Friday, June 05, 2009

If Civilization Ended today.....Would your fitness help you?

When I first took the RKC certification in April of 2003, I remember then Senior RKC Rob Lawrence saying that if civilization ended tomorrow, a kettlebell would be a practical way to stay fit because you could literally travel with it and bring with you wherever you went. Let's take a different scenario ( a rather scripted movie like end of days scenario, I know), imagine if civilization ended as we know it. No more ruling government, no technology, no civil laws or courts; just bands and tribes of people trying to eat, survive and protect themselves from nature and others.

Here is the question I ask of you: Would your current methods of fitness help you?

Could you survive? Would you have the strength, power, speed, explosiveness, agility and mental toughness to stick it out and protect you and your family? If this answer is NO, you probably stick to a fitness regimen of Pilates, Yoga, walking and Richard Simmon's "Sweating to the Oldies." I don't have a problem with people doing Yoga, Piliates (although I do have a problem of people sweating to the oldies with Richard Simmon) or even walking. There are wonderful things one can learn from Yoga and Pilates, and walking of course is a pre-requisite for living. The challenge I have is with the mindset that by themselves Yoga and Pilates as a stand alone system are enough to prepare you for living in perilous times.
Let's take Yoga for example. I know some Yoga practitioners that can flat out perform some amazing things. Handstands isometric puh ups, incredible balancing poses that would make spider man crincge, and many more. The health benefits to learning how to breathe properly and let go of tension obviously are a plus. But let's go back to initial quesion. Would this be the best way to condition your body and mind for an "end of civilization" scenario. I would argue that it is not the best way. A way, yes, the best way, no! Long static yoga poses do little to increase the CNS's ability to recruit the muscular system in an explosiv way that would be required. Yoga also would not help you lift a 200 pound boulder out of the way to make room for setting up camp.

Now for Pilates! YIKES! I think there are many principles that are beneficial in Pilates such as long spine and creating length in your structure. But to dedicate the majority of you time to performing exercsies lying on your back or in a prone position seem rediculous in my book. If you do Pilated please don't e-mail hate letters because I am not saying you cannot do Pilates or that there in zero benefit, but to EXCLUSIVLEY use pilates as your only method for fitness is a huge mistake. The load (springs) you use in Pilates is not real in my book. Pick up a heavy deadlift off the floor or press something heavy overhead. Even swinging a kettlebell blows away any functionality claims that the Pilates people swear by.

The bottom line......if your fitness doesn't make you function better and perform better while standing on your feet....... you wouldn't survive long if civilization ended. Is your Yoga and Pilates giving you the real world fitness you would need to survive? I am fully confident that people who include deadlifts, RKC style kettlebell training, some sprinting or intense type of running, bodyweight explosive exercises and odd object/strong man training would do very well in the scenario I am talking about. That doesn't mean you shouldn't stretch, do Tai Chi, Z-health and other parasympathetic activities, it just means you should perform standing full body movements such as :

  • Deadlifts and all of their variations

  • Cleans

  • Snatches

  • Squats

  • Presses (both horizontal and vertical)

  • Rows (pull ups as well)

  • Shouldering exercsies with all sorts of different objects

  • Lunges and Stepping patterns

  • Jumping

  • Climbing

  • Crawling

  • Sprinting

  • Throwing (this would be very important for killing food)

  • and more......

Those would constitue the basic movements you would need to be able to perform well and with precision.

Power to us all! I certainly hope civilization doesn't end tomorrow :)


Erik said...

Nice topic Franz. With my current fitness level, a book on native plants and a knife I do believe I could survive.

People should be training with odd objects more often. Probably why I have become such an advocate of stone lifting. This is how original structures were built to withstand the elements. Perhaps if we go through the fabled 2012 apocalypse. People would regain their heritage as manual laborers.

Also, I will be taking the RKC in San Diego coming up in late August. Hope to see you there as one of the Team Leaders.

Anonymous said...


I agree completely with your statements and I routinely practice yoga (and I'm sure you do too or at least in some way.) You're spot on! I consider the kettlebell to be an ideal tool for supplementing about 60% (or more) of all motions that the body is capable of performing. The rest you can do without the need for weights exactly like you said - sprinting, dragging, climbing, swimming, etc.

I think this mentality of "true to nature training" is something that is being aided by the kettlebell movement and that's absolutely why I'm getting onboard in San Diego this August! I like that the RKC is more or less a family of people who understand the need to be prepared and pretty generally understand that they should focus on weaknesses and imbalances as opposed to fitness fluff.

There seems to be a general mentality at present (and I'm sure it has existed for all time) that in this society we are exempt from the lessons of history. Humanity does not seem to be at it's best in a state of complacency.

RKC tribe! :)

Franz Snideman said...


Thanks brother! A knife and some horticulture knowledge certainly would be a plus, totally agree!

Look forward to seeing you at the August RKC!!!!

How is your training going for it?

Franz Snideman said...


Rock on man! Thanks for the feedback and the comments!

RKC in August...that is awesome!!!

Look forward to seeing you there!!!!

Erik said...

Training is going well. I have been very busy with my thesis work but, I am going to try and compete in Olympic Weightlifting at the Cal State games. Past that it's seminars and then I am going to give the VWC a try.

Faizal S. Enu said...

I actually worked at a private gym that cancel their sessions for that evening because the power went out.

Needless to say, I don't work for that gym anymore.

Faizal S. Enu said...

I actually worked at a private gym that cancel their sessions for that evening because the power went out.

Needless to say, I don't work for that gym anymore.

Sandy Sommer, RKC said...

Great post Franz! Obviously for most folks the answer to your question would be a resounding "NO!" And it's a shame. Kettlebells have allowed me to improved the quality of my movements in ways that nothing else seemed to do. I wish I had known of them years ago, but better late than never.

Aaron Friday said...

Most likely, the ability to survive on less food would be the best skill to have.

After that, cooperation with fellow people. Maybe this is even #1.

Fitness guarantees that you'll be looking after others.

Aaron Friday said...

Franz, as a fitness instructor, you make excellent points about fitness.

However, if civilization ended today, I don't think any of us would be concerned with fitness.

The best skill to have in this scenario would be the ability to exist on little food. After that would be the ability to deal with boredom.

If we have to walk away from our home, we're going to try to bring a bunch of useful crap with us, but a kettlebell of any size will not be included.

Franz Snideman said...

Faizal....glad you don't work at that gym anymore!

Franz Snideman said...

Thanks Sandy! Kettlebells rule....better late than never is right!!!

Franz Snideman said...

Aaron, thanks! Regarding fitness and the end of civilization I totally agree. We wouldn't be concerned with fitness.

The point I was trying to make was that you would want to have performed the right type of training prior to this "end" of civilization in order to help you survive. I didn't expect people to literally carry a Kettlebell with you as Rob Lawrence had talked about.

Again, my main point was what type of training would give you the best chance for survival!!

Lauren said...

Great post again! Amen!