Monday, March 3, 2008

Kettlebell Controversies.


Let me start with my own history in the field of kettlebell training, so you can understand how the whole thing unfolded.

More than nine years ago, long before RKC certifications--and before anyone had ever heard of Pavel Tsatsouline or Valery Federenko--I was busy experimenting with a crude pair of homemade kettlebells at Maxercise in Philadelphia.

I was on the ground floor of Pavel's first certification in St. Paul MN where I introduced many of the movements and concepts now a part of the RKC curriculum. I was the first person to be asked to be a Senior instructor and of the cadre, I was the only full-time professional teacher and trainer. My personal training gym, Maxercise, was the first kettlebell gym in modern times, and the first one to specialize in kettlebell classes. I had a huge advantage over others in the field because I was able to guinea pig my own clients and experiment with them to test out my theories. I learned through trial and error (the best way) how to train large groups of health and fitness seekers with kettlebells. Another advantage: I was trained as a teacher of physical education and had years of coaching and teaching experience behind me.

Most of the clients I dealt with were not athletes, though there were plenty of athletes at all levels of sport, but everyday people--mostly deconditioned. At that time, the RKC was the only game in town, but as with most good ideas, competition soon arose.

First, there was little concern, because of the strong core cadre. But because of internal conflicts, mostly based around money, all of the top instructors left. Around the same time, the AKC began to gain a foothold. Valery Federenko was unquestionably one of the world's top kettlebell competitors.

Suddenly there's this AKC espousing GS Sport--and both the RKC and AKC undermined each other's ideas about training.

On the RKC side, the idea is the kettlebell is a versatile training tool that can be used for a whole range of fitness and strength training purposes--everything from fat loss to maximum strength. Basically, they claim that pretty much anything that can be done with a dumbbell can be done with a kettlebell.

The AKC philosophy promotes the use of kettlebells as a tool for high-rep, strength-endurance, primarily in the form of four exercises.

The claim was put forth, by the AKC, that the kettlebell is only suitable for high-rep, strength-endurance training--that the hard-style promoted by the RKC was nonsense--the wrong use of kettlebells--and that in Russia there's allegedly only one style--the correct style--which is the AKC style.

Many people--politically motivated--jumped off the one bandwagon and onto the other to denounce the RKC and support the new organization. I, myself, was swayed and took the AKC certification and have since flip-flopped my ideas several times. Admittedly, part of this schizophrenic reaction stemmed from my resentments with the RKC, and feelings I'd been treated unfairly, and I'm coming clean about that.

Still, the story of the true Russian purpose didn't quite make sense. For one, I'd been shown a large number of interesting and productive exercises by a Ukrainian five-time national wrestling champion! I also saw some interesting moves by a Georgian, a former bodyguard of Vladimir Putin.

While Girya Sport is a competitive sport, though obscure even in Russia, kettlebells as a whole don't appear to even be very popular in Russia! I can't tell you the number of times I've trained Russians nationals who've wanted to learn more about this fine exercise form because they couldn't get the information from their own, native sources.

There are clusters of athletes training with kettlebells in Russia who have no competitive aspirations in GS, yet they're getting excellent health and performance benefits. One thing for sure, 99% of North Americans couldn't care less about the sport of kettlebell lifting. North Americans are interested in the health and fitness aspects of kettlebell training--primarily in regard to fat loss. There's no one better qualified than myself when it comes to teaching kettlebells and training the general public. I find it interesting that the AKC, after making their sweeping comments regarding the proper use of kettlebell training, is now forming their own fitness branch. I guess they've finally realized what I and some others have known all along: that kettlebells can be used in a wide-variety of results-producing applications outside narrow confines of the sport.

For this and other reasons, I'm now leading my own teacher-training certifications. By now, I've distinguished myself as the best man for the job. There aren't too many things I haven't tried with akettlebell! And I'm prepared to show the health-fitness-and-truth-seeker everything I've learned along the way.

My motive? A fair exchange for the money to pay my bills, just like everyone else, whether they want to admit it or not. If you really want to learn from someone who's been out there in the trenches and taught people from every walk of life, you're going to get the best return on your dollar from training with Steve Maxwell.

Contact Maxercise for more details on my kettlebell refresher course and teacher training 19 & 20 April 2008 or email me your questions.

Steve

11 comments:

dave said...

Very nicely put Steve. I have also vacillated between the two regimens. I decided to combine the best of both the AKC and the RKC to increase my strength, flexibility and endurance. I'm anxious to read about your certification program. Thanks! Dave Parsons

fawn said...

Steve,
I am an RKC, and I was very disappointed to find out at my certification in April 2007 you were no longer participating with the RKC! I have been an admirer of yours ever since I heard about kettlebells, and have heard nothing but wonderful things. I hope I will have a chance to train with you in the future.
~Fawn Friday

Steve Maxwell said...

Hi Fawn,

Hey, your photo is looking good!
Sorry I missed you but why not come to my teaching cert in Philly 19 April or one of the upcoming seminars? Just added is 31 May in NH and 13 July with the one-and-only Zach Even-Esh at his NJ facility--prepare to have your mind blown wide open!

fawn said...

Thanks for the response! I took a look at your schedule... I might be able to make it out for the San Jose class. Until then, I will read your blog.

Dave said...

Hi Steve. That was very nicely written. Very balanced without all the emotion laden diatribe that has been coming from all sides of the achyballz war.

Dave Randolph

Steve Maxwell said...

Thanks, Dave. A copy of Epictetus comes with every certificate!

Lauren said...

Well put Steve! Glad I found your blog. Hope life is treating you well up in Northern Cali.

Sean Schniederjan said...

I've been wanting to know the details of the falling out since it happened. Too bad the money had to break up such a good thing.

Alot of the claims coming from the AKC appeared to me to be more anti-RKC than anything else.

Best with your new endevour.

Will&Craig said...

Hi Steve,
I've recently bought your Boy's are back in town DVD ,from Mike Mahlers site, mainly for your joint mobility and bodyweight sections. It's good that I've found your website and blog cos now I can go straight to the source.

I live in New Zealand and was considering becoming RKC or a similiar certification. But to get to the USA is a bit of a haul. After reading this post kinda gave me a different perspective. I thought there was only one certification. Hopefully you'll schedual more of yours and I could consider a trip to the land of the brave.

Will Farmer.

Steve Maxwell said...

Hi Will,
Why travel to the land of the brave when I'll be in Tahiti 7 - 21 June? Meet me there and do a private cert.

Watch for the reviews that come out from the Philadelphia cert. This material is me at my best. Thanks for writing,
Best,
Steve

Anonymous said...

Awesome!! Just awesome!! Very well put!

Kelly