Which put me in an alternate-universe kind of moment, because what has she been doing since January, when we started training with her?! I ask.
But the 2-month countdown had begun on my preparation for the HKC instructor certification workshop, and I had asked her to focus on those preparations. So, as my momma would say, be keerful what you ask for.
The three big basic movements that the HKC course focuses on are the kettlebell swing, the Turkish get-up, and the goblet squat. HKC instructors have to be able not only to teach and troubleshoot these fundamentals of the RKC “school of strength and movement”, but to be able to execute them flawlessly themselves. In addition, there is a strength test, which for women is a military standard: a 15-second flexed arm hang.
Guess what I did after work last night?
5 rounds of 30-second flexed arm hangs. My lats–which two years ago I didn’t even know existed–were screaming, and I didn’t make it through the full 30 seconds each round, but I did hit the 15-second mark each time, sometimes 20 seconds. We overtrain, so that when the time comes, the actual standard to meet seems like a breeze (which it won’t, with nerves and sheer terror working their magic).
Swings, swings, and more swings.* Swings standing on the ends of a rolled-up towel because my feet overpronate, a lifetime habit compensating for weak arches, and I lose the essential ‘rooting’ into the ground the RKC requires. Swings with my knees banded with a yoga strap because they tend to follow my feet outward. More swings to check the geometrics, the line of head, neck, back, arms, bell. Do another set, locking the bell in line with the arm, controlling its pendulum upward. She ordered me to swing in front of a mirror so that I can watch and correct, watch and correct.
(Jabba D. Butt, who still lives inside my head, just screamed.)
Goblet squats–there, I’m gold! For whatever reason, I apparently am a natural at squatting. Which I won’t be putting on my resume anytime soon.
Turkish get-ups. What a complex series of movements, and surprisingly, one of my favorites–though I avoided it like the plague when I was first starting, because of its complexity. Based on the military realities of having to move from standing to prone, or from prone to standing, with a load–gun at ready, heavy pack, wounded comrade–it is a phenomenal full-body exercise that takes a couple of months initially to learn, but a lifetime to perfect. I’ve got a ways to go.
She took me through The Furnace workout, which alternates sets of heavy swings (on the 26k bell, or 53lb) with portions of the TGU–prone to elbow to upright sit, for example, repeated over and over–all holding the kettlebell locked out overhead. Then more heavy swings. Standing to reverse lunge. More heavy swings. Kneeling to column position and back. More heavy swings. You get the picture.
She also gave me practice in coaching her through these moves. I had to teach her the progression to the swing–box squat**, dead lift, plank, swing–and troubleshoot the common problems people have learning each move. I talked her through the Turkish get-up. I got to torment her with an endless plank, which was fun.
*Thanks to Pat Flynn at Chronicles of Strength DOT com for the great reference videos!
**I shared with Jamie my Box Squat Moment of Revelation, which happened about four months into my work with kettlebells. In typical Earnest Tracy fashion, I had developed the habit of practicing my box squats around the house, any time I needed to bend over and pick something up or or get into a low cabinet. Cooking pan? Box squat! Run the microwave? Box squat! I’d even announce it, and my family learned just to ignore me (a good strategy, I must admit).
One evening, I was setting up my coffee for the next morning, and executed a perfect box squat to get my coffee stuff out of a lower cabinet. And I felt my glutes flex. Hard. I had an Eeyore moment, when I spun around a little, trying to figure out what was happening back there. And I confess: I felt myself up a little, just to verify what seemed to be the case, that I had actual muscles, strong muscles! The gluteus maximus was not just a theory!
You have to understand where I’d been–swallowed whole by my couch for years–to know what a perception-altering moment that was. I was reclaiming my body from the pit, and it was responding with strength.
Me and Eeyore. We’ve been buds for a while.
Whatever you’re doing today, go strong. And be keerful what you ask for! 🙂