Friday, June 12, 2009

Why You Must Use A Heart Rate Monitor When You Kettlebell

A lot of people who read my blog or follow me on Twitter have asked why I wear my FT-80 Heart Rate Monitor while I do my kettlebell sessions. Let me preface this post with this: Until I heard Pavel Tsatsouline recommend its use I didn't dream of using one. Marty Gallagher had mentioned to Pavel that they are a required tool for his clientele and when Marty speaks, even Pavel pays attention.

Here's why I wear one and why you must as well. How else would you be able to compare your cardio results without the information provided. When you are really fit you can't just "feel" if a workout is more intense, you need to be able to look at the hard numbers to tell for sure. You want to plot and graph average heart rate, high heart rate, Kcals oxidized, intensity, duration and be able to see how you are progressing. How will you know if you don't have the data?

If you aren't as fit as you will be in the future then you need it too. Here's why: physical renovation requires patience, iniative, and safety. You really need to monitor your intensity and duration and keep adding to both incrementally in a cardio cycle. I'm here to help you in anyway I can in this regard so please don't hesitate to just ask!

Finally, if your business is physical and mental renovation, i.e. you're a fitness pro, and yoru clients are not required to wear one, then you are plain boneheaded. Most trainers have no clue as to what sort of heart rate is being generated during a session. Not only can this prove dangerous if the completely unfit are subjected to high impact jogging, boot camp or other forms of cardio but the information is a real coaching opportunity. Here you can use hard info to show how poor eating habits can completely undo a solid work session. As David Whitley, SRKC, so eloquesntly puts it, "You can't outwork a donut." Well stated.

I highly recommend using this tool for you and your clients if you have them. You can't go wrong and it is a chance to really differentiate yourself from the Fitness Nazis of the world.

Please leave your commentary here and if you have any ideas for future article please leave a comment. I will be covering "Reverse Engineering Your Way to Success" in the near futture!

Sandy Sommer, RKC

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The KettleBack....Product Review

A few weeks ago I ordered the KettleBack and I wanted to use it a few times so I could give an unbiased appraisal. As you know, I'm very serious about my workouts and the tools that I use. I use the best implement for the job. In my case, I use the FT-80 Heart rate monitor, Vibram Five Fingers and Dragon Door Kettlebells. I wanted to see if the KettleBack would become the kind of tool that I'd be eager to carry in the ol' toolbox. Each tool I use is the best tool for the matter at hand.

First off, I was very excited to check out the KettleBack. I talked to both product developers before I ordered it and I was excited by their passion and the effort they put into it before it was ever available for sale. If I remember correctly, there were 9 prototypes tested before they arrived at the finished product.

Kettlebells are best used out of doors, in my opinion, and the main reason I was so intrigued with the KettleBack was that this product would truly make any kettlebell portable. Ordinarily I'm not going to rack or farmer walk a big kettlebell more than a 1/4 mile as an example, so most of my beach sessions have been limited to a 16 KG kettlebell. Well not anymore.

The KettleBack is really well made and I knew that the construction was sturdy. I didn't need to worry that the pack would bottom out and that I would need quick feet to dodge some iron. All the hardware, webbing, zippers, straps, Velcro and pack itself are pretty much industrial grade. This not a modified daypack. It's a backpack specifically rated to carry kettlebells. It's top rating is 24 KG but I toted a 32 kg kettlebell on a 4 mile hike and it isn't any worse for wear.

Here's a overview of how it works. You unzip the main compartment and place your kettlebell inside a foam insert. Once it's placed then you have a horn strap to secure it from the top as well as a bell strap across it. Think seat belt. The area that crosses your back is fully padded with a special lumbar pad. There is absolutely no "bounce" at all when you are on the move. Once you get to your workout venue, it takes about 10 seconds to get the bell out of the KettleBack and ready to swing. Or snatch. Or Press.

In addition, there are pockets for all that you need to carry with you. Plenty of room to store on top of the bell. Place for fuel and liquid. Towels. You name it. Very well thought out design.

I love the KettleBack and I am excited to use it a lot. I used it last weekend for our D-Day Man Maker session. 50 snatches and then 400 meter power walk with the 24 KG in the pack 4 times. I hiked the other day. The Suburban Warrior Series has some great workout ideas as well.

If you like to work with your kettlebell outdoors and want to combine some amazing active recovery type work with your kettlebell session than you should really invest in the KettleBack. It is of quality design and construction and you will be so glad you have it to use. I know I am.

Sandy Sommer, RKC

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Announcing The HKC, The New Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification

If you've been on the fence about becoming an RKC certified kettlebell instructor then check this out. Obviously the RKC requires a Full committment. The new HKC allows you to test drive our system of strength without nearly the obligation and fitness rigors. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and answer any questions at all.

Sandy Sommer, RKC


The Unbridled Joy of A 5 Year Old

Today my son Alexander Peter Sommer turned 5 years old. He is quite proud that he is becoming a "big boy." Last night, Jen and I decided that he needed one more present. Alex is a big music nut and loves all kinds of tunes. So we burned a CD of a lot of his favorites. He has very eclectic taste for a 5 year old.From Tristan Prettyman, to the Jerry Garcia led Grateful Dead, along with Kidz Bop for good measure.

When I got home from training a client this morning, I popped the disc into a player without announcing a thing to "the boy," as we call him. First song is a subDudes song called "Papa Dukie and the Mud People." Alex absolutely loves this one and he starts dancing in the kitchen. I had purposefully followed this up with "Hotdog!" from They Might Be Giants. This song is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme. Again, it's one of his favorites but he doesn't question it. Next up is "All Star" from Kidz Bop. Now he is wondering what is going on. Finally, when "Bare Necessities" cues up he can't contain himself any longer and demands to know the source of this near miracle play list. I had been on the verge of cracking up but as soon as I told him that we had created it just for him his face lit up with unbridled joy. His mom and I got an even better reaction than we anticipated.

The next thing he asked was could I do this for him when he is "6 and 7 and 8 and 9 and 10." My plan is to do it for a long time!

I share this with you because the simplest things can bring great joy. Don't forget to share. Do it everyday. The rewards are great. I just hope he appreciates his Spiderman bicycle as much as the CD. Amazingly, I'm guessing that by the time he is 10 he won't remember this bike but he will remember the music!

Sandy Sommer, RKC

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Learning From The Masters

Back in the 1930s, one of the nations most prominent institutions of higher learning abandoned traditional educational orthodoxy and decided that learning from the source was a better alternative than textbooks.

St. Johns College in Annapolis MD and later also in Santa Fe NM took a radical step in implementing their "Great Books" program but the thesis of the program was that if you read the Masters then through discourse and thought, you as a student could have a clearer understanding of the matter at hand. For example, Euclid would be considered the source for Geometry and say Adam Smith for Economics. You learn by studying from the real source and then with true critique and thought apply it on your own. No textbooks or secondary sources were allowed. Interesting idea.

So what does this have to do with kettlebells? It turns out a lot. A year and one half ago I decided to attend a "certification" (still can't believe that they got away with calling it that) of a kettlebell business. The weekend was not conducive to learning. I didn't learn to design a workout program or for that matter teach any students what I was learning. If you can call it learning. My recollection is that my snatch got a bit better but that nothing else changed much. I was using a secondary source as the instructor; a former Pavel protege.

I was still convinced that I was onto something with kettlebells and I reached out to Delaine Ross,RKC and David Whitley, SRKC. Why not learn from the Master they both said? So instead of a watered down and seemingly misinterpreting secondary source I went to the RKC. Or the direct source for Kettlebell Strength and Conditioning. If you are looking to participate in kettlebell sport than the source would be AKC.

Now I am going to admit something that I've never publicly admitted before. The first certification was physically and mentally much easier than the RKC. When I heard about the RKC requirements my first thought was that it was insanity. I had to do how many snatches? The graduate workout? Yea right. But I wanted it badly and set off on a journey that I'm not sure has a end. The destination keeps changing and I like what I've seen so far on my trip.

But I digress. Why study from either Pavel Tsatsouline or Valery Fedorenko? Well why not? They are the two who introduced their time tested methods here in the United States. Do they have a monopoly on excellent kettlebell ideas? No, they don't but if you learn from the Masters than you can ultimately put your own indelible mark on the mastery you've acquired.

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