Thursday, 31 May 2012

KBA HQ is heading towards a mega exciting time!
Firstly, I have to recognise how everyone is doing so well in the KBA classes just now. We have some b*tching workouts going on right now, and everyone is nailing them, at their own level. The time I have spent working in techniques over a period of weeks are really paying off. As a group, we have a really good ability about us - keep it up, its so rewarding!
The fresh class at ASV is becoming equally as grounded as GSC. A steady and regular group and already we have experienced a number of different kettlebell workouts - 1 to get in the kettlebell groove, and 2 to show fairly quickly there is just so much we can do in a class! Interesting developments coming up there too!

I am so excited about The Aberdeen Kettlebell Club session. Here I see keen kettlebellers take their training and understanding to another level. Still very new, out focus has been towards the recent and upcoming competitions.
Lets check the history:
Oct '11 - One person at Welsh Open.
Feb '12 - Two people at English Open.
April '12 - Six people at Glasgow Long Cycle
Upcoming Biathlon in June - 11 of us!!

This weekend it all kicks off with 2 full beginners workshops. It's always encouraging delivering workshops to complete beginners!
From there, Alan and I head to Dublin to train with Steve Cotter. Very excited!
Then there is the Level 1 CKT is Glasgow. 6 of us are travelling from Kettlebells Aberdeen! Mike, Claire, Davie and Willie will meet and train with Steve for the first time, which is, like, just so, mega exciting!
Equally as exciting is that I will host Steve for a Master Class in Inverurie. I am delighted that so many of my group will meet and train with Steve. It's sure to be a great evening.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Scottish Long Cycle Competition

Saturday 28th April, Kelvin Hall Sports Arena, Glasgow. 
.... Scotland’s first Kettlebell Sport Competition!! 

I was delighted to host this Long Cycle Competition at the Scot Fit Expo. The first of its kind, and a first for me to arrange such an event. 
32 competitors registered to take part. Many of which came from kettlebell clubs, and with a few independent folks coming along to try their hand on the platforms. 

I am overjoyed with so many athletes taking part! The Scottish clubs represented were AKC, S&S and GKC.... Tell you what, my days are full of bloody abbreviations now!
Anyway, the clubs were Aberdeen Kettlebell Club, Sweat & Steel and the Glasgow Kettlebell Club. These clubs are established with the coaches and some members having some experience after attending the Willenhall comp in February. Excitedly however, we all had brand new members taking part in this comp! Alot of first timers on the platform, and including the athletes who came not representing a club, but as kettlebell enthusiasts! Awesome, I was so happy that so many first timers were keen to attend!
Well all gathered in preparation of a quick registration. It was great to see friendly faces and have plenty of banter and quick catch ups. Introductions to new group members were made and so we just kicked the day off to a great start.
Registration done, and I held a quick rules/guidlines meeting with everyone, and then a quick get together for the pre-arranged judges/scorers.

During prep, I realised that once we got going, the schedule should pretty much take care of itself. That said, it required participants being switched on and recognising when they were up, ensuring their own prep time, warm up etc. On that note, thanks to all the competitiors for doing this so well. It made for the event running smoothly on time.
Once the first group of ladies were on the platform bang on time, ready, nervous, excited, but raring to go, we set off with a nice appreciation from the audience! 

How did it run? 10 minute set, 5 minute break & next prep, 10 minute set, 5 minute break & next prep etc etc. All the ladies went first, in KB weight. 8kg through to 20kg. After completion of the ladies event, we had a 10 minute break then the men’s event was underway with 12kg through to 20kg.
In the Long Cycle, ladies lift with one kettlebell and switch hands once. Men lift with two kettlebells for the duration. The kettlebell cannot be put on the floor, and rest is only achieved in the rack or overhead lock out positions.

Here are the results:
Ladies 8kg
Claire Beattie AKC 154 reps
Michelle McCulloch GKC 164 reps
Charlotte Hopkins GKC 151 reps
Vikki Patton GKC 128 reps
Well done Michelle!!
Ladies 12kg
Rachel Lafferty GKC 106 reps
Mandy Moffat AKC 118 reps
Diane Wright S&S 119 reps
Laura Carter 136 reps
Kirsty McConnell GKC 125 reps
Laura Ramsay 123 reps
Elaine Kelly GKC 135 reps
Sian Phillips AKC 138 reps
Congratulations Sian!

Ladies 16kg
Linda Hewitt S&S 72 reps
Julie Maitland GKC 119 reps
Nice one Julie!

Ladies 20kg
Abigail Johnston S&S 118 reps
Woo Hoo Abi!

Mens 12kg
Iain Lamont S&S 106 reps
Chris Dragoonis GKC 64 reps
Alistair Pate GKC 82 reps
George Fulton GKC 104 reps
High-Five Iain!

Mens 16kg
Davie Abel AKC 87 reps
Dave Jenkins GKC 67 reps
Magnus George 62 reps
Stephen Kelly GKC 83 reps
Gavin Houston GKC 114 reps
Alan Lyon AKC 114 reps
Dave McInnes GKC 55 reps
Grant McLachlan GKC 89 reps
Alex Li S&S 83 reps
Superb guys! Alan and Gavin joint winners

Mens 20kg
Rodger Sangster 76 reps
Davie McConnachie GKC 76 reps
Ray Wilson AKC 91 reps
Scott McLaughlin S&S 93 reps
Bravo Scott!

Trophies were awarded to the winners of each category and presented by Chris Crowe, the organiser of the Scot Fit Expo.
This was a great day for sharing with kettlebell friends and enthusiasts, launching and promoting kettlebell sport in Scotland. Thanks to all the competitors!

Thank You’s
A big thanks to everyone who took part in the competition! Thanks for Chris for hosting Scot Fit and helping with arrangements. Thanks to Rannoch for putting me in touch with Chris. Garioch Sports Centre for providing some kettlebells. Wolverson Fitness for platform mats. PomPrint for banners & t-shirts. Thanks to everyone who assisted with scoring/judging (all clubs were represented). To Davie, Alan & Claire for assisting setting up and packing up. To Sweat & Steel and Magnus for assisting packing up too.
Everyone’s involvement was very much appreciated and added to successful operation of the day!
Next one.... Biathlon! 30th June!

Beginners KB Workshops in May

Beginners Kettlebell Workshops:
Saturday 26th May, 11.15am – 12.45pm, Aberdeen Sports Village, Aberdeen.
Sunday 27th May, 10am -11.30am, Garioch Sports Centre, Inverurie.

These 90 min sessions will deliver the fundamental kettlebell exercises only, focusing on understanding and managing very good technique. Completion of this session will ensure your ability to use kettlebells correctly and safely. From here you can use kettlebells on your own with confidence, and/or join in any Kettlebells Aberdeen classes. Your knowledge, understanding and ability will develop with continual kettlebell training. These beginner workshops are suitable for all levels of fitness/ability.
The workshop is aimed at teaching the exercises; it is not a workout-class as such. The reps are kept pretty low, but with many repeating sets. Places are limited in each session, so if you are interested in coming to one of the sessions above, please drop me a line telling me so, and which session, and I will reserve your place.


Thursday, 23 February 2012

The English Kettlebell Open

Alan and I are fresh back from Birmingham where we took part in the English Kettlebell Open at the weekend. We had an absolutely brilliant time, with nothing but highs all along the way...
This event was organised by the Brighton Girevoy Sport Club, in association with the European Girevoy Sport Assocation, and sponsored by Wolverson Fitness. Anyone who trains with me will know of W.F. as they supply all my kettlebells! 75 competitors (of varying experience) from across Europe all gathered with a shared passion of kettlebell sport. 
This was a full day event and there were two competitions we could take part in: The Long Cycle and the Sprint Snatch.
The Long Cycle is the Clean and Jerk. Ladies use one kettlebell and can switch hands once. Men use two kettlebells. The clock is set to 10 mins and you do as many reps as you can without putting the kettlebells down.
In the Sprint Snatch, both ladies and men use one kettlebell, and can change hands once if they want to, and its for 3 Min's. Much shorter, yep!
In this event, there were bronze, silver and gold medals up for grabs in two types of scoring methods: Coefficient and Absolute. Trophies were awarded to overall winners.
Within this competition was the chance to Rank in the EGSA. I will explain all this later.

So, with an understanding of what we were there to do, here is how the whole experience went!....
Firstly, upon entering the bustling hall where the event was taking place, it was great to see some familiar faces. Pals from the IKFF family, fellow competitors from last years Welsh Open and just friends of friends etc. The wise cracks, hearty pats on the back and friendly introductions just made for a cracking start to the day.
Alan and I soon got weighed in and completed the registration before the kick off rules meeting took place.
I was invited to judge some of the competition attempts, so when they got underway at 10am, I found myself sitting and counting in the first flight of the ladies rounds.
In this event, 4 or 5 competitors all step onto a platform and do the 10 minute Clean and Jerk set at the same time. This is called a Flight. 
In the ladies Long Cycle, there were 5 Flights before the men went, of which there were 10 Flights. Then the ladies 3 minute Sprint Snatch would run for the 5 Flights, and the lads followed as before. The Flights would run from lightest kettlebell to the heaviest until everyone had their turn.
So, the whole of the ladies Long Cycle would run, and then the men’s event would start. Alan was in the 3rd flight, so we made sure he was warmed up, had plenty of practise reps to get in the groove and mindset, and just generally prepare. 
Finally, he stepped up onto the platform, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Lift!” 
10 Min's later and 106 reps done, and I was cheering and clapping with a bundle of excitement as Alan stepped off the platform and regained his breath after lowering the bells.
Check out Alan’s set here.
He is steady, focused and delivers good technique throughout. As a coach and pal, I am really impressed with his effort and performance, and really proud. 

A little bit of a wait before it was my turn, but this made for great time chatting to others, refuelling, sharing thoughts and watching the other events happen of course.
Next, it was my turn to warm up, get mobile and get prepared. I do my usual bouncing about to get focused and make sure I am tuned in, I think to peoples confusion and/or amusement LOL!

Anyway, up I go and get cracking with the pair of 24kg bells. It was very apparent at that point that there was a lot more people spectating than last years Welsh Open!
Thinking back, I really enjoyed the event. I’m on this platform with nothing to do but one flow of a cycle and pushing to beat my previous best reps. I am alongside fellow athletes doing exactly the same thing, so how encouraging is that?! Plus, I have a load of strangers shouting, clapping, cheering and encouraging us all to keep going. 
By now, the audience are fine tuned into the development of the 10 min set - speed, technique, focus, sweat, breathing, struggle, wincing eyes and heavy huffs and puffs as the time draws to a close....
Alan was close by and coached me well as I ploughed through my set. You can watch it here. My previous PB was 62. I wanted 63 because that's what I needed to gain the Rank Level 1. 
I got my 63, and I am still smiling yet! A PB and a rank opportunity (it still needs to be submitted and confirmed). Alan was great to stay focused on my numbers and encourage me on. 

We have both gained so much valuable experience from training, stepping up, observing others and coaching each other. This experience will make us stronger at the next event and as I develop the Aberdeen Kettlebell Club.
We both enjoyed chilling for a bit and watched the fellas who lifted the 28’s and 32’s. I am in full admiration of these guys and I really want to be up there with those heavy bells in the years to come!
Next up the ladies were back on track with the Sprint Snatch event. Again, I was back judging some sets. Being 3 Min's and a faster pace, it was pretty gritty and exciting from the off! A different technique, pace and focus.  A lot of lovely technique and a similar look of personal battles towards the end of the fast sets!
Alan was back up before we knew it. The 16kg bell got snatched 87 times. Cracking! Very nice steady and focused form again. See his set here.
My turn quickly came around too, and I stepped up with the 20kg bell. I snatched it 91 times. You can see it here.
I don’t think Alan or I achieved out personal bests on these sets, although not far from it I don’t think. Perhaps some fatigue from the earlier set? In training, we concentrated on one event per session, and never really back to back, simulating this event. Again, experience gained! And regardless, it was still exciting to take part and put ourselves to the test on the day.
Soon after everyone had competed and the hustle of bustle of eating snacks, drinking fluids, chatting and packing bags, there was a welcomed bit of a chill out time before the prize giving went underway. Congratulations and thanks were offered to the competitors and the event organisers and helpers that made the day run so brilliantly. I know everyone in that room appreciated just how well it all went, and seriously, the day flew past!
So, the two scoring methods, put simply....
Coefficient: The total kettlebell weight times the reps, divided by your body weight. 
Example using my C&J set: (24kg x 2)x63 reps/ 83.5kg = 36.2155. Ultimately, the highest number wins.
Absolute: The total kettlebell weight times the reps.
Same example: (24kg x 2) x 63 reps = 3024. Again, ultimately the highest number wins.
The official results were posted last night - and it makes for really interesting reading. Again, I have gained loads more knowledge to take forward into the next competitions about how to train for them.
Back to the event:
As I explained earlier, there are bronze, silver and gold medals for both scoring methods, and for all kettlebell weights (8kg to 32kg)
To cut a long story a bit shorter, Alan competed with 16kg kettlebells in the C&J, and with 19 others.
Sitting in the audience, you can imagine the excited cheer and punching of the air from me when Alan’s name got called out as winning the SIlver in the coefficient scores! Up he went to receive his bling! 
"Waaay Heeey Brilliant!"

...About 3 minutes later and he was up again!!! 
Silver in the Absolute scoring too!! 
“Ya beautie!!”

Well done Alan, you put the training time in, learned a hellovalot along the way and performed on the day. The reward tops it off mate, proud of you, well done! Take all this experience and knowledge and get going for the next one, eh?!! 
Some people knew about my personal challenge and trying to make a certain weight category for this event. Let me explain why:
In my training for this event, stepping up to the 24’s was a challenge and making good numbers was tough. However, to gain a Rank Level 1 in the EGSA seemed achievable through hard work. As it turned out, this interested me, and while I was doubtful of a medal finish (nevertheless, secretly hopeful!!) I wanted that Rank 1.
Simply put, The EGSA Rankings have weight categories for each kettlebell weight. Each weight category has a required minimum number of reps. The fact I was lifting 24’s meant Rank Level 1 was on offer. (Using 20’s it’s Rank 2, using 16’s it’s Rank 3 etc). 
If I weighed in below 84kg, I needed to lift 63 C&J, if I weighed in over 84kg, I needed to lift 68 reps.
At the peak of my training, I achieved 62 reps, and it was hard getting there, and I was sitting about 85/86kg. I didn’t have 6 extra reps in me, so I decided to drop to the 84kg category. I know, I know... debatable!
Ultimately, weighing in less that 84kg and getting that extra rep to 63 means I earned what I set out to achieve. 
Again, “Ya Beautie!!” 
No medals, but watching the others compete with the 24’s and bang out massive numbers now drives me back into that direction where my training will focus on increasing numbers with the 24’s. 
Happy Days all round for Team KBA!!
In the Sprint Snatch event, medals were awarded in the Absolute scoring only, and for all kettlebell weights again. In these 3 Min's, there is some SERIOUS weight getting shifted. The biggest number went to a lady from the Ukraine using 20kg bell with 85 reps. And for the guys, an Englishman snatched the 32kg bell for 84 reps!
Attending a competition like this is a absolute joy. There were 75 people of varying ages, prepared to travel varying distances and at varying expense to step up on the platform for varying expectations.
Some are athletes competing to win the competition. Some are athletes wishing to better their previous personal best. Some are athletes proving to themselves that previous injuries don’t have to hold you back. Some are athletes just wanting to hold out and last 10 minutes.

I think Kettlebell Sport is interesting that way. There can be many winning results achieved on a day like this, and it’s very encouraging at all levels because if you take away the experience and choose to better it next time by lasting longer or lifting heavier or achieving additional reps, then the desire is there to train at it when you return home - and then competing again!
We know kettlebell lifting had many different applications - rehab, strength & fitness, juggling, strongman lifting - sport & competition is one avenue, and I think it’s pretty cool.
I am launching the Aberdeen Kettlebell Club and it will focus on the Sport element of kettlebell lifting. There are competitions already in line in Dublin and Portugal.... oh, and Aberdeen is in the planning right now too! 
I am looking forward to making some very cool and diverse announcements soon!
Thanks to everyone who supported Alan and myself, and wished us well! It was really appreciated!
Thanks for reading (blogs are meant to be short and sweet, right?!?) 

If you train with me using the kettlebells, and you are interested in kettlebell sport, talk to me and next time you can be stepping onto the platforms!!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Home training

With 2 and half weeks, or 4 training sessions and 2 trial sessions, to go before the Long Cycle comp, Alan and I are fair going for it in our training.
Tonight's training session was really interesting...

I was keen to go hard and beat my last session (a common goal). I attempted a strong, fast and controlled set with the 24s' (my comp KB weight), similar to how I attacked the Cardiff comp last year. The major focus for succeeding was the breathing cycle. Now, it did work well to begin with and I liked the familiar feeling of concentration from last years comp. But man, it just got heavy! Target was 7 Min's, but the breathing pattern just did not suit the weight at this point in my KB experience. I know it will one day, and that's the cool thing!
So I stopped and started, which in one sense was a failure of the targeted set, but what a great education to gain. I know to work at the breathing pattern I have been using so far and I know exactly what I will do in the comp to vamp it up.
Unfortunately, Alan was working at the same time as me and my stop-starts was influential I believe. He banged out good numbers, but not his best. Alan had a slightly different targeted set, and he still did a top job. I think every session we have had, Alan has enjoyed a new learning point, and its great to discuss these afterwards. Some are things I have experienced, some are new to me too, so we chat and figure stuff out - all the time growing in experience and for the passion of the sport.

Anyway, that was the first 20 Min's or so. From there we demolished our last training session and achieved PB's on everything else we did - Clean and Jerk drop sets, Black Cleans, Raised Dead Lifts, Raised Squats, Floor presses and additional ab work.

This sh*t is getting heavy now, and the forearms, grip and focus takes a beating, so we stopped training at the same time and coached each other instead - this is so valuable at this point in our training for the comp.
I remember last year that although extremely self motivated, I plateaued with reps and focus some weeks into training.
Give me a coach (anyone willing to spend 10mins watching me and encourage me too nip on!) and the numbers and drive soon peaked again.

It could be seen that the opening set was a failure. F**k that, the whole session was probably the best we had so far. We gained education on key things tonight - focus, breathing, coaching, grip, technique etc.
Rock on Friday when we take it to the next level before a trial session at the weekend.

Hey, check out Wolverson's new IKFF KB's!!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Crossing the starting line of 2012.

That's it, we are up and running again! All the classes have been reviewed & refreshed. New classes have been added to the KBA timetable and very nearly, every class has been close to maximum capacity!

My new Level 1 class is an important training session. Firstly, newcomers can come along and gain confidence with their kettlebell skills and fitness levels. I like to review fundamental issues at a pace where it is enjoyable to learn from and also explore.
Equally, experienced kettlebellers can enjoy this class as we can always benefit from visiting the fundamentals as in so much things we do. A fresh eye on things, or a new way something is presented, lets the penny drop for that "Ahhhhh!" moment, and its so healthy to have that.
As well as that, it's perhaps a chance to explore with a heavier kettlebell. The level 1 workout has clear options for progressions: exercises, intensity etc. The key thing here: Optional progressions. If not this week, maybe next week!

My refreshed level 2 classes is for anyone looking for the next level of intensity to their 1 hour workout.
That said, I always stress its "your workout". By the stage your at by coming to a level 2 class, you will already understand you can exercise at a lower intensity that suits you that day. You still get my full attention, and its a desire of the class for everyone to leave satisfied!

AMAG's Combat Athletics continues to develop. We just finished a MMA circuit based set. Within the set was some old school toys - battling ropes, slam balls, dumbbells, medicine balls etc. Since doing this set I have gained some more knowledge from the Training for Warriors weekend I went on. I am looking forward to exploring  this explosive training method after the February Kettlebell Comp training is done. The experience and knowledge gained will be offered directly to AMAG's fighters as part of their strength and conditioning program.
In the current class though we are back on the pads for some conditioning and intensity. Kettlebells and body weight drill are in there too, but its a mentality I am striving for right now. In the coming weeks, the kettlebells and body weight drills will play their important part again. Friday night's at AMAG are very high energy and intense with whats on offer out there, because after this class there is Thai Boxing and Grappling to do!!

My Sunday class at the XTS (AMAG) gym continues to develop too. This is a small but strong group and I enjoy offering some of my personal KB training experiences with them in this class. Recently we have progressed through some awesome timed sets (competition-stylee) as well as some dedicated strength sets, double and single KB style. And of course challenging body weight and kettlebell circuits continue to excite everyone (right?! LOL) and bring them back for more.

Beginner workshops continue to happen, both in 90min and 3 hour form. It's exciting that some enquiries are from complete kettlebell and/or fitness newbies.
It's refreshing that some enquires come in to me from people with a some KB experience and don't feel like they have it down just right.

Finally, the fortnightly KB X-training class started last week at GSC. In this class, non-KB experienced people can join this class and enjoy a circuit-based training session, KBA-style. The KB drills we do are safe and easy to get to grips with.
Last week, I really enjoyed exercising with a nearly full class of familiar and brand new people. I hope it was challenging, as well as very enjoyable to everyone there.

On top of all that, there is a small matter of a kettlebell competition that the training is happening for... but in the fear of sending you to sleep, I will post about that another day.

And there we have it, two weeks into the new year and we have a buzzing and positive start made! Thanks to everyone for their support, feedback and attendance. And thanks to my mate J.B. for the encouragment of the new Winners finish. :-)

Monday, 9 January 2012

TGU Clips

As promised, the TGU reel bumped to the top again for reference...