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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!


* 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.


saying-goodbye-quotes-deep-meaning-picturei found out yesterday that next week will be my last week of work (classes) at Atlantic Fitness East. at the beginning of December, i handed in my notice for March 1st, knowing the owner would take care of replacing me long before that date.

and so it is.

i am so grateful for so much from this time in my life. when i moved to the island, arriving labour day weekend of 2003, i thought i would be traveling to charlottetown to look for work …. ummm, after we were settled in the house and the girls were settled into school and udo was settled into work and life dissolved into some sort of crazy busy routine. but lo and behold, there was a full gym just down the road from our home. and it became an important part of our lives, in so many ways.

i started as a member at this gym down the road, getting in some long juicy workouts and slowly becoming a regular around the place. i moved from member, to floor trainer and eventually combined that with private personal training, staffing the desk and teaching classes. i have traveled a lot of miles on the floors of that space and learned the names, goals, and vulnerabilities of countless folks. every person gave me something important.

hearthandi cannot possibly name everyone who has a place in my heart over these years, but there are a few i must mention by name:

Carol Wilbert, the day manager for Atlantic Fitness East when i arrived here, was persuasive in talking me into my first position — a part time gig as a floor trainer. there were no certified personal trainers on site and the facility was sorely in need of a floor trainer to work with members. i am very grateful to all the kindnesses Carol extended to me during the years that our time there overlapped. she had a good grasp of what needed to be in place to provide a well-rounded service to members; she had a solid and consistent personal workout schedule,  and she was a consistent smile and upfront personality to work with.

Donna Harris, who i now count as a friend, was the first to hand over the health and fitness of  her body to me and to engage with me in personal private training. she was excited and trusting and motivated. it was so fun to train her and she opened the doors for others to make such a commitment to their own health and workouts. i am grateful for the dedication Donna shows to herself and the unwavering support she gave me as a trainer and gives me as a friend.

Mandy Li, through Donna’s urging, became my second  private client. Mandy used me to create big, meaningful and lasting changes in her life. Mandy is such a generous person and by training with me gave me so much. she is light-hearted and earnest and i am grateful for her generous spirit and ongoing friendship.

63302_10151712596044757_1689552538_nand then there was the avalanche of personal training clients and post-rehab pool clients through Workers’ Compensation and Motor Vehicle Insurance. there were sometimes months on end when my daily shift was chock full of folks taking on new knowledge of how to live healthier, workout in safer and more effective ways, and to place trust and love into sometimes horribly broken body parts and psyches. people of all ages, with a diversity of health needs and fitness goals; they were all people put into my life to teach me. thank you to each and every one of you, i hope you have some lessons learned and remembered from these times too.

in addition to personal training, i began doing some administrative and desk shifts when Carol went on a maternity leave. towards the end of her leave, ownership of the gym changed hands and desk staff positions began rolling over like kitties for belly rubs. along the way, i shared in a steady desk staffing position with Susan English, Jen MacLean Mulally, Donna Harris, and Art Griffin. these were folks who made it easy to come onto shift behind them, having done their jobs well and thoroughly. they all taught me much about sincerity and integrity in a challenging workplace. they were all so loved by members, and for good reason.

pool staff (who frequently morphed into other responsibilities) with whom i shared time there: Adam Ross, Simone VanIderstine, Shanahan Gardiner, Alysia Angus Lunt, James Sullivan, Brett Hancock, Michelle Sullivan, Rebeccah Hume, David White, and so many others for whom i have lost last names. swim instructors and life guards who were young, enthusiastic and hungry to apply what they had learned and so refreshing to observe.

agilityat some point along the way, i added a group class schedule to my other duties at Atlantic Fitness East. there has been a variety of classes and a huge smileful of class participants: power & grace, mostly abs, yoga break, kettlebell, seniors, jazzercise, yoga, kickboxing, mash up ….  i have loved the energy of the groups and have thrived on creating class formats and programs which are safe, fun, challenging and balanced. i am so very thankful for everyone who has allowed me to practice on them. a few of the class participants have gone on to become instructors themselves: Susan, Danny, Zelda and Lola  have all obtained recognized certifications in Kettlebell Coaching and Kim Beck, a floor client from way back, has become a personal trainer; i was humbled by her description of my role in her journey and to assist her in meeting the standards of her practical testing.1hlc 040

the current gym owner, Meaghan Lister, has often allowed me to direct my work at Atlantic Fitness East, to bring new ideas into the facility based on my ongoing professional development and to just leave me with responsibility – autonomy – in my work. i have gained much in my relationship with her.

and, i should note that it is no small thing that two of my daughters had their first official work in this facility, both serving as customer service reps on the desk. it has served them well in life to have this experience.

squatwhile there is much i have gained at Atlantic Fitness East, there are so many i will miss. for the past 5 years i have only taught classes and i have wild and passionate attachments to the fine people in these classes. to the kettlebellers –some of you who picked up your first kettlebell on january 28th, 2008, under my cohersion — so many of you over the years who have loved or loved to hate the iron, oh my gosh how do i say thank you? you have been strong and funny, graceful and oafish, determined, sweating and smiling, screaming …. and you’ve introduced me to a number of new invectives.  you have given me more than i have ever had to offer you and you hold a special place in my heart. thank you, thank you. and,  to the (mostly) women in the Seniors Fitness Class: thank you for your wisdom and kindnesses, your story telling and distracted socializing, for putting up with my memory challenges and listening to my life stories. thank you for understanding, deeply, how important your physical health is to your fulfilled living and for being (mostly) consistent in your exercise commitment. you are a very difficult group to leave. truly.

you all know who you are.

and so it is.

next week. and then a different week after that one.

cbyphotothis nexus allows me to attend more fully to my work at the whole way health & fitness studio. i will be rounding out the services there, offering more yoga, including Clubbell Yoga, and finding a way to incorporate Primal 12 programming into the schedule. i am really excited about this.

and, montague, you are really not rid of me. today i picked up a key for the space in which Lainey`s Taekwondo is practiced and grows. starting next week, january 11th, i will run a 6 week Introductory Clubbell Yoga Series in this great space. there is still time to get in on it!

2015, my heart is open, get into me. bring joys and sorrows and the path i do not yet know.

and so it will be.



a kettlebell skills clinic allows you to learn the basic movement patterns of kettlebell training. once you execute the movements properly, you’ve given yourself the gift of an amazing new training method.

kettlebell training provides cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, power training, endurance, flexibility, balance and core conditioning all in one intense workout. if you’re looking for metabolic conditioning with endless variety, this is where you’ll find it!

the next kettlebell skills clinic is scheduled for:



1:30PM – 2:45 PM

at the whole way health & fitness studio

pre-registration is required. please contact wendy for information or to attend: 894-8943 or

hope to see you there!

paul plakas was in good company when he met up with these fabulous island kettlebellers

Healthy, fit bodies require good food, regular sleep, loving companionship, intellectual stimulation, a sense of purpose and kettlebell training.


Learn all you need to know about kettlebell training at a complimentary Kettlebell Skills Clinic.

Monday March 12th at 6:00pm

Please register in advance by contacting Wendy.  902.894.8943  or

It is time to let Kettlebell Training change how you think about fitness, exercise, and your wellbeing!

P.S. Tell your friends about the clinic, I bet they are interested!

Two years ago today I led my first kettlebell training group at AFE in Montague.  Wow! I am amazed! Kettlebells can be insidious characters, insinuating their way into your life.  Soon you can’t remember life before them.  I think this is how kettlebells have survived so long – since their humble beginnings back in the 1700’s until their current bid to take over world fitness.  Devious even.

I can clearly recall how excited I was to finally start kettlebell training, to share it in a small group. When I look back over my dayplanners for that time, as I prepared for those first sessions the exclamation marks attest to my enthusiasm.  Two years later my enthusiasm is even more expansive and assured.  Kettlebells are indeed brilliant pieces of cranky metal.

In 2005 I came across a magazine reference to kettlebells and therein began my persistent fascination.  The thought of what could be achieved with kettlebell training kept beckoning me, taunting me.  But kettlebells and information about kettlebell training were not easy to come by at that time.  North America was in the early stages of the kettlebell invasion and kettlebell intelligence was fairly hush hush.

If you googled ‘kettlebell’ in 2005 the only reference that came up was Pavel Tsatsouline’s RKC certification in Minneapolis.  Too far away and expensive for an underemployed personal trainer in rural PE, I sulked and cussed and connived, but I could not see my way clear to the time and expense.  Time and again I visited the internet posting, hoping for what?  That something more realistic would magically be there.

I couldn’t get information on Youtube either. Youtube was a burgeoning new internet phenomenon in 2005 and there was not a single thing kettlebell to be found there.  Imagine! That seems so strange now, when the ‘net is filled with experts, some self-appointed and frightening, in all things kettlebell.  Youtube offers a plethora of best practice and worst practice videos.  But when I was first interested, my searches for knowledge and information were stymied.

I purchased Pavel‘s books and poured over them.  Andrea duKane, in From Russia With Tough Love,  became my bed time reading.  I kept googling ‘kettlebell’.  I still wanted to travel to Minneapolis, and wished hard for a training program closer to home.  I wanted to find some place I could purchase a kettlebell at a reasonable cost and I ran into stonewalls for months.

Then, one day early in 2006, the name Shawn Mozen came up in my search.  He was in Montreal and selling kettlebells.  He had a dvd too!  I called Shawn right away and arranged to purchase the dvd and my first three kettlebells.  Shawn, now a larger-than-life kettlebell guru in Canada, was struggling to bring this amazing workout tool to the masses in early 2006.  He literally hoofed it around the McGill campus carrying my three kettlebells (one each of 8kg, 12kg and 16kg) in search of my partner who was there on a conference.  That service epitomizes Shawn’s passion for kettlebells and for sharing them with the world and earned him the loyalty of this customer.

With kettlebells at hand, some pictures in some books, and a dvd,  I began moving kettlebells. Not always sure what I was doing, I knew this was one great tool.  There was no way this tried and true tool, coming out of a sport history in Russia, was a ‘fitness craze’.  The continuing boom in kettlebell training around the world has not yet peaked.  Good things persevere.

Shawn at the 2007 certification

Mozen, still plugging away on the kettlebell road to fame, finally put together an instructor certification course.  I’m not sure when he started these, but when I trained with him in Toronto in the early fall of 2007 he was tweaking us as one of his early groups and still feeling his way through certification standards.  That much was apparent.  His benchmark workout, the Chrissy, was not yet in place, as Pavel’s snatch test was not yet in place when Shawn trained with him in 2003.  Shawn’s passion, dedication and crazy-assed training style was infectious.  He didn’t take our hundreds of dollars and call us certified.  No.  He took our hundreds of dollars, put us through grueling hours of drills and workouts, and if we survived, then he called us certified.

When I touched down on the Charlottetown runway after that certification training, I loudly bemoaned the stairs from the plane and I resented the clutch and shift on my car.   Every fibre of my being ached, my forearms were swollen and massively bruised, I was mentally and physically exhausted – and I was ecstatic! Pumped! Hopping crazy!  I hadn’t passed out or tossed my cookies (like the young woman next to me in training), and I completed my first tabata stronger, with more repetitions, than when I started it.

I was confident in my ability to execute movements with the kettlebell.  This, combined with my other certifications and training experiences, meant I was uniquely qualified in the fitness profession in eastern Canada.   I was the only certified Kettlebell Instructor east of Montreal. 

Finally, I was bringing kettlebell training to Prince Edward Island, more than two years after contracting this virulent bug.

It took a number of months to convince the owner of the gym where I worked that kettlebells needed to be purchased and a training group put in to place.  This was not an easy sell, though today she is offering 10 kettlebell classes weekly! In the meantime I was happy to use the kettlebells myself and to train private clients with them.  These clients were able to extol the wonders of kettlebell training to others…sort of got the kettlebell rolling, so to speak.  Training myself and private clients was a lot of fun and was the beginning of my learning curve as a Kettlebell Instructor.

So, with much persistence and persuasion, the first Island Kettlebell Training group started on January 28, 2008.  A small group of people who placed their trust in me, who believed me when I told them they would get a great workout with this crazy tool signed up for an 8 week 2x/week session.  They were eager to take on this ball with a handle that you moved in various ways, combine it with body weight exercises and jumping rope and be the leaders in kettlebell training.

It was a closed group — there were only 6 kettlebells (plus my own).  We were relegated to the archipelago of the gym – a very cold racquetball court where frost literally lined the walls, lights were harsh, our voices and heartbeats echoed and doing floor work required being prone on permafrost.

We loved it.  We worked so hard we were unaware of our surroundings.

We grew stronger, more able to endure.  We could focus and hold that focus through tremendous challenge.  We walked taller, straighter and were more self-possesed.  We were kettlebell warriors; we were a very special breed.  We were a bit smug about it all but we wanted to share our training discoveries and results with others.

Eventually more kettlebells were purchased, ongoing classes were offered and I began training groups in other locations, lugging a trunk full of kettlebells around on a regular basis, spreading the good and killing my rear springs – um, in my tired old car.  CBC radio and television caught wind of this kettlebell hotness and did features on my classes – the reporters, in both cases, began kettlebell training with me as a result.

I traveled to Toronto a second time on account of kettlebells.  In May 2009 I attended the first Canadian Kettlebell Convention and audited  Shawn’s first Level II certification course (shoulder injuries prevented me from participating in this cert but I think I worked up a sweat just watching) and to benefit with a day of training with Steve Cotter.

Steve Cotter and I, May 2009

I could hardly believe my good fortune in the Universe of Girya!  Steve Cotter is a wonder! Despite my shoulders I was able to complete most of his ‘zoo’ warm up and joint mobility exercises (I think some of this ‘animal’ stuff has leaked into agatsu training programs as a result).  This ‘warm up ‘went on for about an hour!  Steve’s sport work is pretty cool too.  If you are interested in kettlebell competition or long endurance work with the kettlebell there is a specific style to handling the kettlebells and Steve is the person with whom to train.

One of the women who participated in the daytime inaugural group two years ago, Susan Walsh, completed her kettlebell certification last year and continues to spread the kettlebell goodness.  She was able to pick up the classes I left behind at AFE when I opened my own studio in Charlottetown and she has amassed an enthused kettlebell rabble of her own.

Time, as anyone in the middle of a tabata can tell you, is a strange, watery concept.  That first class feels like it was just yesterday and at the same time it feels like years ago.  That class was not my beginning with kettlebells, but it was the birth of Island Kettlebell Training (join the facebook group of that name if you like!).

Since that day I have instructed well more than 300 groups in addition to presentations on kettlebell training, charity events, media interviews, personal kettlebell training sessions, and dozens of skills clinics.

Kettlebells create kinship.  The people who train with them have created a strong, supportive and collegial community.  A kettlebell coterie might best describe this cleaving . . . or maybe it’s just that if someone isn’t next to you sweating, grunting and muttering at least as much as you are, you just might take that annoying piece of cast iron, heap it with the most colourful adjectives you know, drop it down a deep hole and cut your losses.

Kettlebells are like that.  They attract and repel at the same time.  It is truly a love-hate relationship of immense proportions, and you can’t help but return time and time again because you know, in your heart, your bones and sinews, at the most molecular level of your being, that kettlebells can make you a better person.

Whatever your reason for kettlebell training, I am immeasurably grateful for all the richness kettlebells have brought into my life.  When my class programs are stolen and hidden, when I am barricaded out of the room, when I am blessed with names crude and creative, when folks come late to avoid jumping rope, when my instructions are questioned and my corrections/exhortations are met with belligerence – I know it is good.   And, even better, so do you.  The indescribable feeling of accomplishment and triumph which comes with relief at the end of every session…that’s why we keep doing it.

Two years strong, bring it on!

For yesterday and for all tomorrows, we dance the best we know. -Kate Seredy

Kathryn dances

Kathryn dances

Perhaps the oldest form of dance, Belly Dance has many of its roots in Middle Eastern cultures.  Middle Eastern dance forms are a passion for Kathryn Burke and she did an amazing job of leading a group of us through a series of challenging moves last week at the whole way health & fitness studio.

Isolating specific muscle groups — moving certain body parts while holding other muscles completely still — takes fierce focus and often a control which seems to be lacking.  The neurological patterning involved must be astounding, and the effects of toning and sculpting muscles is frequently the pot of gold participants are seeking.


nick, jaz, nadine, mandy, wendy, susan, jackie, donna - HIPsters

Core muscles are exercised to the max in this form of dance.  What is not to love about that?  Belly Dance also stimulates circulation and improves coordination.

It has a great impact on postural alignment and is a great way to reduce stress.

Kathryn provided us with a brief history of how she came to be a dancer and how it immediately became a passion for her.



She led us through a series of warm-up exercises and stretches.

Then we got down to business and began moving our bodies in ways most of us were not accustomed.

jaz & mandy work on neck slides

jaz & mandy work on neck slides

She attempted to teach us muscle control — both smooth, fluid movements and sharp, dramatic ones.  In some instances, we demonstrated sharp comedic ones.

The lower body work — the hip movements — are largely controlled through the knees, so balance and coordination are key components of the dance.

Learning to spin on the ball of one foot also created a great dynamic balance challenge for some of us.

Nick was the lone brave male to participate.  His focus was intense as he channeled his inner goddess.  We all appreciated his good natured bravery and we enjoyed his total absorption in learning the moves.

We practiced shoulder shimmies – an extremely tough move for many of us.

Snake arms, hip lifts, chest circles, hip circles, chest camels — it became a dizzying array of undulating movements, wide smiles, bursts of giggles, sly sideways glances, and general fun and frivolity.

Despite the stiffness arising from novelty, we all discovered Belly Dance to be a fabulous form of self expression, providing a freedom of movement, a connection with each other and deep spirit.

And many of us experienced post dance tenderness in hips, abdominal muscles, shoulders and upper back.  What a fantastic addition to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Kathryn, we quickly discovered, is an outstanding teacher and an amazing performer.

At the behest of all who gathered, she performed for us.  She was lovely, we were mesmerized.  What a treat!

hip lifts while on the move

hip lifts while on the move

mandy is a natural at shoulder shimmies!

mandy is a natural at shoulder shimmies!

jaz preps for chest lifts

jaz preps for chest lifts

nick wills his feet to spin

nick wills his feet to spin

donna thinks 'marty' and the hips slide

donna thinks ‘marty’ and the hips slide

Enjoy some of the photos from the evening.  My apologies for the poor quality — the batteries in my camera were low.  Many thanks to Udo-of-the-injured-back who had to forgo the shakes and shimmies and instead participate vicariously behind the lens of the camera.

Remember that when the music changes, so does the dance — an important life lesson.

susan's figure 8's were amazing

susan’s figure 8’s were amazing

nick nailed the head slides

nick nailed the head slides

Allyson was the quintessential seductress

Allyson was the quintessential seductress

circle games

circle games

nadine is smoooooooth

nadine is smoooooooth

kathryn & udo pose

kathryn & udo pose

capers on the loose

capers on the loose

class schedule