes at each RKC and this one was an absolute terror. Jon Engum ran a massive workout based on his RKC Deep Six single bell complex and it really showcased who had prepared and who hadn’t. I can remember training for my RKC by going and doing a double Grad Workout at a local park to build up my stamina and mental toughness. Watching how people faltered all over the field it may be a good idea that people work on that as well as their snatch test prior to the RKC too.

George Samuelson at his finest.

The weekend was simply awesome. Between watching Pavel and his band of instructors teach so I could increase my own skills, the opportunity to teach and help instruct a new breed of RKCs and the social aspect of catching up with my great friends and colleagues. The band of crazy clowns that were assisting – Val Hedlund, Josh Hillis, Dustin Miller, George Samuleson, Alise Frye and my great friend Neghar were all icing on the cake. I would attend the RKC just to fetch water for Pavel if it meant I could sit and take notes. To be an integral part of it, to be the first from my country to do so, to get to hang out with my friends… Why on earth wouldn’t everyone want to be part of this?


April 11, 2011

Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning constant improvement. I was first introduced to the word by noted strength trainer Charles Poliquin when he introduced the idea of micro-loading to allow minute weight changes which allowed the trainee to keep adding weight to the bar every workout.

Since then it has turned up in many places and, for me, has many business applications.

In the world of business you must keep moving forward or you stagnate and die. Many small businesses often do well initially but soon lose momentum and eventually either whither and die or are just forced to close their doors as new technology takes over their industry. Personal Training is no different and we have been forced to move ahead to keep up with the demand for training and workshops.

For anyone who doesn’t know we moved into a massive 300sq.m place in Melbourne’s Moorabbin. This new facility allows us container access for kettlebell shipments and decent sized office for us to grow into as well as over 200sq.m of open training space. It allowed us to run the recent HKC and have over twenty-five people safely training at once, something we never could have done at our last location.

Our efforts at constant improvement have also meant that we have had to cut some ties professionally. The RKC code of conduct is quite a simple document and I take it very literally. The primary point is to conduct yourself with honour. When I discovered that the my previous landlords were into open relationships and thought that trying to include me, my staff and my partner in them was okay that was enough for me. Previously I may have made the effort to try and mediate a resolution for this, but as part of Dragon Door Australia’s decision to try to upkeep this code at all times, we decided to walk away rather than stay and be part of something so distasteful. I was helped enormously in this by two people – Pavel and Senior RKC Peter Lakatos. Pavel has said “Marriage is a great decision. Why ruin it by making a poor decision to cheat?” Peter made things even easier for me when he told me that he refuses to do business with anyone he finds is unfaithful.

So we stepped forward and upheld this notion that honour and decency should be a part of every business, not just profit margin.

We’ve also stepped ahead by certifying our courses with both Kinect and Fitness Australia. While I don’t believe that accumulating points should be the driving force behind attending education events, I do see the business side of it and the reality is that with so many courses now having points, the sad reality is that many will choose to attend a course of lesser educational value simply to accumulate points. See? A great commercial example of having to move ahead just to stay in the same place.

This week sees the first time that more than a single Aussie heads overseas at any one time to attend an RKC event. Piers Kwan from Brisbane, who I have been lucky enough to train right from the start of his kettlebell training, will be doing this week’s RKC. At the same time I have been given the honour of being the first Australian ever asked to teach at an RKC and will be teaching the Clean as well as running one of the workouts. Two weeks after that will see Sam Johnston, TC Lee and James McConnell attend the next RKC, which I will also be at. This will mark my sixth and seventh RKC events in under two years. That adds up, including the HKCs I have hosted, to over thirty days of hands on instruction from Pavel and his elite Senior and Master trainers.

This attitude has been taken on by Australia’s first female RKC, and Dragon Door Australia staff member, Shannon Scullin. This year she will attend CK FMS as well as RKCII, plus assist at two more HKCs for the year. Our efforts to constantly step forward have allowed us to continually meet customers’ needs in training. When you have so much great information at your finger tips it certainly makes solving problems much easier. And you can see this with our 100% success rate for preparing clients for instructor level courses, or even in our Body Transformation Challenges where clients have lost as much as 20kg in only sixteen weeks! Essentially, by the end of May, we will have been responsible for training 30% of the RKCs in the country and every single HKC!

The question is, what is your trainer doing to constantly move ahead to help you out? Are they attending training with someone better than them to learn and improve like our HKC/ RKC Preparation class students are, or are they sitting on their tail dispensing potentially outdated information? With standards constantly evolving within the RKC, instructors who don’t keep making these steps will get left behind. This can be seen in the pass rate of some students from other RKCs. They’re simply not being taught correctly because they haven’t taken the time to update their own knowledge and attend training events. And that’s a great shame. There is no reason why people should be paying money to trainers who aren’t making the effort to move ahead and stay current with their own training. When it’s as easily done as giving up a weekend to come and assist at an HKC you’d think more people would jump at the chance.

But I guess not everyone is as keen for their clients to maximise their success as we are.


July 30 HKC Melbourne

April 3, 2011

We’ve just announced a new date for the next HKC.

The HKC is really starting to get noticed as THE kettlebell course to attend in Australia. We’ve already had some instructors from other groups come and attend, here’s some of what they had to say about our course:

Right to the point from the start. All aspects made sense in the order of presentation. No useless information was offered. The HKC has now planted the seed for greater training potential That I will utilise in my own business. So much more informative than the AKI course. Claude Castro

Clear, precise and very comprehensive course for kettlebell fundamentals. The breakdown of movements was great. Most kettlebell trainers don’t/ can’t differentiate finer details. I have trained with every kettlebell course – IKFF, Steve Cotter, Kettlebell Training Academy and I learnt the most at this course. Muhammed Redzuan Jab Bin Nasir

And if you want a more detailed review of the whole weekend you should definitely check out TC Lee’s blog post on it.

What has impressed me most about these guys is that they have sought out training with the best. They have all travelled to train with us – Claude went to Sydney from Melbourne, Jab came from Singapore and TC came from Perth to Melbourne. Not one even thought twice about the distance. The only thing these guys were concerned about was getting the best education possible. It’s the same reason that I’ve been to the US five times (six in another week) in less than two years. Not a single course I have been to over there has CECs or PDPs attached to it. I’ve spent over $18,000 just last year alone on my education. For anyone who questions if it is worth it, well…in every case the money I spent on the course I was able to make back all within two months of attending the courses. And all of these guys, and me, are destroying our local competition all due to one thing – education.

Now, with Kinect Australia now accrediting out course (2PDPs) and with Fitness Australia poised to do so (making us one of the first in the country to have CECs attached) our courses will have even more people attending them. The commercial reality is that clients immediately see the differences in someone who is Dragon Door trained. They train without pain, and because of this they get better results. The next course is only just around the corner and you’re going to get left behind by your competitors if you don’t attend.
HKC Certification

HKC Wrap Up 2

March 29, 2011

With the most recent HKC now done and dusted I have started getting a new round of emails all about one thing – the RKC. Allow me to get all misty eyed for just a second as I recall a time when people didn’t even know what it was in contrast to the present where I answer emails daily about the best way to prepare, when, or if, it is coming here and a bunch of other questions. So I thought it’d be easier to write about it here, as well as detail some things so I don’t have to answer all these questions all the time.

Preparation and Training

What’s the best way to get ready?

The technical standard at the RKC is incredibly high. In the last two years I have met two people who came close to meeting the standard without having ever trained with an RKC. I’m not sure how many people I trained during that time, but my average would be around fifty per week, so in a time where I trained five thousand people, I met two who could have done it on their own. So the first question you need to ask yourself is – am I the one in two and a half thousand that doesn’t need help, or am I (most likely) just like everyone else and would benefit from spending some time with an RKC?

Best place to start?

In terms of training the best place to start is easy – that would be Enter the Kettlebell. I have used the programs within to get myself ready for RKC, RKCII and continue to use it as my fall back program whenever I come to a halt with other training. It is simple to follow, gives fantastic results and gives ample time for rest and recovery as well as time to fit in other moderate activities if you wish. Quite simply, there is a reason this program is the one we talk about the most within the RKC.

I don’t view the Rites of Passage from ETK as “finished” to an RKC ready level until clients can complete it with a 24kg bell in under an hour (12kg for girls with the only caveat being performing single chin ups instead of the pull up ladders). Once they do that I know they have the requisite strength and conditioning to train seriously. Anything less than that means we need to keep focusing on development of General Physical Preparation qualities. Once this has been achieved we look at dates and start serious training.

How long does it take to get ready for the RKC?

It generally takes people around six months to really be ready for the RKC once they have achieved the benchmark with the ROP. During this time we hone technique, continue working on GPP and start steadily increasing the amount of snatching we do. I follow a tried and tested workout formula that was developed by Brett Jones that is 100% successful for the main workouts along with my own snatch programming. I’ve had a client go from not being able to get eighty snatches in five minutes two weeks before the course to nailing the snatch test on the day! At this point I’ll remind everyone about how beneficial it is to get in front of an experienced trainer/ RKC to help you figure out how to get over the line. When you’re trying to figure out which way to go in having someone who has travelled the path before, or in my case helped other people get there too, training becomes more about consistency than anything else. Just showing up and doing what you’re told by a smart trainer will have enormous effect on your own fitness. One of the best things I ever read was the simplicity in simply doing as you’re told. “Coach says so” is gold. I just have to turn up and do it. It leaves me free to worry about my meals, my appointments for the day, etc. But training…? Easy. Coach said…

What training options are available at Dragon Door Australia?

At Dragon Door Australia we run an Advanced class. This class is invite only. It has started to turn into the RKC Preparation class. And being the only RKC in Australia who has actually trained anyone to go to the RKC, and having 100% success rate with it, word is starting to get around and currently it has three HKCs in it (all RKC bound) and an RKC. To say the standard is high is an understatement! This class is a three day a week commitment and we obviously only take those who are 100% serious about being the best they can be. This same class has also produced numerous Pan Pacific BJJ champions too.

And this leads me to my next point – I will cop it for this, but not all RKCs are created equal when it comes to preparing people for instructor events. So far in Australia we have seen sixty-seven people attend the HKC courses. Of those sixty-seven, thirty-nine have passed on the day with twenty-one of those being my students (and representing 100% of the people I have prepared for the HKC)! Of the others who passed only three were trained by other instructors. However, at the same time those other instructors also sent three others who didn’t pass on the day! (Please note that for ease of reference I am only speaking about people who have passed on the day as it makes it much easier to see who really was ready for the course or not). And when you look at the next step – sending people to the RKC – I am the only one who has had any students go and pass. To see what others say about the training at Dragon Door Australia go here.

We also run regular Beginner classes. Our last class sold out with fifteen people. The great thing about this class is that it is run twice per week over four weeks to give you the best return for your training time. I’ve seen and run plenty of single day workshops and to be honest the standard reached is usually not so good. For HKC readiness it usually takes around eight to ten hours for someone to be “ready”. Your single day “Beginner workshops + HKC Preparation” just doesn’t work. So our eight hours of classes allows you to learn a new skill at each class, while reinforcing the skills previously learned. It has already proven itself effective as an HKC Preparation class too, with two of the guys attending the recent HKC and easily passing! We will run these classes again starting early in May.

Our FMS based PT is another excellent option. As Australia’s first qualified FMS practitioner, training directly under Gray Cook and Brett Jones, as well as being the most experienced RKC locally, our clients are seeing massive improvements in their own abilities, and fast! Just last week I worked with a US College basketball player and added two inches to his vertical jump in under twenty minutes. Every PT client at Dragon Door Australia uses the FMS system to make record progress. If you’re keen to make huge steps in your training, and you’re trainer isn’t using the FMS system…well…what are you wasting your time for?

Other News

When’s the next one?

July 30 in Melbourne. It’s not up on the Dragon Door main site as we just finalised the date last night, but it will be there soon.

I’ve heard that you can now get education credits for attending the HKC?

Completely true. I had confirmation yesterday from Kinect Australia that the HKC is now PDP approved and participants will get two PDPs for attendance. I also heard from Fitness Australia that the course is in the final stages of being approved and expect to hear that it will be CEC accredited shortly. This will mean that our events will book out faster than before as more and more people will see the merit in attending the number one kettlebell course currently in the country once it has points attached.

How do I assist at an HKC?

Up until now I have asked the top students at HKCs to help us out. There have been a number of standouts from the first few and these people have become my go to team here in Australia. My first criteria is that these people all had to pass on the day at their HKC, meaning we only allow the best to come and help. However, we will soon have a new batch of RKCs and from the July course onwards the assistant instructors will all be RKCs or higher such as RKCII. We may still allow an HKC to come and help out in a limited capacity on the proviso that they have booked an RKC close to the HKC date. This isn’t written in stone though as first priority will always go to the highest ranked instructors available who demonstrate their desire to help others and live our Code of Conduct daily.

What about the HKC/ RKC discounts?

Once you’re qualified as an HKC you get $250 discount off your RKC. Additionally, HKCs get 10% off on selected items from Dragon Door and Dragon Door Australia and RKCs receive 20%. Smart trainers use this discount to purchase bells, books, etc. for clients and take the profit. This is just one way of improving your revenue stream via simple leveraging of your RKC/ HKC status. (Believe me, there’s plenty more!)


Melbourne HKC Wrap Up

March 23, 2011

All good things must come to an end and so it is with the recent Melbourne HKC. This was the 107th HKC run worldwide and the fourth in Australia. I’m not too sure what is going on in the rest of the world but I know that this was by far the best event we’ve run in Australia.

Led by Senior RKC Shaun Cairns and assisted by RKCII Andrew Read and RKC Shannon Scullin and Alby Owens this HKC was the best we have run.

The weekend really starts on the Friday with Shaun Cairns and I planning out the HKC as well as the advanced workshops the next day plus the one on one PT sessions that people come early for. These PT sessions included an FMS done by me along with corrections, then onto a one hour training session with Shaun. All four of the PT sessions went great, with people making sure to iron out any technical kinks they may have had the day before the HKC and, in some cases, get him to have a look at their form before they head over for the RKC.

The HKC is a long day. In Australia I have undertaken to make the standard as high as possible at every single event. Because of that we start our day a little differently to everywhere else. We start with a technique test for those assisting. With that beginning at 7.30am and with the first students arriving at 8am for their strength test we were off and running early! No one struggled with their strength test and at 8.30am we started the introduction and warm ups. It’s always good to hear who has done what and this time was no different. With people’s backgrounds ranging from gym management to those looking for the best training for themselves as well as people who have done other certifications (more on that later) there is always a wide variety of experience.

Everyone seemed a little intimidated by the kettlebells. Like cannonballs with a handle, they destroy weakness!

Dragon Door is always striving to move their business ahead. There is a very good reason why our courses are held up as the gold standard of kettlebell training worldwide. And the HKC is no different to the flagship RKC course. One of the first things Senior RKC Shaun Cairns said to me was that the course had been changed to better allow people to successfully perform the movements. One of the things I like the most about our system is Pavel’s never ending quest to make it better. The new changes don’t change the exercises at all, nor do they change any of the teaching progressions, but they do change how easy it makes people to learn how to properly do the exercises. Most trainers, and courses, concentrate only on developing the strength requirements to perform the lifts. However, we are concerned with developing adequate mobility and stability before adding strength. This three-pronged attack is a much better way of teaching exercise to people and the small changes made had a big impact on the day.

I’m proud to say that all the Dragon Door Australia customers again all passed on the day making us the only RKCs in the country who have had a 100% pass rate. Additionally, as the only group who have sent students to all of the Australian HKCs we are the most experienced at getting people ready for these instructor level events. The day finished for us at about 6pm with everyone being assessed and heading off to the airport or to our group dinner.

Here’s some of the feedback from the day:

It’s very hard to find good kettlebell instructor sin Perth. The instructors on the course were all very good and provided clear and concise instruction all throughout the course. Dylan Thompson.

The instructors were the best I’ve ever expereinced in the fitness industry by a long way! Very passionate and experienced and obviously keen to share as much of their knowledge as possible. The quality and attention to detail were better than anything else I’ve encountered. Wade Shean.

The course has been extremely eye opening and inspiring. The instructors certainly walk the walk. They are incredibly supportive yet maintain a great eye for the smallest detail. It packed more information into a single day than some of the three to four day courses I have done. Andrew Walters.

I work in the fitness industry and this course provided far more valuable instruction than anything I have done. The knowledge Shaun and Andrew have is awe inspiring. Educational! Educational! Educational! Tess Hunt.

Shaun has an amazing depth of knowledge that he shares in an easy going friendly manner. Andrew added so much extra depth of information and worked perfectly with him. Just goes to show, even when you think you know what you are doing there is always more to learn! Kylie Pethybridge.

The best fitness course I have ever taken. When compared to the AKI (Australian Kettlebell Instructor) course the HKC demands far more in terms of the execution of the exercises and the teaching of them. Shaun and Andrew are both immensely passionate about giving their best and clearly very knowledgeable. Two thumbs up! Immense attention on the attendees. T C Lee

The location was great – plenty of open space to practice. Both of the instructors had an amazing amount of knowledge and were very approachable. Tabitha Dearle.

I’ve been to many PT seminars and most usually fail to deliver. The HKC really did meet my expectations as the best going around and correlates well with my martial arts experience. Sean Bowring.

Fucking awesome! Fucking awesome! Rod Woglyn.

The last point pretty much says it all. The HKC is Australia’s best and brightest kettlebell training course. Now approved by Kinect Australia for PDP’s we are taking massive steps towards ensuring the highest standard of training with kettlebells can be met within Australia.

The Sunday workshops were fantastic too with Shaun and I delivering eight hours of non-stop detail and information. Covering Clean and Press and Snatch, RKC Preparation and some of our own advanced programming methods to take your kettlebell training to the next level these workshops were packed with even more attendees than the HKC the day before! It was great to see some other HKCs attending these workshops and furthering their knowledge and continuing to grow as trainers and expand their knowledge. We even had two RKCs present who were also keen to learn and grow – good to see guys! I’ve made massive leaps in my own abilities in the last two years, all thanks to my numerous trips to the US to train and learn alongside Pavel and his elite Master and Senior trainers. In less than two years I’ve racked up more than thirty days of training alongside them and I firmly believe this is the best way to keep getting your clients the results they pay for. It’s also the reason why Dragon Door Australia has a 100% pass rate for our students at events like the HKC – we just keep on pushing to get better all the time.

The next event is already in planning stages and there are some big surprises coming for Australia in the next few weeks. Keep your eyes open for a special Dragon Door TV episode and the next issue of Ultrafit magazine. Let’s just say that Dragon Door Australia features fairly heavily in both. This year will be a big year and will set the stage for an even bigger 2012. Keep your eyes and ears open too because some of our events will sell out fast with all the success we have in producing the best instructors and running the best instructor workshops in the country!