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RKC Classic Kettlebells

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Rings of Power by Mike GIllette

Rings of Power by Mike Gillette Cool new book from Mike Gillette about Ring Training for all fitness levels. Being on this shoot with Mike was like working with a real live action hero! (And I got to put a cinderblock on him too!) Mike knows his stuff and shares everything you need to know for his versatile go-anywhere ring training.  Full progressions of every exercise, workout plans, and all the know-how to take the training as far as you wish. Good stuff, and yes, that's me on the left side of the cover  :)

The Power of Simple At-Home Workouts... Example: Sandbag and Pull Up Bar

At home workouts can be super challenging, here's a cool one

Impatient people can click here to skip to the workout and video

A pattern I've seen for years (and have also personally experienced) is that the more advanced you get, the less you really need. While there's always a seemingly human-nature-fueled thirst for gadgets and gizmos, and while new stuff can be motivating and a lot of fun (and I certainly have a first class collection of workout goods) it's important to remember that we can do a whole lot with less, or next to nothing. I can remember a time when I thought I needed specially timed meals, protein shakes and a whole gym full of machines and treadmills to be in shape. Of course the funny part was I always felt like I was still missing something--no matter how many "for women" fitness articles (and watch out, guys... there's plenty of goofiness in your media too) I read or how many times I tried the polite pretty workouts contained within.

Often the photos were more about selling clothes or a fictitious lifestyle than teaching people how to get fit. Those were not tutorials, they were modeling spreads. Until I knew any better I kept thinking, "Well I guess nothing works" because I wasn't getting the results I wanted from these needlessly complex, time-wasting and still somehow lightweight workouts. Little did I know that I could have been getting a great workout at home with just bodyweight instead of going through a long boring series of weight machines doing 3 sets of 12 reps on each.  I remember once I had actually worked up to moving a full stack on one of these machines... which was supposed to be a "butt toner". So here I was, totally able to move the whole stack of something like 180lbs (with one foot) and yet I still was not getting real results. I knew something just wasn't right.  And the terrible mainstream pop music blaring in the air sure wasn't right either.  YIPES!

Fortunately I learned about kettlebells, and even more fortunately I found an RKC instructor to teach me. In 2008-2009, what I thought I knew about kettlebells (I thought I had taught myself well) was generally in the right direction, but ultimately all wrong.

I remember coming back from that first session knowing that I had reached a very important crossroad.  I could start over and learn things correctly, fix my movement patterns, and eventually get back to lifting what I was lifting (which I thought was a lot at that the time). It's funny to think back to what I thought was "heavy" back then... it wasn't, especially not compared to now... I mean I could do about 5 decent pull ups, but didnt know I could be using my whole body to do so, and I would also balk at the idea of swinging a 32lb kettlebell.  Actually I should try to find a picture from just after that time for you, it's very funny, because I have my old dreadlock hairdo and am obviously completely freaked out by the fact that I'm swinging a 32lb kettlebell.  I Swing the beast now and I really hope they bring at least one or two of the new 60kg "Monster" kettlebells to the Health and Strength Conference so I can try to get it in the air.  

But I digress. I thought I knew it all just from a couple of (at least I got the right ones) DVDs, and online articles.  Literally, I had to "get over myself" which is something you always hear people say to each other with terrible results. Coming from a technology and self-taught ___just name it__ background (the range of things I've learned from library books is surprising... includes how to use a wood lathe and how to anodize reactive metals back in the day) this was a surprisingly tough thing to deal with.  These days many people think that a couple google searches somehow makes them an "expert" on any given topic, at least I'd given it about a year of my own study... and thankfully hadn't picked up TOO many bad habits.  I did have to unlearn a lot.  BUT, as much as this might have damaged my already ailing ego (long story) at the time, I knew that it must be done.  I was hitting plateaus too often, and there was always that nagging idea that something was missing.

Working with then-RKC Tim Shuman helped me get that all straightened out. Not a lot of people want to or are willing to train this way and it's a shame. Modern humans seem to want instant gratification, yet the real value and transformative powers of the kettlebell and bodyweight training only really come out with practice over time, and by actually having to use your brain. Before you tell yourself that you'll just learn it from a youtube video or a couple google searches, ask yourself how many know-it-alls in your life have actually accomplished what it is they profess to know so well? Do they exhibit actual success in their life? Or are they just over there giving you unsolicited, often harmful, discouraging advice? Over lunch last week, a friend of mine from school and I both lamented that "acquiring actual skills" seems to have fallen more out of favor with the mainstream (if it was ever really there in the first place).

Mainstream methods yield mainstream results... I don't know about you, but I am not content with "good enough" when it comes to my health and fitness. This is why its very easy for me to NOT eat crummy junk food or sugary sweets (though too much sugar has always repelled me a little).  The concept of "oh well you know you gotta eat cupcakes, drink wine/beer, and watch tv because that's what everyone does" does not fly with me (substitute whatever with cupcakes, wine/beer, and tv with whatever is relevant).  A long time ago, a friend looked in my kitchen cabinet, wrinkled her nose and said, "Don't you have any normal-people food?!" I said, "Do you see any normal people living here?"

I don't care about what's trending, I care about what works.

And now for a "get off my lawn" moment.  Hurrrrrrrrrr. For some folks of my generation the phrase "trendy" "trend" etc. has a negative connotation. To use it means "faddish" or just something that everyone is mindlessly going along with and that will disappear soon enough.  There was even a cd compilation series that was aimed at us called "Never Mind the Mainstream" and while it was ironically put out by MTV, that phrase is still pretty relevant when you might be evaluating some new possibly goofy thing that like OMG all the celebrities are doing omgggggg.  Do what works. Never mind the mainstream. 

What's so awesome about bodyweight exercises, certain martial arts practices (Tai Chi and Systema especially come to mind), kettlebells, sandbags, and basic lifts is that you can do them for your whole life!  Do you think anyone is still using their "thighmaster" religiously every day?  Yeah I didn't think so either.

Enough of this navel-gazing here's a fun combo I was playing with recently.  It's so great to realize I can just work out at home with some of my simple gear or really nothing at all!  But because I have a pull up bar and an Ultimate Sandbag Strength package handy, I decided to use those. 

In case you don't want to watch the whole thing (hey, it's short!) here's what's up:

After warm up and mobility I do 5 rounds of:

I may do a short chore (match up a couple pairs of socks, or rinse out a dish) between rounds.  That's it!  While this isn't the greatest thing to do every day, if I find myself at the end of the day with extra energy, or in the middle of the day feeling antsy, this is one of MANY of my "go to" workouts.

Here's what it looks like and an explanation of the 1.5 pull up:

Remember, no matter where you are and what you do or do NOT have with you, there's always a workout you can do! If there's one big lesson you can take from the PCC or Convict Conditioning, then that's it!


Dragon Door Hand Picked Resources for Optimal Living

100+ Workouts!

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Kettlebell, calisthenics, maces, battling ropes, sandbags, these workouts are for whatever you have--or don't have!

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Here's an eBook of workouts I created for an exclusive NYC private gym (kettlebells, calisthenics, sandbag) along with options for customization and coaching!

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