Rethinking “Fitness” – Industry Trends and Loading Parameters

Rethinking “Fitness”

I got to spend this past weekend in Alexandria, VA where I was invited to present at the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute – an annual convention geared toward presenting the latest, greatest fitness/health/strength & conditioning ideas to personal trainers interested in becoming more highly skilled professionals.

On Friday, I presented for 3 hours on, what else – you guessed it – kettlebell training in an interactive lecture called “Kettlebell Fundamentals: Laying A Foundation of Success.” I introduced a group of 75 people to RKC principles and taught the basics of the Swing, Get Up, and the Goblet Squat. It was great to see so many people interested in kettlebell training.

It was great to see people grasp some of the major concepts. However, as wonderfully organized as this conference was, I am disturbed to see still just how complicated we, as professionals, have attempted to make “getting in shape.”

For example, I chose to use very simple language in my presentation painting pictures with words, and still many people wanted to know the 17 steps to a perfect Swing. What’s the exact knee angle during the Swing? How about the incline of the torso to the floor? And, honestly, it’s not their fault. It’s what they’ve been conditioned (unknowingly) to accept, look for, and embrace. Many couldn’t grasp the concept that as long as you felt the hamstrings and gluts at a bare minimum on the Swing, we were doing great. Again – not their fault – I believe it’s conditioning.

That’s of course why I value the kettlebell and the RKC methods so much – Swing the kettlebell, put it down. Repeat. Sweat. Get results. Of course there’s a little bit more to it than that, but not really that much more.

We, as professionals, are always looking for the next great big secret that will give us that extra edge, both with ourselves and in our businesses. The truth is, we could find those secrets just by practicing much of what we already know and if we wouldn’t let ourselves become distracted with bright shiny objects – which I myself have been guilty of many, many times in my career. The more scientific something sounds, and the more letters the guy has after his name, the more we are likely to embrace it. I know that was certainly my case in the past. I got caught on that 2 or 3 times.

Just so we’re clear – I’m NOT ragging on the IDEA conference here – it was great, wonderfully organized, and opened up a lot of possibilities to a lot of my fellow professionals seeking to improve their knowledge and their clients’ lives. What I am saying is that as an industry, we are still attempting to make things more complicated instead of less so.

Which brings me full circle to the kettlebell and of course the miracle that we call the body.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, we should be able to do anything that we choose with our bodies (within reason) and not only survive, but thrive. At least that’s what I believe. The kettlebell is a great tool to aid in that objective.

Speaking of, I had the privilege of teaching my first “Kettlebell Burn” seminar on Saturday morning. We had 21 people (I think) pack into the room and it was just fantastic to be able to help explain the methodology behind “Burn” and show them how to implement it into their own training. Great stuff – and so much fun for me to be able to share.

I then ran back over to the IDEA conference where I put about 60 people through a workout called “Rethinking Bodyweight Training” which was based on the bodyweight Get Up and its variations. I’d like to publicly thank Brett Jones, Gray Cook, and Jeff O’Connor for the influence they’ve had on me and my implementation of the GU into my training and my clients’ training. Nothing but positive results. Anyway, I got to share some of these ideas with these fine professionals on Saturday – 60 minutes of non-stop rolling around on the floor and getting up and down in and through various positions of the Get Up. I think most were surprised at how demanding of an exercise it could be without any form of external loading. Imagine how much fun that would be with a light kettlebell! (On a side note – it was great to have two fellow RKCs in the room.)

I hope that these fellow professionals saw the value in all the work they did that afternoon and will further investigate the wonderful benefits of the Get Up.

I’d like to think that in some small way I was able to help my fellow professionals rethink fitness in the simplest of terms – what can you do with your body compared to what you want to do with it.

On Loading Parameters…

It’s no secret that I want to lift fast and heavy. But the really strange thing is that overall, I feel much better lately NOT lifting fast and heavy. So, I’m rethinking my loading parameters and digging back into the archives. I’m running a 30 day experiment on loading parameters to see what this particular range and kind will do for my body. There’s some science to support my efforts so I look forward to reporting back to you about my successes around the end of March.

What am I doing? I’m not ready to say, but I will say it’s much different than anything that I have done over the last 15 years or so. Much different.

I’m experimenting on myself because I think it will help quite a few of you out – not to mention of course the benefits that I will receive. 😉

That’s all for today – gotta bounce. In the meantime feel free to drop a comment how you’ve tried to make getting in shape more complicated than it need be and what you did to overcome it.

16 comments… add one
  • ralph Feb 22, 2011 @ 12:18

    after many mistakes, i taylor my workouts into two or three movements i.e.clean-press-squat one day-next workout TGU and swings

    • GEOFFN Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:41

      Ralph – that’s a great program – don’t think you can go wrong with that one.

  • Kim Blanton Feb 22, 2011 @ 13:11

    I would like to say first off that I really enjoy your blogs…very interesting information.
    Back in December I was in Nashville attending the HKC instructor course put on by your buddy, Dave Whitley…it was awesome!! I just recently opened the first kettlebell training facility in Cincinnati and we are slowly trying to introduce the city to kettlebell training….a lazy city to say the least and we do hope to change that in the near future.
    I enjoyed the article you wrote on making things complicated as trainers. I have found that teaching the swing to clients’ can be challenging. Most of them like to squat more than put their hips back, but what I have noticed more than that is when teaching them to stand up fast…hip snap, etc. they move like a turtle. I have used every possible que that I have been taught and it doesn’t always click with them. Any suggestions how to keep it more simple? I don’t want to just hand them a bell and turn them loose, as several of my clients have back issues, so I am very meticulous about their form.


    • GEOFFN Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:42

      Hey Kim – yeah, really focus in on the hip hinge and the sensations they feel in their bodies – must feel hams and gluts stretch more than quads tightening when folding over. That’s the key. Everything else is minutae.

  • Anthony Feb 22, 2011 @ 17:59

    I guess trying to cobble together what a large number of top coaches are saying, complicates things.

    I am doing fewer exercises in a session but training each movement for longer now. They are also whole body exercises. This gives me an opportunity to learn the movement, as well as add mental focus. You start to build a personal history on each movement, and your own successful history is very inspiring. Also because you are spending longer working on the same movement, you start thinking and having creative thoughts about complimentary exercises, variations etc etc etc.

    • GEOFFN Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:43

      Anthony – Exactly. Purpose instead of entertainment. Focus instead of variety.

  • Mike Feb 22, 2011 @ 18:00

    Great write up Geoff! I almost entirely rehabed my neck with the TGU and it’s body weight variations, as well as the corrections. Actually before I went light (not to be mistaken with easy) on the TGU I never really had an appreciation for the exercise; I would have rather just snatched my brains out. However since my C7 herniation nothing works better than grooving, and working out the kinks in my Get Up. Thanks for doing such a great write up about it, and don’t forget that everyonce in awhile you gotta lift heavy. It makes all the grooving work you do on the light days worth it, lol.

    • GEOFFN Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:44

      Mike – Glad the GU is working so well for you. And yep, lifting heavy is a must – it actually provides valuable feedback as to whether you were on the right track with all your lightweight “groove work.”

  • linda K Feb 22, 2011 @ 20:36

    I took your seminar at Idea, and loved it so much, I just ordered a K-bell of my own. Meantime, before it arrives, I am practicing the Get Up just with bodyweight or light weights. And the swing! Great cardio workout. I like your comment about keeping it simple. Works for me.

    • GEOFFN Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:45

      Hey Linda – Thanks so much for attending – glad you liked it. And you’re definitely on the right track just practicing the movements without the KB. That’ll go a long way with your helping your form and your overall success.

  • Sharon J. Feb 22, 2011 @ 21:29

    I really enjoyed your seminar at IDEA. I thought you did an awesome job of breaking down the Get Up and explaining the movements. Also, giving us a chance to practice the moves under your supervision as well as your assistant’s. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with all of us.

    • GEOFFN Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:46

      Hi Sharon – Thanks for coming – glad you liked it and found it beneficial. I wish you all the best in your future kettlebell training!

  • James Doolen Feb 23, 2011 @ 1:21

    I too, let myself fall into the “new shiny thing” again. It lasted a while and I was going nowhere. When I first start KB traing back in 2003, it was simple brutal and very effective. But here was gold in them thar hills and everyone tried to cash in. Most of that is me, us, the consumers conditioning. At least in the US. I bought most every DVD and book and never stay on a program long enough to give it a fair shake. So I have been idle at training for a while.

    I then remembered how awesome it was in the beginning, so I went to the beginning. I am doing Super Joints and Program minimum now. I have dropped my weight in the TGU to 35lbs, and that was hard to do, but now I am concentrating on the movement and not the amount of weight moved.

    I am starting over after 7 years of KB training and relearning what I already have learned. LOL. I have made it simple again and learning the movement and not bragging about a 48kg TGU and it is humbling but is beginning to be awesomely effective again.

    God please give me the wisdom to never again get blinded by things that divert me from the tried and true trail in fitness. If I had stayed the path, I would have been doing Beast TGU with ease and would have saved a least a thousand dollars.

    • GEOFFN Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:47

      James – Been there, done all that. 🙂 Glad to see you got back to the important things. Keep going. The payoff will be huge.

  • Jesus Revezzo Feb 23, 2011 @ 9:48

    I love the concept of keep everything simple. It is hard sometimes to get people to understand that being fit is not difficult and that you don’t need a thousand different exercises. I try to do the same in my martial arts instruction. I come from the Kenpo Karate system where some schools teach between 200 and 500 techniques! If people realize that technique is a result of skill and a skill is a result of applied knowledge, maybe they too could simplify their training. Keep up the great work Geoff.

    • GEOFFN Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:48

      Jesus – yeah it’s hard because we are all so “ready” to move on to the next step. Most of the time we haven’t mastered the three steps before the one we think we’re ready for.

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