Thursday, March 12, 2009

Some Thoughts

I finished my breakfast an hour or so ago and I start to look around on the Internet for kettlebell information and I am still astounded at the lack of knowledge in general.

Kettlebells are not fancy nor are the exercises we can do with them. In fact, the exercises are quite simple. Not easy perhaps but simple.

Why do trainers, athletes, those looking to make body changes etc try to reinvent the wheel? I actually don't know. But it borders on the ridiculous. And the dangerous. Just yesterday I saw a video that would have made me fall down laughing if I hadn't been concerned that the exerciser wasn't about to have major kettlebell blunt force trauma.

So called kettlebell "experts" are part of the problem too I may add. I know that this is going to piss off a number of you but frankly I'm past the point of caring.

As an example, a lot of big box gyms and other fitness organizations have had the bright idea of introducing kettlebells to their customers. So what? As an example, I can name and I personally know a huge number of Cross Fit affliates that are RKC affliated as well because the Cross Fit Kettlebell certificate programs aren't well done. and they have told me the CF kettlebell certification is a joke.

It may appear that I'm picking on CF but I'm not. I just find it interesting that so many of their folks seek out the RKC or AKC. It makes you think, doesn't it?

And it's not just CF. I own another Kettlebell Certification and I can assure you that when I got it I was about as ready to teach as my 4 year old son is. I saw own because it was bought and paid for; Not earned.

Well kettlebells aren't a laughing matter and in the hands of a improperly trained novice an accident waiting to happen. There are "Certified" Cross Fit kettlebell instructors working at big box gyms in my area who hadn't touched a kettlebell three weeks ago. And they look like it. My students would be far better equipped to lead the class. OK Enough. Just an observation. It does work me up though LOL

As I've said before, swinging a kettlebell doesn't mean you are doing kettlebell swings. And having a kettlebell cert doesn't mean you are certified apparently.

Kettlebells should be done right or not at all.

Sandy Sommer, RKC


At March 12, 2009 at 5:46 AM , Blogger Bud said...

Hard not to agree with this.

More generally, I'd say there are fitness professionals and fitness amateurs. If you're going to pay good money, you want a professional.

My best experience has been with people who have Kinesiology or similar college-level degrees, though I've also had good experience with generally well-educated people who have spent time studying the body and exercise.

The difference that the deep background makes is that that sort of person has a basis for understanding the challenges that different exercises pose. For instance, your article on the difference between kettlebells and dumbbells over the weekend.

At March 12, 2009 at 11:29 AM , Blogger drrocket said...


What CrossFit teaches for a kettlebell swing and why are discussed for free at You ought to tell your readers - for free - what you don’t like about the CrossFit method.

Remember that CrossFit teaches techniques to be a part of multi-functional, high intensity, short duration workouts. Its objective is to increase individual work capacity for an unexpected challenge, and not to master a sport or a piece of equipment.

Also, CrossFit is not hung up on any particular technique for any exercise. If you have a better technique, in keeping with CrossFit’s over-all objective, CrossFit will quickly adapt it as part of the CrossFit program.

At March 12, 2009 at 3:11 PM , Blogger Sandy Sommer, RKC said...

Dr Rocket,

I usually don't respond to or publish anonymous "comments" on my blog but I felt that your post merited a response.

First, I’d like to thank you for your opinion and the thought invested in it. I can’t say I disagree with all you wrote. I do agree for example that training “to increase work capacity…and not master a sport of piece of equipment” makes much sense.

The RKC system is non-sport or activity specific. It offers strength and conditioning that results in General Physical Preparedness (GPP). One goal of GPP is to allow someone to train for another day or to more easily perform in an athletic manner.

Unlike CrossFit, we apply conventions to a series of movements and exercises with the above goal in mind. You state that “CrossFit is not hung up on any particular technique for any exercise.” Your statement is what gives me pause about CrossFit. Too many affiliates seem to have pain and discomfort as one of the primary goals. I don’t find that useful or appealing. In many cases that results in injury at worst and lost training time at best. We want no one to miss either training time or time on the field. Our goal is readiness. I do find it intriguing that many CF affiliates have decided to become RKC coaches and use our kettlebell methods instead of the CF kettlebell ideology.

The RKC system should offer an individual the same experience either in Baltimore or Syracuse. Does it always? I doubt it, but it should. What I can tell you is that to earn your certificate you must be proficient in each RKC movement. In order to establish proficiency, at least in this case, requires codification.

At March 13, 2009 at 6:29 AM , Blogger SG Human Performance said...

I agree with you as well Sandy. I see too many personal trainers trying to teach the kettlebell swing and are not even begining with the basics of movement. I had one personal trainer stop coming to my fitness center caused I asked him not to use my own personal kettlebells with his clients cause what he was teaching was unsafe in my eyes.

I tell my members/clients/patients that if they want to look up exercises on youtube, to make sure that you put the letters "RKC" in the search along with the exercise.

As for drrocket: "Remember that CrossFit teaches techniques to be a part of multi-functional, high intensity, short duration workouts. Its objective is to increase individual work capacity for an unexpected challenge, and not to master a sport or a piece of equipment."

I am alarmed by the end of what he said. With the objective not being to master a piece of equipment. Would you go drive a bulldozer if you did not know how to use it correctly? More important would you teach someone else how to drive the bulldozer?

I feel that mastering all of our exercise equipment is essential to be able to teach and ensure that our members/clients/patients get the best out of the equipment.

At March 13, 2009 at 7:29 AM , Blogger Mountain Goat said...

Jeff Martone teaches the Kettlebell Certs. He was one of the first people who came on board with Pavel many years ago, and has put out a lot of very good DVD's.

Are you saying Jeff doesn't know what he's talking about? That is the clear implication, but I would like to be clear.

Or are you so ignorant of the CrossFit method that you are confusing what is taught in the Level 1 Certs with the Kettlebell Cert?

At March 13, 2009 at 7:59 AM , Blogger Chris J said...

I know what you mean. I don't claim to be an expert, only an enthusist. That said, I do want to go get the cert that you own, and use that as a stepping stone towards getting my RKC. Eventually.

when I was at a big box gym, they were getting in to kettlebells, with no one being certified. By the end of 1 month, I knew more about kettlebells that the personal trainers there. My last night with my personal trainer became a training session for all the PTs on the floor that night. Sadly.

At March 13, 2009 at 9:19 AM , Blogger Sandy Sommer, RKC said...

Mountain Goat,

I am in no way judging Martone.I don't know him or his abilities.

I can tell you that the CrossFit piece on Russian Swings uses an incorrectly demonstrated movement. I'm guessing Martone at least edited the piece.

I also do wonder why CrossFitters affliate owners sometimes choose to become RKC?

The big issue for me is that the general public doesn't get a clear picture of Level 1 etc with CrossFit. Those folks who put themselves out there as experts who aren't do everything a disservice.

At March 14, 2009 at 11:33 PM , Blogger George said...

Having trained with both Pavel and Martone I know they both do an excellent job.

When Martone certifies trainers he brings the same skill to the table that he did when he was a Senior RKC.

Not every single person who receives a certification from RKC or CrossFit is going to be the cream of the crop. Having the letters R-K-C next to your name doesn't mean you're a top tier trainer. It means you demonstrated enough proficiency to pass the course on a given weekend.

Trainers who venture outside their organizations do so to learn from various sources. Lots of professionals do so. It's called broadening your horizons. It's not an indication that something is wrong. It's an indication that the trainer has an open mind.

Some Crossfit trainers have attended an RKC. I know RKCs who attended the CrossFit kb cert. Perhaps all it means is those trainers wanted to learn from a variety of coaches.

At March 15, 2009 at 7:35 AM , Blogger Sandy Sommer, RKC said...


Thanks for your input. I completely agree that having RKC or MD in back of your name doesn't necessarily make you good, just that you have demonstrated some level of competence.

Earning your RKC is about more than proficiency over a weekend. Certainly you must be proficient. You also prove you can teach the RKC foundations, you prove that safety is paramount to your practice and that you use good judgment and you must pass some PT tests.

At my RKC certification, we had 14 people on our team. 9 people got certified. 2 of the 5 that didn't get certified happened to be incredible athletes who passed all PT requirements easily but had a few "Safety" violations. IF we are serious about one thing at the RKC it's safe training.

I do agree that you there is nothing wrong with stepping outside to learn more. At the same time, mastery of a strength and conditioning system is an ongoing process. I could be an RKC from now until death and not know it all ever.

I'm not comfortable being a jack of all trades, I'd prefer to attempt to master one.

Sandy Sommer, RKC


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home