My SFG Experience


Last weekend I attended the StrongFirst Level 1 Kettlebell Instructor Certification held at Achieve Fitness in Somerville. It was an amazing experience and I loved every second of the weekend.

Because the majority of my clients, friends and family have no idea what StrongFirst is, why I wanted to get certified or what I’m going to do now that I am certified etc…I figured I’d share my experience and reasons here.

I’ve been using kb’s for a while now, but it wasn’t until I did a quick workout with my friend Stacey back in November that I realized just how much I was missing. Her cues, her corrections, her explanations, really made me feel as if I was doing my clients a disservice in some of the kettlebell exercises I had been programming.

Because Stacey’s studio wasn’t convenient for me to train at, I found IronBody Studios and decided to check it out.

I remember leaving my first intro class with Artemis thinking how lucky I was that I hadn’t injured myself over the years. My form needed a lot of work. I had created a lot of bad habits and needed to basically start from scratch and learn how to do pretty much everything with proper form.

Honestly, it was very humbling.

After that experience I started to read more about StrongFirst and I really fell in love with their statement and purpose. In February I set a goal and made the investment in myself to become a better coach and to learn from the best kettlebell instructors in the world.

And It was worth every penny.

I followed IronBody’s 16 week training program, that consisted of a 4 day training regimen on my own and a 5th day of coaching by Artemis and Eric in their studio.  The commitment was a big deal for me because not only did I have to follow their program to the letter, I had several bad habits that I needed to break from years of using wrong techniques….

This is what happens when your form sucks...not to mention the hand tears...
This is what happens when your form sucks…not to mention the hand tears…

Ahhh, the hand tears. Thankfully I finally figured out how to NOT rip my hands apart on a weekly basis and breezed through the weekend with my hands (and at least one wrist) still in tact.

This was also the first time since my sons were born that I followed a “training” program and didn’t just try to get in workouts when I could. The workouts were longer and more intense and I really had to make time to fit them in or else they wouldn’t get done. You can find a way or you find an excuse. I made it a goal to find a way to get them in, even if it meant late Friday afternoon in my garage about to get run over 🙂

Michael making sure my wrist was in the correct position



Finally the weekend arrived. The last 4 weeks felt like they dragged. I just wanted to get on with it. I knew I was prepared physically for the tests we needed to complete, but I definitely was shocked by how mentally challenging and emotional it was for me.

We were broken up and placed on teams. My team leader was Pavel Macek…

“You either learn, or you learn – there is no fail”


He is this BADASS from Prague who looks and sounds like he belongs in a Spy movie with his equally bad ass wife who was an assistant on the team as well (yes, they flew in from Europe to instruct at this cert). Artemis was also an assistant on my team which was a huge comfort for me on Day 1. It was nice to have a familiar face on my team for sure.

The weekend was spent learning, demonstrating, and coaching all of the skills we would be tested on Sunday morning. On top of doing what felt like a million swings, get-ups, cleans, squats, presses, snatches and all the drills that go along with teaching them, we also had team “practices” where the team leaders and assistants would put all of the candidates (I think there were about 50 of us) through 20 minutes or so of a pretty intense ass kicking practice.

Sunday we were tested. This was all mental. I knew I was well prepared, but I had learned so much more over the weekend that I felt like I was overthinking things. We had plenty of time to practice, but the more I practiced the more I started to second guess my technique for a few of the skills.

Walking into the facility with Artemis on Sunday morning I started to freak a bit. She reminded me that I was ready, that I’ve done the skills a million times and to treat this as I would my training sessions. “Just do what you do” she said.……(and try to forget about the fact that you only have 5 reps to demonstrate perfect form in front of your team and team leaders.…) NBD.

Knowing that there is a 30% failure rate at this certification and how strict they are with form etc., it was a little nerve racking. Typically I don’t do well under pressure or uncomfortable situations (I’ve actually said “thank you” instead of “I’m sorry” at a wake – horrifying). So I was a teeny bit on edge.

Luckily I did everything well – except count. We were supposed to do 5 reps of most skills and I kept losing count around 3. I know, how the hell do you lose count when you are only doing 5 reps? But I was so focused on not screwing up that I completely spaced and figured it’s probably better to do too many than not enough….so I ended up doing like 8 reps of everything. Justina kindly reminded me on my last skill that I needed to “perfrom ONLY 5 reps” – oops 🙂

After the skills testing I felt I had performed well, but the results are withheld until you finish all the aspects of the certification.  Up next, the snatch test…and yes, that really is the name of it.

To pass this test, you need to do 100 snatches in 5 minutes. It’s extremely challenging and the one thing most of us were fairly nervous about.

Luckily for me, I was called to test in the first group and was able to get it over with. Once I put that bell down I just started crying. Like a lot. It was kind of a bit embarrassing. I’m not really the “ugly cry in front of a bunch of strangers” type, but I was SO relieved and so PROUD of myself for setting this goal and accomplishing it, I just couldn’t even help it. I did it it! I set a goal and achieved it….and I cried on and off for the next 6 hours. Totally normal.

I learned SO much about myself during this process. This has been the first real goal I’ve had since before I had my boys. Before having them, most of my goals were focused on getting smaller, skinnier, lighter. If I did have a performance goal, like a fitness show, road race or a sprint triathlon, I made those goals in hopes that I would “look” better after the training, it was never really about the race or show.

Training for this certification solidified my perspective on what I want to get out of my training. It’s no longer about getting smaller or skinnier or lighter. I want to get STRONGER. I want to move well for a really long time. I want my boys to look at me and say “Wow Mommy, you are so strong”. I want to be able to pick them up without fear of hurting my back. I want to be able to get up from sitting on the ground with them without having to find something to grab on to. I want to feel healthy, strong, capable, confident and PROUD of what my body can DO. Those are the things that matter to me now. The aesthetic changes that happen are just icing on the cake.

I want to set a good example because clearly, they’re always watching.

I think he’s watched me do quite a few overhead carries over the past 4 months 🙂 Is it bad that I wish he had straightened his elbow more?


So many people have asked me “Now what?” or “So, what does this get you?” “What are you going to do with it?”

Training for and completing this certification has made me a better coach. The amount of knowledge in that room this past weekend was ridiculous and I’m excited to put it to good use in my clients  student’s training, as well as my own training.

Its made me appreciate and relish in the art of goal setting and accomplishment.  It made me show up on days when I didn’t really want to. It forced me to be consistent. It’s showed me where I pull back and where I follow through (thank you Ryan for pointing that out to me).

So, what do I “get” now?

I get to be part of an amazing group of educators and to call myself a StrongFirst Instructor.

And that is just perfect.


On to Level 2.


Thank you Artemis and Eric for preparing me so well, Love you guys! And Jordan for making sure I was strong enough to use the 16kg, but light enough to be able to use the 12kg! You rock!




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