Posts Tagged ‘Dragon Door’

Melbourne’s Best Kept Personal Training Secret

August 16, 2011

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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RKC Training

August 11, 2011

It’s right smack bang in the middle of cert season in the US. There are RKC events going on all over the country – from St. Paul to San Diego to Chicago – as well as in Hungary, Italy and Korea. The RKC has truly become the global standard, and leader, in kettlebell training. As both kettlebells and functional movement have grown in popularity and understanding there has been a massive growth too in numbers attending the RKC and even the post-RKC events such as the Certified Kettlebell Functional Movement Specialist course and RKC Level II.

While this is great and the growth of the RKC community is a great thing – the short version is it gives us a bigger collective brain to solve problems and keep advancing – it seems like there is starting to be a lack of good ol’ fashioned common sense in preparing for these events. Just because something has become more popular doesn’t mean it will be any easier to pass. In fact, I think the technical standard today is far higher than when I did the RKC, although maybe I feel that way because looking back I now think I understood nothing about kettlebells when I attended the RKC in June ’09. So here is a list of things you can do to help you get yourself ready for the RKC –

Don’t treat the RKC as you would a normal fitness industry certification. Meaning, unlike other groups who certify instructors who arrive at courses as absolute beginners in a subject we expect you to have spent considerable time on kettlebell training already. While the format has changed slightly the Snatch Test used to do this for us – if you couldn’t complete one hundred Snatches in five minutes we’d know straight away that you were likely going to struggle with the weekend. At the very least you should already be able to perform without hurting yourself the 100 Snatches as well as all the other RKC Basic Six exercises of – Swing, Get Up, Clean, Press, Squat. These movements are tested using double Snatch weight bells – for men this will likely be double 24s and for women likely double 16s (although you will probably not have to test the Press with double 16s but with 12s or 14s instead).

This means as a minimum you will need to be able to perform at least five reps on each exercise (ten for Double Swings) with those weights just to be able to test.

The caveat here is that testing is the penultimate thing done after three days of training. During the teaching portion of the weekend you learn by doing. In other words, while learning how to teach the Swing you will do the Swing. In fact, you’re probably going to do about a thousand of them with weights ranging from a single Snatch weight bell to Double Snatch weight to something even heavier, maybe up to even 36kg for men. So if you’re planing to attend you will need to make sure that your lower back and hips, as well as your grip strength, are strong enough to do that many Swings. This is an  often overlooked part of the weekend. I had no opportunity to train with Dragon Door kettlebells before attending the RKC for the simple reason that they weren’t available in Australia until six months after my trip when I became the national distributor. Because of this I was only able to train with competition bells in the lead up to the RKC. While my technique was ok the biggest issue I encountered was the extra grip requirement of training with thicker handles! On the Saturday night I couldn’t even turn the door handle to my room as I couldn’t hold onto it!

You’ll also be doing lots of overhead work in both the Get Up, Press and Snatch portions of the weekend. So you need to be strong enough overhead to deal with having a bell pressed out overhead for long periods of time. There will be times when you will be expected to have a bell overhead for up to two minutes in a static contraction. While testing for the Press is with double Snatch weight – you’ll need to be able to get five reps – you will probably want some strength reserve to allow you to work with that weight at a comfortable level. My suggestion is that men should be able to Press a 32kg for at least a few reps.

All the while you are learning the progressions for these six exercises you will be doing Swings. At my RKC my diary shows almost two and a half thousand in various forms over the three days. Mostly with double 24s. If you plan to be one of the few who manage to make it to day three without walking like Quasimodo I suggest you spend a lot of time training Swings otherwise the sheer volume of work is going to tighten you up and affect everything you do on test day.

Here is the general continuum for how attending the RKC should work –

Discover kettlebells and realise they make all of your other training redundant when used in conjunction with Hardstyle training principles.

See an RKC instructor for technique assistance. Honestly, this is probably the most important step and nearly everyone excludes it. What point is there in practicing bad form? It will just make it harder to fix you on the day as you will have more deeply ingrained your mistakes. See a knowledgeable instructor right from the start and you will find the whole journey much more enjoyable. Don’t bother learning anything other than Swing, Get Up and Squat at this point. It takes months before people start doing Swings well and only then is it worthwhile even teaching them anything else. All that happens if you rush this is they wind up with poor Cleans and Snatches and likely some kind of injury.

Attend the HKC. While this isn’t a pre-requisite for the RKC I believe it should be. The result at the RKC for those having attended the HKC is far better than for those coming directly to the event, especially if they have come without any previous contact with an instructor. Not only that but with the rebate available for those doing the HKC you basically end up with an extra day of training with a Senior or Master to fine tune your form further. So you’ll get to see what the expectations are like for our instructors, the level of strength and skill required, have your technique gone over with a fine tooth comb and you get a discount at the RKC.

In between the HKC and your RKC you should again spend time with an RKC. This is now to learn Clean, Press and Snatch as well as the differences between single and double bell training.

Once you’ve got your HKC and learned how to do the next three moves it is time to move onto Rites of Passage from Enter the Kettlebell. For men you need to be able to complete this with Pull Ups and a 24kg bell in under an hour or you’re not strong enough to even think about going to RKC. At this point, even though you’ve learned double bell work, you don’t need to be doing any. You should also be spending time working on your teaching skills as you do get tested on your ability to train others at the RKC.

Once you can finish the ROP with a 24kg in under an hour you’re now ready to start thinking about the RKC. At the very least you will likely need to start building your Snatch numbers up and developing your work capacity to cope with a weekend of double bell drills. But fear not because you have spent adequate time on creating strength first – because when you are trying to develop strength endurance, first you must have strength. The best formula to follow is to use Brett Jones’ RKC Preparation programs. I find about three months worth of this is enough to put the icing on the cake for people. They can be found here. I differ in my recommendations to Brett in that I don’t think the body necessarily needs to be prepped to work for three days straight – it either has the capacity or it doesn’t. As we used to say in the Commandos – you don’t need to practice being cold, wet and hungry. What I do suggest is following his program using one of the three workouts on three days per week and doing a single bell workout followed by the next workout with double bells for a month, just alternating single bell to double bell workout to workout. Then the remaining two months it goes double bell, single bell, double bell within the week. Each week you swap which workout is single bell but always two workouts per week with double bells at test weight. You will also need at least one workout in there to retain max strength and I suggest a day where you do 3 x 1,2,3,4,5 Double Presses (no Clean in between) plus Pull Ups. Tack some Snatches onto this day and you’ve got a decent day of training. Then a fifth and final day of training needs to be added in that has lots of Snatches. There are many ways to build up the numbers but as long as you can do five per hand with test weight at the beginning of these three months you should be fine.

The final piece of advice is that you should stop ALL other activity at least three months prior, and in some cases as much as six. This is for all those cardio junkies who wonder why they can’t seem to gain strength – it’s because you’re exhausted all the time! For some women in particular this is vital as they are already challenged in the strength gain department and need all the recovery they can get. I recommend all my clients cease all activity outside of kettlebell training for at least three months prior – no running, no martial arts, no team sports – nothing other than kettlebells. And within the kettlebell training I insist they stick only to the Basic Six. There is no running test at the RKC nor is there a max Pistol test. As Senior RKC Dan John says you must keep the goal the goal and when the goal is to pass the RKC having paid all that money to train, travel and attend there is simply no need, other than ego, to be doing other activity. I have actually seen people fail at the HKC because of lack of focus – a 32kg Pistol done a week before instead of practicing Swings or gaining fitness for an all day training event. Looks good on FaceBook, not so much when you don’t pass on the day and walk away feeling like you’ve wasted the entire day as well as your money.

Obviously if you’re in Australia we constantly have people come to learn more about kettlebell training with us and I currently have online clients getting ready for various RKCs. Our new website will be up soon and will feature an online training option so even people outside of Australia will be able to have guidance to get ready for a certification – even if there are no local RKCs we’ll be able to do technique corrections online. But the bottom line is always the same – if you fail to prepare adequately you will likely fail. While my plan is longer than many would hope it is 100% successful and breeds strong, experienced instructors once they pass the RKC. By developing strength gradually as well as experience with kettlebells they turn up at the event ready and enjoy their weekend instead of suffering and hoping they pass.

Iron Tamer coming to Oz!

August 5, 2011

Wow – a week ago we had Senior RKC Shaun Cairns here running VIP PT sessions, an HKC and all day advanced workshops the next day to a great group of instructors. With a growing, committed, band of qualified instructors we’re starting to get some serious talent turning up to our events.

Let’s make one thing clear – we’re not after just anyone to come and join our ranks. We don’t want to be the Hyundai or the McDonald’s of the fitness industry – there’s already enough people doing that. In fact, I would say that the problem with the fitness industry worldwide is way too much supply of low quality instruction. For the people out there who are in serious, desperate need of good trainers this isn’t doing much to help the obesity and diabetes bomb that is exploding in our midst. The HKC helps to change all that. Even people who attend from other certifications are amazed at the massive amount of detail we go into to teach, break down and trouble shoot exercise. And all that makes me laugh a little at how so many people misunderstand kettlebell instructor courses here in Australia.

I routinely get emails from people asking how many CEC points are attached to the various beginner workshops we run through Dragon Door Australia. It needs to be said that if you attend a single workshop, having never touched a kettlebell before, and walk out as an “instructor” at the end you’re not going to be much of an instructor. In a very literal sense you will only have a few hours more experience than your clients, which is hardly the expert service they believe they are paying for. In the longer term this will see clients leave as they become dissatisfied with the service and seek out a true expert – it happens to me all the time. Refugees from other PT studios, who have fallen in love with kettlebell training come seeking out the best they can find.

So which one do you want to be – qualified or a subject matter expert?

It’s like martial arts masters have said for centuries – “better to face the man who trains a thousand techniques than the man who knows one”. Because in all honesty, if you attend the HKC, you will KNOW three techniques inside out and the Hardstyle method of training allows you to train anyone, no matter the age or experience. In our classes at Dragon Door Australia we use far more of those three things than anything else. And despite what many in the industry will tell you, mastering a few exercises and being able to perform them at high levels of skill (read: use more weight) will always bring about a greater improvement than using beginner weights on a random variety.

If you’re serious about becoming a sold out Personal Trainer in your area, if you’ve made the decision to become the best you can be then the next choice is easy –

On October 15 Master RKC, the Iron Tamer, Dave Whitley is coming to Melbourne to run a full weekend of Hardtsyle kettlebell training.

We’re going to begin with VIP PT sessions on Friday the 14th – if you’re interested be quick once they’re up on the website as the last time he was here they sold out in less than 8 hours! Yes, you read that right – the Iron Tamer sells out faster than Justin Beiber!

Saturday 15th October will be the HKC – an all day, all out, Hardstyle festival of strength and movement.

Sunday 16th – all day workshops featuring both Dave Whitley’s best material and mine ranging from his Deep Get Up skills workshop to the patterning work I’ve been doing (which saw nearly everyone in attendance last weekend set PRs after a full weekend of training).

The message – if you’re planning to come to the HKC, plan to come to the ENTIRE weekend and take away all the knowledge you can fit in your head. The bottom line is that education brings you income. The more you learn the more effectively you can train your clients, problem solve and get them results. Having a Master RKC here is no easy task – this guy is seriously busy! Along with Dave we’ll also have an RKC Team leader in place (yours truly) as well as Australia’s first ever female RKCII, Shannon Scullin. This combination of experience, education, strength and passion can’t be matched anywhere in Australia – don’t miss your chance to train and learn from the best!

Dragon Door’s HKC Instructor Workshops- Enter the lucrative world of the certified kettlebell trainer—and attract more clients for a better income. How to master the essentials of kettlebell lifting—and dramatically boost your power.Click here for Course Information or Register Now!.
How to master the essentials of kettlebell lifting—and dramatically boost your power and effectiveness as a personal trainer or coach Pavel and Dragon Door’s one-day, entry-level kettlebell instructor certification workshop .

(Details for the VIP PT sessions and Sunday workshops will be available on http://www.dragondooraustralia.com by the end of the weekend. But with limited spots available to learn from the Iron Tamer himself book now for the HKC!)

1,2,3…HKC!!

June 30, 2011

The tax year is done.

The year is half over.

Are you halfway to achieving your goals?

If one of your goals was to become better at your job as a personal trainer, to dominate your area as a kettlebell instructor and to educate yourself with world leading knowledge then you need to attend the July 30 HKC in Melbourne.

It’s no secret that Dragon Door are the world leaders in kettlebell training. It’s also no secret that if you’re currently training with kettlebells, and not living in Russia, that it is all down to one man- Pavel Tsatsouline. Since he arrived in the US he’s taken the fitness world by storm with his Russian Kettlebells. Having been named “Hot Trainer of the Year” by Rolling Stone magazine, featured in strength training journals and now recognized as a subject matter expert in strength and fitness by SEALs, Marine Special Operations, the FBI…the list goes on.

In 2001 he created the Russian Kettlebell Challenge, although these days it’s better known as the Russian Kettlebell Certification. It’s held up as being the number one, gold standard, kettlebell instructor’s course anywhere in the world. However, the RKC is tough – so tough that up to 30% of attendees fail. It’s a three day, grueling test of strength, stamina and mental toughness. And not everyone who is interested in teaching kettlebells is ready for that.

And that’s where the HKC comes in.

The HKC is a one day course that contains the key elements of kettlebell instruction that made the RKC so famous, without it being quite so tough. Don’t get me wrong – the HKC is still hard work. In fact, for most people it’s up there as one of the hardest training days they’ll ever have. Dragon Door don’t just hand out instructor status. We expect our instructors to be among the best in their field – to lead from the front. And the only way to do that is to earn it in sweat and hard work.

I often get comments from people about the HKC being “only” three lifts. The problem is that we’re not teaching you how to do these lifts. Oh, you’ll learn how to do them better than you ever thought was possible – with a great amount of detail and a high level of skill you may not have realized was even possible in lifting. But what we’re really going to do is teach you how to teach those lifts to your clients. And that takes time. The Swing alone can take hours to go through the myriad of drills that we have in our manual, updated continually by Pavel, to help you trouble shoot, diagnose and maximize your clients’ training. These drills will enable you to get your clients swinging as easy as “1,2,3” and they’ll never even guess at how detailed your knowledge is of these backbone, foundational kettlebell moves.

Unless they’ve trained with another instructor first. Nearly all of my current PT clients are refugees from other trainers. They love kettlebells, but they were sick of being hurt and made to do movements they knew were hurting them. So they seek us out at Dragon Door Australia. And when you apply Pavel’s RKC methods, even on “simple” moves like the Swing – you get massive results. It’s funny – when people think beginner they think of Swing, Get Up, Squat and then all of a sudden there’s a rush to learn the Clean, Press and Snatch as well as a bunch of other moves. But if you don’t know the Swing you’ll never get the Clean and the Snatch (certainly never well enough to pass the Snatch Test). And if you don’t have a solid Get Up you’ll probably hurt yourself Pressing or Snatching. And then when you become more advanced you realise that most of your training should stay centered around Swing, get Up and Squat – in fact, they’re all I’ve done for the last month!

Don’t waste any more time – the $100 discount on the July 30 HKC ends in 3 days on July 3! Click the link below to joint the number one kettlebell training group worldwide!

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

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.

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

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

Kaizen

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.