Growing old is NOT for sissies!

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As many adults find that they are finally at a stage in life when the kids are grown, they don’t have to work full time, or at all and there are loads of great activities they want to do…YAY! The problem is that over those years of living they did not keep their bodies in the best of condition in order to do all those great activities, OR they did a lot of great activities and got hurt doing them years ago! (that would be me!)

The good news is that kettlebell and body weight training, when done correctly, (this is HUGE!) is safe and amazingly effective at ANY age! Kids do great, “Boomers and beyond” do great!

There are modifications that can make the drills doable for people with mobility issues, and there is nothing SAFER on the joints, than properly done kettlebell drills. I have spent much of my career as a trainer working with retired adults, and I am awed and amazed everyday with the strength and conditioning gains that they make.

I teach strength as a skill that can be taught, learned, and practiced at ANY age and at ANY size. To quote Mark Reifkind, SFG Master, “There is not much that strong won’t fix.”

If you are in the Las Vegas area, call me at 702-327-6146 to discuss strength training options. If you are not in the Las Vegas area, go to http://www.strongfirst.com to find a Strong First Instructor in YOUR area!

Be well. Be strong.

Hardstyle “isms” and “Ah Ha! Drills”

“Shoulders are ear poison!”, and “Pull your armpits to your butt crack!” Cues like those and many more are “isms” used in hardstyle training that are constantly being boiled down and distilled in order to make the learning process easier, safer, and faster. These, along with “Ah Ha!” drills, which are simple drills like “Hit the book with the bell” are drills that leave the student only one way out…the right way, are all from Pavel himself and other Master and Senior SFG Instructors to teach the Strong First Standards of learning strength as a skill.

Each Instructor has his or her own unique teaching style, but the standards should be taught in the same way across the system for safety and consistency. Strong First Instructors must re-certify every two years and should be constantly keeping up with new evolutions that are developed by the Senior and Master Instructors. Instructors are students as well, and strength is a lifetime pursuit. My job is to pass on what I have learned from my Instructors…and they from the Chief Instructor, Pavel Tsatsouline.

Many of my students report hearing my voice in their head while they practice, sit, walk, hike, run, (if you must), or while driving. The ones I get back the most are “where are your shoulders?”(drop them into your back pockets) and “where are you breathing?” (to your BELLY) and “Walk like a Russian.” (Hips extended…hips first). I know as a teacher, when I hear MY words coming out of my student’s mouths that they really HEAR me, and that makes me happy! I hear the voices of Pavel, Riff, Andrea U-Shi Chang, Dr Mark Chang, Dan John, Brett Jones, Gray Cook, Tracey Riefkind, Geoff Neupert, and Tim Anderson…I could go on… in MY head.

Strength is a skill, and strong WILL fix almost anything when it comes to body mechanics. Myself and my students have come to understand this and we keep practicing and honing the skills. We keep growing stronger in the process.

There are several great DVDs and books on the market to help students with their practice. Nothing replaces a trained eye and in-person instruction. Grooving a bad movement pattern will not help you grow and may cause pain and injury,the exact opposite of what we want.

If you want to get stronger, and have decided that the kettlebell is the way you want to do it, WELCOME! Strong First’s community of brothers and sisters in strength is a great place to be. There are SFG Instructors all over the world and you can find us at http://www.strongfirst.com! Just like our students, we are all students ourselves. We each have our own experiences and teaching styles, but we all teach to the Strong First Standards and guaranteed you will hear us all use many of the same “isms” and “Ah Ha!” drills to help our students learn as quickly, safely, and effectively as possible.

“Strength is a skill…Happiness is a choice”.

Sheri

My position on food and suppliments, in a nutshell.

WARNING! I am going to start this post with a bit of a rant. OK, here goes: I get a call and voice mail. The caller says that she has my Kettlebell Training Card in her hand, left her number and asked that I call back. Pretty normal. I call her back and she goes directly into “sales” mode and starts telling me about her collagen/protein supplement that I simply MUST try (because it is the BEST thing EVER…this week!) I tell her that I do not take supplements. She shoots right back at me with “What!? You workout and you don’t take supplements?!!” like I was like CRAZY. I said, “no, none at all.” She said “well, goodbye”. I said “goodbye” and shook my head.

Here’s how I see it. If most of those “Super products” worked, we would all look like fitness models, right!? If I can take one pill to burn fat, and another to avoid those pesky cravings, and one that has all the greens I need, and one that has all the fruits I need (probably from some remote African place I can’t pronounce) then, VIOLA! I should be in perfect health, right?! I just do not see that happening. If you feel you have a lack of a nutrient, please do some research and/or seek professional advice that you trust. I personally recommend Holistic practitioners over MDs for such things. Health is a serious subject, and there are people who make a lot of money selling “healthy” products that may range from possibly helpful to downright dangerous, and just because some celebrity does a commercial for it does not mean it is good for you! There are good, safe products, and herb formulas available. Please educate yourself before taking anything!

The human body was designed to turn food into energy to run all it’s complex systems. I should be able to get all the nutrition my body needs from the food I eat to power the movements that I do. That is how my body is designed. “Real Food”, by my own definition, is food that was grown, (as opposed to manufactured), preferably organically and locally as much as is practical. Food comes from the ground and from animals and fish. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, I totally get and respect that and know that you can get enough protein, you just need to know how. I lived as a pretty healthy vegetarian for many years. I now choose to add meat sources to my diet. No judgement! I feel that I do need to say that I do not hold any credential in nutrition, I can only tell you what I know from my own experience and research. (That was my disclaimer) A diet that is based on vegetables, clean, natural protein, and fruit seems pretty perfect to me. I find that gluten (All types of wheat, rye, and barley) causes inflammation and bloat for me and for many people that I know. When I ate a regular “American Diet”, I did not notice because that was normal then. It is NOT normal now. the book Wheat Belly, by William Davis is a good read. I also recommend The Whole 30, by Dallas and Mellisa Hartwig, and my personal guide, The Warrior Diet, by Ori Hoffminkler. If you want to, please do your own research. If you just want to listen to someone you trust, and you trust me…EAT REAL FOOD as much as practical! Enjoy your occasional treat and eat it with absolute joy and reckless abandon! Adopt some kind of “intermittent fasting”…ask me if you don’t know what that is, or read The Warrior Diet.

Everyone is different, and everyone likes different kinds of food and ways of eating. Just concentrate on eating as clean as practical for your life, and pick up that KETTLEBELL! To quote Pavel from Enter the Kettlebell“Eat a halfway decent diet and do the drills…” The results come!

Don’t Panic.

Don’t Panic. If you are a fan of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, you know that no matter what, no matter what, no matter what, panic simply will not help any situation. If you have never bothered with Douglas Adams’ tales, but you have been around this planet for a while now, you certainly know that panic truly will not help any situation.

I brought up the subject of panic today for two reasons. 1. The holidays are still upon us. Need I say more? 2. In reading “Simple and Sinister”, Pavel Tsatsouline’s new kettlebell book, he says “do not confuse speed with panic”. I will address each:

1. The holidays are still upon us. Does the notion strike fear into your heart? I hope not, but if so, you are not alone! Even if the season does not wrack you with fear and stress, this time of year there is just no escaping getting some of that “viral stress” on you. That stress will not only drive you crazy…it will keep you fat…it will undo work that you have done…stress kills…everything. This time of year is just stressful for many people for many reasons. It is a time of highs and lows, like seeing seldom-seen family, YAY! then saying goodbye, BOO! The stress of shopping, wrapping, dealing with all the manic people on the streets. Then there is the cooking, cleaning, dealing with those seldom-seen family members…it can all be a bit MUCH! Here again, is my advise as far as not loosing too much ground with your fitness goals. Set your mind to maintenance for the season. Do not set lofty PR (Personal Record) goals to attempt to hit during the holidays. It just sets people up to let themselves down. Eat what you want, but plan for it. When you know you will be surrounded by yummy deliciousness decide which goodies are worth it and EAT THEM WITH JOY! Do NOT poison yourself with guilt and fattening food, please. Choose it. Eat it with joy. Move on. 3,500 calories make up a pound, and a good swing will burn about 22 calories per minute. Know that and act accordingly. Schedule high calorie days with high calorie burning workouts. Do not “graze” all day. Cut out the extra goodies…ANY processed carbs until late in the day, or eat them at work then cut them out later. Example: I have a work party at lunch time. I have fresh (that means it came out of an actual orange) orange juice and a boiled egg in the morning. Eat the goodies that I really want and leave the ones that I am “meh” about (do NOT just eat them anyway…I know it is easy to do, but just don’t). Eat the goodies you choose with absolute joy and enjoy your friends and coworkers! Plan a good workout and simple dinner of veggies and protein, skip the “extra” carbs like rice, potatoes, bread (please!). Eat all the fresh veggies you want and a serving of protein about the size of your fist. OR I have a Holiday party after work: Plan a workout in the morning. Then have fresh juice and an boiled egg (or two or three, depending on your workout), and eat only veggies or veggie juice at lunchtime, go to your party and enjoy! Again, skip the stuff that does not make you really salivate, the “filler” foods…just skip those and only take the stuff that you really want. Eat those things with joy. Enjoy your holidays. Enjoy your family and friends. Enjoy some holiday goodies, in moderation. Enjoy your workouts, even if they are not quite epic right now. Epic is coming!

2. When you are “swinging those calories off” keep good form. Clear your mind and find your static stomp. Get set for your first perfect swing….hike it and GO! Torch that fat! Build that muscle! GO! GO! GO!….but do not hurry. Remember your rooting. Remember your breathing. Remember that the more your hips explode and hold the longer the bell is in the air…the more time you have to rest and ready yourself for the next perfect rep, and the next, and the next. Again, when we let ourselves fall into the “panic” mindset it will not truly help in ANY situation.

Keep calm and carry on.

Sheri

How to survive the High Calorie Season

We all knew it was coming…the Food Holidays and all that comes with them.

This time of year, people come together to share light, warmth, community, joy, love, peace, goodwill, and food…for a LOT of people it also brings stress. When we combine those last two things we see why the average American will gain 8 to 12 pounds over the holidaze, and will most likely keep about 4 of those pounds past next December.

We do NOT have to fall into this trap. You CAN enjoy your friends and family, and yes the food without gaining lasting weight! First, I want to remind you that hardstyle training is all about making gains in absolute strength and power. Fat burning, if that is a goal of yours, requires attention to nutrition. There are a few strategies that work, it is just important that you choose one and stick to it. Yeah, it is that last part that trips us up.

While I am not a nutritionist or dietitian. I currently do not even have a “nutrition cert” I am 50 years old, in good health and stronger than I have ever been. I see, with my “Trainer Eye”, students and “average” people everyday and I geek out on all things regarding natural wellness and strength. Here is my basic nutrition for how to survive the “High Calorie Season”, but this whole “Buffet of Life”!

#1 Do NOT stress. Stress will release “fight or flight” hormones that encourage the body to hold ON to fat. Just breathe and know that this all will pass and that you are fine and that any decisions you make will all work out just fine.

#2 Incorporate “Intermittent Fasting”, and save the starchy carbs for dinner. There are many great books of this, my favorite is “The Warrior Diet” by Ori Hoffminkler. The basic idea is that you have a period of time that you do not eat, and a period of time that you do eat. The not eating period is longer than the eating period, and includes sleeping. Save ALL the starchy carbs, including fruit for the end of the day.

#3 Plan HEAVY workouts on days you have “Food Parties”. Carbs are helpful in recovery! Work HEAVY and EAT! Just eat what you want…what you really want. Ask yourself if you really want this or are you eating on “auto pilot” because you are all stressed out?!

Bottom line: Keep swinging and ENJOY!

I have been following Geoff Neupert since 2008. He has several amazing kettlebell and strength materials out including “Permanent Fat Loss”. Check him out, I pretty much ripped off his “Top 3″…actually, I combined #2 and #3 so that I could place NOT STRESSING where I believe it goes…#1!

Strong from the Floor Up, or “How the Static Stomp Changed Everything.”

Last week I wrote about how learning to get strong has changed virtually everything in my life and has made it better. One of the biggest things that has changed for me is my relationship with the floor, or the ground…actually no. It is my relationship with my FEET, and their relationship with the deck (whatever it is that I am standing on). As far back as I can really remember I had pain in my heels and low back when I stood in one place for very long, even as a kid. My low back used to hurt and people told me to “wear shoes with support!” I even went to a well-meaning Chiropractor years back who was happy to fit me with custom orthotics to wear in my super-supportive shoes. I looked for the cushieset, most supportive, walking-on-a-cloud shoes I could spend money on, and you know what?! My back still hurt. My heels still hurt. Shoes were NOT the problem.

One of the very first things that I noticed after beginning my kettlebell practice was that my feet did not hurt as much and my low back did not hurt as much. I found that if I wanted to, I could wear heels without as much nagging pain. I found that with the more I did Single Leg Dead Lifts (I always practice my kettlebell work barefoot) and started wearing “barefoot” shoes outside and on hiking trails (there are many types now to choose from) that not only did I not have pain, I had a new and different relationship with the ground!

One of the basic drills that I “drill” into student’s heads is the Static Stomp. The Static Stomp may seem at first to be a little detail. It is NOT. Strength begins from the “ground up”. To illustrate; we had a family cat, Mr. Kitty, who could, I swear, make himself weigh 4 times his body weight when he did not want me to pick him up out of my chair! That is part of what we are doing. Make yourself heavy. Imagine that your feet are pushing yourself into the floor itself. Seriously tighten ALL the muscles in your body with the intention of pushing with your feet. You have to keep the floor from smashing you against the ceiling…250 MPH winds can NOT blow you over…whatever it takes to feel your static stomp!

Feeling strong as you stand still is a good indicator that you are getting strong. Now, remember to Static Stomp before you engage in ANY kettlebell drill, AND before you lift ANYTHING heavy! I know that for myself and for my students, being strong with kettlebell drills is great, but the reason we are practicing for strength is to be strong in all areas of our lives.

Remember: Strength is a skill. It can be learned. Happiness is a choice. It can be made. Strength makes a whole lot of things a whole lot easier. That is just a fact.

On Getting Older and Growing Stonger.

So, I turned 50 this past October. Since then, I have found myself doing lot of reflecting, and what keeps blaring at me is how much increasing my strength has improved virtually EVERYTHING about my life. Everything. That is a really BIG statement. If you know me at all, you know that I choose my words pretty carefully and try to avoid general statements like “Improved Everything”. But it has. Not in ways that you may think either. It is not only about looking a certain way, fitting into a certain size or knowing that I could probably out-run, out-last, and if needed, overpower most threats that could come up. Even though those things are nice. It is a well being that comes with growing stronger even as I am growing older</e

I found Pavel Tsatsouline's teaching in 2007. I was 44 years old, and in pretty good shape. I had recently completed my NSCA-CPT training and had started working as a Personal Trainer, I felt healthy and fit, although I did still have pain and limited range of motion in my neck and shoulders as well as numbness in two left fingers all due to a roll-over accident when I was 24. I read "Enter the Kettlebell" and "From Russia with Tough Love, bought a kettlebell, and started to get strong, really strong. As I gained strength, I lost pain and gained mobility…just like MAGIC! Today, I know that I am stronger at 50 than I was in my 20s and 30s, and I have the privilege of helping other people learn to get strong as well. I get to witness people put their new strength to good use in virtually every aspect of their lives. They do not tend to turn into “brutes” either. People who learn to develop strength, who push through their own personal limits and commit themselves to themselves…read that part again…get strong and carry that strength in humble and meaningful ways. They are young parents, retired professionals, busy executives, school teachers….they come from all walks of life and are discovering that as Master SFG, Mark Reifkind, said “Strong fixes almost anything.”

Next week, I will discuss more about the applications of strength. The very real ways in which strength improves my life everyday, and some simple ways to start getting stronger right now!