Soul into Iron Ball

Wow, it’s a measure of how full my crazyplate has been that I haven’t posted out here for the better part of two stinkin’ months! But I’m here, and whew! stuff has been HAPPENING!!

  • First two sessions of the HERS Institute-Wellesley year-round leadership program for women in higher education.
  • Work has been exploding, including an implementation (which I am co-leading) of a next-generation platform for degree audit (a student/advisor planning tool).
  • Meetings, meetings, and more meetings to “get to the YES” for a start-up chapter of Team River Runner at Shepherd (whole separate post about that coming up soon!).
  • Drumming my fool head off all over the mid-Atlantic region!
  • Kettlebells.  Kettlebells been happening.

When I earned my HKC in Pittsburgh this September, I had a sense already that I really wanted to start teaching, reaching out in particular to women “of a certain age”–who, like me, were feeling stuck at an unhealthy point in their bodies, feeling that as bad as things are, this is as good as it would get.  That was the place I had found myself at the end of 2010 (just two years ago?!) when the universe kicked me in the pants a couple of times and set me on a new path.  If I could be part of helping someone find a new way, that would bring me full circle in a soul-satisfying way.

So almost as soon as I returned home, I started conversations with some of the local gyms and recreation facilities, who mostly responded very positively.  Two places really opened their doors to me:  the county Parks and Recreation Center, which is so successful in its brand new home that it has already outgrown itself and will be expanding soon–and a local Gold’s Gym.  The PR Center does not yet have kettlebells; GG does, but has no certified instructor on staff.  Both were very interested in what I could offer.  We set up meetings at each place to advance the conversations and talk about possibilities.

Just a week ago, GG brought me alongside one of their Bootcamp instructors to co-teach an evening class.  He incorporates the MoveStrong Functional Training Station into his classes, an impressive and envy-provoking piece of architecture!  We quickly planned an alternating circuit, sending his students from the MoveStrong armature to kettlebell stations I had set up, working progressively longer and heavier ladders of goblet squats, deadlifts, and swings (with planks and loaded carries in between), and then back again.

It was a small class–a Friday night, and this is what they’re doing for fun?!–but I felt that was a good thing.  Just starting out in a class setting, I wasn’t overloaded by too many people, and I could really focus on the quality of their movements and offer correctives and cues.  Except for one young woman who had some back problems (watched and cued her carefully!!), they did pretty well.  I noticed, though, that the younger women in particular wanted to zone out like they do with steady-state cardio. iPod in, mind off–which is a quick trip to injury when you’re working in iron.  Maybe it’s just me.

One woman my age really got it, though–she kept grabbing the heavier bells and was laser-focused on what I was doing, making corrections, really putting her energy into it! We talked afterwards, and she said something that just made my heart smile all over:  “A lot of women don’t want to lift heavy, but we need to.  This is it.  This is what I’ve been looking for!”

Yes.  Oh, yeah baby.  I think I smiled for three days straight.

That same night (this is how quickly things are happening), I also sat down to plan the Spring 2013 schedule of 6-week kettlebell classes I would offer through the Parks & Recreation Center.  Because of their limited space and PACKED schedule, I could fit in only Monday nights and Thursday nights.  But it’ll be two classes on Monday, and we’re working out a discount if people sign up for more than one class per session.  Ideally, of course–if they had the space and I had the freedom in my own calendar–I’d want to offer each class on a 3-night/week schedule. But we’re starting small, and will grow as we go.

January 2013–we’re doing it!

In order to establish an inventory of kettlebells at the Center, we’ve agreed that I would take a smaller cut of the tuition, but that the Center would use the larger portion of the tuition (which would normally go into its accounts) to be applied instead to the cost of the iron.  Awesome.  We should be able, given sufficient registrations, to come up with a decent set or three!  Probably we won’t be able to afford Dragon Door quality, but we’ll get something that will fill the bill.

I’ve even come up with a name for the classes, which I hope will both encourage my intended audience, and communicate seriousness:  WORK IN PROGRESS!

–We acknowledge that each of us is a work in progress.  I am still underway.  None of us has arrived.  We help each other, and we get better together.
–We are here to DO WORK.  We’re not zoning out.  We’re not “toning up”. We are here to pay attention, to work mindfully–but to WORK.
–We’re not afraid to sweat.  We’re not afraid to lift heavy stuff.

We are not afraid.

I was talking about kettlebells with some friends recently, and one of them said something that made me wince, a little.  I was laughing about how important this stuff had become for me, that it was my passion–she contradicted me, saying essentially that kettlebells had become my “obsession”.

That set me back on my heels a little.  Was I going overboard?  Are they taking over my life?  I had to think.

Then I look at my crazyplate life, how full it is, has become, remains–and I have to say no.  If anything, the kettlebell has saved my life, allowed me to continue doing ALL of the things I love, with the people I love, and to do it with greater energy and enthusiasm than ever before.   If this were obsession, everything else would fall away . . . instead it has all just become richer and more intense.

A trainer I follow online recently re-posted a blog from a kettlebell club in Japan that perfectly captures how I feel.  They had adopted a kanji,  a series of Japanese characters, to express their training ethic, the deep effect that this work can have on a person.

It reads like poetry, like a song:

You make it different. You are part of its soul.


You put your soul into the iron ball.

And it put its soul into you,

with a little blood.


For the HERS Institute, I’ve had to map out a 5-10 year plan for my life and career.  It’s really hard for me to think that far ahead–so much in my life has been pure happy serendipity! But one item is in there for sure: in 2016 when I turn 50, I will go up for the next level certification in kettlebell instruction. (RKC? StrongFirst? There’s some movement now in the kettlebell world, so this remains to be seen).

I might have to get my first tattoo as well:  鉄球入魂

     Soul into iron ball; iron into soul.

Go strong, friends.



Filed under Kettlebells, strength training

2 responses to “Soul into Iron Ball

  1. kettlebellqueen

    I’m envious that you have been able to train others, I just don’t have the time.
    I guess I an a little obsessive. A friend of my talked about this too. However kettlebells have given my life success outside work and a focus outside work and family. I have met so many wonderful people too.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. .candice


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