Going Past 10: It's Been A Year In The Making

Here is a guest blog from my Kettlebell Sport student, Laura Machuca. I think she did a fabulous job expressing her experience with Kettlebells as her love for lifting the bells have taken her cross-country. Share in her experience and read what she has to say. I think you will gain a new perspective on this rewarding form of fitness. -Bob Garon

Going Past 10: It's Been A Year In The Making


“Kettle-balls? What are those?”

“I didn't know that kettlebell was a sport.”

“Wow! You have to do that for 10 minutes without stopping?”

“That judge was really mean. He should be more understanding of the people who compete with the 8 kg and 12 kg bells.”

These are things people say when they learn that I am a kettlebell athlete. I’ve competed four times now, and at the age of 50 I am getting ready for my fifth competition, all in a little less than a year. Some of what I’ve learned:

1. There’s a lot more to it than simply lasting 10 minutes.

Let’s not kid ourselves; kettlebell or girevoy sport (GS), as it’s sometimes called, is pretty darn tough. Many GS athletes say it’s the toughest sport in the world. In my first three competitions, I worried about lasting the entire 10 minutes, common for beginners. Yet, I now think that worrying about finishing means I doubt my abilities, which just undercuts all the time I spend training. I’m also disrespecting the work my coach and I do to improve my technique. Technique is so important—I can’t just get up on the platform and simply swing the kettlebells around for 10 minutes. I have to do the repetitions correctly, or they don’t count! Proper technique also helps me perform most efficiently, which also means less fatigue.

Laura Machuca

However, if you go to IKFF Nationals in Novi, MI to watch the competitions—and you should do this—you’ll see seasoned GS athletes lifting freaking heavy bells who don’t always finish their 10 minutes. But you know what? They get up there and do it anyway. When I competed in May 2012, a man only did one minute of the jerk with two bells that weighed 32 kg (~70 pounds) apiece. Did he look upset afterward? Not in the least. He wanted to prove to himself that he could get up there and do it for one minute, and he did. Next time, he plans to go for two minutes.

Laura Machuca

2. It’s not just about the numbers.

Depending on the event, your weight, the weight of the bell, and how many repetitions (reps) you do correctly, you can achieve a rank of 3, 2, 1, Candidate Master of Sport (CMS), Master of Sport (MS), and Master of Sport International Class (MSIC). When I began competing, I reached a rank of three, which is the lowest. I haven’t achieved a rank of two yet. However, rank isn’t the most important thing to me anymore. Why not? During the first few minutes of my last competition in May 2012, I saw I wasn’t going to make the number of reps I had as a goal. Instead of getting upset, I decided to relax—to experience the flow of doing the long cycle (clean & jerk) for 10 minutes while striving for my personal best technique. Afterward, I received compliments from the judges, with zero no-counts, which was quite opposite from my prior competition, I also won first place in my weight class in my event! If I had tensed up about making rank, I would have enjoyed myself far less—and shouldn’t I have fun while I’m lifting the bells? This is something I want to truly enjoy while I am doing it for as long as I can. It is about the experience of the moment.

Laura Machuca

3. The only competitor you should worry about is yourself.

It’s normal to want to be like the amazing GS athletes I see. However, if I compare myself to others, I limit things and miss out on so much more! That mindset also makes it easier for me to watch and learn ways to improve my technique. One example is Nathan. In May, Nathan performed the long cycle with astonishing precision. He reminded me of a clock, as his movements were very regular and accurate. When I told him this, he thanked me and revealed that he is a classically trained pianist. He thinks of Mozart playing in his head while he competes, and adjusts his rhythm to match. While I don’t know if I will adopt his method, he certainly helped me stretch my mind to consider new ways of practicing and competing. An analogy to the movie, “Field of Dreams” comes to mind—if I build and improve my technique, the rank will come!

Laura Machuca

4. The judges are there to help you get better at it.

Sometimes judges can intimidate, but only if you let them. Don’t let them! Judges often ask you to demonstrate a few reps so that they can see if you have any physical irregularities. Maybe you can’t bend your knees as far or straighten your arm. You want the judges to know ahead of time so they don’t count it against you while you compete. The first time I had to demonstrate, the judge made a comment about “not letting the bell spin around my hand” that rattled me. I now know that she was only trying to warn me so I wouldn’t get any no-counts. In my competition in March 2012, the judge at the IKSFA New York Open asked me not to make the same mistake as several other people that day. I started to worry about looking bad and not finishing. My focus was wrong and I violated a rule seven minutes into the set. The judge told me I had to stop and put the bell down. Later, two ladies approached me and said that they thought he was too strict, and that “he should be more understanding of the people who compete with the 8 kg and 12 kg bells.

I honestly did not feel the same way as they did. Instead, I saw myself at a fork in the road: I could point fingers, blame others, and complain about the judging; or I could work on improving my technique. Even though I felt a bit confused, did I want to be one who blames others when I don’t perform well? Was blaming the judge going to help me do better next time? I didn’t think so.

Kettlebell sport is a huge passion in my life, changing my life tremendously during the past year. My nutrition and my physique have improved because of my desire to be a better GS athlete. I’d love you to experience the joy of GS for yourself. Join me for my next competition at the “Bells Gone Wild” Kettlebell Sport competition on July 14 at Synergy Kettlebell Training in St. Charles!

Getting Coached By The Best of The Best (IKSFA)

IKSFA Kettlebell certification courseI was given the opportunity to participate at the International Kettlebell Sport & Fitness Academy certification course recently in Frisco, TX held at BJ & Kori Bliffert's Full Throttle Athletics gym. BJ and his wife Kori were such great hosts and overall the weekend was one of the most amazing times of my life. Here's the tale of my IKSFA experience.

DAY 1 Part 1: JERKS

All morning on the first day we studied the Kettlebell Jerk and broke the movement down to the tiniest detail.

Both Sergey Rudnev and Sergey Rachinskiy, top Russian Kettlebell Sport coaches, told me I have perfect Jerk technique and that I'm a rising star. They said that they don't say that compliment very often. :)  I told them that it was from watching hours and hours of their own videos so the compliment is back to them.

They said with the right program I could be Master of Sport (high rank in Kettlebell Sport & one very few Americans hold) in about 6 months.  I very humbly replied with a big gulp, a thank you very much, it's an honor to hear them say that, and I will do my best.

We finished the Jerk Module with a Team Jerk Relay where we had 7 team mates going for 2 minutes each against another team of 7. We lost by 265 (them) to 246 (us) reps, but our team worked VERY hard and never slowed one bit! We were all heart! :)

The rest of the day we focused on breaking down the Kettlebell Snatch. I was definitely saying my prayers because the Snatch and I haven't really got along too well!  Ha ha :)


DAY 1 Part 2: SNATCH

The second half of the day I heard A LOT of "No Bob", "Put bell down Bob" coming from the mouth of Sergey Rudnev. LOL Kettlebell Snatch has never been something that I've done very well so I was ready to be ripped to shreds... and I welcomed it. By critique is the only way to learn that we're doing the right things. So bring on my nemesis!

Backing up here for a moment, and to my credit, other than some brief demos here and there in some of my Synergy Kettlebell Training classes, I haven't ever devoted my time to practice Snatch. For the last couple years it's solely been Long Cycle- which created, from what I found out today, some bad habits when transitioning into Snatching. Coach Rudnev & Rachinskiy told me I've got to break them. The habits I have did me decently well with the Cleans and Jerks, but definitely not Snatch mechanics. I had to break down and rebuild. In the process of them correcting me I even became more economical in my Clean and Jerk technique.  Remember I said we REALLY analyzed these movements with the finest tooth comb.

I only started practicing the Snatch about 2 weeks ago, with before-mentioned bad habits, just so I didn't look like a total slouch at this course in front of the best and most decorated Russian Kettlebell Sport coaches/ athletes in the world.

Kettlebell jerk techniqueI think I didn't do all that bad overall AND I even practiced all day today without wristbands, and with their technique tweaks, it didn't bother me one bit where before, due to inefficient technique, my forearms would be on fire if not for the wristguards. Doing it that way actually made things easier for me during our 10 minute Snatch set WITH MASON (kinda like gardening gloves) GLOVES on. It makes the bell you're using feel like one step heavier. The purpose is to train grip since that's usually the first thing to go when Snatching. I've used the gloves before, but just not for 10 minutes. It really wasn't too bad as long as you stayed on pace.

So the Snatch module took me from a grim look on the coaches' faces to smiles when we were all done. Of course an afternoon is not nearly enough time to master anything- ESPECIALLY FOR THE SNATCH AND I TO MAKE NICE (if that's even possible LOL)- but I am well on my way. Ultimately I think Long Cycle is still the event for me and where I will stay until I reach my personal goals.


Day 2: Long Cycle & GPP

The second day was right up my alley. I've been practicing Long Cycle, around injuries that were not brought about bykettlebell coach aurora & st. charles, IL Kettlebell Sport, pretty much exclusively for the past year and a half. So I was quite confident this day would go much more smoothly then did the latter half of day 1 with my enjoyable nemesis the Snatch.

Since we analyzed the Jerk on day 1 we spent the entire morning breaking down the Clean into the smallest grain of sand details.

Going into this I knew that all aspects of my Cycle felt good, but there were just a few small details that held me back from making my technique more refined. Since my last competition I've dropped about 15lbs and these bells have seemed to just be feeling heavier and heavier. I absolutely knew that if anyone could help me make them lighter it would be Sergey Rudnev and Sergey Rachinskiy. They are the Masters and I am their grasshopper.

To give you some perspective of who these two men are, in the case that you do not know, the following are there personal credentials.

Sergey Rachinskiy, IKSFA president Honored Master of Sport Master of Sport World Class Honored Coach of Russia 9-Time World Champion 12-Time Champion of Russia

Sergey Rachinskiy is the author of RELAY Discipline In Kettlebell Sport and this is has been used since 1999 in all competition programming. This discipline is approved by the All-Russian Federation of Kettlebell Sports.

Sergey Rudnev, IKSFA Master Coach Honored Master of Sport Master of Sport World Class Honored Coach of Russia 9-Time World Champion

Sergey Rudnev is a professor of Department of Physical Education and Sport, Girevoy Sport Specialization, at the Far East Military Academy. He is also the trainer for the Far East High Military Command School Team, of the Amur Region Team, and of the Russian National Team.

So these very brief achievement resumes should give you the impression that they, of anyone, know what they're talking about when it comes to Kettlebell Sport and exactly the reason why I leaped at the enormous opportunity and honor to learn from the best of the best.

After putting everything they taught us over the weekend, when it was my time to be tested, they told me that watching me perform was like watching a professional... it was perfection. Although I feel I have much work to do, and thousands of reps of practicing before I'll actually and truly believe those words, it was sure very nice to hear them say that. A couple of the other students even went as far as to nickname me "Baby Rudnev" because of my technique being similar to his and he and I being in the same weight class. I'll humbly take that as the highest compliment. I've got a ways to go before I can ever even attempt to fill his shoes, but I will keep doing my absolute best to keep progressing and never stop until victory is achieved.

This weekend was so amazingly awesome and honestly one of the best weekends in my entire life. That's not simply because of what I learned during its 2 days, but because of the people with whom I spent it. We all endured the super humid and hot days in BJ's Full Throttle Athletics gym WITHOUT ANY air conditioning and survived. The pic to the left is both Sergeys taking their after lunch food coma  nap brought on by both the wonderful heat and tasty treats.

If you ever get the opportunity to learn these skills, hone your existing, and network among the great people making up the essence of Kettlebell Sport, I highly, highly recommend it. Your experience will absolutely change your life. It has mine.

Thank you Aleksander Khasin, Sergey Rachinskiy, Sergey Rudnev, BJ & Kori Bliffert, Jason Dolby, and John Buckley for everything!

Kettlebell certification

The weekend culminated making  it official!!

I passed and this is a VERY proud day! :)

Good Kettlebell friends from TexasGood Kettlebell friends from California

Good friends and fellow Kettlebell Sport coaches from both Texas and California, Sincere Hogan, BJ Bliffert, Mike House, Jason Dolby, & John Buckley.

Lisa Garon Is An Outlaw Kettlebell Lifter

Lisa Garon was highlighted as a top U.S. Kettlebell sportsman, sportsperson, sportswoman (not sure which is appropriate LOL). Check out the featured article Ken Whetham put up on his North American Outlaw Kettlebell Club blog and show Lisa some love & support with a nice comment: Lisa Garon Outlaw Article HERE. Lisa really inspires me with how far she's come in such a short dedicated time. Her commitment to herself and her weekly routine is how this is all possible. When I first met her she didn't even go to the gym and to think about her eating anything healthy was like asking a horse to moo. LOL

She smoked, drank and partied here and there, but one day just decided it was time to get away from that life wrecking habit and create better ones. So she dropped over 30lbs and hasn't look back since. Who would have thought this little bowling ball with a handle on it would change her, and the lives of others, so much.

Watch the video below of her 20kg (44lb) One Arm Long Cycle set at the IKFF Kettlebell Lifting Invitational 2011. VERY solid set!

Great write up honey! You're lookin more amazing every day and every day you amaze me more.

Synergy Kettlebell Training "No Weak Sauce" Challenge Rewards

Achieve Kettlebell Sport rankings in either IKFF or AKC and we’ll celebrate together with some awesome rewards recognizing your dedication and achievement.

2011 is the Year of Yes! Do NOT say "Maybe"!!! Do or do not. -Master Yoda

YES I Can! YES You Can! YES We Can!

With that mindset let's make some new goals happen and step off this year stronger than ever before in your entire life. This is YOUR year! This is YOUR 2011! Let's make it so!!

New for 2011, as a Synergy Kettlebell Training member, when you achieve Kettlebell Sport ranks in either the IKFF or AKC we'll support you with really cool recognition rewards.

Ranks for each organization:

International Kettlebell & Fitness Federation Kettlebell Sport Ranks

American Kettlebell Club Ranks

According to the AKC here are the Top 10 Benefits of the Kettlebell Sport Ranking System

Promotes the use of lighter weight and greater technique Reduces chance of injury as lifter can progress gradually Opens the sport to many more lifters Encourages a balanced, healthy approach Allows coaches to bring in more clients / students Specifically creates a better lockout and rack position Promotes adherence to the sport Creates competition at lower levels Increases potential size of teams Opens up the kettlebell community to more age groups


I love having ranks like this cause it benefits us with a solid goal and once we reach that goal we know exactly where to go beyond that. So as we improve in the ranks we know that our body is improving in every aspect as well to become more and more Skinny Stronger every day. I must tell you that achieving rank just doesn't happen. It's not something we just stumble upon and do one day. It's something we must work toward with everything we've got. Only that way will we truly enjoy the sweet rewards of everything Kettlebell Training results have to offer.

I wanna see some newbies get rank here real soon. Age or experience doesn't matter as much as getting out there and doing it. You never know what you're capable of until you put yourself to the test. By achieving each rank we find out more and more about how we can improve ourselves to get better. That's the great thing about Kettlebell Sport ranks. We're already doing this stuff and now we can apply it right to a perfect set of goals in front of us to motivate and encourage us to be the best we can.

My First 2x28kg Kettlebell Long Cycle Set

Ok so, after achieving Long Cycle IKFF Rank III and American Kettlebell Club Rank II with the 20kg Kettlebells in the April 2010, I've been working with the 24kg bells since then in my attempt to tame them. So far so good and I've been very happy with my results thus far. I've been consistently practicing with them and feeling more and more comfortable every day. That's the thing right there... if you want to be good at something you've gotta practice it and don't stop till you get there. Well in practicing something 4-5 days a week, every week, one can get burnt out so I decided to give myself a break from exclusively the 24's during the month of December. In doing so, and of course considering my love to lift heavy weights over my head, I decided that the orange and red bells had my name all over them.

Here's my inaugural Long Cycle set with the 28kg Kettlebells. Now also keep in mind that my bodyweight is currently about 145lbs too so this is A LOT of fun. It actually went much better than I had expected. My goal is to get comfortable with them so the Green Machines (24kg Kettlebells) will be much easier to tame when I start my next training cycle in January. Ultimately I want IKFF Rank CMS (candidate master of sport) in March at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. Team Synergy has big goals for the upcoming event and I have high confidence we'll all achieve them. Keep watching us...

This was one of my low volume days and felt great. Here's my full Long Cycle practice that I did:

Warmup: Synergy Dynamics 2x16kg Jerks x 10 2x24kg Long Cycle x 6

Long Cycle Practice: 2 min rest between sets 2 Minutes 2x28kg @ 6rpm 1 Min. 2x28kg @ 6rpm x 4 sets

Finisher: 3 Min. 2x16kg @ 10rpm


Synergy Dynamics floor series and foam roll

The Turkeybell Brings Kettlebell Sport To Aurora, IL

Our Synergy Turkeybell Sport Invitational was so much fun to run. I now have a whole new respect for Ken Blackburn(IKFF), Ashleigh Shooshanian(IKFF), Rebecca L. Cate(IKFF), Eric Liford(AKC), Valery Fedorenko(AKC), and everyone else who puts on regular Kettlebell Sport competitions. Thank you & BRAVO to all the competitors who got up on the platform! And thank you everyone who helped me put on the show.

For those who don't know about Kettlebell Sport competitors get up on the platform and perform their sets with a 10 minute time limit. In Kettlebell Sport there are 2 traditional events: Biathlon (Jerk & Snatch) and Long Cycle (clean & jerk). For more info & if you're in the Aurora, IL area go here: Get Skinny Strong With Kettlebell Sport Training

Here's the stats for Team Synergy... videos are coming in future posts...

Susan Lausier competed in Women's 12kg Biathlon and performed: Jerk- 81R / 79L = 160 total Snatch- 81R / 77L = 158 total Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 12kg bells: 29 reps _________________

Courtney Szorc competed in Women's 16kg Long Cycle and performed: 61R / 57L = 118 total _________________

Lisa Garon competed in Women's 20kg Long Cycle and performed: 33R / 28L _________________

Rocio Tena competed in Women's 12kg Long Cycle and performed: 48R / 49L = 97 total _________________

Nadia Hernandez... What a warrior-goddess she is!!! She competed with a cast on due to a busted knee cap that slid out of place just 2 days ago. Nadia competed in Women's Youth 8kg Long Cycle and performed: 63R / 53L = 116 total _________________

Alma Pilz competed in Women's 12kg Long Cycle and performed: 48R / 50L = 98 total Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 8kg bells: 37 reps _________________

Carol Larson competed in Women's 12kg Long Cycle and performed: 52R / 48L = 100 total Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 8kg bells: 32 reps _________________

Tammy Gerken competed in Women's 16kg Biathlon and performed: Jerk: 61R / 47L = 108 total Snatch: 36R / 30L = 66 total Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 12kg bells: 35 reps _________________

Shaheen Mohammed competed in Women's 16kg Long Cycle and performed: 50R / 42L = 92 total Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 12kg bells: 28 reps _________________

Darlene Davis competed in Women's 12kg Biathlon and performed: Jerk: 70R / 61L = 131 Snatch: 46R / 46L = 92 total Special 2 Arm Long Cycle Event with two 12kg bells: 20 reps _________________


Brayden Garon(age 6) competed in YOUNG GIREVIKS Boy's Long Cycle Clean & Jerk using two 4kg bells for 10 minutes and performed 74 reps total. This was a 20 rep increase from what he did 7 weeks ago at the IKFF Nationals.

Ava Larson(age 5) competed in YOUNG GIREVIKS Girl's Long Cycle Clean & Push Press using 5lb. bell for 10 minutes and performed 74 reps total.

Thanks again to everyone who competed, attended, and assisted me in running the Turkeybell. We're doing a very special event in January and all proceeds go to a charity. Then in June will be our Summerbell Sport Invitational and next November will be the 2nd annual Turkeybell Sport Invitational. Keep lifting your Kettlebells and I hope to see you on the platform soon. Wanna get started in Kettlebell Sport and be part of Team Synergy... let's make it happen. Call me: (630) 708-0055

Team Synergy Presents: Shaheen & Nadia Stronger Together

Shaheen and Nadia are a beautiful mother and daughter Team Synergy package deal that I personally love. They brighten my day every time I see them.

Shaheen's bling, bling extends her personality.

Shaheen earned her Kettlebell Sport medal! She gave her set everything she had to give and was writing bounced checks afterwards cause she didn't have anything else left. That's how it's supposed to be done. Amazing job Shaheen!!! Nadia earned her second medal by achieving 1st place in her Youth(15-17yr) division. KJP ("Kettlebell Jerk Prodigy"- she's called that cause she learned the jerk super fast and without formal instruction) all the way baby!!! :)