I did it. After 10 weeks of training and several sleepless, stress filled nights; I passed my RKC.
Several weeks ago my son and I flew to Minneapolis, MN to take part in the RKC weekend. The Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor Certification weekend was not to be taken lightly. I had watched videos of previous certs and I knew I had to train, not only in perfecting the basic exercises, but to be conditioned enough to make it through some grueling workouts. I decided to hire, Dave Whitley, a Senior RKC out of Nashville, TN to put together a program for me.
My first concern was passing the snatch test. The KB snatch is one of the most demanding KB exercises and is now used for Secret Service testing. Here is a Youtube video I found that shows what the snatch looks like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98z6zb9Mli4
The weight for ladies is a 16k or 35.2 pounds. The amount of reps required was dependent on your scale weight in kilograms. I had to do 66 snatches. I tried to lose 30 pounds so I wouldn’t have to do that many reps, but I would have had to cut off a leg to reach my goal in time.
My son, Ryan flew in from Orlando to take the RKC with me. It may not be the typical way to spend time with your adult son, but then again, we have never been typical.
Thursday evening there was a Meet and Greet scheduled. We found out which teams we were on and met some of our Instructors and team leaders. They were all helpful and encouraging. I looked around the room at the other RKC hopefuls expecting to find hardcore athletes that were half my age. I was pleasantly surprised at the mixture of RKC hopefuls. I learned that I was not the oldest one…I was close, but not the oldest.
Friday morning, I, and I think most everyone was a bundle of nerves as we weighed in to find out how many reps we had to do on our snatch test. A lot of people started taping up their hands and a lot of people were going to find out very soon that they probably should have.
I made a callous guard out of my 14 year old’s socks. I cut the tops off so they fit around half of my palm and covered my callouses.
We split into our groups to do our snatch test. I went first to get it out of the way after all, this was the one part of the weekend that caused me more stress and anxiety. We lined up in groups of 4 with one instructor each to count. When they said go, I went deep inside and started snatching. My plan was to do 8 reps with each hand and continue switching until I finished my 66 reps. In practice there were many days when I couldn’t even do this because of my grip. I thought about doing 5/5 but doing that many sets did not sound appealing. We only had 5 minutes and I had always cut it close.
I’m not sure what happened, but I was done in about 2 mins. I ended up doing as many as I could on one hand before switching to the other. Everyone told me that I would be fine because my adrenaline would take over, but I didn’t believe them. Now that, that was over, I was free to relax and enjoy the rest of the weekend.
I was so delusional.
Every day consisted of lectures on the basic KB exercises and how to troubleshoot any type of client issues, followed by practice and then the most horrific workouts I have ever done. Actually not all of them were that bad, but there were a couple that brought me to tears. I cried out of sheer exhaustion and also out of gratitude that it was over and I had survived.
I really thought I was proficient in the basic exercises. I learned so many techniques that enabled me to do the exercises even better. Some of the techniques actually made some of the exercises that I struggled with, like the Snatch even easier. Trust me, it didn’t make it any less painful, but it enabled me to do more because I wasn’t wasting energy and effort with bad form.
One thing I did not expect was the soreness. I thought I had worked out enough so that when I did the workouts at the RKC I would not be in extreme pain. I have never been that sore. I knew I wasn’t the only one because every time we stood, sat or went up steps there was a collective groan.
The long days and the hot sun combined with the intense workouts made every meal, “The best (fill in the blank) I have ever had”. Never have I had a simple Sprite or a pasta salad taste as good as during that weekend. As we gathered together for meals, I found I wasn’t the only one who was experiencing that phenomenon.
The one thing that made the weekend bearable were the people, especially my workout partner, Melissa. Somehow I knew that just having someone there doing the workouts with me, that I would make it. We encouraged each other, high fived each other and wept together as we completed our workouts. Let me clarify so you don’t think I am a big baby. It was one particular workout that I cried after…oh and the graduation workout. Ok, so that was 2 workouts that brought me to tears.
Ryan was in a different group then I was and so I wasn’t able to spend much time with him except for dinner. I am glad we were split up. It gave me a chance to focus on myself without worrying if he was ok, in pain or even dead. If he made it to the shuttle back to the hotel, I knew he was fine.
The last day consisted of doing our basic exercises in front of the instructors and training our victims. Victims are people in the community who willing sign up to be trained by us. My victim had never used KBs. I taught her the swing and part of a Turkish Get up. Then I had her do a short workout using the 2 exercises I gave her. Our instructors were judging us on how well we were able to teach.
The last part of the day was the graduation workout. They say it was around 20 minutes long. I have no idea, I focused on staying in the moment. If I knew how long we were going to workout, I don’t think I would have done as well. I focused on a spot in front of me and tuned everything else out.
We met with our instructors and were told if we passed or failed. I passed. Several people in my group failed as well as people from the other groups.
I made it. After 10 weeks of preparation, countless callouses, blisters and torn skin, I made it. There were many times throughout the weekend that I was doubtful. The thought of coming back home and having to tell everyone I failed pushed me.
We all met for one last dinner. It was the best steak I have ever had.