Sunday morning Qigong

Although Sunday is my official sleep in day, the late Summer sun has me awake and firing on all cylinders by 7am. I decided to head on down to the river that flows near my house and to do my Qigong on the riverbank.

There was barely a soul in sight as I rode down along the bike path, looking for a good location. I eventually found a quiet spot where I could practice in relative peace, only noticeable to the joggers running down the far side of the river.
This time of year its green, green and the air filled with dragonflies and various insects busy with their business. The river flows straight down off the mountain side, with lots of idyllic little spots for picnics or nature walks.
I do my stretches and then immerse myself in the local sounds; running water, a little breeze and the orchestration of birds and insects. Since I normally train indoors ( thanks to the near vicinity of a mosquito full forest next to my house), this was a pleasant change and I found myself much more engrossed in the practice than usual. If there is such a thing as being ” at one with the universe”, then Qigong and meditative practices are definitely the pathway to that goal.
Any tension both mental and physical just slipped away as the environment embraced me. It felt great to be able to stretch out my time frame and let the practice meander, rather than the regimented, set time sessions I do before an average work day.
Finishing off with some yoga breathing, I felt pretty charged.
Any of you looking for a way to deal with stress, recharge or just a way to connect with yourself, you wont go wrong having a look at Qigong.
An amazing path of self discovery.

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.


Denis Kanygin- becoming one with the ‘bell.

Denis Kanygin is the coaches’ coach, a man who can count amongst his clientele the likes of Steve Cotter, John Wild Buckley, Ken Blackburn and Jason Dolby to name a few. He he spoken of with great respect by all that know him, with that respect coming from him being associated with kettlebells since he was a child, and his in-depth knowledge of the sport and physicaldenis_bio issues that are addressed as an individual progresses.

Working as a Postural Therapist and Personal Trainer, I was glad to finally catch up with him recently and ask him a few questions regarding his background and the relationship between posture, mobility and progress with kettlebells. Here are his very informative answers.

GKJ.- Hi Denis, thanks for agreeing to do an interview with Gaijin Kettlebell Japan. Lets start off with a little bit of background about you.
You grew up in Russia, and have been around the kettlebells for a long time now. How did it feel to be exposed to this kind of training at an early age?

Thank you for having me and thank you for the opportunity to share what I know with readers of Gaijin Kettlebell Japan.

I grew up in Russia, in city of Ekaterinburg located in a region of Ural Mountains (beginning of Siberia).

Kettlebell training adventure started early for me – at age of 8 and a half in a form of kettlebell juggling. It was a fun ‘game’ that got started by one of our neighbors – a giant Russian Army officer. I saw him training regularly and even tried to budge one of the bells (without much success). One day I asked how I can be as strong as he is – next day my training began.

Little by little focus of the training shifted from kettlebell juggling to classical exercises and proper technique.

It was a fantastic experience that created a strong foundation. My progress got interrupted by abrupt move to United States. Upon arrival I continued training for my personal enjoyment.

Some years later, after working as engineer (my background is in Mathematics), it struck me that my job did not make me happy. I quit in order to pursue my dream  – kettlebell sport coaching and helping people find health and strength.

GKJ.- In my own practice, I am starting to become aware that confirming mobility is one of the key ingredients to long term success with the Girevoy Sport style of training. Rather than thinking of kettlebells as just playing with hunks of metal, in fact there is very much a scientific element to all of this. What are your thoughts?

To perform well in Girevoy Sport, athlete must learn how to become one with kettlebells. Sounds strange but let me explain.

When athlete is standing or moving without kettlebells, there are certain dynamics to the movement. Depending on the upper body/lower body muscle distribution, center of mass, limb length and other individual factors, the athlete will move in a certain way. Kettlebells change that pattern all together.

Lets use kettlebell swing as an example. When athlete does a swing, kettlebell moves forward, shifting athlete’s center of mass forward. To stay balanced, athlete must lean back to bring center of gravity back to the stable position. What that means is that athlete and kettlebells must be considered as one system (from Physics perspective). Only then can proper technique be understood, developed and improved.

This is why proper Kettlebell (Girevoy) Sport technique differs from athlete to athlete and has so many individual components that must be considered. Such components include athlete’s strengths and weaknesses in addition to mass distribution, weight, limb length, spinal flexibility, just to name a few.

Depending on all such individual factors a proper technique should be created that makes it possible to take maximum advantage of athlete’s potential.

Technique becomes the vessel through which strength and endurance can be channeled into results.

It is not uncommon for athletes with average strength but having just the right technique and breathing to outperform true strong man with much more strength but lacking technical foundation.

Yes, there is a common ‘good form’ – but it is nothing more then a template. That ‘ideal’ technique should be absorbed, processed and made into your own.

This is exactly why beginners should not try to mimic lifting technique of well known lifters. It will only hurt beginner’s progress because of all the individual factors (weight class, weakness/strength, biomechanical differences). Instead, focus on building proper foundation of strength, endurance and technique.

Know your strengths, learn about weaknesses, master technique and make your own. Learn proper breathing and your success is guaranteed.

GKJ.- Your are a Postural Therapist and Personal Trainer. Posture, and having the correct posture, is a key element in the sport. Do you find that for a lot of people that they need to address this first before they can make any serious progress?

Posture is a key component to success in any sport. Proper alignment ensures that a body is mechanically sound and can function under much physical stress without causing injury.

In our society, where more and more people move less and less, beginners to kettlebell training are sure to have postural deviations and will slow down (sometimes even prevent) serious progress.

Common postural dysfunctions include:

  • Rounded shoulders: chest/upper back muscle imbalance where chest muscles are way to tight and pull shoulders forward and back muscles are stretched as weak (I’ve seen many people not being able to lift arms above their heads with out lower back compensation)
  • Improper pelvic tilt: leads to improper lower back use, instability and much musle compensations, leading to premature fatigue and weakness.
  • Medial, lateral, hyper extended or bent knees: leads to knee instability and pain

If an amateur kettlebell lifter sits a lot for a living and as a result has improper pelvic tilt, rounded shoulders and plethora of other dysfunctions, all those deviations will cause muscle compensations and improper movement which in turn is certain to slow down progress and will significantly bring down the potential of the athlete.

It greatly helps to improve alignment first though postural therapy but the truth is that kettlebell training alone can fix many of these issues.

Remember that kettlebell training uses body as one unit. Postural weaknesses will be addressed and fixed with time.

It is true that if postural deviations are present in a lifter, progress will be slower. But with time, persistence and patience, the body will once again be in balance and lifter will enjoy the power of full potential of mechanically sound body.

GKJ.- You have just started an online coaching service- can you please tell us more about it?

Online coaching was created when I was hired by Steve Cotter, John Wild Buckley, Jason Dolby and Ken Blackburn as their personal kettlebell (girevoy) sport coach. These guys are super busy and do much traveling. The only way to keep up with them all at the same time was online.

Since I like the concept and as it is working very well for Steve, Ken and others, decision was made to make my online coaching available to a wider audience of Girevoy Sport lifters.

Online coaching includes:

  • Assessment of competition exercises lifting form/technique
  • Learn proper kettlebell lifting technique considering all of your individual factors. In other words, you will learn what is proper for YOU
  • Phone/Skype and email access to me. I WANT to talk to you and will make sure that all is clear and all questions are answered
  • Individual workout schedule that will help you to absorb proper technique, fix weakness and take your performance to a new level

As of right now, I have space for 10 more online coaching students. If interested, you can email me at

The online service is $195 per month.

My facebook link: and twitter link:

my website is

GKJ.-Thanks Denis for taking the time. Best of luck in the future and I look forward to learning more from you!