Personal/Group training sessions for Kettlebells and Body-weight training available

Hi all,

Just to let you know that I am available for individual or group training sessions. Classes generally run for two hours, which includes a good stretching/posture check first up, then into some band work/body weight resistance training to get your joints and body ready for work, then the ‘bells.

I tailor every class to the individual needs of the student.

In this weather, you can expect to need a lot of water for training,so make sure you bring at least a liter, probably two to be sure. I train the bells with lots of stretching mixed in, and normally end the class with a little Qigong to relax you.

Classes are tailored to your ability and interest, and generally I give some tips and pointers for develoing your own workout regimen.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me here or at my email.

mark.jersey(at)gmail.com

Happy training!

Mark

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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

Kettlebell methodology comparison, Hard style and Girevoy sport methodologies compared

SteveCotter

Steve Cotter

Great article written some time ago but still relevant today on the differences between the two methodologies. Informative and succinct, Steve Cotter walks you through the different styles and objectives and explains a lot of initial misunderstandings about these two popular paths.

A Performance-Based Comparison of Kettlebell Methods

Download the pdf here:

Cotter_Kettlebell_Methods

read and enjoy!

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© 2006 All rights reserved

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…..