Basic Movements for Daily Life

Posts tagged “kettlebell

Beating the Brain


It’s been just over two years since I’ve written on this thing.

Apparently I didn’t have much to say.

On May 4th and 5th of this year (same day as the last blog post two years ago) I took an Agatsu Certification course.  It was with Kim Rossignol at Endorphin Fitness in Regina.

I’ve had two weeks to process what I went through.

This wasn’t the first Agatsu cert I took.  A lot has changed since that weekend.  I’ve moved, stopped training, started training, stopped, started..

It just over ten years ago when I did the cert the first time, hosted by Kim and Shawn Mozen in Calgary.  It was the single toughest weekend I’d ever been through.

Till two weeks ago.

I passed and earned my certificate again, but damn, it was tough.  I’m also ten years older.

I wasn’t worried about the movements.  I’ve done thousands and thousands of kettlebell swings, thousands of Turkish Get Ups, presses, and more.  Any I didn’t know or needed adjusting I would work on (I’m looking at you kettlebell jerk).

What worried me the most was my conditioning and endurance.  Simply put, it ain’t up to snuff.  Remember, I’m ten years older, and just about half of that time I was a bit lazier as I didn’t go to the gym or practice near as much as I used to before moving to Regina.

mighty 01

My brain, it turns out, was my biggest obstacle.  Sure, I was beat.  Sure, I stopped doing some movements on the final circuit (delightfully known as The Garden of Pain).  Sure, I was wondering why the hell I was putting myself through this, but I never put the bell down unless told to.

I’m not gonna lie, it was hard, damned hard. Remember, I’m ten years older.

Over the past two weeks I’ve given the experience a lot of thought.  I’ve concluded my practice for the next while will be on conditioning and endurance.  One does not want to be winded walking down the sidewalk or up the stairs.  And the biggest battle in all of it is my brain.  The damned thing works harder than all of your muscles telling you to stop and thing doesn’t even move, flex, extend, lift, or pump up.  Really, the thing is kind of lazy when it comes to fitness.

A special shout out to Kim at Endorphin.  As a coach, instructor, trainer, and all around bad-ass, she knew all the right things to say during our weekend to get us through some challenging experiences.

tim and kim

Incidentally, the meaning of Masakatsu Agatsu is what I’ve just been blabbing about: “Masakatsu Agatsu translates as “True victory is victory over oneself.” Agatsu refers to this idea of self mastery. This is “beginner’s mind” — maintaining humility, always learning and refining as a student.” – from the Agatsu website.

It’s amazing what can happen when we actually tell ourselves what can do….. or worse… what we can’t.





…is some of the stuff I have in my basement…








…is more of the stuff I have in my basement…








…stuff looks at me each time I make my way down  the stairs to the basement…

Kettlebell Night August 22 2013 014







…stuff can be used damned near anywhere…

…stuff keeps me in reasonable shape…











…stuff takes up a small amount (relatively speaking) of space…

…stuff can kick your ass…

…stuff can be used in a space easily about the size of two or three yoga mats placed beside each other…

…stuff will show you how strong you are, how strong you can be…

kbs ice cream










…stuff will reveal your weakness and show you areas you need to improve upon…

…stuff helps me release stress and tension of a trying day…

…stuff will make you sweat…

…stuff can be used by young and old…

…stuff will make you strong…


Don’t Flaunt It – Sorta

Chances are pretty good I’m guilty of being ‘that guy‘ when it comes to getting healthy and fitter.  I’m pretty sure there were times I was kind of annoying and in people’s faces to a certain degree when I hopped aboard the path to a healthier lifestyle.  After all I wanted to shout from the rooftops I had arrived at a lifestyle change.

That’s nice…

Good for you…

Face it fitness friend, not everyone wants to hear about kettlebells, undulating periodization, the latest on protein to muscle mass ratio.  It’s good that you do, but not everyone wants to hear about it. ALL. THE. TIME.

I fear I was that guy.  I might still be, who knows?

One does not need to get preachy about a healthy lifestyle. Encourage but don’t be preachy.  If someone is curious about how you made your changes let them know.  Discuss it with them about your journey and how you arrived at it.  A gentle nudge is way better than a you-better-do-this push.

If you think about it, you are essentially a walking billboard for a healthier lifestyle.  If you make dramatic changes to your body there may be nothing better than people seeing those changes.  Especially if they haven’t seen you for some time.  A healthier, fitter person tends to walk taller, prouder and well, look different than they may have a few months ago.  Sometimes that’s the only sales pitch you need.  If they get curious, they’ll ask.  If they’re interested and sincere they may join you.

Sure, encourage, but don’t annoy.  Use subtle encouragement.



You Are Not Being Selfish


I’ve heard that term used by others to describe me taking time to improve my health and well-being.  It’s never been used by my family toward me.


Some say taking time to train, practice, workout, eat healthy or whatever is selfish.  As though one is stealing time they could be spending with another.  By regaining or improving your health and well being by as little as three hours a week, you can end up spending a longer life with those you love.


If you are taking three to five hours a week for yourself by training, that’s hardly being selfish.  There are one hundred and sixty eight hours in a week.  Three to five to yourself is two to three percent of the total weekly hours you get.


Just the word lately angers me.  If someone claims it’s selfish you are spending time to improve your health and not spending time with you, aren’t they the selfish one by claiming you may not be spending any time with them?


How is improving my health, which potentially will help one live longer (and ultimately spend more time with those you love) selfish?

I get it.  Everybody boards the ‘healthy me‘ train at different points in their lives.  As a guy who hopped on board a while ago, I need to understand those around may not be ready to punch their own ticket yet.  That’s fine and fair.  Not my job to judge.  Maybe encourage, but not judge.

The track goes the other way, too.  Just because you may not be ready to ride the rails doesn’t mean you should yank someone off the car.  Who knows, maybe one day you’ll want to grab a seat next to them.  This will be a topic for another day.

You, as a person on a journey to health and well being, are not being selfish.  You’re getting stronger, healthier, more flexible and adding years to your life to be with those you love or perhaps help others in need.

Go.  Be strong.  It’s not selfish.

(Re)Build Your Foundation

My commute to work takes me through various parts of Central Alberta.  I get a chance to witness spectacular sunrises, sunsets, storms (winter, spring, summer and fall), a hint of the foothills and a taste of the prairies.  Honest to God, this is some of the most beautiful territory on Planet Earth.  Period.

On my journey one morning I noticed for the first time a place where a building used to stand. The building isn’t there anymore, but the concrete foundation is.  Farmland is all around it which has been tilled, planted and harvested many times around the square remains of whatever building used to stand there.  Roots, weeds and debris of all sort litter around it.

This got me thinking; if  a structure were to be reconstructed, the base, its foundation, is already there.  The basis onto which a building can be built is in place.  It’s likely solid and ready for any kind of construction.

Human foundation is much the same.  Once you’ve got that basic foundation constructed, the rest can be built.

Human foundations may vary from person to person.  If you’re struggling with healthy eating, build a basic foundation to start.  Remove one poor food choice from your menu and build from that.

If your foundation is to build strength, start at what many people call ‘the core.’  That would be your abs and trunk.  You know, the part that joins your top and bottom.  Sure you can make a strong top and a strong bottom individually, but if the middle is weak the top and bottom can’t really work together or complement each other.  Your ‘core’ doesn’t need to be ripped either.  Plenty of people have a strong foundation without the six pack and if that’s something you want work on the healthy eating foundation.

Once the foundation is there, build up from there.  Keep building till you get to a set goal and rebuild some more from there, kind of like adding another story to a building.

If you’ve had a strong foundation in the past it can be rebuilt.  Find what needs to be corrected within it and start the rebuild.  It’s likely still there, just needs the field around it cleared to get to it.

“Because if you have a strong foundation like we have, then you can build or rebuild anything on it.  But if you’ve got a weak foundation you can’t build anything.” – Jack Scalia

“Failure Is Not An Option.”

Watch this, then read on:

Okay, get it?

That is from “Apollo 13” and the main character in this scene is Gene Kranz played by Ed Harris.  Apparently Kranz never actually said “failure is not an option.”  He explains as such:

“In preparation for the movie, the script writers, Al Reinart and Bill Broyles, came down to Clear Lake to interview me on “What are the people in Mission Control really like?” One of their questions was “Weren’t there times when everybody, or at least a few people, just panicked?” My answer was “No, when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them. We never panicked, and we never gave up on finding a solution.”

Regardless, the point is ‘failure is NOT an option.’  And this is the case no matter what situation is tossed at you as try to achieve your fitness goal.

Take all the scientific and engineering jargon out of that scene above and replace with comments you face day to day as you make your journey.  All the negative ‘this can’t be done’ crap is the same, just with different terminology.  I’m not kidding, saboteurs are everywhere.  ‘Have this cookie’ could be the same as ‘you can’t run a vacuum on twelve amps!’  

No matter where you go or what you do there is always someone with a negative point of view regarding, well, everything.  Honestly, it gets tiring.  Remove yourself from the situation as best as possible and show them it CAN be done.

Toxic environments suck.  They suck the life out of you.  They suck the drive out of you.  And they suck the determination and motivation out of you.

Lace ’em up and get going.  Failure is not an option.

You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.”  ~ Zig Ziglar

You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.

Zig Ziglar


You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.

Zig Ziglar


The Runner’s High and Strong

Most of us have heard of the Runner’s High.  If not, here’s a quick link to wikipedia regarding it.  RUNNER’S HIGH.  Keep in mind, it’s on the internet so it must be true.  Ha.

This came up in discussion the other night in one of my kettlebell classes.  My wife says she doesn’t experience this event.  I’m not convinced I do either, but a few in the class do.  They’re wound up afterward and can’t climb down for a while.  Fair enough.  Gotta love endorphins.

I practice in the morning so I’m not concerned about losing sleep from being jacked up after swinging a kettlebell a few hundred times.  If I do experience any form of Runner’s High getting to the office ‘wound up’ may not be a bad thing.

What I do experience is long term effects.  While I’m not sure I get the immediate effect many get from a Runner’s High I do get the long term effects of practicing on a reasonably regular basis.

I’m stronger.  Not as strong as I want to be, though.  I will continue to practice.

I’m somewhat more flexible.  Not as flexible as I want to be, though.  I will continue to practice.

I’m slowing down the aging process.  At least I hope I am.  I’m not as old as I’m gonna get.  Funny thing is aging doesn’t take any practice.  Slowing it down does.  I will continue to practice.

No matter what your goal is (the Runner’s High or the above long term effects I feel I am getting), move.  Get stronger.  Strong feels good.  It looks good and, well, quite frankly, it’s kinda handy.

And trust me on this, you’re never too old to start.