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Katie's Kettlebell Journey - from Beginner to HKC in Modesto California

By Katie Harrell, HKC

I started training with kettlebells with Adrienne Harvey of in May of 2011 when I lived in Florida. The kettlebell bug bit me pretty hard. I have struggled with being heavy and out-of-shape for my entire life. Needless to say, the results of training have been extremely gratifying. Being a musician, I understand the importance of practice, and the concept is applicable to kettlebell training. Like music, strength is a skill that is improved over time and will never cease improving. Apart from the fact that kettlebell has this crossover into my life as a musician, I also have an amazing trainer who inspires me. Because of her encouragement and talent as a trainer, I felt prepared to delve into the HKC challenge. Even after I moved to Oakland, California in August, Adrienne continued to coach me via Skype and cheered me on all the way from the East Coast.

The day of the HKC, I was full of nervous energy. I had no idea what to expect, other than the 15 second flexed-arm hang I had been obsessing over. The workshop was held at Full Force Fitness in Modesto, CA; a completely awesome facility managed by RKCs Mike Sousa and Ricardo Garcia. The team leader was the seriously amazing Senior RKC Franz Snideman.

The workshop started with introductions. Most participants had prior experience in sports or were established physical trainers., but not everyone. I joked that my sports experience was in marching band. There was one woman who lost about 50 pounds with kettlebells and was doing the HKC as a personal challenge with the desire to train others. Truly inspiring.

After introductions was the flexed-arm hang that I had obsessed over all week. I have no idea why this pysched me out so much, but I know that everyone else was feeling the same way. Franz assisted me up to the bar and it was done.

After that was done, we moved to mobility complexes, fast and loose drills, and then drilled, practiced, and work-shopped the swing for four hours. By the time lunch came around, I couldn’t believe that four hours went by. We relearned the swing from the ground up. The whole time, I was getting constant coaching and feedback from the RKCs. The swing segment ended with an awesome involving workout that raised the temperature of all of Modesto by about 10 degrees. I even had Mike Sousa in my ear, inspiring me to raise my hips and tighten my glutes on the RKC plank after I had been completely smoked by swings. The first leg of the workshop ended with the group picture.

 That’s me in the gray shirt to the far right.

We took a break for lunch and fueled up for the next leg of the workshop. During the break, Mike Sousa showed off his double beast press. It was seriously cool to see that kind of strength in action.

Then we began work on the Turkish Get-Up, which involved shoulder packing drills, as well as tons of practice, guidance, and feedback. We spent about 2.5 hours working on the Get-Up, and it was definitely much improved. Still working on it too.

The last thing we worked on was the goblet squat, which took about 30 minutes. While the squat is an exercise of strength, we also used it as a stretch - and we did a lot of them. After the squat we moved onto the testing.

It was time to test our coaching abilities and I was nervous. Luckily, everyone else around the room was coaching their partner, so I didn’t feel like all eyes were on me. The trainers were just circling the room, taking notes. I’ve never trained anyone before and I got assigned the TGU. My training partner had very solid TGU, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to say. All in all, it went pretty well.

Next was the technique testing, which wasn’t bad, but I knew I could have done better. I was pretty smoked from an entire day of training. Regardless, I passed and it was the most amazing feeling.

I would do the workshop again in a heartbeat. I learned so much and I had such a great time. The different styles of teaching and personalities of the RKCs complemented each other incredibly well. I now have the information and confidence to train other people and to better train myself. Thank you so much Franz, Mike, Ricardo, and congratulations to all the new HKCs!

Adrienne: I'm not surprised that Katie passed the HKC with flying colors - she's always been such a hard worker!   Some good news for you all is that Senior RKC, Franz Snideman will be leading another HKC very soon - here in the Greater Orlando area as a matter of fact.   Click here to check out the details and to register.   If I'm in town, I will definitely stop in and say hello.   ALSO if you are local to the area and need help preparing for this HKC - please send me an email ASAP (adrienne at and we will set up your training session.   Likewise, we can also train via Skype like Katie and I ended up doing after she moved out West.  


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