Posts Tagged ‘RKC’

September Workshops

August 23, 2011

Kettlebell training is not easy.

In fact, I’ve had more than a few people ask me for help with their technique – after they’ve spent time out injured. Just like with martial arts, the best way to learn is not from a book. It’s with a credible, experienced instructor who knows the subject inside out. This workshop will have the two most senior RKCs in Australia on hand to help you get the most out of your time.

You’ll progress faster and with less setbacks if you learn correctly right from the start.

September 18 we’re running two workshops at Dragon Door Australia in Melbourne. These two workshops are the ideal way to begin your kettlebell training. Led by Australia’s most experienced and highest ranked RKCs you won’t find a better way to begin your kettlebell education, or go onto attend an instructor event like the HKC or RKC. Here’s the run down of our Beginner Kettlebell Workshop

The Swing

Many people will tell you that the Swing is the most important kettlebell lift. Then they’ll spend about five minutes on it before ushering you onto more advanced training methods. But here’s the thing – all the Senior RKCs spend more time on Swings than nearly everything else combined. As one of the few people in the country who regularly spends time with Pavel’s most advanced instructors I’ve come to see just how important the Swing truly is. In fact, I credit the Swing with my ability to break some of my personal records in Olympic lifting after more then ten years away from it (and two big surgeries!)
I’m going to teach you how to perform the five foundational movements before you can even start to swing – that’s right, there are five steps to learn before you can even begin doing Swings safely. And each one can be used on it’s own within your workouts, effectively quintupling the number of workout variations you have. Not only that but I’ll go into all the other steps within the Swing like the four RKC secrets to mastering it via the Deadlift – if you’re not doing these steps you’re either losing power or going to wind up hurt! I’ll even talk about how to program the Swing so that you can understand how and where to use it in your own training to build both strength and fitness or even how to use it to produce Starting Strength – a key element for sports like Rugby, Golf, Wrestling and even Shot Put – yes, one exercise CAN do all that.

The Get Up

Many people rave about the Get Up, and rightly so. But how many people really understand them well enough to maximise their benefits? This movement is so powerful, so all encompassing that in the past I’ve run entire five hour workshops based around it.
In this workshop I’m going to teach you the six steps to a solid Get Up as well as the nine functional movement benefits hidden with it – it really is a one size fits all exercise for true functional strength.
Like with the Swing I’m going to show you how to place this in your programs for maximum effect and how, in combination with Swings, they form a unique one-two knockout punch that boosts all facets of fitness in just a few minutes. This combination is so powerful that I have used it to train two world champion BJJ stars as well as numerous other Olympic and professional athletes.

Goblet Squat

I’ll be blunt, if you can’t Squat, you’re doing damage to yourself all day everyday. Think about it – without a functioning Squat pattern how are you getting in or out of your car? Or even in and out of your chair at work? The Squat is powering all of those.
By using some of Pavel’s secret RKC methods (there’s six in total) to develop the Squat I’ll show you how to Squat deep safely. Despite what many will tell you our bodies were designed to do this and it’s only through lack of practice that we have lost this skill. The use of the Goblet Squat will loosen up the hips and allow you to work safely with much bigger loads.
This two hour workshop is jam packed with vital information to all curious kettlebell users! Here’s a summary of what you’ll learn:

  • The 5 foundation moves that make your Swing crisp, powerful and best of all safe!
  • 4 secret RKC techniques that protect your spine and help increase power and strength.
  • The best way to use the Swing in YOUR training – no matter whether you want strength, power, speed, fitness or fat loss – I’ll show you each way.
  • The 6 building blocks of the Get Up.
  • 9 functional movement patterns within the Get Up and their importance in daily living.
  • How the Swing and Get Up can be combined for a one-two knockout punch for all-round strength and performance.
  • Pavel’s own unique 6 secrets for improving the Squat and developing hidden hip mobility and leg strength.
For more details on this kettlebell workshop just follow the link.

Straight after we’re going to be running an Enter the Kettlebell Workshop. At this workshop – ideal for those with some experience – we’re going to build the three essential strength and power movements from the ground up. Here’s what you’ll learn on the day –

Clean and Press

  • How to get the most out of your press – while putting the least amount of strain on your shoulders.
  • How to stop strength “leaking” from your knees and hips – and what the pros do to prevent that.
  • The key characteristics of a good press.
  • How to instantly increase your pressing strength using these Russian secrets.
  • Learn the RKC specialised pressing drills to instantly increase strength and tension.
  • Develop all purpose strength to easily handle the toughest demand.
  • Forge a physique like legendary strongmen Sandow and Saxon, not the bloated cartoon bodies of bodybuilders – because form must follow function.

The Snatch

  • Learn the ins and outs of the Czar of kettlebell lifts.
  • The simple and sinister exercise that develops killer conditioning and develops muscular and strong shoulders.
  • Learn how not to bruise your arms while snatching.
  • The Snatch is a 3 stage rocket – unlock the secrets to finesse the stages to get more from your training.
  • See why the kettlebell rules for elite conditioning.
  • Maximise staying power, because the last round counts for everything.
  • Propel yourself to Special Forces levels of conditioning to call yourself a man among men.

This workshop only available for those who have previously attended the Beginner’s workshop, or are HKC certified.
All details for these workshops can be found at


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.

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.

Take the Next Step

July 12, 2011

So you saw some of those strange looking cattleballs on Biggest Loser and you thought they looked to be a good way to train.

You bought some and found that your new love – the kettlebell – actually gave you better results than you ever actually dreamed, even in your early stages of fumbling around trying to learn how not to squat when you swing.

Then you discovered this Russian guy, Pavel Tsatsouline and someone probably recommended Enter the Kettlebell to you. After reading or watching Enter the Kettlebell you started to realise that there was more, a lot more, to this whole kettlebell thing and you started to educate yourself more on how to get the most out of this simple, yet powerful training tool.

But at some point, and it’s the same for all of us, you start to ask, “what is the next step”? Because sooner or later you’re going to stall. You’ll start to experience one, or maybe all, of these things –

  • You stop making progress.
  • You start getting nagging little injuries.
  • If you’re a trainer and you’ve started using kettlebells with clients (and shame on you if you’re using kettlebells with clients but aren’t an accredited trainer) your clients start to have the same problems.
  • Either you or your clients are starting to get bored with kettlebell training because it’s not bringing you the results you’d like.

The next step is to attend and event like the HKC. I know what you’re thinking, “But it’s only three lifts, and beginner ones at that”. Well, let me just say that I am yet to see many people who actually perform swings well. Or Get Ups. Or even perform a basic functional movement pattern like squatting well unless they’ve been taught. Not only that but these three movements are so powerful, so all encompassing, that I have trained world champions using nothing but these same exact moves! We’ve used the swing to add two inches of jump height to a basketball player and the same exact swing to heal back injuries.

Last year I had the good fortune to be involved in three HKCs in Australia, and another one this year. I can honestly say that without the time spent working on these movements, on being part of teaching them, training people to do them correctly, that I wouldn’t be anywhere near as good at my job as I am right now. I’ve even suggested that there should be a “Master HKC” for already qualified RKCs to attend to go over these moves in even finer detail and really extract every ounce of detail and information from them.

Yes, the HKC is that good.

But what then? You’ve done the HKC, passed the number one, most technical, most in-depth kettlebell certification in the country. What happens next?

The one thing that separates good trainers from great trainers is education. All of the top trainers in the world share one common trait – an insatiable thirst for knowledge and continuing their education. Guys like Senior RKC Franz Sindeman who will travel halfway across the US just to “hang out” at the RKC and learn more. Or like Team Leader Andrea Chang who probably racks up more frequent flyer miles than the sky marshals she attends so many events to help out or hang out. And when you look at how successful they are the reason comes down to one thing – passionate accumulation of knowledge.

However, just knowing a lot about training won’t help your business much. There’s plenty of smart trainers around who can’t make decent money. Because their problem is that while they know a lot about training prospective clients have no idea exactly how smart they are! Their problem is that they have only seen half the puzzle – that making money as a trainer, having a solid income, depends on being able to market yourself as a good trainer. I’m not talking about the all hype, high pressure sales tactics used by big chain gyms. Necessary because they can’t clients results so they need to keep the stream of people flooding through the door because there’s two more leaving at the same time. I’m talking about some simple methods that can be used to inform the marketplace about your skills and services – essential skills in today’s modern world where everyone is bombarded by various forms of media – to separate yourself from the herd of others who are trying to steal your customers.

That’s why guys like Master RKCs Geoff Neupert and Dave Whitley have been to John du Cane’s Marketing Mastermind Intensive. It’s also why Senior RKC Jon Engum and I are going again later this year. Learning how to market is THAT important. It’s also why, along with kettlebell technique workshops for this HKC we’re also running a Niche Marketing Workshop.

Senior RKC Shaun Cairns and I are going to be speaking about what we’ve done to separate our businesses from the herd – to become the leaders in kettlebell training in our countries. From attending which events to speaking engagements to social media – it’s all going to be covered in this two hour, specialized niche marketing event. The combination of these two elements – technical training information along with business and marketing skills – is a one two knockout blow to your competition. Don’t miss this chance to really take your business and your training to the next level this year.


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!

Experienced or Merely Qualified?

June 21, 2011

The fitness industry is in shambles. Sorry to tell you, but it’s true. From the people running the courses to accrediting trainers to (most likely) your trainer too – barely any of them have any real idea how to make things better.

The problem goes like this –

In Australia our Fitness courses are marked on what is called competency based marking. Essentially this means that you have to be able to prove competency in certain criteria. The problem is that CBM is pass/ fail. Either you proved you could do it or you fail. That actually seems pretty straight forward, however that’s not the full story.

The commercial reality is that most fitness institutions are competing for the same dollars in what has become a very crowded marketplace. If one institute were to run a course that was “by the book”, as in they failed those who don’t display competency, the thinking goes that no one would attend their course. So in an effort to maintain their attendance (and income) they soften their course little by little until a shaved monkey on crack could pass.

At Holmesglen TAFE where I used to teach a student could fail a given piece of work an infinite number of times and would always be allowed a resit – as long as they attended more than 80% of the classes. In other words, as long as you turn up every day you can be miserable at something up until the a week after the final day of the course when results were done. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have someone train me who failed program writing seven times before finally making the teacher so frustrated with having to spend further time with them they were gifted a pass – anything as long as the teacher no longer had to deal with that student.

To further complicate matters the definition of competent is somewhat vague and this creates further problems. Let’s say that the task is to sit on a chair. Some teachers will pass anyone who manages to land on the chair no matter how out of control, lopsided or dangerous it may be. Others will only pass the student if they sit a particular way – back straight, feet shoulder width apart, controlled descent, etc. This can be further complicated by teachers being involved in subjects they have no involvement or experience in.

Further muddying the fitness industry is the desire for PTs to accumulate continuing education. I am all for continuing education and believe that most trainers should spend more time on their education. In the last few years there have been some interesting developments in continuing education and two, in particular, have affected me. The first was a decision that for PTs to use boxing in their workouts they needed to have participated in an accredited course. This year the same has happened with kettlebells too. I have no argument with either of these policies, however the means of implementation has been rather sloppy and heavy handed because of what it causes.

I used to work for Thump Boxing. I firmly believe that the Thump course is one of the best fitness related courses of it’s kind in the country. In fact, looking at it’s growth both here and overseas it is very clearly a great success story for it’s creator Christian Marchegiani. Having said that, the popularity of the course does create certain issues, that are exactly the same as the mass production of fitness trainers via the educational system spoken about earlier. The modern fitness industry is based on this “competence” not on actual skill or experience. At the Thump courses, over the three to four years I worked for them, I saw a total of one single person I could have safely sent clients to. One out of around a thousand. That’s not a slight on the course but on the marking system and on the fitness industry itself. The industry is built on people with shallow knowledge in a broad range of areas always looking for new ways to entertain clients rather than seek out deeper skill and actually have their clients really get results. This means that most will not have any boxing or combat sport experience prior to attending the course, and that is fair enough. But to suggest that by attending a weekend course they have somehow reached a level of mastery that should allow them to run classes using a potentially dangerous form of training is ludicrous. Considering that they have spent thirteen hours of the course learning, that is like a person who has been to two months of boxing classes off the street being allowed to run classes. And which gym would allow that? But somehow if you’re a PT it’s expected that you’re gifted an unnatural ability to learn new skills quickly and that despite having next to no experience that you are now in a position of authority over a class of people who in many cases may actually have more experience than you!

So they may have the piece of paper, but are they really masters of the subject matter? And do you want those people training you?

Contrast this to what goes on at the HKC/ RKC. We have set standards, many of which are easy to find on this blog, and we expect a student to be able to do them. If they are not met you fail. The standards are set out in such a way as to ensure that marking is consistent across the board. Additionally, when it comes to marking, every RKC knows the standard and what is required inside out. So the person marking you is intimately familiar with what it entails, spends a large amount of time themselves working within the system and has many, many hours of experience. For my part, I treat my clients no different to what I expect from students at the HKC. This means that every day we are working on the standards and we even have them up on the wall of the gym. Every single class and PT session for us is a trial run for marking at Dragon Door events.

This high standard approach has been problematic when getting our course accredited. We were actively encouraged to make the Squat standard easier as the “fitness authorities” felt it was potentially dangerous to squat below parallel. While it can be a problem, if a student has spent adequate time and effort preparing for the lift there is no danger in it. And right there is one of the biggest issues for many – we expect that our students turn up having spent some time learning how to use kettlebells, training hard and gaining strength and movement. So yes, our standard is high – higher than any other fitness course in Australia. We have failed instructors from other certifications who simply weren’t good enough to meet our requirements and we have failed people who simply weren’t ready to become instructors. Dragon Door take their role as the market leader in kettlebell training very seriously which is why there is such a big difference between the results you can expect to obtain from an HKC or RKC than from any other brand of instructor. If you are paying good money to have someone train you wouldn’t you prefer they actually had experience with the thing they were teaching you rather than just turned up and had a piece of paper handed to them just because they had a credit card?

This same high standard continues throughout the system too. As instructors we have to regularly attend events to re certify or we lose our accreditation – no different to the continuing education process of the fitness organisations. But, to re certify we are expected to maintain the same high standards that we had to exhibit to pass in the first place. Recently another exercise distributor made a blog post about how he hadn’t really been working out. For me, that guy should not be held up as an authority on exercise. When you see videos like Master RKC Dave Whitley doing 200 snatches in 8 minutes it really puts it into perspective. If you’re an exercise professional you can choose to either maintain high standards and professional integrity or you can be a shadow guru, professing knowledge without being able to demonstrate it.

If you want to learn more about fitness, strength and kettlebell training there’s only one solution –

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 .

And, because we take you being the best instructor you can be very seriously, the only way to really get ready for that workshop is to start with our Beginner and HKC Preparation workshop

If you’re a prospective client – do some homework on your trainer. Find out if they are experienced or merely qualified. And if you’re a trainer – get serious about the service you are selling and give your clients the results they are paying you for. Don’t just get qualified.

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 –


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