a kettlebell training log, and
a launch pad for aberrant missives

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sweet Pooding!

I woke up this morning and my body told me today's not a HIIT day. I luxuriated in my Sun Salutations and got all jazzed up with Z Health Neural Warm Up Level 1. I always do some rocking squats to give the back a nice massage, and today I decided to rock up to stand on one leg. Rif taught this as a way to work up to a pistol. Nailed 4 out of 5 with my right leg. Left leg is 0 for 5. I'm probably not staying tight enough on my way up, or I'm psyching myself out, or both. It was fun though.

Then I decided to do the RKC snatch test. It was hard. Still hard. I did my 20+20 with the 12 kg. Okay, I cheated - I'm 1.5 lb. over the limit for that weight class. I had a peanut butter cupcake and a fruit tart yesterday - and the day before, and the day before, and the day before. (I want to make a plug for
Lettus - 100% organic desserts to die for, to snatch for, even though they make you fail your snatch test by putting you in the next heavier weight class.) Actually I thought I was snatching really well with my right arm. Snatching on the left side still felt awkward and too effortful. I proceeded to snatch 9L, 9R, 8L, 8R ... etc. down to 1L, 1R, just to work on technique. The scoliosis doesn't bother me at all in general but I can see how it is definitely hampering any strength movement that requires a strong latissimus dorsi-arm connection. I am most fatigued by the punch through, and I've noticed that if I widened the arc a bit and relied more on the hip snap, the snatch came a lot easier. I need to find my own groove, even if what I just said, widening the arc, is RKC heresy. Any senior RKC's reading this, I'd love to get your feedback and advice.

And now, for today's PR #1 ... I snatched the one pood for the first time!!! This was never in my consciousness even in the realm of possibility. I wasn't training for it, as it had never been my goal. Getting the 12 kg up for the snatch test was hard enough. I thought my snatch career from then on would be about endurance feats like passing the USSS Snatch Test, or training for VO2 Max. Sure, I have been doing a lot of overhead holds with the 16 kg, but my goal was to improve my MP's. Then a couple of weeks ago after kickboxing class, I felt I had more energy to burn, so I picked up a kettlebell and started doing one-arm swings. And it was going up really high, and I was feeling really bad-ass, and I thought I was swinging the 12 kg. But I looked - oooooh, that was the one pood. I started getting some ideas in my head. Maybe, just maybe, I can snatch it up. So this morning I tried. I chalked up. And I punched out 3 sets of 3 with my right arm. And it wasn't nearly as hard or scary as when I tried to snatch the 12 kg for the first time (which was less than six weeks before the RKC course in February). HardStyle is the way to go. I love this!

Next I did presses. I ran out of duct tape and as I'm not ready to start the C&P ladders yet with the 12 kg, I just did singles. For real with the right arm, push presses with the left. I am tempted to get an adjustable kettlebell although that thing looks really ugly - but not as ugly as a taped-up monster bell. But perhaps I'm not that far off from starting the 12 kg ROP cycle. I installed a pull-up bar at home - let me tell you a story about the stud and the screw ... Oh, never mind - and I imagine the pressing will get better if I GTG the pull-up negatives often enough. I don't know how many negatives will eventually make a positive, but it's definitely not two.

And finally, for today's PR #2 ... I also nailed the 20 kg TGU with my left arm. Crush the grip. Stay tight. The Party is always right. Alternating sides, I did 5R, 4L before my left arm pooped out. Piece of cake, I deserve. I will eat it too. My weight today: 111.5 lb.

I want to thank those of you who came to my workshop on Friday. I was energized by your enthusiasm, and you're all walking around town today with sore butts and cursing me out. Wicked, isn't it?

A word about the kettlebell infomercials - THAT'S WHY I DON'T WATCH TV!!! What you see below, my friends, is a cute little Christmas tree ornament. Brad Nelson, RKC, calls this the bastardization of kettlebells. I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy and not in a mood to rant, but folks, go read his blog.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Taoist Yoga In Action

Yin & Yang makes the ultimate cookie.
No matter how you slice it,
It's still a whole cookie.

Ha & Tha is like chocolate and vanilla.
You twirl it and you swirl it,
And you get smoking kundalini.

"The one who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is a wise person." - Bhagavad Gita, 4:18

There's more that I want to say about this - movement and stillness - but for now I'd like to give a little training update. In the last few weeks I've been working on double swings with uneven weights, and I started two-arm swings with the 32 kg. I cleaned the 16 kg for the first time, and oh yeah - I nailed the 20 kg Turkish get-up shortly after I came back from my Washington DC trip. I managed three reps with my right arm. The left side is not happening yet but it's a matter of time. I feel hella strong :-) The obliques were virtuously sore afterwards - very lovely. This morning I weighed in at 110.4 lb (about 50 kg). My goal for the TGU is half body weight - so I guess I am ordering the 24 kg soon.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Every Day Is Groundhog Day

"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"

That was one of the security questions posed to me when I was signing up for Virgin America's frequent flier program. Now, this is a pretty cool airline that gives you a nifty screen in front of your seat so you can order food, customize a music playlist, and chat with your fellow passengers. Heck, I scored a $236 non-stop, roundtrip ticket for my current trip to Washington DC, with no fuel surcharge or fee for a checked bag - all in all, no complaints. The only fatal flaw is, they left Chuck Norris out of the tongue twister. So, we're left with a feeble little critter called the groundhog, otherwise known as the woodchuck or whistlepig, and which apparently is a chubby ground squirrel.

I got a good chuckle, but I didn't choose that security question. How much wood? One pood? That would be the unit of measurement of choice for any self-respecting kettlebell lifter. Too obvious.

Sometimes, we must step off the obvious path, leave our comfort zone, and be willing to confront our fears and insecurities, in order to get to a mo' better place. The time for action is always now, never later. The movie Groundhog Day came out 15 years ago, and I've always taken to heart the flick's simple message of Carpe Diem, and have had great success with it in job interviews answering the question, "What's your favorite movie?" Often in real life, we don't get the opportunity to do something over; once the moment has passed, it's gone forever. "Just do it!" is only part of the deal. We must also try to do it NOW, and do it RIGHT. A kind word unspoken, a helping hand unextended, or a transgression unforgiven is fraught with even more regret than fumbling through our first baby steps towards a more integral way of being. Granted, there are days when I wake up to discover the same old sameness in routine, habits, cravings, neuroses. One falls into the illusion that the next project can just self-start on the next day, weekend, month, quarter, year. The curse of Groundhog Day seems almost like a blessing, that we apparently do have tomorrow to try again. But in fact all there is that we have is the present moment. It's not like we need to scale mountains or dive from the sky to prove the present. The practice of mindfulness can help us zero in on the state of our being: Am I at peace with myself and the world? If I were to die today, would my life have been as meaningful and spiritually rich as I'd like it to be? I try to let the answers to these two questions guide my moment-to-moment experience - what to do and think, how to engage life with "passionate equanimity," with grace, and grit, and a touch of daring.*

Chuck wood, carry water.
Live like there's no tomorrow.

Hard to figure out.
I bet Chuck Norris can.
But Chuck Norris never dies.
Every day is Groundhog Day.

Chuck Norris for VP

* Ken Wilber's Grace and Grit is probably the greatest book that I've ever read. Ken's brilliance as a contemporary philosopher is undisputed. This book shows his "softer" side as a caregiver to his wife Treya, whose journey through breast cancer, with an emotional fortitude that she calls "passionate equanimity," is at once moving, inspiring, and life-affirming. I remember being handed a dog-eared copy in the late 90's when my then-roommate was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy. I didn't go to work for two days because I couldn't put the book down. I then ordered four copies to give to friends - that was my first online purchase ever, from Amazon!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

In The Hall Of The Mountain King

This piece of music, by Edvard Grieg for Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt, is the best workout music ever. It got the kids totally high and completely crazed. They listened to it over and over and got their exercise sprinting around the living room. I may have to play it in my kettlebell classes.

Okay, I can't get the audio to work. You can listen to the song here and superimpose the last 30 seconds onto the vid.

Friday, June 6, 2008


The babies were dumped outside my apartment door on Tuesday an hour before I was to leave for SFO. I was across the street at the pilates studio with a client. I did not want to miss their arrival before I skipped town, and I want to thank my UPS GUY for his wonderful good sense of not leaving them with the building manager on the ground floor, or bringing them to the studio, as he had done with all my shoes from Zappos. Hey UPS GUY, I even had a chocolate bar for you, but you got here when I was out. I did not want to haul 88 lbs. of metal up two flights of stairs and you totally saved the day, when I was so pressed for time I didn't even take out the garbage.

I am naming the twins Spirit and Opportunity, after the Mars rovers. Two 20 kg Dragon Door kettlebells, still sitting in the box, waiting for my return. I have to start visualizing the 20 kg TGU.

So I am in Washington DC visiting the heirs to my future kettlebell empire - Nolan (4), Camille (3), and Loic (<1) - and of course, their mommy, who happens to be my sister. I ought to make it clear, that if the Auntie gets put into a home, they're not getting any; and should the Auntie experience an unexplicated murder, they're not getting any. Other than that, they will need to demonstrate good burpee skills and show kindness to all pigs and monkeys.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Double Swings (one 12 kg & one 8 kg)
4 x 15 = 60 swings (switching R & L with each set)

Goblet Squats (12 kg)
3 x 5

Russian Cossacks (12kg)
3 sets of 5 x (1L + 1R)

Double Windmills (12 kg above, 16 kg below)
8L, 8R

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Snatches (12 kg)
10 x (5+5) on the minute = 100 snatches

TGU's (16 kg)
10 Xs, alternating right & left

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Clean & Jerks (single - 12 kg, doubles - two 8 kg's)
4 x (5L, 5R, 5 doubles), on the minute

One-Arm Swings (16 kg)
10 x (10 + 10) on the minute = 200 swings