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

Whats in a typical kettlebell training session?

 Had a busy weekend teaching several one on one personal training sessions back to  back on Saturday and Sunday, and it was great for me to be around people who all  took their own personal training goals very seriously. It also meant I slept very  soundly Sunday night!

Since some of my blog readers may not have had any kettlebell experience before, I  thought I would take the time to explain what a typical class with me consists of.

The first thing I tend to address in my kb  and conditioning classes are the existing  state of health of the client, any pre-existing injuries, general lifestyle and overall  body mobility.Whether the client is a professional athlete or your average 9-5’er, it  is critical with kettlebells that these points are addressed before working out and  designing a course. You have to know the raw materials you are working with, or it  can potentially lead to disappointment in the student when they cant achieve their  goals or get frustrated by existing physical limitations.

Here in Japan, most of my clients don’t stretch enough, partly due to extremely busy lifestyles and long work hours here in Japan. I generally try to give them a simple routine that they can do daily, at times fitting small exercise/stretching sets into the existing day job when breaks occur and there is time to remind oneself about posture and tension. Men and women that end up sitting at a desk 8-10 hours plus a day are going to have tight hips and stiff lower backs, so oiling the system regularly with some easy stretches makes a big difference in their overall physical experience, especially as they get older.

Starting a serious/ steady exercise routine will ultimately expose any injuries and /or medical history that the client brings with them. I can thank Steve Cotter and his IKFF methodology for a comprehensive and holistic approach to client care, since we tailor each class to the student existing abilities, and work from there. Some clients may end up getting a steady diet of stretching and band work as an integral component of their training, and bring in the kettlebell work gradually. Those with pre-existing injuries will definitely be pointed at band work initially and then body weight exercises to rehabilitate the muscle and encourage once again the body’s true natural function, and gradually start on the path to rehabilitation. Once a level of stability is achieved, weight is added gradually with the kb’s ( I like to call this phase yoga with weights) until we get to the client’s working weight. By that point, the client has been given all the basic and necessary tools to sustain and maintain themselves on their training journey.

All students this week were really serious about their own personal goals and could define quite clearly what they wanted to achieve and the amount of time they were willing to commit regularly to getting there.

Once the arm up and confirmation that the body is ready to go is done, then its time to hit the bells, where we do a lot of work and transition between exercises without putting the bell down. This saves us time for one, and helps keep the conditioning aspect of working with kb to the fore.

I will video a student performing exercises to give them a before and after sense of their lesson, and mix the intensity of the workout with regular stretching throughout to relieve any muscles that are tense of tired. This makes the training session much more enjoyable for the client, who generally push themselves harder than they expected initially.

The end of the class usually involves a revue of work done, and suggestions for home workouts and things to watch out for as they progress.

The general recommended frequency of kettlebell routines normally starts at two or three times a week, and develops from there. Rest is important, as well as diet and what other exercise/activity the person does to support their training goals. Depending on the level of the student, we can go fairly quickly into competitive type lifts, or focus on single arm kettlebell work and conditioning and mobility. Its really up to the client.

I must say that from each student, as I teach I learn a little bit about myself at the same time. Instilling a sense of confidence in a person that they can achieve their own goals is vital, and that some kind of moral support and encouragement is there from me when they need it.

The relationship between trainer and student is symbiotic; often the student gets as much out of it as I put into it.

Enough said 😉

Ten minutes to Eternity

You may have been wondering where I have disappeared to over the last few weeks, but I have been subjecting myself to eight weeks of online training with IKFF key member and all round great guy, Ken Blackburn. After having had quite few months off due to surgery, and resigning myself to building my strength back up from not far off scratch, lets just say that the regimen has been a boot camp for me as I start the long journey back to form, and beyond, towards a level of fitness that will allow me to compete in the Girevoy Sport.

The way I have started to accomplish this goal is by online training.

So what is online training all about? It is a combination of intense weekly schedule exercise routine, video recording and fitness level observation and adjustment which aims at taking your current fitness status to the next level and beyond. In all honesty, for me, that has been a combination of physical re-boot and ongoing foundation preparation for competition within the next year or so.

Sitting now at week seven, with about one week left to go, I can say that it has been a long and arduous journey, confirming my view that the older you get, the more that the balance of all the elements in your life come critically into play. Since I am not a professional athlete and I have to fit my training schedule around a busy daily schedule here in Japan, this makes that balance all the more important.

The big three

I am concentrating on the three standard competition lifts: the kettlebell jerk, the snatch, and the Long Cycle/Kettlebell Clean and Jerk. In all honesty, the biggest improvement has been the snatch, and the exercise is akin to a delicate dance with yourself; to be able to generate enough power to bring the bell overhead repeatedly for up to ten minutes at a time, and be able to walk away without having half the skin of your hand ripped off from over gripping.

What I have learned the hard way
Its not just about strength; its more about overall flexibility, your level of conditioning, and your all round ongoing physical maintenance that makes this form of sport so compelling. For many looking in from the outside, they can say, well what’s the point? The fact that serious practitioners of the sport can continue to compete well into their 50’S, 60’s and even 70’s is proof positive of the overall benefits to health and wellbeing that the Girevoy sport has to offer.

Stretching

I believe I am not alone in saying that many kettlebell practitioners do not stretch enough., especially me For the Russian gireviks and other international athletes of the sport, stretching is integral to their training sessions, before working out, between sets and afterwards in cool down. It is through this constant maintenance and confirmation of basic postural mobility that strength is truly built. Without it, we are walking down a path towards injury and interruption to our overall goals as athletes.

I haven’t been stretching enough. Some of the long cycle work that I started to do with Ken was initially excruciating in the sense that I became all too aware of the lack of flexibility in my spine, and the effects that caused me when working out intensely, with ‘bells extended above my head or just trying to stand in rack position.

I sit at a desk eight hours a day, and if I don’t do some kind of maintenance and stretching it will eventually relegate me to permanent poor postural alignment and poor athletic performance regardless of what activity I choose.

Stretching, band work, yoga, and regular checking in with your body area the keys.
Its all about doing it- regularly.

Blow by blow

The program started off gradually enough, and I managed to get through the first week without any hand damage at all, despite the long sets and higher workload. Ken had promised not to kill me straight out of the gate, and rolled on the workload gradually till by the end of the second week I was operating pretty much at maximum capacity. As the workload increase I started to notice that some muscles were just tiring out much faster than other parts of my body, and that tension and energy leaks were showing up everywhere.

Tension tension tension- I was a bundle of nerves and tightness, panting and sweating trying to deal with a body that hadn’t been challenged in quite  a while. Then the wear an tear started to show as the amount of reps I was doing and length of the sets started to increase. End of week two I ripped a chunk of skin off my right hand.
And we wont even discuss into the GPP work which came at the end of the session twice a week…

Ken had me video my performance of the exercises, and the first few views were humbling to say the least. It made me realize that video and feedback are excellent tools for any student of the kettlebell sport and that added to personal coaching, nothing could make you improve faster.

Grip strength and forearms

Doing serious sets of snatches for up to ten minutes at a time will beat your hands up, period. I found that my forearms were just pumping up so much that the heart rate monitor was cutting into my wrist by the end of the set, even when I had set it fairly loose at the get go. Surprisingly, the hand that has shown the most tendency to get beat up is my right hand, on the stronger side of my body, indicating clearly to me that although stronger than the left side, I was more prone to tension on the right side of my body.

By the beginning of week three there was a feeling of obvious trepidation every time Ken sent me an update for that week’s workout. The interesting thing was- he wasn’t killing me, and my desire to overcome my own physical limitations kept me fueled up enough to make my training preparations a daily occurrence- stretching, getting enough sleep, keeping my food intake balanced enough to support the workload.

I found it harder to train by myself than when my buddy Jan Kaszuba came by to train with me. His sense of humor, encouragement and shared experience of training hard kept me focused. I kept hitting right up against my own physical limitations week after week, but Ken’s encouragement and affirmation of what I was doing right kept me from dwelling too much on what I was doing wrong. Which believe me, felt like a lot.

A Girevik isn’t built in a day.

To be continued…..

Rebuild, remake, renew

I am somewhat on a personal theme at the moment with these three words constantly on my mind as I plan my training for the coming winter period.

Having had a few months off, albeit unwillingly, I am back on track with my fitness regimen, but I also realize that more than anything, its about balancing the different parts of my lifestyle to support each other, which is easier said than done as many of you know.

Realizing too that all these personal fitness goals revolve symbiotically with a 9-5 work lifestyle, which is the financial fuel which fires the sustaining my own fitness goals. You have to pay the bills too…

Diet and rest are key components here- letting the body rebuild itself in peace after a good workout, and not getting in the way of my own development. Also, maintaining good flexibility with the higher workloads is important lest I step towards bad form, leading myself to injury.

Making sure that my daily lifestyle also doesnt get in the way of letting me achieve my goals is an important one- getting to sleep at a regular time, eating enough and with the right frequency, seriously paying attention to stress and the effect that it has on my daily life, and doing all the things that I need to take care of me; exercise, time with my partner, walking the dog, meditation etc

I am excited, and daunted by the prospect of what the next few months can provide if I maintain both my focus and my health. The key for me in all this is in training hard and fast (sensibly), with plenty of rest and good nutrition in between. More so, the ability to really listen to what my body is telling me from day to day and catch any early warning signs that I might be doing too much, or the times when I can push it a little harder.

Recovery is critical- the ability of the body to recharge after a burst of energy, how long that takes, how many days I can sustain that type of activity before I need a rest, all these things again, in balance with each other. Supplements definitely help in a big way.

I am lucky to be able to have an expert like Steve Cotter to talk to, who is willing to give me the time to talk about my own goals and help me develop a solid regimen. When you see the workload that man puts out each week, its easy to get inspired!

All in all, make sure you set some targets for yourself over the coming cool months,no matter how little or large they may be, and prepare your life accordingly to facilitate your success. The rest is up to you!

Cheers,

Markeu

Highlights from the “Age of Quarrel” Kettlebell Seminar

With the likes of such kettlebell greats such as Steve Cotter, Mike Mahler, Jason Dolby, Andrew Durniat, Ken Blackburn just to name a few, this was an amazing event and one that I wish I had attended myself.
You can see the variety of different styles and techniques being utilized for this seminar. Plyometric exercises ( my students will know those 😉 ), stretching and mobility/flexibility work, Indian clubs and the good old kb exercises really made for an exciting event.
Enjoy the video!

Body mechanics- understanding your machine

There is no simpler way to say it: body mechanics affects the way that you perform an exercise, and makes you unique.

Yes, we have the same skeletal structure, yes, we have the same muscles and nerves, but that is where the similiarity ends.

Even the performance of a simple exercise will show particular characteristics that are only available to you due to your own personal body make up. Watch a group of people run, or walk down the street. How more unique can you get- even two brothers will move differently due to their own mechanical physiologic makeup. For sure, posture and injury play their part, but taken as a base, even the simplest of movements displays you in all your glory.

Watch another group perform the basic kettlebell swings and exercises, and again, the individuality arises again.

In amongst all of this, finding yourself, in your own training, and your own “sweet spot” in the performance of these exercises, is part of the challenge of learning the kettlebell.That sweet spot of each movement is dependent on

  • your flexibility and mobility
  • length of arms and limbs
  • body proportions, trunk to leg

Steve Cotter, Denis Kanygin and any kettlebell expert will tell you, you are unique and the way you move is particular to you. Of course, copy the fundamentals and understand what and why you are doing it- then find yourself in the middle of all this. And go for it!

Its a great feeling.

Cheers,
Markeu