Basic Movements for Daily Life

Archive for February, 2012

The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts

Here’s something I’ve known for a long time – your body is really all one unit.

Really, it is.  Sure, there a millions of little parts, but once the sucker is all put together, it’s one unit that works in harmony with all the other millions of little parts.

I learned this a few years ago after my first trip to physio.

I’d hurt my back and went to see the fella and he asked me what hurt, where, how long, what happened and so on.  So, in my layman’s terms I’d explained what happened, where it hurt, for how long and where.  Keep in mind, this was back that was hurting.  After I explain it all, he looks at me and says “okay, onto your back” and then promptly proceeds to dig into my abs.

“HOLY CRAP, DUDE!” I’m screaming in my head, “THAT FRIGGIN’ HURTS!!”  Yep… it did… turns out a lot back problems stem from the core or abs or whatever you wanna call the powerhouse that joins your top and bottom.

If you’ve been following along, recently I did something to my back again.  Well, so I thought.  It hurt in my back, but that’s not what was causing the pain.  Seems it’s the mighty hip flexors.  That’s the part of the body that helps bring your knee to your chest when you march.  Click here for more details.  Turns out those suckers connect to the low back and roll around the front of your hips and to your legs.  Funny, that’s every. single. place. I. hurt.

At a chiro visit yesterday I was asked to extend my left arm horizontally while laying supine and told to resist him pushing on it.  Well, it hurt on the left side of my hip, where the pain is.   Again, another connection to the body all the way on the other side.

This just opens my eyes to the wonder of the human body.  Just cause your calf may hurt doesn’t mean it’s the problem.  It could very likely be the effect of the cause.

So think about it, we really need to take care of our body as a whole, not bits and pieces.  Work it all, rest it all and feed it all.

“If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred.”  – Walt Whitman


Types of Kettlebells

With the onset of kettlebells becoming more mainstream now, many people have decided to jump on the bandwagon.  Really, I can’t deny I’m on the bandwagon, but I somehow feel this will be something I stick with for a long time and I don’t suspect I’ll be breaking my legs jumping on and off of it.  This method of training has been going on for hundreds of years, so, while it may ebb and flow, I don’t think it’ll go away for good.

The problem with something that becomes popular is someone usually comes along and wants to, uh, claim it as their own.  Providing ‘secret’ methods of training using skills and abilities only known to them with the tools only they have access to.

Whatever.  Please don’t be fooled.  I’ll be the first to tell you there is no magic pill.

With these secret methods in tow, the curator of said methods sometimes change a tool to make it, uh, better.  “New and improved.”  Cause that worked so well with Coca-Cola.

Anyway… one of the things that have change with kettlebells is not only look, but size, shape and what they are made of.

The other night at class I was asked why I used pro-grade or competition kettlebells.

Pro Grade or Competition Kettlebells

The main reason is they are all the same size regardless of weight.  A 12kg pro-grade kettlebell is the same size as a 16kg pro-grade kettlebell.  Therefore, each will land in the same spot as the other.

Non Pro Grade Kettlebells

Non pro-grade kettlebells are different sizes.  So the 12kg will land in a different spot than say the 16kg bell.

Really, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t necessarily feel one is better than the other.  I sell the pro-grades because that is what I prefer to use.

What I want to really reinforce here is what bells NOT to buy.

Again, since many ‘celebrity’ trainers have hit the scene they have decided to make their bells better and affordable.

Here’s what I want you to avoid:  plastic kettlebells.  Seriously, these exist.  Don’t waste your money.  Ones with vinyl covered handles.  Imagine what those would do to your hands!  Adjustable kettlebells.  I think you might be asking for trouble if you pop one of these over your head and the weights are loose.

I’m not gonna lie… if you’re going to buy a kettlebell, I would love to sell you one.  Click HERE if you want more information.

You really do get what you pay for.

And here’s one final thought from Shawn Mozen from Agatsu – click HERE

Today, I Admitted Defeat

I did something I feel I rarely do, cancelled.

Common sense tells me I had to.

Tomorrow I was supposed to have a three hour kettlebell seminar.  It was going to be geared toward the basics and an introduction to those who have never used them before.  I think it would have been fun.

But after my own training session today I had to make a decision based on my own physical well-being.

My back hurts like a son of a ….. well, gun.. ya, we’ll go with gun.

I’m not 100% sure how it happened in the first place.  It may have been that little slip this week on the snow covered ice…. it could have been the split second loss of focus on a kettlebell swing, I dunno.

I woke up this morning with a little bit of pain after going for physio yesterday.  I decided to take it light.  I warmed up for about ten minutes (I’m old).  Did a few hip movements with a band, tried some swings and pull ups… all seemed tickety-boo.  I moved on to some Turkish Get Ups with no weight (called naked – but you don’t need that picture in your head) and then did some foam roller work and some stretches.

Then I hit the shower.  And that’s when I found it was a bugger to stand.  Sitting wasn’t and isn’t a problem, but standing sucked.

I made the decision to postpone the planned session for tomorrow.  If I couldn’t stand standing for one minute, how in the hell am I going to give a three hour seminar?

Perhaps ‘defeat’ is too strong of a word, but that’s how I felt after sending the text to Jo at Jo Dumont Fitness.

I know I did this for my health, but part of me feels I let a few people down.  I know I shouldn’t feel that way, in fact, preventing injury is part of the whole teaching process.  Sometimes, though, you just can’t prevent ’em all.

So I’m hoping to reschedule the class and be at least 90% by then.  The next couple of days will be alternating ice and heat and limited standing.

A couple of days and I’ll be back to normal.  Whatever normal is.

Most human beings have an absolute and infinite capacity for taking things for granted” -Aldous Huxley

Stupid Injury – It’s My Fault

I’ve never really had the intention of writing a daily post here, but it seems to be turning out that way.  I just wanted to put some of my thoughts down as things occurred.  Maybe things are occurring too often.  ha.

In the world of kettlebells, I hold Pavel Tsatsouline in very high regard.  He’s the fella who really introduced kettlebells to North America.  I’m sure they’ve been floating about for years on this side of the Atlantic, but he made them mainstream.

He has a very good point about an injury.  If you’re sore or tweak something, it’s your fault.

Think about it.  How many times when we’ve hurt ourselves in or out of the gym, it’s always the fault of the inanimate object?  Like the 32kg kettlebell saw me coming and jumped in my way on purpose.  I highly doubt that happens.  But in today’s society, no one ever really wants to blame themselves for anything.

Well today, I injured myself.  It could have been due in part to an icy sidewalk covered with snow and me slipping on it.  I may have tweaked my back when I slid and tried to not to conk my noggin’ on a curb.  Didn’t hurt at the time, but it may have showed up later.  It may have also been when I was doing my swing sets today.

I was using a 24kg bell for ten swings a set rotating with Goblet Squats (which I’m still really trying to master) with the 16kg bell.  This routine was supposed to go for thirty minutes.  I think I managed eight.  Combine the slip, the Squats and perhaps a moment when I didn’t quite have my back and spine protected and BAM!! the swings end.

Never once did I see a kettlebell jump out and smack me.  It was clearly my fault.

Well, I’m old enough now to understand ‘walk it off’ ain’t gonna make it better. I’m also old enough to know to stop.  No point in hurting yourself any further.

Here’s what I have learned from today:  a proper warm up is key at my age (I did eleven minutes), don’t lose focus at all during a set of anything (at my age I may forget once in a while – which may have led to today’s injury) and stretch.  Lots of stretching.  I did twenty five minutes of stretching and foam roller today.  Will I do that after every practice session?  Probably not.  But today I felt I needed it, so I did it.  It seems as though a training session at my age may take me longer than I want it to.  But I suppose I need to take care of a few other things, too.

So tomorrow morning, bright and shiny at 7:45, I have an appointment with the phyiso.  That’s gonna hurt.

Oh, and one other thing I learned, that I almost have the number to the physiotherapist memorized.  I’m sure I would have, but I’m old.

Beginners and Kettlebells

I love showing the benefits of kettlebell training and practice.  Not a lot of other methods of training employ cardio and a  form of weight training into one form.  It really is kick ass.

I am currently teaching classes in a couple of locations and both offer drop ins.  This is truly fantastic.  However, it can sometimes be a challenge to get everyone on the same page in an hour class.

This is where a three hour session will be nice and handy.

The plan for this Saturday, February 25th is to run a three hour class at Jo Dumont Fitness in Red Deer.  In the next couple of weeks, another is in the works for Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.

There is a catch, though.  (Isn’t that always the case?).  You need to sign up.  Plain and simple.  If you want to take advantage of it, you need to take that step, get off the couch and sign up.  Make the call, click the links, whatever.  Just. Sign. Up.

Here’s what you can learn:

– proper breathing

– proper form

– safety

– how to warm up and some joint mobility

– how to swing.  How NOT to swing.

– the Turkish Get Up

– differences between types of kettlebells

And likely a few more odds and ends. The learning never stops, really.

So, take the plunge, sign up and see what it’s all about.  There is a lot of misinformation floating around on the web and I want to help give you some proper direction.


First and foremost, I’m not a nutritionist.  I can’t prescribe a diet for you, but I can certainly inform you on healthier choices.  If your meal comes out of a box, it’s probably not a healthy choice (no matter what the name is)… if you have to make a sauce with a powdered ‘cheese’ by adding milk or water, it’s probably not a healthy choice for you, either.  Sorry to disappoint you.  🙂  In the grand scheme of things, though, food is pretty simple.

This weekend we made a juggernaut overnight quick trip to visit my grandmother.  She’s 96 and is still pretty mobile.  She lives on her own and is pretty active.  Come to think of it, I don’t believe my grandmother ever made a meal out of a box, that I’m aware of anyway.  Jello maybe… 🙂

While we were on the road we made a number of stops for eats.  By my count, four.  When we arrived home today we were all hungry, but the thought of food kind of made us all nauseous.  Really, we didn’t eat any more often than normal, I think it was just the fact it was restaurant food.  The food wasn’t bad.  In fact, all the meals were delicious, I think it was just the fact it wasn’t homemade.

What I really wanted was a salad when we got home.  Something I could see being made.  I had chicken noodle soup instead.  Not the best choice, but it was light and that’s kind of what I wanted.  Something light.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to eat out like everyone else.  But there is a limit.

We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are. – Adelle Davis (1904 – 1974)

Dammit, Let’s Have Some Fun

I have multiple personalities.  By day, I’m a radio guy, shrouded in a dark room with just me, the microphone and the glow of a few monitors from the nearby computers.  Every once in a while I hear the hum of the heating/cooling (mostly cooling) fans kick in above me while I try to engage the loyal KG Country Listener with some wit, infotainment and music.  If you are a listener, thank you.  If not, listen.  I won’t bite, really. That’s Personality One.

Once that is done for the day I cloak myself in the gear reserved for a fitness trainer.  Don the appropriate shoes (at this point in my life I choose Vibram Five Fingers), shorts and the designated shirt.  I then prepare my class for the victi… I mean, participants.. ya, participants.  It is with the notes in hand, the trainer outfit and the rest of the gear required that I become one of the most hated individuals on the planet.  Well, for about an hour anyway.  That’s Personality Two.

I have been sworn at, flipped the bird and given the most horrible look a woman can give a man.  Yes, I would hazard a guess and say at least 95.5% (get it?) of my participants are women.  I dunno why, but men just seem to either not be interested or can’t handle it.  C’mon guys, prove me wrong.

Anyway, back to being hated.  I’m not going to lie, physical activity with a person pushing you can suck.  It may seem like I hassle you, yell and push you too hard, but I’m not.  I know you can do more.  A lot of times it’s just your brain saying “I’ve had enough.”  You don’t always need to listen to your brain.

I actually hope that I bring a certain amount of Personality One and Personality Two into the kettlebell classes I teach.

One thing I try to bring to each class is a certain amount of fun.  Seriously, I want you to enjoy your time while I’m wearing the evil outfit of a trainer.  There are times when we have a great laugh about something.  You need to.

A healthy lifestyle that involves physical activity isn’t just a one day thing.  It’s a ‘forever’ thing.  It needs to be ongoing.  And I want you to keep coming back.

Yes, I have been known to kick your ass.  Yes, you may have a hell of a time walking the next day, or even for multiple days.  Yes, I will give you some push.

And yes, dammit, we will have some fun.