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flexibility and strength are highly compatible skills when you know how to develop both without sacrificing either.

this is precisely what Jon Engum of Extreme Traininga 7th Dan Kukkiwon Certified Taekwondo Grandmaster and Hapkido and Kumdo Master,  had in mind when he developed the Flexible Steel program. His Flexible Steel approach to training draws on his considerable and measured knowledge of movement potentials and how to unlock them.

FLEXIBLE STEEL allows you to be both STRONG and FLEXIBLE!

the bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists   ~ japanese proverb

in this Certification Course you will learn how to use the 3S’s – strength, space, spread – to make and/or coach substantial gains in flexibility. you will leave with hours of personal practice and detailed instructions to work on flexibility specifics by following a particular order of stretches.

move your body into greater flexibility. coach your clients into greater flexibility. do not let your strength be compromised as you do.

this course is offered by Flexible Steel Instructor Specialist Louka Kurcer of Hardstyle Kettlebell Mtl. Louka’s command of body strength and flexibility matters is inspired and inspiring. his coaching skills are outstanding.

come join him and the first cohort of Eastern Canadians certified as Flexible Steel Instructors.

this course has been approved and recommended by Pavel Tsatsouline.

april 16th, 9am – 4pm

the whole way health & fitness studio

306 university avenue, charlottetown

register HERE for FLEXIBLE STEEL INSTRUCTOR LEVEL 1

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the 12 students of chair ytt

the 12 students of chair ytt

the weekend before last, i attended a chair yoga teacher training course. getting to the program was a bit of vehicular adventure, but the mishaps and setbacks were well worth it.

the course was held in the very special space of Fall River Yoga Centre and offered by Julie Palmer of Yoga4All in the Annapolis Valley.  Julie has a depth and breadth of presence, knowledge and skill. the eleven other students in the course brought an abundant diversity to the experience; the centre quickly opened into a sharing, practice, exploring and learning space.

chair yoga is an adaptive form of yoga, well-suited to any body with ambulatory or joint mobility challenges, concerns with balance, and a variety of issues often associated with aging, though not necessarily so.

the course started each day with a master class, in which Julie opened the class with a meditation/centering practice. this was followed by pranayama (breathing exercises) and warm up movements.  seated yoga poses and standing yoga poses followed. and then optional resistance training or hand/finger mobility with neurological patterning, self massage and another meditation. the master classes were all wrapped up, of course, in a luscious silky ribbon of relaxation.

chair yoga, in case you’re wondering, can be plenty challenging if that is where your practice is. it is also a mat/chair time which begins right where you are. (yeah, the cape bretoner in me wanted to say: right where you’re at)

over the weekend, we explored seated yoga postures and standing postures using the chair. there was a good deal of fun and creativity in the room, and all manner of learned lessons and tips from the participants.

a variety of pranayama techniques, hand mudras, and do-in self-massage were shared and learned along with some very fun silly shakers offered up by one of the other students.

issues of concern when working with an older adult population were covered quite well. from hearing to blood pressure, from arthritis to osteoporosis. the information was just meaty enough for someone new/er to working with this population to have confidence in themselves and fingertip access to a fantastic reference source.

i had been eyeing this program for a couple of years now and am so glad i had the opportunity to attend. i’ll be using so much of this in the programming i already offer seniors.

i am grateful to Julie, for creating such a wonderful container for our learning and curiosity and to all the other participants who filled the room with comfort and creative energy.

namaste.

hardstyle kettlebell swing

hardstyle kettlebell swing

as it goes with any aspect of the fitness industry — personal trainers, group fitness instructors, older adult specialists, pilates instructors, and the like — there are plenty of fit folks in prince edward island who love to exercise and who quickly figure out that offering classes, leading facebook challenge groups, or instructing others is an easy way for them to get their own workout and make some money.

qualifications, other than their own personal journey to better health, seem not so important.

when they have no specific hands-on education, what they pick up from a youtube video or a dvd release can be detrimental to your health.

this post is, as the title indicates, about kettlebell training. i have heard quite a number of stories — more than the fingers on both hands — about unqualified instructors providing poor instruction. i have been asked to take over a kettlebell class from an unqualified (and therefore uninsured) personal trainer and i have had at least a half dozen studio participants tell me about correcting the technique of other ‘instructors’ in other fitness businesses.

i am sure other kettlebell coaches have heard similar stories.

and, just recently, i was told by someone who has a connection to fitness/recreational education on the island that some people don’t think anyone on the island is duly certified (and i hope this is not based on the perception that our certifying bodies are questionable, as they most certainly are not).

these two sides of the same coin disturb me. to that end, i am compiling a list of who, in our island kettlebell world, has what certification and where you can contact them if you are interested in solid, safe, knowledgeable instruction.

  1. Kelly Arsenault. certified as a Kettlebell Trainer 1 through KBell Training Academy. subs as an occasional instructor at the whole way health & fitness studio in Charlottetown.
  2. J-Mac Beauchesne. certified as a Kettlebell Trainer 1 through KBell Training Academy. competes in GS (kettlebell sport). instructs at The Fit Stop in The Credit Union Place in Summerside and subs at Isand Impact Mixed Martial Arts.
  3. Zelda Bernard. certified as a Kettlebell Trainer 1 through KBell Training Academy. not currently teaching/coaching. lives in Eastern PEI.
  4. wendy chappell. a Certified Personal Trainer, originally kettlebell certified through Agatsu as a Kettlebell Instructor Level 1 in 2007 and more recently with KBell Training Academy as a Kettlebell Trainer 1 and a KBell Jam Instructor and as an Instructor of Kettlebell Sport through Orange Kettlebell Club. a Master Trainer Candidate for KBell Training Academy; has attended Agatsu Kettlebell Instructor Level 2 (received a day of instruction from Steve Cotter) and StrongFirst Girya 1 courses. participated in in-person professional development with KBell Training Academy at the national CanFitPro conference and on-line in High Intensity Kettlebell Fitness with KBNY and Kettlebell Rehab: Hardstyle Methods in Corrective Exercise with IDEA Health & Fitness Association. to date, has instructed more than 3000 kettlebell classes, workshops and courses. coaches classes and works with personal training clients at the whole way health & fitness studio in Charlottetown.
  5. April Gregory. a Certified Personal Trainer certified as a Kettlebell Trainer 1 through KBell Training Academy and working toward a cert as a KBell Jam Instructor with same; Instructor of Kettlebell Sport with Orange Kettlebell Club. find current offerings at April Gregory: Kettlebell Training mainly in Souris and Up East areas of the island.
  6. Alan Howatt. certified as a Kettlebell Instructor Level 1 with Agatsu and an Instructor of Kettlebell Sport with Orange Kettlebell Club. teaches at Abegweit Kettlebells Sport Club in Mount Stewart.
  7. Lola MacLeod. certified as a Kettlebell Instructor Level 1 with Agatsu. teaches at Atlantic Fitness East in Montague.
  8. Stefanie MacQuarrie. a Certified Group Fitness Instructor, certified originally as a Kettlebell Instructor Level 1 with Agatsu and more recently as a Kettlebell Trainer 1 with KBell Training Academy and working toward a cert as a KBell Jam Instructor with same. classes are offered through “Alota Tabatas” Kettlebell Class in Crapaud and  subs at the whole way health & fitness studio in Charlottetown.
  9. Lindsay Moore. certified as a Kettlebell Trainer 1 with KBell Training Academy. subs at “Alota Tabatas” Kettlebell Class in Crapaud.
  10. Courtney Steele. a Certified Personal Trainer, certified as a Kettlebell Trainer 1 with KBell Training Academy. teaches and trains at Full Throttle Fitness in Morell.
  11. Danny Walker. certified as a Kettlebell Instructor Level 1 with Agatsu. teaches at Atlantic Fitness East in Montague.
  12. Susan Walsh. an Instructor of Kettlebell Sport with Orange Kettlebell Club since Sept. 2014. currently training under John Wild Buckly, owner of OKC. certified Kettlebell Instructor Level 1 through Agatsu and re-certified in Feb. 2014. teaching classes in kettlebell fitness since 2009 and practicing with kettlebells since 2008. owner of Studio K in Georgetown, PE.

kettlebell training is a very effective way of achieving goals. it is, however, very technique specific and as such requires specialized education of the provider.

let’s stay safe as we toss around the iron!

beginning

* to certified instructors: i compiled this list after alerting all on the list to my intention of writing this post. if i have made a mistake or omission, if you would like to be removed from the list, or if you would like to be added to the list, please get in touch.

*to training clients and class participants: this may or may not be an exhaustive list of certified kettlebell instructors on prince edward island. you can always ask your instructor about her/his qualifications and, if they are certified, send them along to be edited into this post.

wsu0u1TDtmXqpEuzt2Hroo8kLs6PGX3S8lSWyLz-acEit is just short of 9 years — May 2006 — since i purchased my first set of kettlebells: three fat-handled glossy-painted cold cannon balls with handles. an 8kg, a 12kg, and a 16kg.

and so it began.

from books put out by Dragon Door, i began teaching myself kettlebell movements and began incorporating a bit of kettlebell training with personal training clients.

AKC training clean&snatch circuit 2

Agatsu Certification 2007

in late 2007 i attended my first certification course and learned so much! it was a heady weekend full of sweat, bruises, and total mind engagement. with this, my initial fascination converted into a passion, both to use and to share this unique and effective way of training.

after that first cert, i continued using the kettlebell as part of my personal training repertoire, but i also developed a group fx format with kettlebells which i eventually had opportunity to roll out.

today, january 28th 2015, is the 7th anniversary of the first group kettlebell class i offered.

since then, i have taught kettlebell skills in a group format and led group classes 2975 times.

and because kettlebell training has so many nuances and iterations, i have also since completed 6 additional kettlebell certification programs and attended/audited quite a few other kettlebell trainings, such as workshops and certifications courses.

kettlebell-pics-034the opportunities for learning are endless. there are at least 4 or 5 additional kettlebell certs i’d love to take. if the time is right, some of them will happen. i am happy to leave that to the future.

the kettlebell universe is an interesting and quickly expanding place, filled with all manner of passion, talent, commitment, skillful execution, amazing coaching, and creativity. it engages and pushes limits and evolves. this is what i most love about kettlebell training.

little did i imagine what would come of my fascination with kettlebells when i came upon them in a 2005 magazine spread. (you can read more on that here)

daily i am grateful for how kettlebell training has contributed to my life and that of my family and communities.

thank you to those from whom i have directly learned: Shawn Mozen of Agatsu, Ajamu Bernard and Drew Miller and Stephanie Yankovich of KBell Training Academy, Steve Cotter of Full KOntact Kettlebells, Sharon Shiner SFGII, Jason Dolby and John Buckley of Orange Kettlebell Club. and to the many, many who share top notch on-line resources which have contributed to my knowledge.

and so it continues.

swing a kettlebell

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.

this painting of me is the amazing work of Renee Laprise of www.onelovelywitch.com

this painting of me is the amazing work of Renee Laprise of http://www.onelovelywitch.com

i have, of late, been giving quite some thought to the variety and breadth of kettlebell training that is around these days and what it is i offer to my clients and class participants.

i have taken a number of kettlebell certficiations, workshops, and courses and follow the work of a number of folks forging creative and awesome ways to train with kettlebells.  from the straight up hardstyle brought to north america by Pavel Tsatsouline to the girya sport style of Valery Fedorenko, from the mma blend of Joey Alvarado, to the group kettlebell programming of Ajamu Bernard, a myriad fitness kettlebell variations are available.

there are strong differences in training philosophies which give rise to all manner of stylistic variations and nuances across this kettlebell universe.

in my classes, i offer a variety of styles and sometimes a meshing of styles, in order to achieve certain class outcomes.  in my personal training, i coach hard style, or close to, or sport style depending on the goals of the client.

earlier this week in a class i taught, there was an interchange about the ‘proper’ performance of a movement.  it was a great example of stylistic differences and it related to the execution of the kettlebell windmill.

here, Shawn Mozen of Agatsu, coaches straight legs (his students coach locked out knees)

 

and here, Pavel Tsatsouline of StrongFirst, coaches a soft forward knee

the training philosophies of these two men are quite different (check out their websites to learn more). and, in the world of strength, conditioning and fitness, the same movement may be executed differently to address different goals.

a part of my job as a fitness service provider is to work fast and furious to stay at the edge of industry knowledge and practice;  to wisely and judiciously distill, synthesize and package that information; and, to deliver safe and effective services.

this week has been an awesome learning week!

i am indebted to the many brilliant minds with whom i have had the honour and privilege to study and work in the last dozen years. i am excited about the many courses and workshops i will be attending in the upcoming months. i am grateful for the challenges to my skills and knowledge offered by colleagues and the questions posed by clients and class participants.

move and be still, wendy

 

CanFitPro, the Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals, exists as a leader in fitness and wellness, hosting conferences across Canada and offering a number of fitness and wellness certifications.

Most certifications in the fitness field require fitness professionals to accumulate a certain number of continuing education credits/units each year to keep their certification valid.  This has become easier over the years with on-line offerings, and at-home study programs but they pale in comparison to an in-person hands-on event where the interaction with other fitness professionals enhances the learning.  I’ve been fortunate to attend many such conferences and events over the years.

Each year CanFitPro offers a one-day event in Moncton, NB which is about 200km from my home.  Given the rural nature of Eastern Canada, events hosted in this part of the country are generally small with a limited number of session options.  This year’s event was, at first blush, lacking in variety and relevancy and initially I decided not to attend.  I am so glad I changed my mind.

Before I recap my day let me offer a bit of background.

Training is difficult to come by in Eastern Canada and particularly so in Prince Edward Island.  Islanders frequently bemoan the fact that we must go out of province (off island in the local vernacular) to obtain training.  At one point we had an Island Fitness Council which hosted local training opportunities though few fitfolk availed themselves of these sessions and the Council eventually met its demise due to lack of participation.  Do you see the Catch 22 which exists in this state of affairs?

So, off island we now must go for most of our in-person networking and professional development.   Fitness New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Fitness Association provide us with some opportunities.  CanFitPro likewise.  However, much the same is happening with the CanFitPro conferences as happened with the Island Fitness Council .  Fewer participants means less offerings and less offerings means fewer participants.  Each year the venue changes as CanFitPro struggles/strives to find facilities in the right price range and each year the Eastern conferences dwindle in size.  The trade show which was once a part of the Halifax Conference was dropped a few years ago.  Then came the time when equipment sponsors fell off so all conference sessions are now lecture-based or bodyweight only workouts, not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it does limit the experience.

The other part of this equation is the fact that many folks working in the fitness field in this neck of the world do so without certification and sometimes little training beyond infomercials and magazines.  I’ve had one such person borrow a pile of my Muscle & Fitness Her mags in order to design her “new program”.  There is also the situation where folks complete a certification but then never bother to maintain that certification.  Case in point, the personal trainer/facility co-owner with a 15 year old certification who has never stepped a foot in a facility other than his own and has never taken advantage of any formal professional development in those 15 years.  I’ve had a personal trainer stop by my studio and tell me about his decision to train clients in their homes because then he can get away with not carrying any professional liability insurance (yikes) and I know plenty of folks who teach classes or do “personal training” with absolutely no experience other than a personal workout history.

Sorry.  My tirade is not really a digression.  This local fitness scene means that there is low demand for professional development opportunities even amongst those who are providing fitness services.

Returning to the conference at hand, I changed my mind about attending not because there was an agenda which would meet my current needs (I have never been in need of CEC’s – I love to learn and attend for that reason.  As a consequent, I am always flush in credits) but because I felt a very strong need to support the opportunities which do exist.  I cannot put myself in the camp of complaining and whining about lack when I do nothing about supporting and providing feedback to that which does exist.

So, off to Moncton I headed at 5:00am Saturday morning.  I participated in 4 sessions, all of which were really quite fantastic, much to my delight and surprise. I left that conference with new skills, ideas, energy, and knowledge from each of those sessions.

Lisa Mastracchio

Lisa Mastracchio, from Quebec and a National Nubody’s Trainer was a great presenter.  She has energy, passion and an engaging training style.  I attended three sessions with her – all ‘workshops’ which means ‘workouts’.  The first, Hi-Lo Muscle Mix at 8:30am took a room full of sleepy bodies, and got our blood pumping, our adrenaline flowing, and our creative juices sloshing.  Superset strength drills combined with simple but effective hi-lo combinations left us in puddles, scribbling notes on soggy papers.

Lisa’s after lunch Kick Butt Boot Camp was crazy full and a controlled frenetic.  She put us through our paces with some great moves and combinations and fantastic bodyweight exercises and cardio drills.  I’ll be using lots of these moves and patterns in the MOVE IT Boot Camp I’ll be co-shouting in May.  I’m pretty excited about the prospect.

I ended the day with a third Lisa M session on Core Conditioning.  I have a lot of training in this area and found some of this session to be excellent.  I was concerned, however, with many of the V sit variations, particularly when I scanned the room to find at least 90% of the fitness professionals unable to maintain good, i.e. safe, form.  A good portion of the workshop exercises I would never use in a group class format but might in personal and small group training.

Mark Stone

The other session I attended was with Mark Stone of the C.H.E.K. Institute and North Shore Smart Bodies.  The session was called Muscles and Movement in 3D.  Mark gave us a great lecture on functional muscle activation, walked us through a few muscle imbalance diagnostics and then gave us some great corrective prescriptions.  I have taken some training from Paul Chek and have a certification in Scientific Core Training from C.H.E.K. Institute and so was amused at the similarity in presenting style between Mark and Paul.  This was a good session and gave us a chance to work with partners for the diagnostics and correctives.

So, CanFitPro, thank you.  Moncton was an invaluable experience and I am so pleased to bring to my work fresh, cutting edge, best practice methods of training.  My clients and class participants deserve no less than this.

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