SFG II : How pressing 22kg changed my belief systems and my life.

Belief is a powerful thing. Belief propels you forward. Stops you in your tracks. Creates beginnings and endings. And all without you ever having made those conscious decisions.

For years I believed I wasn't capable of running a business. I believed I wasn't capable of ending my cycles of disordered eating. And most recently, I believed that I did not belong in an elite group of athletes and coaches. I went into my SFG II*, an advanced kettlebell training weekend, undertrained due to illness, injury and the crazy of running a business (I knocked that belief into next Tuesday. I think.) But more importantly, I went in carrying a silent belief that I didn't belong there. That I wasn't good enough, strong enough or a good enough coach to stand up with such an elite group of people.

Belief is a powerful thing. Belief propels you forward. Stops you in your tracks. Creates beginnings and endings. And all without you ever having made those conscious decisions.

(If you want to skip the whole story and get to the point, find the **)

I opened the studio space for PULSE Kettlebells and Yoga on September 2nd, after two months of negotiations and just one week to renovate and turn over the previous studio. Something I had never thought possible was suddenly brick-and-mortar!

I promptly got sick (because apparently 14 hour days are a good idea for 2 weeks in a row?) and stayed that way for more than 2 weeks. A little overzealous (who, me?) I injured my shoulder on my first workout after my last cold bug, just one month out from my SFG II. I couldn't move my neck or shoulder, had radiating nerve pain and just f!@$ hurt. Crushed, I called my sister and my trainer sobbing. I had worked so hard up until the studio opening and was fitting in three training sessions/week even with all that was going on... it was a really heartbreaking morning.

Thanks to an amazing (and patient) massage therapist, encouragement from my coach and a little bit of stubborn, I slowly rehabbed my shoulder and was back on track! Until the Monday before my certification...when I got slammed with another cold bug. This time? No messing around. I canceled all my clients. Subbed out most of my classes. And turned Netflix to STUN with Scandal and Blacklist while I chugged a gallon of orange juice and a gallon of homemade miso soup over the course of 48 hours, breaking only for acupuncture and naps. I WAS GOING TO FREAKIN' PHILLY.

(So I showed up at the airport, my troubles behind me! Until they told me the flight was oversold by 30 and I'd be lucky to get a seat. COME ON!!! 30 minutes of agony later, I was lucky. And got the last seat, much to the dismay of the 5 people behind me who got bumped. Thanks, Delta.)

Before I tell any more of this (rather long) story, I really want to take a moment to thank whoever made it possible for me to be on Team Sansalone and to Joe Sansalone. I was lucky enough to work with my trainer's trainer (!!) and one of the most talented coaches I've had the pleasure to work with. 

Back to to SFG II.

Day 1: I passed my flexed arm hang -- piece of cake. I passed my snatch test in 4:20, PR'ing by more than 20 seconds. See also: my sore biceps and lats for the next 72 hours. I failed my 22 kg press test after a really decent grind, which wasn't a surprise given my red shirt status. I also failed to anticipate the volume of level 1 skills we'd be doing. I was TIRED by the end of day 1.

Day 2: Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough. Fatigue/soreness had set in due to my lack of volume the previous month, and my brain went into overload learning the bent press (new fave challenge.)  Then.... the swing workout. 24 kg, double 16 kg, double 12 kg, 32 kg .... go down the line 10 swings each. Keep going. Unfamiliar with the swing or double swing? That's a long walk down a short plank. I choked down a bagel for lunch and spent at least 30 min that afternoon choking back tears (or straight up crying in the bathroom) because my usually VERY compliant body was in full-on rebellion. "Oh. You'd like to jerk those 16 kg bells? That's nice."

OK. SO!! All that aside: I learned SO FREAKIN MUCH. I learned what it was like to feel completely at a loss as a student (I'm pretty sure at one point I heard Joe say "That's a good cue, but her brain's about to short circuit, so we're gonna let her work with this.") I learned quality > volume. I learned that a strong trunk translates into power faster than you can imagine. That a good coach walks the fine line of balancing kindness with a demand for quality.

** Day 3: Failed my 22 kg press test again but it was a LONG GRIND and I felt something shift around the middle of it. Joe coached me a few times on lighter lifts and I did some bottoms up work to keep my lat sealed. Tried the lift again. Clean. Pressed. GRIND GRIND GRIND ..... bell starts to drop ... and something inside me snaps. I let out some kind of ridiculous Amazon anger shriek and completed the press. And failed because the bell can't drop on it's way up. F!@#$ but true.

Went to lunch for a walk and called my mom because something deep had let go in that attempt...something deeper than my lat. And as we talked about it, tears swelled to my eyes as I realized that I was holding onto a belief that I didn't belong there. So that was it. The hitch in my strength and my achilles heel: a deep rooted belief that I didn't belong. A belief I was no longer willing to subscribe to after all I'd been through.

So after the rest of my tests...windmills...jerks...push presses... I sat down and realized that I was sore. and tired. and my shoulder hurt. and -after talking to my coach- that I was going to try one more time, results be damned. I walked up to the 22 kg and said half out loud/half to myself "I belong here. I am strong enough. I am good enough." 

and I really meant it.

I cleaned. Wedged. Grunted. Pressed. and let out another variation of the hilarious warrior yell I'd emitted before. AND IT WENT UP. No questions asked. No pause, hesitation or doubt. It just went up.

It took a moment to realize what had happened as I racked the bell and put it down. Got the nod from my coach. Heard people yelling and shouting in trumph for me. And sort of ignored Team Leader's handshake in favor of a chalk-y bear hug.  I bounced up and down like a two-year old in a candy store and hugged people I'd never met, immediately grabbed my phone and texted 5 people (yeah, yeah...) and I came home the next morning still reeling with the excitement of texting my coach I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT!!!!!

I passed my SFG II against a lot of odds. And - oddly - I am even more proud of that than I am of  successfully running my kettlebell and yoga studio or of anything else I can remember. I MET AND TRANSFORMED MY OWN BELIEFS, the most powerful things I've ever come up against and I am really proud of that (Just writing this, my heart gets all swell-y again.)

So here's the moral of the story - for those of you who have tirelessly read through this absurdly long post: changing your beliefs will change the course of your life. By all intents and purposes, the 4th attempt at a lift after 3 days of physical testing should have failed. But a simple shift in *belief* is what shifted my ability to move weight that should have been immovable.

The trick is to dig below conditioning, thought and understanding, and look at what it is you truly believe about yourself. It's not always (or often) pretty. It can be undesirable or confusing. But if you're willing to meet the parts of yourself that you've covered over with productivity or inactivity or whatever it is you're using to hide from yourself? S!@$. WILL. CHANGE. If you're willing to let it.


* Strong First Girya Level 1 requires stamina. You must understand and execute 6 Hardstyle Kettlebell lifts with 2 test-sized kettlebells (24 kg for men, 16 kg for women > 124.5# = me.) It's a grueling weekend that builds mental fortitude and toughness.

Strong First Girya Level 2 requires finesse. In addition - of course - to stamina, mental toughness and a "survive at all costs" attitude. On day one, you must pass your snatch test (100 in 5 min) and strength test (5 pull ups + 1/2 bodyweight military press for men, 15 sec flexed arm hang + 1/3 bodyweight military press for women) and go on to review the six SFG I skills. Day 2 is review and practice of Level 1, followed by a headfirst leap in the bent press, push press and jerk. Day 3 is review and practice of those lifts...and skills testing.

Crazy Week Workout

When things get crazy and you only have time for a short workout here's my go-to. Hits all highlights without taking too much time!

Warm up with full range-of-motion joint work and be sure to adjust/modify as needed. My weights are listed...I do this for a living. (Just sayin')

3 Sets: 5+5 16 kg Single Leg Deadlift 1+1 16 kg TGU 10 x Deadbugs

5 Sets: 1+1 20 kg Presses R/L 1 Double 20 kg Press

2 Sets: 1+1 24 kg TGU

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Big News!

Big News  For the last month or so, I've been working with the amazing Amanda Ginther of Blackbird Family Yoga to facilitate something beautiful: PULSE Kettlebells and Yoga will have a brick-and-mortar location as of September of this year! We're moving into the space currently housing Blackbird Family Yoga on Frank Lloyd Wright Avenue in Middleton, WI and couldn't be more excited.

I have been looking for a space to call home since April of this year and had two lease negotiations fall through in both May and June. Thank goodness! After learning that Amanda was closing her doors, I reached out to learn a little more about the space and thought "maybe I could even keep a couple yoga classes." That'll teach me to think small!  

In addition to Amanda's beautiful class schedule of family-oriented yoga, I'm planning to offer some energetic and strengthening flow classes, TRX classes and OF COURSE, kettlebell class schedule that includes early morning and express classes!  We'll have a studio for classes, a small studio for personal and small group training, and a wonderful space for tea and community.  The lobby will also feature Sun Warrior and Young Living products...and of course some PULSE gear!  <high pitched excited girl squeal>

I feel so honored to be able to be a part of Blackbird's transition and so. freakin. lucky. to get to work with Amanda. She shares my passion for promoting a body love environment, gets just as excited as I do about the no-bull#&%* fitness counter culture I'm building and loves wine as much as I do. She's a beautiful spirit and I am SO. LUCKY. (did I say that already) that she is staying on to teach at PULSE.

Yesterday, I sent out an email letting everyone know what's up (and why I look like I haven't slept in a year) and the outpouring of love and support nearly knocked me off my feet. We raised nearly half (NEARLY HALF!) the funds needed to outfit the space in less than 12 hours and I received more emails, Facebook comments, texts and phone calls than I could field or respond to. You know when you stop and wonder if you're capable, good enough, on the right path...then the Universe just rolls you with HELL YES?  That happened.


Because I'm learning that asking for what I need is a viable way to get what I need (revolutionary, right?) ... here's what I need:

  • We're running an IndieGogo campaign to help us fund equipment for the studio (kettlebells and TRX and pull up bars, hooray!)  You can check out the campaign here to learn more about how you can support our work by donating/grabbing a membership early!
  • Madison area personal trainers and TRX instructors who are body-positive, compassionate and interested in learning the SFG hard style kettlebell method.
  • A few people to help me continue to provide childcare for the 9:15 am class times (trade for classes)
  • A few people to help me with class check-in, cleaning and other day-to-day stuff (trade for classes)


I really need to send a big shout out to PULSE hubby, Brian, for believing in me more than I ever have and to PULSE mom, Sandy Graham, for providing a haven from the storm and a constant phone line to sanity. To my teacher, Alex Pfeiffer, for teaching me the challenging and beautiful path of true authenticity and to my financial backers...you know who you are... and you are making this possible.

We are hoping to open the studio the first week of September! Until then, our schedule will stay the same. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.  In the meantime visit our website regularly for updates.

Strong First 2014

StrongFirst Instructor From April 25-27th of 2014, I joined 200 family members in Chicago to renew my StrongFirst Girya (SFG) certification. It was an reminder of the power of less, of my strength and its potential to effect those around me, and the intensity of a group of people united by their belief in something universal.

In 2012, I completed my first RKC in a very acute state of fear and sleep deprivation. Training for that cert had consisted of 60-90 min of swinging, up to 45 min of snatching, PLUS  the Rite Of Passage press program when I could squeeze a few ladders in on my "rest" days. I was exhausted, terrified of failure and unaware of my own physical strength or mental toughness. Thanks to my team leader and assistants, I walked out of the Grad Workout feeling more proud of myself than I think I ever had. Not only had I survived -- but I had passed my snatch test in 4:30, nailed all my technique tests without a hitch and been recommended as an assistant.

This time around?  I passed with flying colors and was barely winded as I completed my snatch test.  I got nearly 8 hours of sleep every night.  I spent my "off" time reading and taking power naps.  I felt grounded and empowered every step of the way and I learned even more about myself, how to train myself and how to lead my clients.  So what was different?

I learned to Slow Down.  I trained hard for this round ... for about a month.  For about 5 weeks, I followed Brett Jones' Level 1 certification training program 5 days/week at double 16 kg after the 1st week. By week 6 I was burned out, cranky, and ready to quit.

For the next 6 weeks, after a coaching session with this AMAZING dude, I trained focused and strong...but NOT so hard.  I lifted 4 days/week and only 2 days heavy. I took almost a week off to focus on stability when an unrelated back spasm sidelined me. I skipped the snatch workouts (which give me migraines) in favor of swinging a 24 kg with one hand. I trained solid and slow, and there was always something left in the tank at the end of a set or a workout.  Hey.  You know that "less = more" thing?  It's true.

  • Mon: Double Clean and Press / Clean and Squat Ladders (3)
  • Tue: TGU + Snatch Prep -- Heavy Swings
  • Thu: Double Clean and Press / Clean and Squat Ladders (5)
  • Fri or Sat: TGU + Snatch Prep -- REALLY Heavy Swings

In addition to being MORE than ready for the cert -- I fell in love all over again with the StrongFirst system. The simple beauty of picking up something heavy.  Putting it down. Doing it again.

I re-discovered a commitment to Excellence. Early on, I caught myself with a pissy attitude because I was being asked to perform lifts to certain specifications with no adaptations or adjustments for my body.  I'm used to a style of yoga where everything is a yoga pose and "correct" depends on you. It's demanding, but it's fluid. Gimme my options or gimme child's pose!

Alternatively: Hardstyle is Hardstyle is Hardstyle and there is an iron-clad (pun intended) protocol for each lift.  My first response to this was anger.  I was frustrated that someone was not making accommodations for me, and that I was being held to a firm line.  Then it dawned on me: "Oh yeah. That's life. $&%!"  A standard of excellence exists.  And I want to meet that standard.

I've spent the past 3 years or so attempting to balance my Type A driven personality, slowly drifting into a mindset of "all is now.  all is good. world peace." which is valuable.  But the weekend at the SFG helped me notice that the pendulum had swung a bit too far in that direction, and that a sense of yes. no. black. white. correct. incorrect. is also a very valuable thing.

I re-learned Strength.

l don't believe that strength = brute force.  In my experience, strength is CHECKING IN, addressing what arises AND MOVING FORWARD intelligently.

  • Meeting the thought "I can't" with curiosity
  • Noticing without attachment the thought "this shouldn't be so hard"
  • Addressing resistance as it comes and STILL COMPLETING THE LIFT with integrity

When I approached strength with the willingness to look inward and STILL MOVE FORWARD, my body surprised me.  "Holy DAMN. Did I really just do that?" was a regularly occurring thought over the long days.

I found an untapped well of strength in quiet confidence in my ability to walk the line between "ignore the thoughts" and "give in to the doubt." I KNEW I could finish this weekend with grace and integrity.  I KNEW that I could own the snatch test.  And because I had that tucked away -- I found all kinds of space for compassion and energy for those around me.  Even the people I never spoke to, I had a connection with that wasn't possible when I was wrapped up in "I'm afraid I'll fail."

I remembered the power of FAMILY.  The first day I ran into several men that were at my first RKC in San Jose.  We had no other connection but there was a bond: "We've been through this together."  I got to eat lunch with Sergio, a kettlebell brother and the man who adopted many of my San Jose clients when I moved.  I got to cheer on women who were shaking the first day (that first arm hang is *intimidating*!) ...and cheer them on again when they nailed their snatch tests. My training partner for the weekend was a ROCK and my roommate is a sister.  All because we believe in the same value: Strength First. All else will follow.

There is nothing like the power of 200 voices in unison stating with complete certainty that they are "SFG" or the energy of 200 bodies generating the power of the Hardstyle Swing.

I decided to re-certify at Level 1 in Chicago instead of continuing on to Level 2 because the move and several family emergencies this year kept me from training the way I wanted to. I thought "No worries.  It'll be there in 2 years."

But I cannot stop here.  Not knowing the raw power of my strength coupled with a call to excellence...especially when its wrapped in grace and compassion.  See you all at SFG II... I'm coming for you, Philly.


29 + 1 Things I Learned in my 20's

I turn 30 today ... on Friday the 13th.  12/13/13.  The big 3-0 on what is numerically speaking the most terrifying day of the year. And I'm freaking excited.

I told someone, quite bluntly, the other day "My 20s were a s*** show!" and - while it's true - I'm actually quite grateful for the crazy, scary, endearing experience that was my 20s.  And so, inspired by this post I found while killing time on Facebook reading industry specific blogs, here are 29 + 1 Things I Learned In My 20s:

1. Food is not the enemy. Stop fighting it - just eat what makes your body feel alive.

2. If exercise makes you miserable, you're doing it wrong. Uncomfortable: deal with it.  Miserable: do something else.

3. Toxic relationships serve neither you nor the other person.

4. OK.  Let's be completely honest.  When something makes you miserable: STOP.  Even if other people won't be happy with you.  Even if that magazine said it will take off that last 5#.  Even if you really want it to work out.  STOP.

5. It's highly likely that you won't use your college degree in the way in which it was intended.  The time you spent getting it, though: priceless.

6. A man will never (NEVER) make you feel as good about yourself as you want to feel.  Only you can provide yourself with the love you so desperately want.

7. Yoga isn't just exercise.  Yoga is a snapshot of your experience of life, condensed into an hour, in a small space, while watching other people do it better than you. Learn from it.

8. TRAVEL.  Get your passport updated and get out of the country now, because it may not happen later.

9. Along those lines: Those opportunities that you think will come along later ... may not.  Go to the concerts, parties, family events that you want to skip so that you can work another shift.

10. You are not broken.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with you that needs to be fixed.  You are a whole, complete, perfect human being who has plenty of room to grow.

11. Quitting is perfectly acceptable.

12. Never be afraid to leap. Even if the net is a long way down, it will eventually appear.

13. Keep your birth control in a temperature controlled environment.  It will melt.  It will freeze.  It will become useless if either of these things happens.

14. Say what you mean when you mean it how you mean it.  Stop filtering your words to keep others from experiencing negative emotions.

15. Drinking pint glasses full of hard alcohol: bad idea.  Drinking pint glasses full of water: good idea.

16. Feeling negative emotions isn't a bad thing.  It's an unpleasant thing.  And they process and integrate much faster (like...years faster) when you take the time to feel them.

17. DON'T START SMOKING.  It's really really really hard to quit.

18. A size zero doesn't make you a better person.  And chances are, you didn't like yourself any better at a 0 than you do at a size 8.  Shoot for happy, not tiny.

19. Paint, Draw, Sing, Dance, Whatever!  You don't have to be "good" at something for it to express the life that is inside you.

20. Read more non-fiction books.

21. Read less (read: no) diet books, fitness magazines, diet blogs, "before and after" weight loss stories, or miracle supplement reviews <Admiral Ackbar voice> "It's a TRAP!"

22. Leggings are not pants.  But they are damn comfortable. And are considered work attire when you're a yoga teacher.  So... they ARE pants?

23. DO NOT download Candy Crush Saga.

24. Listen to your intuition, even when it doesn't make sense.  Cross country moves (three of them), last minute changes in expensive education (twice), or just ordering that random thing on the menu.

25. No matter how angry you get with your mom, she will never EVER stop loving you.

26. You WILL be like your mom.  And it's awesome.

27. Money, while not everything, IS important. Stop working for less than you're worth.

28. Journal!  Fill books upon books upon books with your stories.  They're valuable.

29. Give really good hugs and linger when other people give you really good hugs.

+1 (still learning this one) :

Take time, every day, to sit with your most precious, most divine self.  YOU are the best friend you'll ever have.




Kettlebell Workout for Balance and Fine Motor Skills

My sister asked me this week for a kettlebell workout that focused on propioreception and balance...I was only too happy to oblige! This workout focuses on honing the connection between your brain and your fine motor muscles through balance and "core" (your whole torso) strength and connection.


3 sets:

  • Bodyweight Single Leg Deadlift x 10 R/L on a yoga block, balance pad or folded yoga mat
  • 1/2 Turkish Get Up with Yoga Block (or shoe) x 5 R/L
  • Bodyweight Goblet Squat with Base Hold x 5
  • Forearm Plank x 30 sec

3 sets:

  • Opposite Arm Single Leg Kettlebell Deadlift x 10 R/L Full or 1/2 Turkish Get Up x 5 R/L
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat w/5 Base Hold x
  • 1/2 Kneeling Bottoms Up Hold x 3 @ 5 Breaths R/L (optional: Bottoms Up Clean and Hold x 5 R/L)
  • Forearm Plank x 1 min


I take requests!  Leave me a comment with a video you would like to see!

Kettlebells and Yoga (or: Kettlebells AS Yoga)

I get a lot of questions on how I combine kettlebells and yoga in my personal and teaching practices. Usually, I explain that I do both throughout the week because it helps keep me balanced energetically and physically and that I encourage my clients to do the same. I imagine upon asking that some if not most people envision crescent lunges with a military press, or malasana (yogic squat) with kettlebell curls.  They're probably either somewhat disappointed or quite relieved to hear that I don't actually do YOGA with KETTLEBELLS.


Normally, my week has a total of 3-4 kettlebell training sessions 45-60 min, focused on heavy strength and high intensity conditioning, and 3-4 flow yoga classes with a focus on flexibility and keeping consciousness in my body and being present for each moment as it arises.  In all honesty - it's not always this balanced.  Sometimes my yoga practice is awesome... other times I totally bail on it because I'm sore or tired (or because I'm just punking out on the being present thing.)

But something happened the other day : I approached a double bell front squat (my nemesis) and my mind suddenly cleared. I felt every millimeter of ground beneath my active toes.  I could hear the depth in my breath.  It felt like the sun peeking from behind the clouds as I realized: my yoga practice had spread so completely through my life that it was now an integral part of my strength and conditioning practice.

As I thought about it (after my set of front squats of course), I realized that my yoga teaching practice had also crossed over into my kettlebell coaching methods. Most of my coaching energy is spent attempting to help people get into their own bodies: what level of effort feels appropriate, what stance/alignment is most effective, how to activate muscles,  and hopefully how to feel really good about themselves no matter what.


So I think I have a new answer when people ask me WHY kettlebells and yoga.  Because kettlebells ARE yoga to me.  All that time I spend on my mat isn't about perfecting my handstand - It's about exploring my physical body, my emotional reactions and my thought patterns as challenges arise. And it's no different when I'm in the gym : I get to find my edge, develop a sense of quiet focus and be completely human in all its aspects of success and failure.

I tell my yoga students regularly to take their practice off the mat, and most people probably think it means being more zen in traffic or sitting up taller at their desk.  But what I really mean is : take the things you love - the things you REALLY love - and make them yoga.

Ahimsa: Post Vacation Diet

I'm interrupting the flow of regularly scheduled travel saga to talk about something that's been on my heart the past couple days...

Ahimsa: Sanskrit word translated as non-violence, non-injury or non-harming

ahimsaI definitely had an "everything in moderation and some things not-so-much in moderation" mentality while we traveled which, in combination with over 30 hours in the car, lent itself to some snug jeans by the end of two weeks.

In years past, I would have immediately started a cleanse upon returning home, committing myself to being completely miserable both physically and mentally as penance for indulgences and lack of self control.  It would have been a rather violent process, usually starting with a salt water flush (which I don't recommend) a 24 hour juice cleanse (which I also don't recommend) and a week of actively denying myself anything over 1200 calories of pure vegan greenstock.

This time around, I approached it with gentleness, kindness and mindfulness --- and it was amazing.  In just a week, my butt is back in my favorite jeans with a little room to spare, I'm feeling vibrant and healthy and not once did I have to deny myself something I really wanted.

(Disclaimer: ahimsa is often used as the basis for vegetarianism which I have practiced in the past and found that it is, actually, harmful for me given my current lifestyle.  All in the interpretation.)

Step 1: Get some groceries

In the past 6 months, food and fuel had become a method of self care, ending the mental cycle of "deserve" or "don't deserve."  The day we got here, I immediately went to Whole Foods and bought a TON of veggies, bulk quinoa, brown rice and oatmeal, some treats like Kombucha and Raw Crackers and a whole organic "happy chicken."  I cooked the chickie up and dug out my rice cooker ASAP and had the fixings for super awesome, happy meals when the family was eating pizza and chinese food that I seriously didn't want after a week on the road.

Step 2: Get back to yoga

It was an incredibly stressful move involving a lot of family, a limited time frame and very little sleep preceding. My workout plan was to just get back to yoga and be as wonderful to my body as I could, which paid off amazingly as it just felt natural to pick up a kettlebell and get back on my bike after working the kinks out in a few flow classes.

I also knew that it would be difficult for me to commit to a serious sitting meditation at home, and yoga was the perfect combination of moving meditation and few extra minutes after class to sit.  This studio is just 8 minutes from our house and *great* about maintaining a quiet practice space before and after, which I super appreciated.

Step 3: Dig out the Juicer

I made 2 days worth of veggie juice at a time, keeping a pitcher in the fridge and just having 8-12 oz/day with my afternoon snack for an extra veggie kicker.  Added bonus: you can hide just about anything behind a pitcher of green juice and be pretty much guaranteed that no one will eat it.

Step 4: Get back to kettlebells

I just started easy.  A long 12 kg ladder of presses, swings, snatches and rows to wake up some sleeping muscles and grease the groove. Hit some light endurance swings a few days later, and I was back to 24 kg swings for distance by the time I visited a class the following week!


This probably seems pretty ho-hum.  There's no magic in it.  No crazy weight loss recorded or emotional high reached.  But here's the truth: I was kind and loving.  I didn't have any sugar for a week.  I worked out every day for a week.  I ate only organic whole food for a week.  And not ONCE did I go hungry, force myself to workout or tell myself what a bad person I was for eating dessert on the cruise.

For those of you who know me pretty well or have trained with me, you know that I am working on a pretty serious paradigm shift in my life and my training.  No longer am I standing on a soap box preaching "eat clean, train dirty" because I believe that small, loving shifts in your life over time just make strength and health your home base anyway.

Ahimsa: be kind in this moment, this asana, this kettlebell swing, this glass of water, this salad.  Your body knows what it wants.  We just have to slow down and grow loving enough to listen to that.

August Kettlebell Throwdown and NEW VIDEOS!

Hokay.  So.  This is your kettlebell workout:

(thank you, Christine and Danielle for bringing this into my life. next time I get a "I'm tiiiiiiired," then answer henceforth shall be "Then have a nap. THEN SWING THE

strong beats skinny shirt


1. Warm up with hip hinges, hip circles, body weight squats and renegade rows

2. Complete this circuit 3-5 times. Minimal rest between sets. 2-3 minutes rest between circuits. 

  • 10 x 2 Hand Kettlebell Swings
  • 5 Cleans Right & Left
  • 10 x 1 Hand Kettlebell Swings (5 R/L)
  • 5 Rack Squats Right & Left
  • 10 x Kettlebell Transfers

3. Complete the following ladder, resting 30-60 sec between rounds

  • 5 Hardstyle or Modified Pushups
  • 30 sec Plank w/ Power Breath
  • 6 Hardstyle or Modified Pushups
  • 30 sec Plank w/ Power Breath
  • Ladder to 10 Push Ups *or your GOOD REP max* with 30 sec planks in between
  • Ladder down if you're feeling feisty

4. Stretch: Click here: Hip Opening Sequence to use the VIDEO! to decompress your hips and low back.  and segue way...

WELCOME TO MY NEW VIDEOS!  I'll be posting 1-2 a month, probably 20 min or so in length, starting in August and September.  Happy Day!


July 4th Kettlebell Explosion!

This month's kettlebell workout is all about stabilizing explosive power ... put down that sparkler and light up some real fireworks! Warm Up:

  • 1/2 Turkish Get Up x 5 R/L
  • Arm Bar x 5 R/L
  • Hip Hinge x 10
  • Hip Circles x 5 R/L

Circuit 1:

  1. 1 x KB Clean + 30 sec Rack Walk R/L
  2. 1 x KB Clean & Push Press + 30 sec Waiter Walk R/L
  1. 2 x KB Clean + 30 sec Rack Walk R/L
  2. 2 x KB Clean & Push Press + 30 sec Waiter Walk R/L
  1. 3 x KB Clean + 30 sec Rack Walk R/L
  2. 3 x KB Clean & Push Press + 30 sec Waiter Walk R/L

* Clean to the rack, stabilize, and walk the bell.  Re clean on the other side and repeat.  Transfer back to the first side, clean and push press, then walk with the bell overhead.  Rack, transfer, re-clean and repeat.

Circuit 2:

Using your press weight bell:

  • 3 sets of 10 x 2-handed swings @ equal work/equal rest

Using 1-2 bell sizes higher than your press weight bell:

  • 3 sets of 10 x 2-handed POWER swings @ equal work/equal rest

Using 1-2 bell sizes higher than your press weight bell:

  • 3 sets of 10 x 2-handed swings @ equal work/equal rest @ power swing intensity!

Cool Down/Decompress:

  • Cat/Cow
  • Thread the Needle
  • Child's Pose
  • Hip Flexor Release
  • Spinal Twist

7 Minutes in Heaven Kettlebell Workout

The New York Times posted an article last month with pretty much the opposite of the middle school game "7 min in Heaven."  7 minutes of High Intensity Interval training - HIIT using only your body weight and a timer. You all know I'm a huge fan of "work smarter not longer" when it comes to training, and we LOVE interval training here at PULSE! Here's another 7 minutes of sweaty heaven for those of you with access to your cast iron babies as you travel this summer!!

1:00 - 1 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 2:00 - 2 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 3:00 - 3 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 4:00 - 4 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 5:00 - 5 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 6:00 - 6 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 7:00 - 7 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest

Rest and repeat if you're feeling feisty!

MAY Kettlebell Meltdown

Eep!  Can't believe it took me all month to get a workout posted -- sorry, guys! Grab your coffee and a bell that you can press "somewhat comfortably" 5 times... and don't forget something to wipe the sweat!

Warm Up:

  • Hip Hinges
  • Hip Prying
  • Bodyweight Lunges
  • Shoulder Corkscrews
  • Shoulder Packing
  • A long-ass forearm plank

Perform 5 sets, resting 30 sec between exercises and 1-2 min between sets:

  • 10-15 x Push Ups (last 2-3 should be difficult)
  • 5-10 x Pull Ups (negative, band assisted or bodyweight)

Ladder 5-10 repetitions, resting minimally between exercises and 1-2 min between sets:

  • 5 x Rack Lunges R/L
  • 5 x 2-Handed Swings
  • 5 x 5 Rack Squats R/L
  • 5 x 1-Handed Swings R/L
  • (second set is 6 reps of each exercise, 3rd set is 7 ... etc... to 10 reps R/L)

PULSE Training Philosophy

I was reminded by an RKC team mate and friend, Trish McCrumb of CrossFit Palo Alto, of the importance of a well developed training philosophy.  As a professional and coach... how can we lead without a mission? As an athlete, how can we improve without a method? This went up in the "ABOUT" section of the PULSE website today, and I think it may be the most important part of my website to anyone looking for training or coaching.  Sometimes we use kettlebells.  Other times, our own body weight.  Sometimes it's about just being still for a bit.  But all of those doings or un-doings boil down to a core belief that we deserve

RKC Kettlebells

a healthy body and mind.

"Training Philosophy

It is my goal to provide each of my clients and students with a program that creates sustainable results while improving their daily lives and sense of well being.  True wellness

is a result of self respect, dedication and grace, honoring the needs of both the body and the mind as they arise.

Flexibility and mobility create the foundation for strength. Strength is the foundation for endurance and power.  And we train as such, using our bodies and appropriate tools to build proficiency in each area before moving on to the next.  That balance of movement and solidity help create a presence of mind and self that carry out into the world.

  1. Mobility and Freedom of Movement
  2. Stability and Flexibility in Joints
  4. Endurance and Power

May all beings be HAPPY and FREE.  And may my words, thoughts and actions contribute to that cause."

Take some time today - whether you are a teacher, coach, athlete or weekend warrior - and decide : What is my philosophy?  How do I want to accomplish my goals?  And what personal beliefs positively affect my ability to dedicate myself to those goals?


No Foolin' April Kettlebell Workout

kettlebell-arrayThis month's SFG/RKC kettlebell workout is a tribute to my favorite lift - the Clean and Press! - and favorite bodyweight movement - the Pull Up! Modify as needed and remember... SAFE AND EFFICIENT movements > volume!

Warm Up:

  • Hip Hinges x 10
  • Wall Slides (Yes.  Wall Slides.  Do them.) x 10
  • Down-Dog Push Up x 10

Clean and Press / Pull Up:

3 rounds

  • 30 sec Clean/Press/Transfer // Rest 30 sec
  • 45 sec Clean/Press/Transfer // Rest 45 sec
  • 60 sec Clean/Press/Transfer // Rest 60 sec
  • Bodyweight or Lightly Assisted Strict Pull Ups **
  • 1-2 min rest between rounds

Heavy 2-Handed KB Swings:

3 rounds

  • 10 x 2-Handed Swings (15 sec rest)
  • 15 x 2-Handed Swings (20 sec rest)
  • 20 x 2-Handed Swings (30 sec rest)

Finish with appropriate cool down and stretching!


February Lovin' Kettlebell Workout

I'm using this workout as part of my weekly kettlebell strength routine to benchmark my press and my endurance... it's also great as a quick full-body workout when you need to get in and out in 30 min!  I'm planning to increase to 45 sec... 60 sec... then go up a bell and drop back to 30 sec. You'll need 1 press-weight kettlebell (and a heavier one for swings if you'd like) and an interval timer app like this one that I found through my workout RKC Kettlebellsbuddy! 

  • Set your Interval Timer for 30 rounds of 30 sec work / 30 sec rest intervals
  • Complete the following exercises on the RIGHT SIDE only (using your rest intervals between exercises e.g. clean and squat 30 sec, rest 30 sec // clean and press 30 sec, rest 30 sec...)
    • Clean and Squat (or goblet squat)
    • Clean and Press (or military press)
    • 1 Hand Swing (or two hand swing)
  • Repeat the complex on the LEFT SIDE only
  • Return to the right side and continue for 5 rounds per side, alternating sides!

Tips: Keep a white board with a RIGHT column and a LEFT column and make a hash mark every time you finish your swings.  When you get to 5 hash marks... you're done!

Questions?  Complaints?  Leave the questions in the comment box!   I tend to smile and ignore complaints...  ;)

Santa's Belly Blaster Kettlebell Workout!

And for Christmas, little Jimmy got...

a workout guaranteed to melt cookies and milk faster than a speeding reindeer!

Santa's Belly Blaster Kettlebell Workout

Warm Up : 20 Shin Box // Shoulder Opener //10 Body Weight Squats //  High Plank

Ladder up 1 / 3 / 5 / 7 :

  • Double Clean and Squat (Int/Adv) or Goblet Squat (Beg/Int)
  • Strict or Assisted Pull Up
  • 10 Double KB Swings (Int/Adv) or 2-Handed KB Swings (Beg/Int) * no ladder - do 10 each round

Ladder up 2 / 4 / 6 / 8 :

  • Bottoms Up Clean and Press (Int/Adv) or Clean and Hold (Beg/Int)
  • Kettlebell Push Up
  • 10 Double Snatches (Adv) or 10 x 1-or-2 Handed Swings (Beg/Int) *no ladder - do 10 each round

Finish with 3 sets:

  • 5 Windmills Right & Left
  • High Plank  for 10 Power Breaths

Post pictures to our Facebook page when you're done!

October Kettlebell Complex!

Our 2012 Workshops start this weekend!  Here's a quick demo video to share with friends or family who ask... "What the heck is a kettlebell?"

(video here)

Here's your October Sweat Fest ... tackled and KILLED by the 6 pm Kettlebell Class tonight.  Way to go guys!!


  • Neck Rolls w/ bell behind your back
  • Shoulder Circles
  • Hip Swings/Circles
  • Knee Circles
  • Spell Name w/ Ankle
  • Turkish Get Up Progressions

Warm Up:

5 sets -->

  • 10 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups

Strength + Conditioning:

3 sets -->

  • 10 Swings (2 handed)
  • 10 Military Presses (5 Right/5 Left)
  • 10 Swings (1 handed - 5 Right/5 Left)
  • 10 Power Breaths in Plank
  • 20 Alternating Lunges (or take a big ol' lap of lunges!)

Endurance :

*rest as needed between sets and ladder rungs

  • 10 swings x 5 sets
  • 15 swings x 4 sets
  • 20 swings x 3 sets
  • 25 swings x 2 sets
  • 30 swings x 1 set


Lots of love, all!

Dragon Door Bell Line Up