Friday, December 16, 2011

Sandbag Training......are you serious???

Yes, very serious!!! Sandbag training is EFFECTIVE! But not as effective as the movement science behind it. Without a doubt, the modern pioneer of effective Sandbag training is Strength coach Josh Henkin. Nobody has done more to advance this obscure tool than Josh and when Josh speaks, I listen.

The following is a testimonial I have for Josh and his Sandbag Certification.

I have had the honor and privilege of knowing Josh Henkin for the last 14 years. Josh and I met in Arizona at a gym in the 90’s and it was clear to see at that time that Josh was determined to teach and train people with the best strength and conditioning methods available. I credit Josh for exposing me to  Kettlebells and of course Sandbags. Personally and professionally I owe a lot to Josh because I know of very few people in the fitness industry who continue to grow, learn, share, teach, coach, encourage and empower people like he does. I can count on one hand the number of people who are as educated and experienced as Josh. He has literally taken every certification out there and continues to learn from the brightest and the best. What he has done to contribute to the evolution of strength methods is powerful and his development of his LIFT certification program is the pinnacle of his career in my opinion.

I had the privilege of taking Josh’s Sandbag L.I.F.T certification earlier this year in Los Angeles and to say I was impressed is an understatement. This two day course was packed with hands on training, practical programming and direct Q and A with Josh throughout the entire weekend. Let me highlight why I think this course should be taken by any serious student of strength and conditioning.

1)      This course is QUALITY BASED with movement excellence as the goal.  Improvements in total body integration along with enhanced body awareness are the first things I noticed after day one. Josh has an amazing ability to dissect movement down to its most basic and fundamental patterns and then immediately and harmoniously teach you how to integrate all of the body. He then seamlessly progresses into more COMPLEX PATTERNS.

2)      It’s not about lifting HEAVIER all the time. Josh explained how easy it is to fall into this trap. Just get stronger and all your problems will be solved. NOT TRUE! Josh made it very clear why just putting more weight on the bar will not necessarily make you a better athlete.  It may make you stronger at that one lift but it won’t guarantee you better athletic success. The body must simultaneously get better at various patterns of movement along with improvements in coordination, power production, agility and MOBILITY!

3)      The importance of training in all planes of motion, ESPECIALLY in ROTATION!  Training in all three dimensions simultaneously is essential and is easy achieved with Sandbags.  But don’t be fooled. It’s not the typical rotational nonsense we see in the functional training movement.  Josh’s rotational progressions are the real deal and should and must be taken seriously. I was HUMBLED when I couldn’t successfully complete even some of the basic sandbag rotational movements.

4)      The PROGRESSIONS are safe, fun and more importantly effective. Josh takes all body positions, grip possibilities,  foot stances and gives you clear instruction on how  and why to progress. I was almost overwhelmed with the depth of detail that Josh goes into covering the different body positions alone.

5)      His new Sandbags are so fun to use with all of the new grips possibilities. The new bags are much more durable than any sandbag I have ever used. The POTENTIAL and infinite amount of drills, exercises and patterns is really, REALLY COOL! 

6)      This is a HANDS ON COURSE!! BIG TIME!! There is no sitting around and only discussing theory. You get your hands on these SANDBAGS from the first 10 minutes of the course.  What I love about his course is that Josh always emphasized POSTURE and BODY POSITIONS over muscles. Huge emphasis on proper DIAPHRAGMATIC FUNCTION AND BREATH! The emphasis on MASTERY is what makes Josh an AMAZING COACH. The certification was full of excellent coaches with lots of experience. We were all humbled with even the slightest change of body position or foot position.  The CREATIVITY that Josh has infused into his LIFT system is incredible. Honestly, I am JEALOUS that I didn’t think of some of these possibilities on my own.

7)      Josh emphasizes what is going on INSIDE your body (the intention you have while performing the movements) rather than focusing solely on the EXTERNAL.  This is MINDFUL practice, purposeful practice!!!! Of course you feel like you are working but that is a bi-product of focusing on the proper intentions.

8)      The section on Assessment was very cool.  What I liked about it was that Josh taught you how to assess various movements and muscle activation patterns such as PRONE HIP EXTENSION and then taught us how to find the correct Sandbag movement to improve our glute function and hip mobility. Every single person improved their Hip function immediately with the Sandbag movements, specifically the BEAR HUG SQUAT.

9)      Josh taught us how to successfully combine the TRX and the Kettlebell with Sandbags. As a Senior RKC Kettlebell Instructor in the RKC system, I can confidently say that the SANDBAG methods Josh has come up with are an excellent compliment to the RKC Kettlebell methods and system.

10)   The PRORGRAM DESIGN  section was worth the price of admission alone. On day two we had to demonstrate to Josh our knowledge of the sandbag exercises by designing a program for a very specific type of athlete. This was fun yet challenging because it forced us to really think through the essentials of intelligent programing and implementation.

11)   Another BONUS was that Josh gave every student a copy of his HIGH OCTANE Sandbag DVD covering many of the essential and foundational sandbag movements.

Overall I couldn’t have been happier with the LIFT certification. It opened my eyes to a new tool which I now love and to programming progressions which are pure genius!  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you take the LIFT certification and continue to grow, evolve and improve your health, body function and intelligence. Congratulations Josh, this course is the GOLD STANDARD in Sandbag Training.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Hardstyle goes to South America!!!!

Very excited to have taught along side of Yoana Teran the first ever Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification in South America. Last weekend on November 26, 2011 (and also my Birthday), we taught an HKC in Caracas, Venezuela.  I am still so excited and jazzed from the experience. All of the students were eager to learn, professional, focused and enthusiastic. There will be great things to come out of  Venezuela and I forsee an explosion of Hardstyle Kettlebell methods all over Venezuela and the rest of Central and South America. 

In fact let's go ahead and include the great country of MEXICO in that line up as well. We will be heading to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in March of 2012 to teach the first ever HKC in Mexico!! Exicting times for Dragon Door, the RKC School of Strength and Revolution Fitness!! We have much to be thankful for!!

We want to thank our host HKC Monica Sancio for helping us bring this incredible HKC certificaiton to Venezuela. We also want to thank our sponsors Gatorade as well as HKC Eduardo Gonzalez for all of his help and support during the weekend.  More pics and Venezuela updates to come!!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Are you Kettlebell Juggling?

Just got back from Fort Collins, Colorado where I taught an HKC certification. RKC Aaron Pierson was the host and was a excellent host to say the least. We had a rather small group but what was really cool was that many of the top RKC Colorado Instructors came up to watch and assist. Josh Hillis, Valerie Hedlund, Gus Petersen, Shari Wagner, Jim Perry and Heather Hubbard. It's always great to get talented RKC's together because ideas organically come to life and we all learn off each other! Really enjoyed my time in Colorado (although I am glad to be back in San Diego.....I don't like being cold and I love the ocean).

Now onto Juggling. The day after the HKC Aaron Pierson and I had the opportunity to drive to Denver and spend two hours training with RKC Gus Petersen and his lovely wife Karen. Gus is the creator of the K.A.T (Kettlebell Athletic Training System.)  The K.A.T. system is an all-Amerian system of kettlebell juggling moves that's as physically demaning and mentally engaging as your chosen sport, athletic endeavor, or outdoor adventure.  I have alway been curious about kettlebell juggling but have never had any serious coaching. To say I was impressed with Gus and his juggling is an understatement. It was some of the most challening and fun training I have ever done. The amount of hand eye coordination, FOCUS and quickness that is needed is off the charts!!!  Neurologically I felt alive.
Gus took us through his foundational juggling movements and coached us through a step-by step progression that allowed to start juggling right off the start. Gus's coaching is so effective yet so simple. He got me to do things that I thought I would never be able to do.  I was so impressed with what Gus can do and the creative mind that he has, I will be hosting a joint workshop with Gus sometime in the near future. Details to come!

Here is a video compilation I put together of our session with Gus! Truly is amazing what is possible with kettlebell juggling. The MINDFULLNESS it requires is more than you could imagine!

How many of you are doing kettlebell juggling? Thoughts and comments are welcome.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Sprinting......why you should be doing it

Last Saturday I was forunate enought to give a brief lecture at the Hardstyle Ventura Workshop on the importance of SPRINTING and the many positive benefits of including this primal movement into your regimen!  It was amazing to see 50 plus people performing sprint technique drills and focusing on the basics. Just like we teach at the RKC, anybody can pick up a kettlebell and swing it; but not everyone can properly perform the KETTLEBELL SWING.  It is no different with sprint technique; everyone can attempt to run fast, but not everyone can run well.What I want to share with you today are some of the main principles I taught the group.

"You run on the ground - you sprint over it." - Perry Duncan

Why Sprint?

  • Being able to move fast could save your life (and someone else as well)
  • It keeps you functioning a very high level throughout life
  • Better communication and activation of fast twitch fibers
  • Can build MUSCLE and encourage FAT LOSS
  • Makes you LOOK better - which is why the majority of people train anyway

  • Positive hormonal reaction - Growth Hormone and Testosterone
  • Anabolic Stimulus
  • The most practical way to demonstrate ballistic HIP EXTENSION
  • The ultimate in power training with just your bodyweight
  • Some of the highest power outputs have been found in sprinting
  • Very dynamic form of strength training / mobility training
  • PALEO PEOPLE would say that sprinting was needed for evolutionary reason to catch prey or escape predators
  • The ability to sprint at high intensity is a very good sign of orthopedic and neuro-endocrine health
Like any movement worth doing, the secret is learning CORRECT technique.  Although explaining proper technque in detail is far beyond the scope of this blog post, here are some essentials that you must know about proper sprint technique.


  1. Head is held high and is the beginning of running tall
  2. The torso erect
  3. The hand of the driving arm comes up to the level of the face
  4. The shoulders are relaxed
  5. The hips are high enough above the ground to allow the driving leg to extend fully to the ground
  6. The ankle of the recoevery leg clears the knee of the driving leg - MOST IMPORTANT****
  7. The ankle fully extends at the end of the leg drive
Next post I will show the drills that I taught in learning proper sprint mechanics.

Question to all of you: are you currenty sprinting, why or why not?

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ginastica Natural Workshop with Senior RKC Peter Lakatos

Ginastica Natural Workshop

Taught by Senior RKC Pater Lakatos

When:  Thursday November 17, 2011  7pm - 9pm

Where: Revolution Fitness, La Jolla, CA

Host: Franz Snideman Senior RKC / Yoana Teran Casabianca  RKC Team Leader

Price:  $69 (when purchased before October 31)

* price will go up to $99 on November 1

We are very excited to be hosting Senior RKC Peter Lakatos from Hungary. Peter will be teaching a two hour workshop on Ginastic Natural. What is Ginastic Natural?

Ginastica Natural was developed by Alvaro Romana, from Brazil. Peter has spent extensive time training with Alvaro and has become a gifted teacher and practioner in this method of movement.

Here are some of the principles and benefits you will learn of at this Ginastica Natural workshop:

  • based on Natural Movements of Primitive Man
  • based on activities performed in nature or in any natural environment
  • exercises can be practiced outside or inside
  • Ginastica Natural is based on Jiu-Jitsu ground movements
  • basic gymnastic bodyweight movements
  • dynamic stretching and breathing techniques
  • combines strength, flexibility, power, coordination and agility
  • through dynamic breathing techniques the practioner will greatly improve mental and motor control
This is a hand on workshop and you will be learning the details and fundamentals of this incredible movement system. Peter has spent years studying this system. Through his years of training and experience Peter has also come up with some rather extraordinary methods for using these primitive movements for athletic enhancement as well as for corrective measures.

Who should take this course?

  • Any RKC or HKC that is wanting to learn how to move better and with more fluidity and grace
  • Any type of strength coach or trainer who wants to learn how to personally move their bodies better and help their clients do the same
  • Any type of athlete who is not currently satisfied with mobility and flexibility
  • Anybody who wants to look, move and feel better
If you have questions, e-mail me :

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

10 Random Thoughts

Every now and then I like to blog about random cool things that I feel are worth sharing and our making a difference in my life and in my clients life. For those of you that know me, you probably notice that I don't blog too much. If you don't know me, hopefully you'll find some information on my blog that will prompt you to make some positive changes in your health and fitness journey. Let's dive right into the topics....

1) Recovery weeks -  The older I get and more wear and tear I have on my body the more benefit I get from taking de-loading weeks. These are weeks where my volume is cut way back (sets and reps) and the intensity is cut way back as well (load). I think it is a HUGE mistake to continue to push the envelope. There is nothing wrong with getting stronger, however, eventually you have to pay the piper some time. Learn to back off every couple of weeks and listen to the warning signs your body is giving you. Constant aches and pains, lethargy, poor sleep and mood swings could mean you are pushing the training a bit too hard. The goal of training is get stronger and healthier not weaker and sicker. Most workouts should feel "Good" and you should leave feeling fresh and energized., not trashed and sick!

2) Program Minimum under times of Stress - When life gets stressful (and we will all  cycle in and out of stressful periods of life as long as we are alive) we need to find training methods which allow us to continue to train without smashing our immune systems into the ground. Pavel's Program Mimimum of GET UPS and SWINGS is just what the doctor ordered.  It could be as simple as this:

Monday - 15 Minutes of Get Ups ( sets of 3 per arm) + 20 swings (two hands on KB).
Tuesday - Walk, get outside for some fresh air
Wed - 15 Minutes of Get Ups (heavy singles) + 10 swings (heavy KB-two handed)
Thursday - Stretching - breathing - mobility work...should not feel like a workout
Friday - 15 minutes of Get Up Ladders (1 each side, 2 each side, 3 each side). Finish with 2 sets of easy swings (25 reps per set)

That is a sustainable training program for a couple of weeks during times of high stress and/or limited time. Constantly focus on the QUALITY of movements and try to get through the first week without feeling exhausted or worn out).

3) Get some SLEEP - this doesn't sound too sexy or important but trust me, it is. It seems rather obvious and simplistic but I think lack of sleep causes a lot of auto-immune issues such a fibro-myalgia and other similar types of disorders. Try to get to bed before 10:30pm (and earlier than that if possible) and watch how much better your joints and muscles feel in the morning. Possibly look into getting a ZEO sleep device to monitor your sleeping patterns.

4. Fish Oil - take your Omega 3's.  - Do I really need to even be talking about this? The truth is yes...I still meet people all the time who are not taking fish oil and eat little fish such as wild caught salmon. Read what Robb Wolf author of the Paleo Solution has to say about Fish Oil here.

5. Look into Fascia work -  Yes, that means rolfing, anatomy trains type of soft tissue work. I personally think the the connective tissue/fascia is still a huge key in getting people well and getting people to move pain free. Yeah I know, it's all about the nervous system, but you sure as hell can't wiggle your pinkey toe and expect your fascial trains to open up (at least it hasn't worked for me).  Check out Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers. The challenge I see with fascia work is that it takes a very skilled practitioner with lots of experience and great touch to soften up and bring health to your fascia. I for one have a lot of practice to do in order to master this fascial work.

6. Get into NATURE more often - Again, this sounds so simple and easy but how many of us consistently get out into nature (ocean, beach, mountain, rivers, streams, hiking, deserts) and re-connect to a more simpler natural way of living. I for one feel the negative effects of excessive work loads and too much connection to technological devices...damn cell phone and computer! I don't want to live with out a cell phone or computer but I certainly feel the negative effects on my physiology and mental state from constantly checking text messaged and being addicted to checking my e-mail. Get out into nature as often as possible....better some MovNat training!!!

Check out MovNat and what Erwan Le Corre and Clifton Harksi are going. I highly recommend their workshops.

7. Two workshops I want to take: 

a) I want to take the Indian Club Workshop with Brett Jones and Dragon Door. Ever since I started using Indian Clubs last year, I fell in love with them. Talk about mindful movement......Indian Club Training is mindful movement to the max.

b) MovNat Certification - with Erwan Le Corre and Clifton Harksi
- I has the honor and privilege of taking a one day MovNat workshop with both Erwan and Clifton in the summer of 2011 and was beyond impressed. As soon as the certification is up and running I plan on becoming certified in their method. I see it as a great compliment to the RKC system.

8) I love COLDTONE Ice Cream....that's right.. I love it ! It may kill me sooner or later or cut my life span but it certainly brings a lot of joy and happiness to me and my family.  I specifically like the Cake Batter Ice Cream with Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, Cookie Dough and chocolate syrup mixed in! Ironically I am usually leaner the day after I eat this! ahhhh...genetics!!!

9) EVERNOTE - love this App for making my life more organized and for sharing ideas with others. This has been huge fore me because it automatically sinks all of my notes and projects with any computer I have and my cell phone. If you struggle with organization (like I do), get this:

10) HKC is an incredible workshop - The more I teach these HKC one day certifications, the more excited I am about the incredible depth that is invovled in the big three movements: Swing, Get Up and Goblet Squat. The secret in learning about anything is to teach it! The more you teach, the more you learn. So if you want to learn about more about the Swing, Get Up and Squat, teach it to as many people as you can. You will learn more from teaching than anything else.

Here are the next couple of HKC workshops I will be teaching:

Fort Collins, Colorado HKC November 12, 2011
Caracas, Venezuela HKC November 26, 2011
Houston, Texas HKC December 10, 2011
Modesto, CA HKC January 21, 2011

And there we have it! My 10 random (but important) thoughts for the day!

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My MovNat Experience on Venice Beach!!!

On August 7th, 2011 I had the privilege of taking my first ever MovNat workshop in Venice, California with founder Erwan Le Corre and one of his top instructors Clifton Harski. I have been following Erwan and his MovNat principles since I first discovered the MovNat webpage a couple of years ago. Clifton and I also have done some RKC style kettlebell work together in the past and he was also the first person to expose me to what a MovNat style training session even is. As a full time RKC Kettlebell Teacher and Kettlebell Studio owner, I have not been this excited about a new style of training in a long time.  The MovNat experience for me was life changing and further made me appreciate movement in some rather profound ways.

Below are some of the Key Principles and Methods that  I learned from this workshop.

  1. Moving well has more to do with intention, awareness and relaxation than I had previously thought. Erwan did an amazing job on emphasizing the importance of always being aware of gravity and where in your body you are "FEELING" the effects of gravity. For example, when standing upright the obvious place where we feel gravity is in the feet. When crawling on your hands and knees, you feel gravity's effect on your hands and on your knees. When hanging from a pull up bar with your elbows and forearms pressing down on the bar, that is where you feel gravity.  Moving well in nature or whatever environment you find yourself in an "INTERNAL" job. It is mindfullness taken to the extreme.  Rather than focusing on muscles or external things, your focus in constantly switching from contact point to contact point!
  2. Where you CONNECT TO THE EARTH is where you should focus. This is a natural extension of the first point I made.  Balance is maintained and efficiency in movement is enhanced when you focus on your contact point!!! The second you take your mind off of your contact point (or multiple contact points) is when you lose balance, go into excess tension and overwork.  This concept has roots in the work of Moshe Feldenkrais and again emphasizes the INTERNAL workings of thought, attention and focus rather than only be concerned with the external environment and conditions. I would argue that unless one is INTERNALLY focused one cannot be truly aware of the external conditions that are present in a meaningful and reliable way. 
  3. Adaptability is the GOAL!!Your ability to adapt to whatever environment you are in is the difference maker in moving well, training intelligently and SURVIVAL. Being able to immediately adapt from climbing a tree, to jumping from rock to rock and then diving into a river and swimming to safety is key.   How does one achieve this ability to harmoniously blend and weave together multiple bio-motor abilities such as Strength / Power / Endurance / Agility / Coordination / Mobility / Speed and Problem Solving? The answer is in exposing yourself to many different environments and performing many different type of movement challenges such as:

  • Climbing 
  • Jumping
  • Carrying Objects
  • Sprinting / Running
  • Crawling 
  • Swimming
  • Balance challenges
  • Diving into Water
  • Lifting objects from the ground
  • Dragging Objects
  • Throwing Objects
  • and many more .....

The myriad of movement challenges are endless and one only has to get creative and imaginative to improve.

4. Studying and watching animals in Nature is very eye opening into the concept of efficiency. Gorillas and Monkeys do not struggle in moving on land or from tree to tree. In fact, they make it look easy and graceful.  Humans on the other hand need to learn this graceful movement and thank God it is something that can be practiced and learned. Erwan made several funny jokes about how tense we were all getting trying to get ourselves up on top of the pull up bars and how trying harder actually worked against us.

5. RELAXATION and TENSION are co-dependent, but relaxation is what allows us to sustain graceful,SAFE and powerful movement. Not that tension doesn't have its' place, but usually excess tension prevents us from enduring movement challenges in potentially dangerous environments. 

This is where I see a great marriage between the RKC School of Strength Principles and the MovNat principles. At the RKC we teach and stand by the following five principles.

1st) View of Training as PRACTICE, not "WORKING OUT."

2nd) Yin/Yang focus on relaxation and tension

3rd) Use of Speed Endurance training for development of power, different types of endurance and promoting fat loss.

4th) "Safety is viewed as a part of, not the opposite of, performance."

5th) Reverse Engineering of what the strongest and most coordinated people do naturally

I especially want to highlight the 4th principle. Erwan did a wonderful job of teaching us about risk tolerance and just flat out stupidity and danger. It is safe and wise to challenge yourself in the beginning with environments that have little potential danger and risk. As you masters some of the basic challenges, your risk tolerance goes up as does your confidence to move into more difficult situations and environments. However, some risks are just not worth it because there is always a higher tree, a higher ledge or more dangerous obstacle to surmount in which the benefits are just not there (if you may not make it). I thought this concept of risk tolerance and reward was outstanding and one that needed to be addressed. All in all I know that people will be better suited and fit to handle difficult and potentially dangerous environments when one focuses on less dangerous challenges in the beginning. Because Erwan and Clifton emphasize the focus on movement PRINCIPLES, the environment is secondary to learning to move well. 

So, as we teach in the RKC and as MovNat teaches, SAFETY is viewed as PART OF, not the OPPOSITE OF, PERFORMANCE.

I also want to highlight the first RKC principle, a VIEW OF TRAINING as PRACTICE and not WORKING OUT. Erwan was very clear that there must be an element of PLAY and enjoyment in our MovNat sessions. Rather than just mindlessly focusing on sets and reps, focus on very specific motor skills and qualities that you want and need to improve.  Also, be free and open to exploring the possibilities of movements. Again, the focus in INTERNAL and not so much external. 

On a personal level, I found that by the end of the day I was more ALIVE (though exhausted), more FOCUSED and more AWARE of my body in a very new yet FRESH way. Movement was FUN and I had developed a new confidence in my body and it's potential to PERFORM and MOVE better.  Not only do I plan on continuing my MovNat PRACTICE but I plan on educating others how the RKC principles (and that includes the Functional Movement Screen Principles) and MovNat principles are really expressing similar truths about the human body and what we are capable of doing. 

Very excited to see where this goes and am very excited to get certified as a MovNat Coach as soon as soon as the certification is up and running. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

10 Things I Learned at the San Diego RKC last Weekend

Last Weekend marked my 8th year assisting or teaching at RKC certifications. This was my first as a Senior RKC as I must say it was perhaps my most fun and memorable RKC event to date.  The teaching, the students and my other RKC peers made it an incredible weekend. Those of  you that have taken the RKC understand what I am talking about. We truly do have an amazing community and a very unique group of committed and capable individuals that collectively make up a very lively and effective system that we all know as the RKC school of strength.

Dan John, one of the most gifted teachers I have ever met, gave a great talk on Saturday afternoon titled "WHAT IS THE RKC." Dan encouraged all RKC candidates  to write down the top 10 things they had learned that were profoundly important to them.  For that reason I am writing this blogpost in honor of Dan. What a great idea and what an essential habit to form after all workshops. The following are the top 10 things that I learned over the RKC weekend.

1) "Be a PERMANENT BEGINNER."  That's right, remain a permanent beginner as you start your kettlebell journey. Dan talked about how he considered himself a beginner with kettlebells because that way you are striving to get better each and every day. Their is no destination where you finally arrive at kettlebell mastery. Always stay humble in your learning and always seek out those better than you.

2) INTEGRITY is being the same person at all times. It is being consistent in behavior and conduct regardless of the group of people you are around. It is living a principled centered life and sticking to your values and morals at all times.  Pavel and Dan have this quality which makes this RKC community so much more special.

3) SWIM the kettelbell down in the snatch. This one is from Pavel. I have never heard that one before. Literally think of doing a front crawl and pull the SWIM the kettlebell down and back between the legs. That means your arm and torso come closer together. This was an A-ha moment for me!

4) Fail with integrity! This is from Master RKC David Whitley.It's ok to fail but fail with integrity. That means you give it your very best effort and commit to the lift. However, the outcome, regardless of what it is, doesn't matter. Do your best and have the right attitude and that is enough.

5) Connect with people at their level! This is one that I realized during the weekend. Try and meet people and see things through their perspective. Sometimes we try to conform others into what we think they should be. Meet people where they are at and respect their own personal process and journey. We are all different and thank God for that.

6) Focus on the INTERNAL. This is not necessarily anything new but it did get driven home after Pavel kept talking about the internal nature and focus of the RKC movements. We teach intention, position, posture, breath, and where to channel the force. This is fundamentally an internal focus, much like an eastern martial art.

7) BE PREPARED!!! Do your  homework before the RKC!!! People get really NERVOUS and RKC certifications!! Help them to channel that nervous energy into better performance and skill work. This is where the art of coaching comes in. Talk with your team, keep them focused but help them feel confident in their preparation and skill work. As we know, the best antidote to fear and nervous energy is preparation. Take the RKC seriously, prepare and show up ready to go!!!

8) Humbleness and Humility!! This should be obvious but often people have the opposite qualities. Those students that lack humility never pass the RKC!! Is talking back to an instructor about how you are right and we are wrong in not a smart idea!!!

9) The RKC community is SPECIAL and people sense the awesomeness of this community!!! Embrace this community, give back to it, and it will give back to you!!!

10) The DEADLIFT posture and position is KING!!! Never forget that SWINGS and GET UPS really do work if you focus on mastery!!! Watching people improve over a 3 day weekend is amazing and something I never tired of watching!!!

There it is!!!  If you are an RKC reading this, let me ask you, what did you learn????

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Traffic Light Principle and How It Effects Your Training

Just finished watching Dan John's Intervention DVD and I must say that any serious strength coach or fitness enthusiast will highly benefit from Dan's Knowledge. There is nobody in the fitness industry that is able to weave together cutting edge training principles with philosophy, theology and practice life experience like Dan John.  Dan is absolutely one of my favorite presenters in any field. He makes you bring up the bigger issues of life and has a way of speaking straight to your CORE VALUES which in turn makes you question your thinking, training and future. In watching the 3 part DVD sets Dan reminded me of a principle that I originally learned at the CK-FMS back in 2008. The concept is the TRAFFIC LIGHT principle and it is a very clear and simple method of assessing your training readiness.

Imagine you are driving and you pass through a green light at the traffic light. This green light represents forward movement, momentum and speed. There is nothing hindering you or telling you to slow down. When you transfer this to training, a GREEN LIGHT represents a period in your life when things are going smoothly and progress is easy to attain. Let's look at some green light attributes:

  • Sleep is plentiful and restful
  • Nutrition is more than adequate and you are fueling your body to grow muscle and repair
  • General Health is excellent / Immune system function is high
  • External Stress such as toxic relationships, a bad job, being broke is out of the equation
  • Your Social life is good and your have meaningful relationships with friends, family, etc..
  • Mental outlook on life is Positive. MOTIVATION is High! Expectations for the future are Optimistic.
  • Perhaps the fact that you have Medical Insurance gives you peace of mind
Now let's use the same analogy of the traffic light and now imagine you are driving and the traffic light TURNS YELLOW. Immediately you are put in more of a threat mode as you now know that danger could be in front of  you if you do not make a quick decision. Yellow lights signify CAUTION. It doesn't mean that  anything negative has happened but it is giving you a signal that you need to SLOW DOWN!!! In regard to training a YELLOW LIGHT would mean:

  • Your body is giving you some signals that training volume and intensity may need to be altered and possibly reduced
  • Pain and discomfort in your body may be increased during this time
  • Life stress such as increased family and work demands are making it more challenging to recover from intense training
  • Nutritional habits may have taken a turn toward not fueling your body adequately or toward eating the poor food choices on a consistent basis
  • Sleep quality is down. Getting adequate rest seems rather difficult during this time
  • Mental and emotional health is still good but you can tell that you are not as mentally sharp or emotionally stable as you would like to be
  • Pregnancy is usually a Yellow light situation for the mother and for the father
The RED LIGHT represents true challenge in your life and represents  lack of forward movement and progress. There are times in all of our lives when we enter these RED LIGHT periods where because of serious challenges our training needs to be altered in a major way. Here are some potential RED LIGHT attributes and potential situations:

  • You have recently had a major injury that requires bed rest or surgery
  • You have lost a job or perhaps your job has been transferred to a different part of the country and you need to pack up  your stuff and move your family half way across the united states
  • Major health set back (heart attack, disease, you need a serious operation)
  • Perhaps you are getting Divorced or there has been a death in the family
  • You are under an incredible amount of mental, emotional and physical stress
All of these RED LIGHT situations are major players in the sense that they will not only modify your training but they will modify your entire life. We all go through YELLOW AND RED LIGHT situations in our lives and therefore are forced to tackle them head on.  Having been through many red light situations in my life I can tell you that whether you like it or not, training will be put on the back burner for periods of time.  However, that does not mean that you have to STOP training. What it does mean is that you have to be brutally honest with yourself and what you are able to successfully recover from. If you are in a red light situation, it may not be the time to run those 2 marathons you were planning on running or climb mount Everest. Sometimes just doing the basics and bare minimum are enough.

Another very important piece of advice Dan gives is to look at your training or the training log of  your client/athlete and do the opposite. If they are mainly doing  Bench Presses, Pull Ups and Power Cleans, have them work on Loaded Carries, Squatting variations and Hinging patterns, The fact that you are training patterns will alone often get people stronger and more importantly healthier. After all, there is a difference between HEALTH and FITNESS.

Health is having your organs working well, oxygen coming in and out of your body and generally being safe in the manner in which you live your life. FITNESS is the ability to perform a task. Ideally we should have the HEALTH side of things nailed down first if we truly want to be able to sustain our FITNESS.

more to Dan John and his wisdom!!!!

Your Thoughts? Comments? 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More on Ground Based Movements.....

Okay....this is an extension to my previous post but I am seeing more and more miraculous cases where clients are coming in to see me with chronic pain and dysfunction. Most of these people are seeing physical therapists, getting body work, you name it, they are doing it! I am not trying to toot my horn but these people are getting better VERY QUICKLY and it is not because I am doing anything magical (well.....we can call it FMS magic, he he he).

I had a very athletic woman who came in today to see me and she actually scored quite well on the movement screen (16/21). The challenge is that she injured her left hip flexor in yoga which might have stemmed from an overuse injury from all of her endurance sports. Whether she has a TEAR in her psoas/groin area or not, one thing is clear: she did not have the ability to disassociate her hips from pelvis/low back area,. While performing the HURDLE STEP test, she clearly compensated by using her low back and pelvis to try and lift her hip over the hurdle. It was UGLY!!!!  She scored a 1 on both legs!!! Obviously getting her one leg proved to me that she has no business distance running right now because she cannot even stand on one leg and flex her other hip. Everything else in her FMS was fine. Her mobility in the shoulders and ASLR were both #3's.

What to do????

I gave her the rolling patterns as showed in Mark Snow's VIDEO posted in my previous BLOG POST!!!
I also gave her the Stability Ball Posterior Rock and it worked wonders. She got up and nailed a solid 2 on her Hurdle Step and she was SHOCKED!!! In my opinion her deep stabilizers were not firing at all causing her to use her prime movers (more global muscles) to do the job as mobilizers and stabilizers (which they were never designed to do anyway). Most of her issues seem to be NEURAL in nature!!!

Stability Ball Posterior Rocking: Maintain a Neutral Spine and you MUST breathe using your Diaphragm during the entire movement: Start by pushing with two hands and then go to single hand. Focus on breathing!!

Once again...I am even more convinced that rolling and ground based movements are often overlooked!


Monday, May 16, 2011


My Daughter Marianna at Gymnastics 
 Getting on the floor is healing for many reasons(we'll go over those reasons in a bit).  For one, it is far less threatening on your body and for overpowered athletes that have stressed out nervous systems I find that people respond very well to ground based mobility, rolling, stretching and breathing work.  Lately I have been experimenting with the Gray Cook posterior stability rock (or Quadraped Rocking) for chronic pain clients and it really seems to calm down the pain and genuinely make them feel better when they get up from the floor.

Now keep in mind that I am not a trained medical professional nor am I licensed to treat pain, hence I am very clear with people that I do not treat pain.  My expertise is in getting people to move better and usually that means that people begin to feel better. In my experience people that are in chronic pain tend to do better when you start them on the floor for the following reasons:

1) The ground gives you a break from GRAVITY
That doesn't mean that the laws of physics cease to exist but it does it mean that their is less gravitational stress going through their bodies. This especially helps people that have lumbar disc issues such as bulging discs or herniations. Having been through two disc bulges myself, I spent many days and nights on the floor because it was the only position that allowed me to move.  I would have loved to spend some time in a Zero gravity chamber during my disc injuries (although actually we know that zero gravity for extended periods of time causes muscles wasting and loss in bone density).

2. Ground based rolling, crawling movements, positions and postures reboot your ORIGINAL OPERATING SYSTEM
The original operating system was the HYPER MOBILE system we were all born with when we entered this world. Think of babies; they are born with lots of mobility, stretch, tissue pliability and over the first years of life develop the STABILITY to safely move from the floor to standing and navigating around on two feet. Getting on the floor and re-visiting these ground based movements can re-establish connection with primitive movement patterns that could be limiting the way your nervous system is functioning. If you are in pain, keep getting injured or are not performing well, there is a great chance that you need to re-visit many ground based movement patterns. Check out Gray Cook's SECRETS of PRIMITIVE PATTERNS DVD. 

Try Rolling (thanks to RKC, CK-FMS Mark Snow for these videos)

3) Ground based movements allow you to RE-LEARN how to breathe properly

Belly breathing is natural in infants. I have curiously been watching my three old daughter Marianna and my one year old boy Esteban Andres develop and it has been astonishing to see how much they use use their bellys while breathing. Belly breathing is something that we stop doing as we get older and take on the stresses of modern life. This has disastrous consequences on our health, performance and movement. Lying on your back or face down and practicing belly breathing is a great way to re-establish communication with the diaphragm. When the diaphragm is working well it stimulates our inner unit (Transversus Abdominus , multifidus & pelic floor muscles to reflexively stabilize our lumbar and sacral illiac joints). When the inner unit is working properly it allows the outer and more GLOBAL muscles such as the Glutes, Erectors, Psoas, Rectis Femoris, Lats, Rectis Abdominus, and Obliques to take on their essential role as PRIME MOVERS and actually move us around. Those muscles were never designed to be stabilizers!

4) Ground based movements allow us to break poor movements habits and build new improved ones

There is just something that feels so good being on the floor, rolling around, playing and discovering our body.
Babies never learned to stand up by doing smith machine squats, hamstring curls or leg extensions. They learned to stand up because they rolled, rocked and crawled.  They went through SEQUENTIAL LEARNING. We are not a collection of individual pieces.  Our brains think in terms of patterns and whole movements and tasks. Therefore we must:

  • Train the whole
  • Know thyself
  • Move from the Ground UP
Can anyone say KALOS STHENOS!!!! Greek for "beautiful strength." Get all of Gray Cook and Brett Jones' DVD's and Books. They are life changing if you apply them!!

The bottom line is that most of us need and should spend on the floor daily working our weaknesses, re-booting the original operating system by working on those primitive patterns and by improving our breathing.
I hope this has prompted you to take a look at your entire workout goals and has at least convinced you that you may need to add in some corrective ground based work.

Thoughts? Ideas? Your Experience with some of these movements?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dragon Door TV KRIBS Video

Super cool that our studio Revolution Fitness was featured on the Dragon Door TV KRIBS section. Also, Congratulations to Yoana for being the Comrade of the week.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Random Thoughts

Went on an amazing hike today at Torrey Pines State Park overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. If you ever get out to San Diego you MUST hike these trails. Not because they are incredibly difficult but because they are undeniably beautiful!!! Don't believe me? Than you just gonna have to go for yourself and check them out!!


1. Having a PRACTICE is more important than WORKING OUT

This is something that I have been thinking about for a while and I think it really takes time to get the point on your life where you develop a PRACTICE and not WORKOUT habit.  Just like someone has a Yoga practice or martial arts practice, developing your kettlebell skills takes time, effort, study, humility, discipline, focus, patience and persistence to name a few. The desire to get it a workout is for amateurs and novices. If you use kettlebells treat it as a practice. The emphasis is on the INTERNAL workings of your body and mind and not just on "breaking a sweat."   Your focus in on principles, not how many times you felt you were going to puke.  The natural by-product of focused and precise movement (swings, squats, snatches, get ups, presses, pull ups) is an effective workout. Focused internally guided movement will challenge you big time.

If you are starting kettlebells my advice is to pick a program (Enter the Kettlebell would be a great one / Right of Passage)  and stick to it. Stay on that program for 6 months to a year. Yup, that's right. It will take you at least one year to become competent in the basic Kettlebell movements. It will take a lifetime to master them.

2. Eat more Vegetables and Greens

This might sound like a no brainer but how many of us actually do this on a daily basis.  I will be the first to admit that I go through periods of time where I eat lots of vegetables and greens and then go through times where I eat very few. The end result of me eating daily greens and salads in increased energy, better bathroom visits, healthier looking skin, and better mental clarity. This is where I think the PALEO style of eating is superior because it has you eat lots and lots of veggies and ditch the refined carbohydrates. Every day I hear people tell me, "I can't lose weight and I am really frustrated." And then I respond, "Well, what are you eating?" The conversation usually ends right there. My advice is to eat at least one large salad every day with protein, veggies and lots of organic goodness.The bottom line is that we all need to eat less CRAP (refined carbos) and eat more vegetables and greens.

3) Get a Lacrosse Ball

Recently I have fallen in love with a lacrosse ball because it just makes me feel so good! Well, not really! It actually can be quite uncomfortable at times but seriously, this ball has really helped me work on problematic areas in my body. At night time I like to like on the floor and place the lacrosse ball on the following areas:

  • Infraspinatus / Teres Minor / Lats
  • TFL
  • Glutes
  • Plantar Fascia (bottom of foot)

Go easy at first and as your muscles allow you to go deeper you will be able to. Try and do 5 to 10 minutes of lacrosse ball work every night for one week and notice how much more mobile and healthier your soft tissues feel.

Thoughts? Comments?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Swing = The Center of the Universe


Heresy you say!!! Pure Heresy! I'm not talking about the actual universe I am talkling about the exercise and training universe. In the world of the Russian Kettlebell Challenge Master RKC Mark Reifkind said that the kettlebell swing is the "Center of the Universe" and he was right on when he said this. The SWING really is the center of the "movement"  universe followed by the GET UP in a very close second place. Now of course I am not saying that there are no other movements worth doing because there are many movements that I feel are "ESSENTIAL" and worth doing. But when it comes to kettlebell training the SWING is KING of all kettlebell movements because it teaches you how to use your hips in a powerful, explosive and athletic way.

 Ever try swinging a dumbbell?  Feels strange and awkward doesn't it?

Every try swinging a barbell between the legs? Obviously you cannot do this!

So for those people opposed to kettlebell training...blah...blah...blah! Obviously those people have not ever experienced the benefits of what properly done kettlebell training gives you.

It is hard (almost impossible) to find a movement that gives you MUSCULAR, CARDIOVASCULAR and ENDURANCE training all at the same time.  It also teaches you do move from the hips which immediately increases MOBILITY and FLEXIBILITY and give you a rock solid lower back and strong spine.

Running is better? I don't think so (at last not for most people). The impact of running will catch up with most people and I offer swings as a great solution to people looking for some great cardiovascular training who also can't afford to put more mileage on their overworked frames.

I agree with Mark Reifkind that the Swing gets looked over in spite of its foundational properties to all other movements. The Swing is not as fancy or fun like a heavy clean and press or heavy snatch. Some people try and race to TGU a very heavy KB overhead which is an impressive feat of strength for sure. But somehow the Swing seems to get overlooked.

Want to get a better Clean? A better Snatch? A better Deadlift?

By advice for you: GO BACK TO THE SWING!

Here are some Swing tutorial videos I did that can be very helpful if you are new to kettlebells.

Video 1: Breaking down the kettlebell Swing
Video 2: Breaking  down the kettlebell Swing
Video 3: Breaking down the kettlebell Swing

That's doesn't mean you abandon your other training but it does mean that you constantly have a place in your training plan for the "PRACTICE" of swings. That's right PRACTICE!!!

The Swing is an internal requires intention, thought and focus on how and when you move. Invest in the swing.....spend time on it....the investment in time is worth it...and the dividends are tremendous!!!

Anyone can swing a kettlebell............but NOT ALL PEOPLE CAN DO A KETTLEBELL SWING!!!!!

Correct  your form first and then start building a base. It could be as simple as setting the timer for 10 minutes and seeing how many sets of 10 you can get in those 10 minutes. Next workout try and beat the the number. Keep going until you cannot beat that number and then change the program. Perhaps you set it for 15 minutes and do the same thing. The idea is to progressively increase the reps from workout to workout.

For a great DVD on the swing I recommend RCK Tracy Reifkind's PROGRAMMING THE KETTLEBELL SWING.

What has your experience been with the kettlebell swing? Are you even doing swings???

Thoughts and comments??

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Barefoot Craze!!!!

Whether you are a runner, kettlebell user, fitness fanatic or outdoorsman, switching over to using the Vibram Five Fingers can dramatically improve your athleticism, performance and health.

It’s not just a fad folks. Big chucky shoes are on the way out……and simple, barefoot style shoes are here to stay? Why you ask? Because most shoes officially suck!!! Yes, I said it! They SUCK!  I spent most of my life is chunky running shoes with giant soles and my body was a mess. I’ve officially been wearing Vibram Five fingers for over 2 years now and my feet are the healthiest they have ever been.  My ankles are getting more mobile and the forces entering my body feel like they are distributed in a much healthier and efficient way.

I realize that there are many different types of “minimalist shoes” but the ones that I have experience using are the Vibrams. Having tested the goods I know the results I have had wearing Virbrams and they are the real deal!

If you have any desire to feel healthier, function well and move more athletically, than you should definitely look into getting a pair of the Vibrams and including some barefoot training into your current programming.

Here are my 5 top reasons why you should ditch the running shoes and go barefoot/Vibram style.

1)      Immediately gives your feet, toes and ankles better awareness of where your feet are and how they are functioning. 
2)      Increases MOBILITY in each individual toe, forefoot and ankle.
3)      Strengthens your feet and your legs.
4)      Naturally fixes gait and running style. If you are heel striker when you run, you will NOT be with Vibrams. Why? Because it hurts.  It changes your gait to more of a forefoot striker first and then a slight heal tap at the end. This one aspect alone may re-ignite peoples running careers (not that I am a huge fan of distance running).
5)      Makes you feel like a Ninja. In other words, improved reflexes leads to increased agility, coordination and speed.
Bottom line. Add some barefoot training into your program. Better yet, ditch your shoes and get some Vibrams.
Please leave your thoughts, comments and experiences with barefoot training and VIBRAMS.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Want Success in your Training? Follow a Plan

This might sound obvious but if you want training success follow a plan and stick with it for a while. We live in a time where there is so much information available that it so easy to become overwhelmed. The term "Paralysis by  Analysis" comes to mind.  New trainees (and older more experienced trainees) often don't see the results they want because they do not have a plan and they have no consistency is their training. I am guilty of this as well.

Here is a Simple Blueprint for training progress:

1) Clarity of Purpose!

What is your goal? What are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to gain muscle mass? Get lean? Perhaps you want to increase your Squat, Bench and Deadlift numbers.  Or maybe you just want to be able to play with your kids without getting overly fatigued. Whatever your short term and long term goals are, be CLEAR!  You cannot successfully arrive at a destination if you have no clue where that destination is.  This principle has to be number one because without it all other factors don't matter.   So once again....clarify your goal.

2) Find the Program that Fits your GOALS

Ok, congratulations! Now that you have your goal, time to find the best program to get you there.  If you are reading this blog it's likely that you have been exposed to kettlebell training and currently use them. Great. There are so many good programs out there right now by Pavel and other instructors that you really have no excuse on not achieving phenomenal results from your training. Here are a few that I would recommend:

For Fat Loss I would recommend the following programs:

Master RKC Geoff Neupert  created an awesome fat loss program called : KETTLEBELL BURN
The Results people have achieved on this program have been nothing short of incredible.

Revolution Kettlebell Fat Loss Program (Shameless plug of  our product...he he).
This is a 12 week nutrition and kettlebell training program designed to get you to lose fat and improve your lifestyle habits. The principles we teach in this program serve as a long term foundation for long term permanent changes.

For Muscle Mass / Strength and  Power Gains I would look into the following programs:

 This the program that I am currently using and so far I have put on 7 pounds of lean body mass in less than six weeks. Based on double kettlebell movements I couldn't recommend this program enough. Brilliant yet simple programming will get you strong and pack some muscle on your frame.

This program is based on Geoff challenging Complexes which put multiple exercises back to back which creates some serious systemic stress and metabolic disturbance.  This program has been getting people all over the country (and world) crazy strong. If you want mass and strength both of these programs will get the job done.

For people wanting to prepare for the RKC Certification try the following:

This program get you good at the basics: Swings , Get Ups, Presses.  I personally think all KB enthusiasts should go through this program at least once before they do any of the other programs I have mentioned here.

For people wanting learn the best in CORRECTIVE EXERCISES I recommend the following products:

Kettlebells from the Ground Up DVD and Manual - A must have if you are serious about moving well and functioning at the highest possible level.

Hats off to Gray Cook and Brett Jones. Where would  I be today without the SECRETS SERIES of DVD's;


And the list goes on and on!

3) Pick the Plan and stick with it!!!! 

It's that simple folks. Decide on the plan, pull out your calendar and flat out get it done. Commit to at least 3 or 4 months with a plan and do not waiver. I truly now see and understand that RESULTS will come with persistent, consistent work. It's like Dan John says,"Champions are built on punch the clock workouts." Half the battle is just showing  up. Plan your work and then WORK YOUR PLAN!!!!

The only thing that matters is consistent effort in the same direction. Remember that you cannot get good at all things at the same time. Having a lot of variety in your plan means that you will be really crappy at a lot of different things. Not cool! Focus, buckle down, and follow the plan already!