These days it would appear that the internet is awash with kettlebell companies offering different courses and styles of training. So, what do you need to look out for?
Back in 2004 I was working on the ITV Program ‘Fat Families’ in which I first introduced the British media to the benefits of kettlebell training helping the family I was assigned to shed a massive 10 stone. Since then, there seems to have been a kettlebell explosion so to some degree I guess it’s my own fault that there are several individuals and companies out there that are now offering sub-standard kettlebell training courses.
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For this reason there are……
1# When choosing your Kettlebell Instructor course check the course instructor’s credentials: Do they actually work in the health and fitness industry or are they running kettlebell certification courses as some kind of side line to supplement their Monday to Friday job? Do they or have they ever instructed ‘normal’ people i.e. worked with clients on a 1:2:1 basis, or clients that have motor programming or flexibility issues? As I’m sure if you are a trainer and you have ever tried to teach a client that has motor learning difficulties to do a squat they can look like a baby giraffe on ice. It’s completely different than teaching an athlete or another personal trainer (however, I have come across the odd personal trainer that looks like a baby giraffe on ice when learning the two handed kettlebell swing……I won’t name them here).
2# A fancy camera doesn’t make you a professional photographer: What I’m saying is just because you look the part doesn’t mean to say that you are an expert and the same applies to Kettlebells. There is a difference between being a strong trainer with good genetics and a good teacher! It’s not all about lifting the heaviest kettlebells for the maximum amount of reps…….I’ve seen a lot of Kettlebell Instructor courses run on exactly that principle. If you can snatch XX kg of kettlebell for XX amount of reps you’ll be a better trainer. It’s true that as a traineryou shouldalways be pushing your training to the max for your given training goals.
However, getting Mrs. Average to snatch a 32 kg kettlebell for 12 reps is NOT always best for Mrs. Average!! She might have approached you for a weight loss and muscle tone program. The first thing she should be learning is the basics and as an instructor wanting to learn Kettlebells the first thing that you need to learn are the basics. What you want from a Kettlebell Instructor course is a good teacher that can break down exercises into manageable, learnable chunks which will then give you a good template to go on and instruct your own clients. As with all things technique comes first.
3# Obscure Kettlebell Training: There seems to be an abundance of various ‘out there’ Kettlebell Training Programs. In fact on a slightly different tangent, ‘sandbag training’ seems to be making it into the fitness arena. For those of you that don’t know what sandbag training is, it’s basically where you take a client, get them to pick up a sand bag, carry it for a certain distance or up some steps, return, get another sand bag and repeat the process!! Now, I’m sure this used to be called manual labor. In fact, if you took your client to a local building site, charged them your normally fee and then hired them to the building contractor for an hour at a reduce rate it would be a win win all round!
Now I am joking and I know that ‘sandbag training’ has been around for many years in strong man sports but as trainers we are in the business of helping people achieve either the body they desire or the fitness level they desire. So, getting back to my point. Kettlebells did initially come from a strong man type of training. However, if we only train strong men from a commercial point of view we would alienate about 90% of the training population.
As this is quite an important subject there are several kettlebell training companies trying to validate this type of training for everyone. I am aware that this type of training has its place but the kettlebell can be so much more to so many more people than some sort of macho, testosterone driven training tool.
4# A “Thanks for Turning up Certificate”. Mass Compared To Quality: A certified Kettlebell Instructor of ours rang me not too long ago to tell me that there was a clip on the internet that I just had to see. The clip was of a promotional video of a particular kettlebell company holding a Kettlebell Instructors course. There must have been 30-40 attendees of the course but the thing that struck me was the 30-40 different styles of what was supposed to be a simple standard exercise.
Since viewing the clip fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be) I have since become aware that all of these trainers passed the course. Now we can look at this in two ways.
Having the certification good or bad they are all now classed as being the same. I’m sure that in both options there will have been some very capable instructors that did pass however, there are some people in both options that would never have passed the standard required to become a certified kettlebell instructor via an R.K.P.S. course.
5# Length of Course: You’ll see kettlebell courses being advertised from anything between a ½ day taster sessions to a 1 or 2 day full certification course. Now let me explain to you why I believe that a 1 day certification course is not sufficient enough for you if you are considering becoming a certified kettlebell professional.
I’ve attended many training courses over the years as a student but here’s what I’ve learnt from years of delivering them. A one day kettlebell course in my professional opinion is not long enough for you to learn the proper techniques of all of the basic kettlebell exercises if you in turn are going to teach it.
The R.K.P.S. Level 1 Kettlebell Instructor Course covers over 30 exercises and is delivered over two full days. The reasoning behind the two full days is that there are several elements to consider so, let me give you an example of why a one day course isn’t to your benefit.
Let’s say your one day kettlebell instructor course starts at 9am and runs until 5pm (and most of the one day courses are less than this). Out of a typical 8 hour course you will normally have two breaks and a lunch break. Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, your training time has just been cut by at least 1 ½ hours. You now have only 6 ½ hours remaining (minimum) to digest, reciprocate and display the correct kettlebell techniques divided by the number of advertised kettlebell exercises:
e.g. 30 exercises, one day course ÷ 390 mins (time remaining in day) = 13 mins per exercise
This example does NOT include the initial Health and Safety talk, introductions by the trainer, theory of the Kettlebell, circuit design, questions and answers………so, the reality is the actual time spent on each exercise is likely to be a lot less.
Do you actually think that 13 minutes per kettlebell exercise gives you enough time to master the correct kettlebell technique as well as implement the important coaching points and recognise all of the common faults to look out for?...............I’ll leave that one up to you!
6# Anyone Can Be a Kettlebell Instructor: Not true!! And it’s not true for the following reasons.
Some companies promote the fact that ‘anybody can train to become a kettlebell instructor’. This statement is true to the point that ‘anybody can attend’ a kettlebell training course but that’s really as far as it goes.So let me give you an example.
Our trainer provider ‘Kettlebell Seminars UK’ has trained countless people to be able to use kettlebells in their own training programs. However, this does not mean that by being taught how to use kettlebells safely and effectively in your own training programs, for your own personal use that this gives you a license to go ahead and teach others to use them - it doesn’t.
As a fitness professional you will be aware that the fitness industry is governed by various rules and regulations and mainly from a health and safety point of view, every trainer or company has to carry liability insurance. This is just incase there is an accident or if a trainer injures someone recklessly or unintentionally during a session. Without the industry standard pre-requisites i.e. a proven knowledge of anatomy and physiology and other relevant certification there is no insurance available for anybody to just go ahead and teach kettlebells. Any kettlebell company promoting this is basically not telling you the truth.
So, what this basically means to you is that if you go ahead and teach kettlebells without the relevant qualification or insurance you are leaving yourself wide open for a big insurance claim should anything happen. Please, please don’t think it couldn’t happen to you as I could relay countless stories.
7# You Tube and Other Guru’s: This could be a huge section in itself! First of all let me tell you a story.
A couple of years ago we trained an individual (that I will not name for obvious reasons) to become a Level 1 Kettlebell Instructor. Prior to attending the kettlebell Instructor course he had already written articles for various fitness publications, the internet and several newspapers but couldn’t execute a kettlebell exercise using the correct technique or by displaying the correct posture to save his life. So here was someone who was previously classed as a ‘kettlebell expert’ but couldn’t make the grade. He had to have 1:2:1 coaching to enable him to pass the Level 1 Kettlebell Instructor course to industry standards. Where had he learned most of his previous technique…………………..from you tube! He has since left the fitness industry.
I could also name a very famous kettlebell trainer that has authored several books and DVD’s on the subject of kettlebells who couldn’t tell you the difference between a macro cycle and a pre-menstrual cycle!! However, they could to be fair know what the latter is.
You Tube can be a wonderful thing and provides a form of entertainment for millions. It can also be something that provides a source of information or misinformation to millions too! Let me tell you about something that happened not that long ago.
The R.K.P.S. Senior Trainer, Guy Noble recently watched a chap using Kettlebells in his local gym. He continued to observe this man using a kettlebell that was far too heavy and his technique was all over the place. Guy became concerned for the mans safety as what he was doing was not only dangerous but was on the point of down right madness and could have landed him in hospital on the next swing of the Kettlebell. When Guy asked the man in question where he had learned his kettlebell technique…………you’ve guessed it, it was You Tube.
So, my advice is this and the morale of the story is……… you had better be careful that the people that are teaching you to use kettlebells can actually use them correctly themselves.