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the briefing on the physical testing

being briefed on the physical testing

last weekend (september 13/14 2014)  i attended an Orange Kettlebell Club (OKC) Instructor Certification Course hosted by Tim Bell of  Bell’s Kettlebell Concepts in Halifax, NS.

OKC, out of California, offers Kettlebell Sport Training and competitions. head coaches have all certified through the International Kettlebell Sport and Fitness) Academy (IKSFA) in Russia and they all have a passion for getting on the competition platform and digging deep.

john wild buckleythe Halifax course was fortunate to have the expertise, passion and big-heartedness of John Wild Buckley and Jason Dolby. These two are exceedingly adept guys, each with a unique skills set which complements the other. They are a dynamic team with razor focus, fiercegentleness and a gigantic sense of fun.

18 participants spent two days being walked, jogged, waltzed, jason dolbyand jitterbugged through the breakdown of the 3 competition lifts – the snatch, the jerk, and the long cycle.

Jason and John have pretty amazing coaching skills and cueing techniques which helped create movement patterns where none existed, fix impoverished patterns that were already established, dealt with anxieties and concerns, and built confidence. They have mastery over the nuances of kettlebell sport and are fine wizards of building mental toughness and a strong sense of community.

yeah, they filled me fuller than i thought possible.

on day 1 we talked of thumb direction grips, how to find, stay and return to your home/shelf position on the iliac crest in rack, the importance of a great warm up, power production and energy conservation and bonestacking, or skeletal support in stance.

we learned and practiced backswings (swings) and cleans and jerks. the nuancing of timing on hand insertion and avoiding callus-catching were covered. the flow from the dip to the undersquat of the jerk was a challenge for many of us and it was a fascination watching as John repeatedly broke it all out in a multitude of ways and put it back together again. with surgical precision.

there was so much for me to learn from just watching these guys work. soak it in, percolate, synthesize and integrate, try it out, find the best fit.

and there was an ongoing transmission on patience; one of my favourite parts of the training. waiting for the kettlebell to be weightless for the smooth sweet spot insertion; waiting for the trigger point – the 7 o’clock position – on descent before hinging the hips and lowering the torso into the backswing; waiting for the breath to direct the movement. these lessons, and those on accepting your body as your best coach, jenga-stacked into my buddhanature. these are some of the foundational blocks of everyday warriorship and living with courage.

day 2, after reviewing and tuning up a bit of our day 1, took us through the snatch and breath work. Breathing is what keeps it all together in a competition setting, each movement finely set to the rhythm of the breath: when they remain aligned there is grace and beauty and the ability to endure; when they fall out of rhythm, like the first practice of a varsity marching band, the results, while youtube worthy, are not pretty.

the weekend culminated with written and practical testing. The practical testing required us to mimic a competition: picking whichever of the three lifts we wanted, we performed a 10 minute set with just the one hand switch (if working a single kettlebell lift) at, minimally, entry level of the OKC competition ranking table.

i chose the 12kg long cycle, requiring 64 reps.

i did not meet the testing requirements and have set a personal goal of retesting before the end of the year. i will meet those standards and i know there will be a lot to learn in the process.

the course was an amazing learning and practice weekend. i am so very grateful for the opportunity to learn from the other 17 participants and be coached by John Wild Buckley and Jason Dolby; they are (taking a bit of poetic spelling license here) Sport Trainers and Competitors ExtraorDONAIRe.

chu-hi!

 

this post is a lightly edited version of one i wrote for my blog at kbell training academy.

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It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Occupy[Wall Street] movement, it occurs to me, is a refreshing testament to basic wisdom and goodness.

It is a movement of people who, having experienced sufficient injustice and inequality in their lives, sufficient frustration of their basic needs, sufficient deprivation of honesty and integrity in government, stepped into courage.

They have found and are expressing a shared compassion; an understanding of each other’s pain.

When circumstances exist that seem to threaten us, we just might harden our hearts. We construct barriers to protect; armour placed around our hearts, blinding us and numbing us.  But within all this fortification there remains a soft spot, a spot which can love and be compassionate.

It is this spot which we must occupy. 

Occupy your heart.

When everyone finds the courage to occupy their heart, the world will be a safe, peaceful, just place.

The thousands upon thousands of people expressing themselves through the Occupy movement are true everyday warriors. I am grateful to them, for the rawness of their bravery, for the vulnerability they have willingly exposed, for their collective challenge to protected hearts.

There are many paths to opening a protected heart. Social justice work, pivotal life experiences, spiritual exploration, meditation and yoga are but a few.

Daily meditation to open your heart will not only go a  long way toward creating a more just and peaceful world, it can decrease risk factors for coronary disease. Profound in its simplicity, meditation is a gift and a fully accessible means of personal and social change.

If you need help with a daily practice, try the following:

  • Stand or sit in a place where you feel comfortable. Close your eyes.
  • Place your finger tips onto your low back if standing or onto the floor behind you if sitting.
  • Begin opening and lifting the chest, drawing the sternum upwards, pulling your shoulder blades together in back.
  • Breathe into your chest, lengthening and deepening your breath as you settle in to the expansiveness across your heart centre.
  • Keep your focus on your breath while you feel your heart beat steady, strong and calm.
  • Maintain this sense of opening for up to five minutes.
  • Gently open your eyes, smile, and return to a natural breath.

You can get a visual of this practice in the following video. The first three minutes is sufficient to derive great benefit from a daily practice. Should you wish to move further into the pose, enjoy the colours.

 

And, if you wish to go further in opening your heart and balancing heart energies, Anmol Mehta has shared this wonderful Kundalini Yoga Kriya.

 

A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.           ~ Pema Chodron

shovel mindfully

Well, here in Prince Edward Island we have finally had a snowfall of some significance.  That means shoveling is on everyone’s activity agenda.  Shoveling snow will give you a great workout, but you want to do it safely.

Did you know that shoveling heavy snow can use as much energy as running at 9mph!  Wow!

Shoveling, done incorrectly, can lead to back injuries.  It also puts a lot of stress on your heart, and additional stress comes from breathing the cold air and being exposed to the cold.  So you want to pace yourself or have someone help you if you have risk factors – like, if you smoke, have heart disease or are deconditioned.  There is bound to be a friendly helpful neighbour or roving youth looking for a few dollars for tossing your snow out of your way.

To prevent injury:

  • find your joy

    Don’t shovel snow immediately after eating a heavy meal.  If you smoke, don’t do this right before hand either.  You’ll be putting an extra load on your cardiovascular system.   Use common sense.

  • Dress in layers.  Peel off clothing as your body becomes warm. Overheating puts extra strain on your heart.
  • Wear a scarf over your nose and mouth to avoid breathing cold air.  This is a great idea for many cold weather activities.
  • Wear a hat to retain body heat.  You never know what will leak out of your head.
  • Pace yourself.  Take frequent  breaks; make snow angels and toss snowballs – enjoy yourself out there.
  • Shovel by bending your legs slightly at the knee.  Let your thigh muscles do most of the pushing and lifting work; this will reduce strain on the heart and back.  No need for squats or lunges at the gym this weekend!
  • Practice portion control! Use a shovel with a small scoop so your loads are light and small.
  • Stay hydrated! You will be sweating more than you realize. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before and after shoveling to replenish the fluids lost in the process.  Plan on some nice cocoa when you come in, or mulled cider.  Yum.

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