This series was created to help you get into the best possible shape to pass the Strongfirst Kettlebell Instructor Certification, one of, if not the most demanding instructor certifications you can possibly obtain.
Who am I? My name is Peter Bolsius, I am 54 years of age (as of writing) I am a certified StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor and I coach a variety of students on the best kettlebell training practices. This is my story as to why I’ve decided to RE-certify my StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor Course, and the training I am going to do that will allow me to pass this successfully.
I’m going to document my journey, starting with giving you my experience and the road I took to complete my first StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor Certification. I’m doing this so maybe I can help someone who is preparing for it, avoid the mistakes I made the first time round.
From Teacher to Student: Eating Humble Pie.
Every time an SFG wants to assist during a Certification or Workshop, we must re-certify before being accepted by the Master Instructor. It requires doing the test on the “Deep 6” basic lifts: Swing, Squat, Clean, Snatch, Get Up & Press and of course…..the 5 minute snatch test. This must be done before we can assist on the actual Certification or Workshop itself. Total time 20 minutes.
However, this time I want to re-do the whole thing. i.e. 3 days, 30 hours of intense instruction, drills and practice, finishing up with the testing. I want to do this the hard way, to return to the other side. Back over to your side so to speak and experience all that again. I want to be the student again.
99% of athletes that rock up for this Certification are overtrained or under-prepared. Read this and learn from my mistakes!
Let’s go back to the beginning:
Brisbane, May 2015: I rocked up to the StrongFirst Kettlebell Certification in a terrible state: overtrained, injured and basically a physical wreck! This will be my account of what happened, and, over the next 5 months my journey as to what I will do differently this time around.
Learning From My Past Mistakes…
Leading up to the Certificate, I had coaching classes with a guy that said he knew kettlebells, well I’m not sure he knew how to prepare someone for the Cert. and therefore found myself 6 weeks out from the cert thinking “I am not ready for this!! I’m not ready!” “Should I do it?”
6 weeks out from the cert thinking “I am not ready for this!! I’m not ready!” “Should I do it?”
” I’ll test myself and then make a decision” I took a snatch size bell, put a timer on for 5 minutes and set out to do the 100 snatches. If I make it, I go, if I fail I don’t. Simple.
I made it by 3 seconds. Honestly, I think 5 or 6 were probably a “No Count” but, I wasn’t far off. So, I said, “OK, I’m in!”
So mostly for those last 6 weeks I trained myself. BZZZZZZZ, wrong answer. That was my first mistake! Find a Certified StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor:
I didn’t quite understand what was involved and just how stringent StrongFirst testing is. So, I naively started training voraciously for the CERT on my own (See: Self coached)…
This Is The Most Challenging Instructor Course I’ve Ever Done
So, what happened?
Well, with only 6 weeks to go, I had to give it my all. As I mentioned earlier, I rocked up so overtrained, I couldn’t even press a 20kg kettlebell properly. My left elbow was extremely inflamed, aching and on top of that, I was totally worn out. Exhausted. Not to worry, Only 30 hours to go!!
Day one was; swings, swings, more swings. Skills, drills, practice. Some TGU practice and skills… More swings, 1 arm, 2 arm, arm to arm. 10 hours! Wow! I was exhausted!
On top of that, it rained, no, poured all day. By the end of the day water was coming inside the gym and we were wading in 30cm of water! Then we had to swim out, as the only way was through 2 metres of flood water. Ha, that was fun!
1 day down, 2 to go.
The StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor Course Will Challenge You Mentally & Physically
I woke up on Day 2 and got to breakfast at my hotel, I look at my wife Tina, and say “I’m exhausted! I can’t do another 2 days of this!!” But, as she always shoots from the hip, I didn’t find any sympathy from her. she calmly said:
“You came here for a reason so get to it!”
Once I was back in the shed, with everyone else, and the clean up was done, the adrenalin kicked in and we were on our way for day 2!
Snatches, squats, cleans…oh and swings of course….plenty of swings. By this stage my elbow was killing me and I was down to a 12kg bell. (That is humiliating) Ash Price, one of the instructors gave me some lineament and that seemed to get me off back on track. (Thanks Ash)
Then Get ups, Presses again, Swings, Snatches, Squats, Cleans and….more swings.
The day was long, again I was totally exhausted by the end. Dinner and bed, that’s all I remember.
The Finish Line Was In Sight
Day 3: Groundhog day. “I can’t do another day of this! but, I came here for a reason.”
And it’s… Testing Day!!
So, swings, more swings, “I go, you go” swings. Then…..Testing:
1 arm swings 5 reps of each.
Get up each side
Double Front Squats
1 Arm Press
Snatch 5 reps ea. side.
Got through that ok….. I thought. But they don’t let you know how you did till the end of the day. That can be hard. The suspense kills you!
Then the Snatch test. 100 snatches in 5 minutes with a test size bell. YES!!! Got it… Just. That one you know.
Then, we have “Grad Practice” Cleans, Squats, Presses, Double KBs, I Go, You Go format, for 20 minutes….
Then, real suspense, as they call you out 1 by 1.
Tim Almond, our team leader says “Pete, sorry mate, you didn’t pass”
“What?” I was devastated!
I failed the Press and the Get Up. “You just need to work on “these few things” as he hands me a sheet of paper that I couldn’t read as “The sweat” built up in my eyes.
“You can send in a video…”
Failure Teaches You A Lesson You Will Always Remember
Devastated! Totally devastated. I went back to Sydney with my tail between my legs.
Having learned nothing, I tried “fixing” everything myself, and of course, I had no luck. “No, sorry Peter, you just aren’t getting it.” said Tim each time I submitted a video. “Find a coach!”
So I started looking for another coach. A real coach, a Certified StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor
I found Garry Robinson SFG and with just a few hours of coaching we had everything looking good. We submitted the videos and waited patiently… Finally Shaun Cairns Master Instructor called me from South Africa…
“Congratulations Peter, you are a qualified StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor”
I went ballistic! WOOOHOOO YES! YES! I was over the moon! I jumped round like a little kid! (More “Sweat” building up in my eyes) I was so emotional and elated!
That fail was probably the best lesson I could have ever got.
- It made me appreciate perfection of movement.
- It made me appreciate that Kettlebell Instructor course more than any other fitness course I have ever done over the last 30 odd years of coaching.
I had a row of Fitness Certifications up on the wall of my gym…..they all came down. Only ONE has value for me.
Let’s Get Going For Re-Certification!
So, here you can see where I went wrong. Now, let’s change things. I hope you stick with me through this journey, I know it can help you get there without much of the pain.
With 5 months and not 6 weeks to prepare, I am hoping the outcome this time round, will be a totally different experience. Wish me luck!
You can see how I have improved my Turkish Get Up form:
Next post I’ll get into the training, my coach and how we are going to kick off our training.
Looking for a StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor In Randwick?
If you need help working towards proper kettlebell skills contact me HERE
I help people move well, lift heavy, be awesome.
Perfect for those that live locally, including those in Randwick.
Peter Bolsius SFG1 SFL
Thanks for reading.