AeroSling: Ready to work!

download 1 I was recently contacted by a fellow called Elmar Schumacher over at Aerobis Germany to test one of their suspension trainer devices- The AeroSling Pro Set. Knowing that I had pretty extensive experience with other suspension trainers and that I have been using them for some of my clients here in Japan, I appreciated their forthrightness in approaching me for a critical evaluation of this new line of equipment

The Goods.DSC_0107

The first thing you notice when you receive one of these kits is the packaging. Its well thought out with little extras that make it obvious that a lot of effort and thought has been put into making this kit as complete as possible. For example, I liked the re-sealable plastic bags that all of the equipment came in, instead of the usual rip and throw variety. It shows an environmental sense. The main parts of the aerosling come already assembled, with accessories separate and each with an instruction guide as to how to set up or add to the assembly.The handy doorknob sign for the busy businessperson staying in a hotel that lets people know- hey, I’m training in here! The exercise chart and easy to follow dvd made my first workout a breeze, with little time spent in set up. My first impressions were- this kit is well thought out.

Getting started.

Compared to other equipment I have used, the Aerosling was both lightweight and sturdy.For anyone carrying equipment or wanting portability with their workouts, a few grams here and there make a big difference. This equipment fits easily into the draw string carry bag (comes with the kit) which can be put in a backpack for an outdoor in-the-wild adventure or take with you to your gym. Here in Japan, we have a mainly urban environment, so the ability for me to pick up the kit and head to the local park is a big plus. All the components were sturdy and built for hours of use. Attaching the device to a wall mount or overhead beam etc was as simple as flipping one end of the attaching cable over the attach point, and then clipping it on the carabineer. For more sturdiness, two winds around the beam give you an extra sure attachment point. Then a simple weight test to check proper set up, and you are off to work.

Having used similiar devices before, I found this one really simple and user friendly. Don’t get me wrong- I like heavy duty, and there is a place for such types of equipment, but there is also some sense of overkill at times, such as in weight. I usually carry other equipment with me, such as kettlebells etc, so the ease of trasnportantion was a big plus for me. For your average athlete or gym who needs equipment that can take a hard workout and still be ready for me, the Aerosling fits the bill.

Instant fun.DSC_0117

If you are already used to doing body weight/resistance training, or have some gymnastic background, you will immediately sense of advantage when training- the core muscles are instantly involved to balance you while you work out. For first timers with this kind of equipment, I recommend watching the instruction video and setting up your Aerosling for beginner intensity level. Then as you gain confidence, you can up the intensity easily by a quick unwind of the main handles.

Scalable workouts.

I love the versatility that this equipment brings a workout. You can push yourself as hard as you like, or take the more moderate path. Each exercise shows a simple form and then an advanced level version on the cd, and the exercises are easy to follow. I recommend though that you watch all the exercises through completely first, and perhaps don’t attempt to do them all straight away. Pick a particular area of  your body that you want to train, and then follow the related exercise. DSC_0122

I tested the Aerosling out on a couple of my students, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Its a fun machine that you can set up in your own house, take to the gym, or set up outside. For us, it was smiles all round and my students were exhausted after a 45 minute session. I can see it being a real boon to any professionals out there wanting to keep fit while they travel for business and have to adjust to busy schedules. You would hardly notice this kit in a suitcase, even a carry on bag. Perfect. Crossfitters, this equipment has something for you too. Fighters, well enough said- this equipment rocks.

What it will cost you.

The staff at Aerobis have made this equipment very affordable. ( see the details and special offer below!)

Summary:

For those who travel, the lightness, sturdiness and well thought out design of these easy to use kits will mean that you can take it anywhere with you and give yourself a good workout. Whether you are a professional athlete, sports trainer looking for equipment for your clients, or someone just out to keep your body toned, this kit has something for you.

Two thumbs up from me.

Q: How do I get one???

Elmar at Aerobis headquarters sent me these useful links and some extra information for you :

Go to Aerobis.com

http://www.aerobis.com/shop/en/index

Go right to the aerosling models:

http://www.aerobis.com/shop/en/Suspended-Pulley-Trainers/aeroSlings (our aeroSling Models)

http://www.aerobis.com/shop/en/Suspended-Pulley-Trainers/aeroSling-Sets (I received a Set which is called the aeroSling ELITE)

A new model for you to check out as well. I will let Elmar explain:

The new aeroSling XPE is a lightweight smaller brother of the ELITE that you tested. It retails at 139 EUR incl. Door Anchor and DVD. It also has great material but is simpler as such as it cannot be extended with other grips etc.. So professionals would go for the ELITE or ELITE set – beginners in Suspended Pulley Training would go for the XPE.

And a special coupon offer from Elmar at Aerobis for you!

People that are interested will get a coupon code for 15% off to cover shipping and such (100 EUR order value min):

MDA2011CHL

So..what are you waiting for? Go get one!!! Smile

Personal Training/ new Kettlebell package offer

Hi all,

Those of you in Japan that are just starting out and looking for guidance, or those of you who are more experienced but in need of tips and a new kettlebell- look no further!

This fall I am offering special training/bell packages that give you a discount on your next purchase- just in time for the cooler weather and your winter training plans.

I also offer regular training packages designed to help you to meet your training goals faster.

Contact me at japankettlebellclub[@]gmail.com for details.

Kettlebells 101: What’s in a handle?

I have been meaning to write this for a while, as I get a lot of questions from people as to the right kind of kettlebell to use. Here in Japan (and anywhere in the world for that matter), if you jump on the internet, you will most certainly find other brands and types that are cheaper than the ones I use. A kettlebell is a kettllebell, right?

Wrong.
The design of this device is critical to your ultimate success and progress as an athlete. And perhaps most critically of all, the design of the handle is key.

Today I will take the time to explain. I will use the types currently available in Japan as a guide.

The Bad

Ouch! Buyer beware!

Extreme Triangle handle type, bevelled grip. – The cheapest available. My answer- ouch. Definitely designed by someone who has never done kb work. Thanks to the sharp angles of the handle, this thing is not going to move smoothly in your hand if you try anything beyond a kettlebell swing. More than that, in order to hold it, you will find yourself compromising your natural wrist position almost immediately, leading you closer to potential injury. If its of any size/weight, you will find turkish get ups and any other big movements a chore as they just dont “sit” naturally. Finally, the textured grip of the handle will act like sandpaper on your hands, rapidly wearing away your skin as you try to clean or snatch it. Try a five minute set of snatches….not.

My advice- regardless of how cheap they are- don’t buy them. And dont say I didnt warn you :).

Goldilocks still wouldnt be happy.

The Bodymaker- aka- “the copy”. Is exactly as described ( ie, a copy), but a poor one at that and made by someone who has obviously never really swung a bell for any length of time. The handles are roughly finished, with mould seams under the handle waiting to cause you pain and rips when you try to snatch it. The handle design is too short, still too triangulated and too close to the handle, causing difficulties when cleaning the bell to the chest and not allowng the bell to move freely around your grip as you move in more complex movements.

And the Rubber handle version bell- I am not going to even bother telling you anything about this baby :) Next!

The Good.

RKC workhorse. Solid.

The RKC type bell- This is your base, reliable, workhorse bell. Its made to RKC standards which are high, and ensures that the handle is smooth and the bell sits well in the main positions – enough room in the handle for two hand swings, sits well in the “rack” position, and moves well enough around your arm when doing more complex movements, snatch, tgu etc.
Many people are happy with this kind of bell and get great results with them. All your RKC certifications are done with them- that speaks volumes in itself. They were the first bells I ever owned.
The only disadvantages that I can state personally are in the handle design for long cycle/ competition style sets, and the fact that the bells are different sizes according to weight, which means that as you move up, your body has to re-learn the position of using the weight in position/ rack etc. But for many, this isnt a problem- it all depends on personal taste.

The Sportsman.

The pro- series bell- exactly as it says- this baby can do it all. One common shell size means that once the body has gotten used to moving and holding the bell in position, all you need to adjust to is extra weight as    you go up.
The handles are taller and squarer than the other types of bells, finished to a high buff smooth surface and more roomy. This allows the bell to move extremely freely in your grip and rest comfortably against your body in all positions, which is critical for all advanced movements like competition style lifts and timed sets. Want to do a ten minute set of swings? No problem- this bell will move smoothly in your hands and wont get in your way at all. They are designed to help you just focus on the task at hand, hence at any major girevoy competition, this is the standard bell in use. Ten minute long cycle sets, snatch records and the jerk- this is the basic tool.
You do need to keep and eye on the handles, and “condition” them once in a while to keep their smooth surface ready for work.

Any other bells out there are variations of the theme above. Good and bad- look before you leap and don’t get cheated.

The choice of course is always yours, but my advice is, if you want to do things properly, get the right equipment to help you achieve your goals.

Cheers

Back at it

Well its just over three months since the big Earthquake hit us here in Japan, and life is settling down back to as normal as it can be under the circumstances of having life in Tokyo being turned upside down. With everyone trying to conserve electricity, it will truly be a long hot Summer this year. Roll on October….!

As you can imagine, it has been hard to maintain regular anything with increased workloads at the office and real life responsibilities being the priority. Personal maintenance becomes secondary as a consequence. On top of that, when the stress levels go up as in times like this, the energy levels just aren’t
there to “push the envelope” so to speak, so I had to put my plans for a second hard training cycle on hold till my body told me it was ready to go again.

That time has come. My body feels good and rested, and my constant light maintenance training has kept me prepared for some hard work to come. So back to the grunt work again…..

In all things, this year has been a learning experience.
I realized in vivid detail that whether you want it to or not, as you get older, stress plays a
greater and greater part of your life and consciousness. The last few months have illustrated to me in great detail just how harmful stress is to your psyche and well being.

It affects everything; work, relationships, free time, your habits. It saps that extra vitality
that we rely upon to get through the grind, whether that be at work or play, or just spending time with your significant other. Naturally, we start looking for crutches when we cant switch it off, and that’s where the danger lies.

Balance is the key, knowing when to step away from situations and unrealistic expectations and acknowledge that you are under a lot of pressure, thus allowing you to seek solutions and if necessary, help.

But how do you do that when the world around you is out of balance? And everyone you know is freaking out?

And herein lies the lesson. I am still learning.

Back to work for me.

Cheers,

M

They’re Here! JKC kettlebells now available!

Finally, after earthquakes and whatever else can go wrong with a year, they arrive and are waiting for you!

Beautifully crafted, with a Japan Kettlebell Club logo on the side, these babies will fly out faster than you can say gosh golly!

I have them in these sizes:

  8kg, 10kg, 12kg, 14kg, 16kg, 20kg, 24kg, 28kg, and 32kg.

They are already flying out the door, so if you are interested, better stake your claim.

Contact me at japankettlebellclub(@)gmail.com for details.

Cheers!

Ease back workout

Todays work with Jan

w/u swings

2x 20kgs clean and press x 3 1min sets, 10 rpm

Sprint db kb cleans 2x 16s 20 rpm

Snatch 2 minutes x 16kgs

windmills

3mins swing,snatch,squat

2x 20kgs sprint 1 minute x 2

cool down

Advanced Kettlebell Training And Hormone Optimization Information

Check out Mike Mahler’s latest dvd here:

Here’s an excerpt on the video from his site:

You are going to love this new DVD set! The DVD footage is from my last Level 2 Advanced kettlebell course in Las Vegas. People absolutely loved the course and could not get enough. Everyone stuck around after the course to ask questions which is a clear sign that they enjoyed the course thoroughly. The attendees had a blast learning new exercises such as ballistic work done outside of the feet. This gives an entirely new feel to standard exercises such as Double Swings, Double Cleans, Double Clean and Presses, and Doubles Snatches. You will have a really good time with these new variations. In addition the attendees really enjoyed all of the new core exercises, complex drills, and stacked kettlebell work!

In addition to the extensive training, I delivered a ninety minute lecture on hormone optimization. Hormone optimization is a rapidly growing field that people are starting to become very interested in. Whenever I talk about hormone optimization to anyone they immediately show a lot of interest and cannot stop asking questions. I have been professing the benefits of natural hormone optimization since 2004 and this lecture is my most detailed and comprehensive material to date. You will learn how to tweak your nutrition plan to optimize the three main players in hormone optimization. In addition you will learn what supplements work to increase testosterone, lower estrogen, and help with stress management. The hormone optimization lecture disc alone is worth the several times more than the asking price for the DVD set.

For more information, check out Mike’s site at http://www.mikemahler.com/

Mind and Soul: Sincere Hogan on the Kettlebell Sport

9I took time recently to interview Sincere Hogan, fellow IKFF member and owner of http://newwarriortraining.com, whom I have always admired as an athlete but as yet have not had the good fortune to meet in person. Since recently we have been training with the same coach, IKFF’s Ken Blackburn, Sincere and I have both discovered a commonality of purpose and experience, and he shared a few thoughts with us here.

1. Sincere, thanks for taking the time for an interview. Watched your video of your ten minute long cycle kettlebell set at the recent Michigan KB competition and was very impressed by your effort. As Ken Blackburn would say, you “left it all on the floor”. Before we jump off the deep end right into your Girevoy Sport training, perhaps you could tell us a little bit about you, and how you got into kettlebells initially.

Thanks a lot for having me, Mark. I really appreciate it.
Ha. Yeah, man. The kettlebell meet in Michigan, where that particular performance was filmed, was probably my most challenging, yet most fulfilling, thus far. I had so much fun at that meet, as I got a glimpse into seeing what direction my new training program was taking me, and I liked what I saw.

As far as my background, I wasn’t the kid who participated in sports, since they came out of the womb. I was the kid who was not afforded the chance to participate in youth sports, until I was in junior high school, due to growing up with severe asthma.

However, as suggested by my doctor, when I was about 10 or 11, I began to participate in organized sports. I’m a true Texan, as football was, is, and will always be my love. Once I began to play football, all of my asthma symptoms dissipated. Growing up in an athletic family, I’ve always felt the need to compete, and to leave my mark, as my other family members have done in whatever sport they participated in.

Somehow, that feeling never went away. Thus, I now use that attitude to fuel me as a kettlebell sport athlete. I’m 38 years young, and training with kettlebells has helped me see that I still have a lot left (and a long way to go), as a competitive athlete.

It’s so funny to even consider myself a competitive kettlebell athlete, when just a few years ago, I initially began training with kettlebells, in order to help rehab a bad shoulder.

2. Football! One of my addictions from living in the ‘States for ten years..but lets not go there today! haha! What made you get serious about Girevoy Sport style kb lifts? Were you daunted by the task at hand when you started serious training? How did you start to prepare yourself?

That’s a great question. As I previously stated, I began training with kettlebells as a way to help rehab a bad shoulder. Due to years of questionable form, overtraining, and often, going too heavy during my weight training, it all caught up with me. My range of motion had become quite limited in my right shoulder.

However, while doing a few online searches for shoulder rehab and shoulder stability exercises, I ran across Steve Cotter’s “The Martial Art of Strength Training” DVD series. Dude, he had me at “Martial Art,” as I have always loved martial arts. Factor in my other love, strength training, training outside of a gym (which I have never been a fan of the gym, nor training inside), plus, a DVD featuring this crazy, ripped dude moving like a ninja with some weighted black bowling ball with a handle, and I was more than curious.

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Consequently, upon purchasing the DVD, I emailed Steve a few times about programming, as well as how I enjoyed the content of the DVD. A few years later, we again communicated via email, right around the time he returned from Europe and discovered the backbone of kettlebell training, Girevoy Sport.

Valery Fedorenko was coming to my area, about a month before Steve was to kick off his initial U.S. International Kettlebell & Fitness Federation (IKFF) certification, and as per Steve’s suggestion and his explanation of traditional kettlebell lifting, which in contrast to what was introduced to the West by Pavel Tsatsouline, I decided to attend Valery’s American Kettlebell Club certification, as well as Steve’s IKFF certification, a month later.

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I must say, the exposure to various training, coaching, and teaching styles I’ve learned from great coaches such as Steve, Valery, Pavel, Mike Mahler, Steve Maxwell, Ken Blackburn, & others, has definitely helped me grow as an athlete, coach, and teacher.

Although I’ve trained and worked with some of the best in the sport aspect of kettlebell training, including some of those I just mentioned, I’ve never felt pressured to compete. I make my own decisions. However, I began to see the invaluable benefits of traditional kettlebell training and how it affords all that choose to take it on, the chance to become an athlete again or for the first time, in spite of age, gender, and even economic or social status. Such is not always the case in most competitive sports. Thus, it was hard not to get hooked, as I dove deeper into the history and potential of kettlebell training.

3. What was the biggest obstacle that you faced initially?

One of the biggest obstacles I had to “discover” the hard way was being specific in the direction I truly wanted to go with training with kettelbells and getting into kettlebell sport. I feel if you are not specific with your goals, no matter what you do in life, you’re just flying by the seat of your pants and losing time.
Once I discovered what I could do with competing in kettlebell sport, as well as deciding what I can gain from competing, it made taking on any upcoming obstacles along the way a lot less daunting. You have to have a plan, brotha.

4. One of the most important factors to GS success I feel is the mind game element. The fact that you have to relax, focus on the task at hand, and deal with the mounting stress as you work through each minute. What are your thoughts on this?

I truly agree. I feel another reason I am so attracted to this sport is how it is a truly holistic sport. You have to constantly been mentally, spiritually, and physically connected, when performing one timed set at a time. You truly have to be “present” and train, one rep at a time. While training, there’s no need to harp on how the last rep did not go as perfectly as planned, nor is it wise to focus on how you will execute the next rep or next few reps. You cannot change the reps you have already performed, nor can you focus on future reps that may not even be afforded to you.

You only have the rep you are performing at that moment. That is your one chance for greatness. Such is also the way we should live our daily lives, when we are not on the competition platform.

5. How do you support your training? I am 45, and find that I have to make sure I get enough rest and nutrition in order to perform well. Is that a significant factor in your life?

Brother, I feel you. As I get older, I know I definitely have to become calculated with my training, and even wiser with my recovery. I’ve accepted the fact that I cannot go hardcore with my training, as I did in my twenties. And yes, that was a very humbling experience, in the beginning. However, I’ve learned that our ego can be our biggest enemy. Most of the time, we let our egos hide our insecurities.

However, once we truly accept who we are and where we are in life, that insecurity turns into excitement. I get excited as I discover what foods truly help me with my recovery and training. I’m constantly reminded that everything I thought I knew, isn’t necessarily so.

I really have to take this moment to thanks folks such as Mike Mahler, Ray Peat, and Dr. Peter Rouse, whose constant research in the areas of hormone optimization, recovery, and aging, have truly helped me pick up and mend the pieces of one of the most important elements of my training and longevity programming.

6. What was this competition like? This is your third I believe. Has the experience changed from your first time? and in what way?

The Southeast Michigan Kettlebell Open, in December 2010, was indeed my third competition, and marked, what I feel, the beginning of where I want to go in this sport. Competing at the 2010 Arnold Sports Festival, my first competition, was more of a “Let me give this competition aspect of kettlebell training a try, just to have the experience.“ Plus, my thinking at that time was, “How can one truly teach someone else about the important aspects of kettlebell sport, if they’ve never stepped foot on that platform and competed?”

It reminds me of the state of mixed martial arts, here in the West. I get so irritated when fans “boo” competing fighters, whenever the fighters are competing at a tactical level, and not just attacking each other like savage animals. It’s really easy to mistakenly think a fighter is not working hard, and giving their all, if you’ve never stepped foot inside a cage or ring, and competed or trained consistently.

I’ve heard many coaches, trainers, and athletes, judge and question competing in kettlebell sport. As a matter of fact, I’ve often heard the common question, “How hard can it be to do the same move, over and over, for ten minutes?”

However, the game changes, when you put the same said coach, trainer, or athlete in the same situation, moving that odd-shaped iron/steel bell constantly, without any “true” rest, without setting the bell down, knowing when to relax, use force, utilizing flexibility and their full body, while performing ballistic movements repeatedly for minutes at a time. It’s a real humbling experience.

Sincere with his coach, Ken Blackburn. The difference between my first competition and my latest is the presence of a great coach. I owe a lot of where my training is now, and the direction it’s going, to Ken Blackburn. I’ve said on multiple occasions, every good coach “NEEDS” a great coach. A coach can help you see aspects of your game that you may not see, due to you being too involved emotionally to your programming. Plus, being so involved in the fitness game, can afford you more training tools than necessary. Thus, you may be aware of so many training options, that you never stick to the basic few you need to advance toward your goals.

A great coach will help simplify things, and give you less, so you can attain more. Ken has been very instrumental in helping me with those aspects of my training. Plus, nothing beats having someone to hold you accountable. When things get really hard, or life gets in the way, it’s really easy to get sidetracked and sidelined. However, I appreciate the fact that Ken has helped me get out of my own way, and focus on setting attainable goals, and attaining each one in a calculated, S.M.A.R.T. (specific/measurable/achievable/realistic/timely) manner.

7. One of the biggest revelations for me and my GS training has been the importance of stretching and overall mobility work. What do you do to support/supplement your GS training and prepare your body?

The importance of joint mobility, stretching, recovery, and relaxation is highly important, not only with the high demands of kettlebell sport training, but just about all aspects of any physical activity that places constant demand on your body and mind.

There’s nothing wrong with training like a machine. However, you have to commit to every aspect of being a machine 100%, and know that even a machine cannot function at full speed 100% of the time. If you are constantly training and living your life in high gear, you will eventually break down, as would a machine.
You have to give a car a tune up, oil change, tire rotation, change the brake pads, and windshield wipers, etc., in order to keep it running like a fine tuned machine. Otherwise, if you neglect these small things, it can lead to big problems in performance or a complete breakdown, which leads to costly repairs. Your body is no different.

In order to perform at your optimal best, you must spend just as much time in recovery mode, as you do in training mode. Life has to be balanced. Thus, before I start my GS training, I make sure I warm up properly. I often begin with various joint mobility exercises. Sometimes, I perform movements that mimic what I will perform during my training. These movements may include a combination of bodyweight movements, as well as added tools, such as Indian clubs, bands, lighter kettlebells, or my trusty jump rope.

8All of the above also play a big part at the end of my training sessions. One of the most important tools I utilize before, during, and after my training is visualization and breathing. Both help me with my focus, and get me through tough times that my body sometimes chooses to no longer endure. However, mentally stepping outside of myself, in order to go deep within my true self, I can get past just about any physical obstacles I may endure. I’ve made peace with the fact that any pain I feel physically is only temporary, and will go away. It’s the mental pain that stays with you. There’s nothing more mentally painful than knowing I quit, and could have kept going.

8. So, you just won an award at this competition, and that must feel great. Where do you go from here? What’s the next challenge?

The biggest award I won at the Southeast Michigan meet was seeing the fruits of my new training program’s labor, attaining a new PR, and achieving Rank III. Those 3 aspects gave me the momentum I can use to move on to the next goal, which is competing with the 24kg bells, and eventually achieving Ranks II & I, and eventually CMS. However, my focus is on one goal at a time, which is tweaking what is necessary to help me complete 10 minutes with the 24kgs.

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9. GPP work: I know that for a long time you have been doing this anyway, but how do you think it relates to your GS performance?
Is there anything special that you do that you recommend to others?

GPP is a big part of my training, and I feel, when programmed correctly, can have a great deal of carry-over with one’s specific sport event of choice. One of the cornerstones of my training has always been bodyweight training.

A few basic bodyweight exercises that truly have helped me with my lock out are handstand holds, handstand pushups, and dips, just to name a few. Also, I like hanging from a pull up bar to not only work on lat activation, but also help me stretch out, after a long timed set.

On GS-specific training days, I perform GPP work at the end of my training. However, there are things I do on days between training, such as skipping rope that actually aid me in my recovery, as well as help me mentally. Skipping rope is often my way of actively relaxing, as oxymoronic as that sounds. Wait; is that even a real word?

As for my recommendations for others, as I just mentioned, I think it’s better to save the GPP work for the end of your sports-specific training. On non-sports training days, keep it short and simple, and light, in order to avoid overtraining.

An example of an active recovery day may involve a 30-60 minute walk, a light 1 mile jog, or one of my favorites, hot yoga. Hot yoga gives me more bang for my recovery day buck, as it helps me improve my mental focus, work on my flexibility and stability, detox, and focus on being strong and relaxed, while being in a uncomfortable situation. All of these characteristics have a huge carry-over into my GS training. However, at the end of the day, GPP is simply assistance work, and never takes the place of my event-specific training.

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10. Again, thanks for having me, Mark. Folks can find out more about me on my blog at http://newwarriortraining.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/peoplesfitcoach, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sincerehogan.

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