There is not a day that goes by where I am not giving the glorious kettlebell full credit for helping me achieve my fitness goals. These achievements did not come easily or quickly and there are still many more to go.
It has been 4 years since I met my first mentor and RKC instructor Sigrun Bishop and fell in love with KB (kettlebell) training. It is 3 years since I dreamed of and succeeded in becoming an RKC instructor. In this time I have heard an abundance of stories from people using kettlebells that have injured themselves with them.
There is a bit of a stigma that comes with KB training. This has arisen from too many trainers who “learn” their technique from youtube videos or 1-2 day weekend certifications.
The kettlebell is a weapon of bodily destruction when left in the hands of an inexperienced instructor. Knowing who these coaches are can be tricky.
Before you ever start kettlebell training with your coach, you need to ask them about their qualifications. If they are not a certified RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) or SFG (Strong First Girya – Girya is Russian for Kettlebell) instructor, chances are your trainer has not spent enough time under the bell to have the necessary experience and expertise to safely instruct your kettlebell training.
This is not to say that your trainer does not have your best interest at heart, simply that they may lack the understanding that comes with undertaking an RKC or SFG certification.
These 2 particular certifications are indeed an undertaking. t is required that each Girevik (traditionally the name for Russian kettlebell strong men) spend a minimum of 12 months refining their technique with the 6 basic kettlebell movements which are the Swing, Clean, Press, Front squat, Snatch and Turkish Get up. Though these exercises are practiced widely with a variety of equipment, the Russian style of kettlebell training that these skills fall under require the individual to have perfect form throughout all movements. After a gruelling 12 months or more, potential instructors are able to attend their certification try out.
This try out runs for 3 days and consists of hours of practical drills where each participant must prove their knowledge of the above skills not through parroting form and cues from a book but with their bodies, rep after rep under the careful watch of true kettlebell masters. At the end of the 3 days you are not guaranteed to receive a certificate. There is up to 70% failure rate at each certification.
The point is, it takes a lot of time to even start to understand how to safely teach the correct kettlebell technique. A weekend certificate will only give an unskilled coach an inaccurate idea of their abilities. This means trouble for all unsuspecting clients. The biggest problem I hear of is people injuring their low backs, with damage ranging from minor strains to being hospitalised due to bulged disks. The fact that I have heard so many stories about KB training gone horribly wrong is a great shame for what is possibly the best piece of training equipment you will ever find.
It is always best to ask your coach about their qualifications. This is not to undermine them but simply to prevent personal injury. You have the right to ask this question of your coach when it comes to your safety.
If your coach does not practice kettlebells regularly or with sound technique there is no possible way they are going to be able to teach you safely, this goes with any movements really.
The good news is that there are quality coaches out there who have gained their certification through years of practice and dedication to the movements involved in this style of training.
I am proud to be one of the few RKC instructors in Australia. My passion and dedication with kettlebell training has allowed me to achieve one of my dreams. If you a seeking to learn more about Russian style kettlebell training we can help you here.