My RKC Experience

My RKC Experience

Posted on 31. Aug, 2009 by in My Fitness Updates

Things are still a bit of a blur to me as I write this post. I just came back from the Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) in San Diego this past weekend. I’ve got to say that I haven’t experienced a more thrilling, satisfying, emotional, tiresome, painful, gratifiying experience than this event. I thought that I had a very good idea of how this weekend was going to take place but it was much much more than I expected.

Forgive me if parts of this post do not make sense. I still haven’t fully woken up and recovered from everything that took place during the RKC. I’d like to write this article by detailing (at least the stuff that I remember) the RKC on a day to day basis and what was going through my head during those days.

Day 1

The first person who greeted me was my instructor/mentor and Master RKC, Mark Reifkind a.k.a Rif. It’s nice to see a familiar, smiling face (especially if it’s the face of the person who taught you everything you know about kettlebells) in the midst of all the nerves that have been building up inside me from the night before. The first thing that he asked me was: “Who’s your team leader?” Snap back to reality…I was so worried about the snatch test that I didn’t even think to find out who my team leader was.

Me with my instructor/mentor, Mark Reifkind aka Rif, Master RKC

Me with my instructor/mentor, Mark Reifkind aka Rif, Master RKC

Later on, I found out that it was, Doug Nepodal, Senior RKC. Who is he? He’s the guy who wears a kilt so if you see a guy who’s wearing one, that’s him. Ok, that shouldn’t be hard to find. I went off to register and find the guy wearing a skirt.

More details in between but let’s skip to the dreaded snatch test.

The first day starts with the snatch test. I have one chance during each day of the certification to pass the test but I didn’t want to give myself that option. I have to pass this test today!

Ok, my turn…damn…I can’t believe I am in this moment right now…if only I could pinch myself and find out that it’s all but a dream (or nightmare).

Never mind…it’s now or never.

Go! one, two, three….I put the bell down on the 60th repetition. Shake it off….last 40 reps…done in 3 minutes, 59 seconds. Yes! I now feel a burning sensation in my throat – where’s the water cooler?

Erik, one of my team mates asked how my hands are. I said, “They’re fine.” I looked at my left hand and saw two torn callouses. Wow, I didn’t even feel that. My right hand was good.

I’m glad that was over. A big sigh of relief escapes me.

The first day is all about Swings and Turkish Get Ups (TGUs). I’ve never done so many swings in one day. To top it off, everytime somebody makes a mistake, you have to get up from the teaching position (belly down and on your elbows – like a kindergarten kid) and do how ever many swings they tell you to do – I need the practice anyway – bring it on. Pavel passes by as I perform my swings. He says, “Nice!” I hear hallelujahs in my head.

Break time – before you go on your break, you have to earn it first by doing a workout. This is the first time that I can say that I don’t look forward to break time…lol.

Practice time for TGUs…how come no one’s paying attention to me and my partner? Nikki Shlosser, one of our assistant RKCs, said that if we get ignored, that means that we’re doing them right. Ok, I feel a little better now.

Lunch time – I’m so tired that I’m not even hungry but I need the food for energy so I eat anyway. The rest of the day went by with lectures on a lot of topics that I’ve never even thought about before. I’m seeing training in a whole new light.

End of first day: I came back to the hotel room and my niece asks me why my eyes are red. My sister says that I’m so dark – not tan, dark. My dinner was Hawaiian Pizza and half a Pizookie from BJ’s – I just spent a crazy amount of calories, I can afford it…LOL.

Day 2

I woke up feeling like somebody just beat me up the night before. I proceeded to the hotel gym to at least release some of my muscle soreness. If I were to get through the rest of this day, the foam roller will surely help.

The second day is supposed to be the hardest of all three days – that was nice to know especially now that I’m sore and tired from the previous day. I can do this!

Lecture goes on about cleans, presses, and the goblet squat. I’m not very proficient with my cleans and presses but the squat is my favorite exercise until….workout #8. I have one word for this workout – BRUTAL! It’s a ladder wokout of alternating goblet squats (holding a 12 kg KB in front) and swings but you can’t get up until everyone’s down or until the leader (Yoana Snideman) says the number of the rep – please stop talking and say the number already…lol. I thanked the person who invented the foam roller.

Time for the snatch lecture. Does this mean we’re doing snatches later? Why did I even ask?

Before the day ends, we all perform workout #10: the VO2 Max Snatch. Snatch for 15 seconds, rest 15 seconds, switch hands and snatch for another 15 seconds. Total time: 10 minutes.

Wow, I succeeded (not survived) day 2, I should be ok now. But then again, we still have all day tomorrow.

Day 3 – Last Day

I kept waking up all through the night because every time I moved, I felt the pain. Alarm clock goes off at 5:30 a.m. I’d better wake up already. At the pace that I’m moving, I need all the time that I have….gets off the bed and walks like an old woman on crutches…limps to the bathroom. I considered using the foam roller at this time but I don’t think that I can even prop myself up on top of it at this point.

We get a little break this morning. We have a marketing lecture with John Ducane for 2 hours. Ok, that won’t be too bad.

Next up, technique testing – NERVES! Ok, I passed it. I’m good now…NOT. I still need to teach a “victim” (definition: a person who volunteered to be taught like a potential client). I heard that some people have passed everything but fail the teaching part. When will this end?

My partner, Mandy, and I had a victim named Tom who does KB swings during Crossfit. We had to undo some of his bad habits but he’s a fast learner. I liked this drill. It gave me tons of ideas of how I can teach my potential clients. The victim gets asked if he would hire me as an instructor. I was hoping he would say yes.

Are you getting the drill now? Teaching the victims was not the last test. The RKC saved the best for last – The Grad Workout! We had to perform swings, cleans, presses, and hold the KBs overhead for the length of a football field. The other end of that field never looked so good.

One more set, I can see almost see the end.

I finally reach the other end of the field. I still have all my body parts right? All my limbs are still attached? I’m still walking and talking. Except for the exceptionally painful soreness going through my body, a few blisters and a couple torn callouses, I made it!

Tears of joy well up from my eyes….why am I crying? I should be jumping for joy. I see that some of our assistants are wiping their eyes as well – ok, it’s not just me. I’m such a cry baby. We’re still waiting for some of our team mates and the rest of the class to finish. Go Mandy, Go Kristen, Go Tyson, Go Kyle…come on…you guys can do it. I didn’t expect this to be a very emotional moment but it was. After all, we all have endured tremendous amounts of physical pain and emotional roller coaster.

Me with Pavel Tsatsouline himself after I received my certification

Me with Pavel Tsatsouline himself after I received my certification

What an experience! I will never forget it for the rest of my life. As my mentor, Rif, said, “you would have enough stories to tell your grandchildren.” The RKC has made me a better trainer (to myself), better instructor to others, and a much better person.

My only regret is that I forgot to take a picture with the rest of our team, team leader, and team assistants. So, I’d like to end this post with a sincere appreciation for the all the assistance that our super cool team leader, Doug Nepodal, and our motivating assistant RKCs, Nikki Shlosser, Delaine Ross, and John Devitt, provided to all of us. To all my team mates, I thank you for all the support and I appreciate the camaraderie that we have developed in such a short time.

Here’s to the whole team…

  • My partner: Mandy
  • Joy
  • Kristen
  • Tyson
  • Erik
  • Jason
  • Al
  • Keith
  • Kyle
  • Louie
  • Manny
  • Neal
  • Rick
  • Roger

Power to us and power to the people. We have all made it!

On the side lines, I wouldn’t have made it without the support of my friends, TT friends and twitter peeps: Liz, Porsha, Donna, Gurpreet, Sally, Milan, Crystal, Lilian, Tabitha, Mike Z (stbf), Alex (roundballnz), Fred (fred0828), strongsarah, Greenteagirl, that70sgrl, sandierpastures, Gail, and many others. If I failed to mention you, I’m sure that you know how grateful I am to you.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right to end this post without thanking my husband, Anthony, for all the support that he has given me during this big transition in my life and our lives. From California to Kuwait, I want to thank you for everything and for believing in me. Come back whole. I’ll be waiting for your return in December. I love you, baby!

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  • Tina/canuckgal

    YaaaaaaaaY Anna! I did my Program Minimum workout on Saturday morning from the Enter the Kettlebell book (dang it….I am going to pass the Secret Snatch Test one day!!! Taking a hiatus from Turbulence Training now to focus more on kettlebells) and know I was suffering a lot less than you…I was thinking of you on the weekend and wondering how you did! You DID do it…!!! Congrats!!! I have watched some grad workouts on Youtube…can totally see why you were crying! Looks like an intense and wonderful experience!!!!

  • admin

    Thanks, Tina. The snatch test is not really a secret…lol. It’s good that you’re focusing more on kettlebells. I’m sure your shoulders will feel much better with more TGUs too. Have fun training!


  • Congrats Anna!! 🙂 Never a doubt. Thanks for sharing your experience! Amazing!! Inspiring for sure. Keep it up. Can’t wait to see what’s next. 🙂

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  • admin

    Thanks, Cath! Your support through it all really helped. It’s amazing how many people from miles and miles away, whom I’ve never even met, supported me during this journey. I really appreciate that.


  • Wow! Congratulations! You made it! You are one of those very focused and very determined people I know so there was no doubt about this present achievement. 🙂

    So happy for you!

  • congratulations Anna!!! You did it! Nice pictures too!

    When’s your program coming out here? =)


  • admin

    Thanks, Grace and Andy! I really appreciate you guys dropping by and your well wishes.

    Andy, still don’t know yet but I have plans…wink, wink. 🙂


  • Wow Anna, that is so totally awesome!!!! Sounds like you did an amazing job. I loved reading about your experience. What hard work that really paid off. Congratulations on your certification. You are inspiring to me!

  • admin

    Thanks, Kelley! That means a lot coming from you. Your blog is definitely one of the best ones out there because you have unbiased opinion. Keep it up and I thank you again.


  • Yay Anna! Congratulations! That sounds like a lot of hard work. Great job!

  • Porsha

    Anna! I’m soooo proud of you. You have such strength, determination, and drive, and I truly admire that about you. Of course I can say this now, but that evening you looked so tired and weak-even a little pale. You managed to do it again for another two days!!! I’m so glad I got to see you even if it was only for a couple hours.

    You look so cute in your pics btw 🙂
    Next time we see each other (around our bday) I’ll be looking a lot different- I hope you recognize me!

    Love you lots girl!

  • admin

    Hey Porsha, thanks a lot! I know how horrible I looked that night. I didn’t even bother to put make up on…haha. It was nice that you were able to come out and meet me though. I know you can do this, girl! I look forward to seeing you in November.


  • Hi Anna

    congratulations on getting your RKC! You certainly deserve it and will be a great addition to our community.It was wonderful working with you and thank you for all the kind words.Looking forward to working with you in the future.


  • admin

    Hi Rif, it’s nice to hear from you here in my blog. I will be working with you for sure when I’m getting ready for RKC II. You’re the best coach ever!

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  • Cathy

    So I am curious how long you were a certified personal trainer before you took this certification – no one is teaching kettle balls around our area and I only use them from following formats on certain blogs….are there many classes for kettle balls where you are?

  • admin

    Hi Cathy, I’ve only been a trainer for about 2 months before I took this certification but I’ve been training with kettlebells for about 1.5 years. As I mentioned in the blog, I also had a great coach, Mark Reifkind, who really prepared me well for the RKC. Let me know if you need any help in your prep.

    Where I live, there are only about 3 other people who are RKC but I don’t think they are as active as I am in promoting their classes. I really do think that I have an advantage over a lot of the other personal trainers who aren’t RKC. This cert is definitely worth the money and the hard work.


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  • Anna, this was a FANTASTIC read! I’m prepping for my own RKC in April and I’ve been *dying* to get some insight into what each day entails. I have a great idea now. Not gonna lie, it’s a bit intimidating, but all things worth having are worth working for, right? Congrats on your RKC and thanks so much for a candid—and amusing—look into the world of the Challenge.


  • admin

    Hi Scott, thanks for stopping by. I really liked writing about my RKC experience. Yes it was challenging but it was a lot of fun at the same time. I mean the camaraderie was just amazing and I still keep in touch with my team mates. It’s like having this big family.

    Good luck and train hard!


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  • Beyeker13

    You have written the best RKC summary of any one on the Web that I can find — thanks for the insight and congratulations to you for such an amazing accomplishment.

  • Thanks. I hope it helps you if you’re planning to do the cert. It’s a lot of fun!

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