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

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I am not a personal trainer. I never played sports. I have never taken an anatomy class in school. Before I studied pilates in 2002, I didn't know what patella meant or what ACL stood for, let alone what could possibly go wrong with the knee. I was blessed with ignorance - and bliss - because I could move any way I wanted with reckless abandon. I knew diddly-squat about squatting, but squat I did. Quite fortuitously, when I gave my bed away in 1999, I had set myself up for a daily regimen that has kept my legs and joints in superb condition.

The first piece of furniture that I bought as an adult was a bed. For a year after college, I slept on a twin-sized futon, the thing I sat on to study when I was still in school. Then I bought a real wood-framed bed with a firm futon mattress. Luxury! Later, I quit the corporate job and had to downsize, which meant moving in with a roommate. She was a vivacious, passionate Italian woman, a great soul with bad knees (and some other health challenges). When we eventually parted ways, I left her my bed, as she had a hard time getting out of her own.

Almost a decade later, my mattress is still on the floor. Since I live in a tiny studio apartment, the room looks more spacious without a big chunk of bed, but I've always thought that one day, when the bank will take my kettlebells as collateral and give me a mortgage, I will purchase a one-bedroom condo and a bed. Well, I don't even have half a down payment, and I live in San Francisco, but at least I took the bed off the list, so I'm actually closer to my goal :-) Ever since I became aware of the pervasive fear of squatting among certain quarters of the training community, I relish more than ever the act of getting up in the morning. Planting my feet firmly on the floor, feeling the carpet (and wishing for hardwood), shifting my weight slightly, pushing off - voila, I'm up. Look Ma, no hands! A bodyweight get-up + squat, RKC HardStyle. Needless to say, it gives me immense satisfaction to get up in the middle of the night to go to the loo. I hereby issue a challenge to my hard-living comrades: pistol up from your mattress if you need to go pee. Beds are for sissies.

The Japanese got it right - when you sleep on a tatami-style bed all your life, standing up from a rock-bottom squat becomes an autonomous function, and you maintain resilient knees and strong legs without having to think about it. I said "maintain" because we're born with that natural ability to squat. In Athletic Body in Balance, a must-have for anyone serious about identifying and overcoming functional weaknesses, FMS guru Gray Cook writes:
A child does not learn to squat from the top down - in other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and makes the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence ... Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost.
Note that it is completely natural for the back to be "completely relaxed" in a deep squat, i.e. flexion in the spine is a-okay.

(To be continued ... )

Preview: The RKC front squat will not fuck up your knees, but in fact will help restore mobility and function relinquished by toddlers in "civilized" countries with the evolution of the modern toilet. The full squat position is good for business.


Mark Reifkind said...

LOL, what you blog about NEVER ceases to amaze me Cecilia. Can't wait to see what this all about. Is a kettlebell involved?

Cecilia Tom said...

Elimination - HardStyle! The goblet squat workout, coming soon to a toilet near you ... LOL.