After nearly two years of training with kettlebells, I knew that I wanted to test my skills by attending a StrongFirst Level I Certification this year. Looking through the schedule, I decided to attend the Chicago certification at the "Dome of Strength" in April for a couple of reasons. Not only is Chicago my hometown, but it is also where Matt earned his Level I. After hearing his stories, I was keen to follow in his footsteps.
Our weekend began Friday morning with registration and team assignments, where I was excited to learn my team leader was North Texas's own Karen Smith. An Iron Maiden, she is someone I follow and respect, so I was excited for the opportunity to train under and learn from her. Once we met our teammates, we were assigned our training partner for the weekend. I was paired with Julia, who I now refer to as my battle buddy. We did everything together: practiced, studied, ate lunch, and supported + encouraged one another.
Friday and Saturday were largely dedicated to learning the six main movements: swing, clean, squat, snatch, press, and TGU. As this is an instructor certification, we spent a lot of time learning each movement's progression, as if we were teaching someone who had never worked with kettlebells before. With our partners, we took turns both patterning the movements and coaching the movements. Throughout each day was also 2-3 workouts, where we would sweat (and bond) as a team, along with troubleshooting sessions where we would get to coach our fellow attendees through small issues, in order to make help them be as technically proficient for day three's testing.
On Sunday, we spent the first part of the morning in small groups with our team leaders, going through each movement to fine-tune our technique before heading into testing. Once testing began, we were divided into even smaller groups and assigned to one of our team's assistants. We performed each movement (5-10 reps) one at a time, with our technique being held to a strict checklist of qualifications. Is our shoulder packed? Did our breath match our movement? Did our heel stay planted during our TGU transitions? No indication was given whether or not we had passed each movement.
The final step came right after: the 5-minute snatch test, and as luck had it, I was the in the first group. I made a last minute decision to follow a plan introduced by one of the StrongFirst Master Instructors during the weekend. 11/11 snatches every minute for 4 minutes, then 6/6 in the last. Easy, right? Well, much to my surprise, it was. Though it was what I was most worried about, I had one of the strongest, calmest, and smoothest snatch tests ever. I laughed through the last 10 snatches, elated that I had made it.
However, that wasn't really the end. It was now time for the waiting game. Our team leaders and assistants stepped away from the group to discuss each individual's skills and decide whether they were to be awarded their Instructor Certification that day. Once I sat down with Karen, she broke the news quickly. I had passed. I was a StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor. All of the weekend's stress immediately melted away, and I realized what I had truly done: I had found a community of strong and like-minded people. I immediately put on my new instructor's shirt, and I haven't take it off since.
May is upon us, and we are entering those hot summer months sooner than later. In our strength classes, we will be continuing the cycle we are currently on. The back squats and deadlifts are going to be difficult but will allow us some more volume at heavier weights. It is very tough to go for a maximum set and follow it up with sets of 5 at your 80%, but we will make sure to have enough rest between in order for your system to recharge, allowing you to perform your lifts safely and correctly.
Resetting your 5/3/1: some of us are getting to the point in our weight progression where the numbers we are aiming for are not happening. On a 5+ day we are getting 4 or on a 3+ day maybe even just 1. As we notice these happening, it's time to think about resetting our numbers, but only for the lift that is hitting that wall. We can very easily reset one and allow the other three to keep moving upwards. Keep in mind, as long as you are hitting the minimum numbers, you get to keep moving on up!
In our conditioning classes, we are going to continue our work on our pull-ups with the Fighter Pull Up Program. It's soon to be "suns out, guns out", and there's no better way to get pool ready than some pull-ups. Make sure that you are taking some recovery measures for your grip as this can become fatigued, and will sometimes manifest in the form of elbow discomfort throughout daily life, which is something we want to avoid. Check out our recommended articles below for tips on helping out.
Congratulations to Lauren Quiroz, SFG I
A StrongFirst Certification is never given to an individual but is earned through a crucible of hard work, sweat, tears and sometimes blood. Although it may boil down to 3 days of work, if you do not come prepared (and you can ask anyone who has been through it), then your chances of success are very slim.
Not only are the three days physically taxing, with numerous workouts on days one and two, but mentally draining, as you learn all the intricacies of just 6 movements. "An inch wide, but a mile deep", many have said. To top it off, you earn the certification on day three. You must pass a regimented technique test of all six movements and a 5:00 snatch test, having to complete 100 repetitions under strict guidelines.
All of this to basically say, I am very proud of Lauren as she has just finished her Level 1 this past month and excited to welcome her into the StrongFirst family.
- Coach Matt
Member of the Month: Lauren Quiroz
In lieu of our traditional Member of the Month featured interview, we asked member-turned-Coach Lauren to write an article about her experience at the StrongFirst Instructor Certification in Chicago, IL.
"So many people have said how this weekend can change you, but until you experience it for yourself, it's hard to truly understand. In one weekend, I not only improved my kettlebell skills and coaching techniques, I learned what it means to be strong first. I found a community much like our own BHF Tribe: strong, supportive, and hardworking. I'm excited to bring what I've learned back to BellHaus Fitness because your strength is waiting, and it's time to take it."
Read her full blog post here: The Dome of Strength - My Journey to StrongFirst
Articles We Recommend