The Turkish Get-up: No Hands?? NO PROBLEM!

Last weekend Eric and I traveled to New York City to teach a Kettlebell Fundamentals Workshop at New York Sports Medicine (NYSM) and Physical Therapy.


 Tony Forza, Me, Luke Bongiorno, Leonidas Scantalides, Eric Gahan

We taught the kettlebell dead-lift, kettlebell swing, goblet squat, and Turkish get-up to a mixed group of Physical Therapists, NYSM patients, and even some non-clinicians outside of NYSM such as my Aunt Paula and Cousin Madeleine and Iron Body Studios’ online training clients.


It was so unique to have physical therapists, patients, and non-clinicians together in the same room learning together.  Everyone seemed to benefit in a different, yet equally positive way. Physical therapists learned how they could apply the kettlebell as a tool and the movements we taught within the rehabilitation setting and to help bridge the gap for their patients from rehab to training. Patients learned how they could ease themselves back into training safely, and effectively again without fear of injury. Non-clinicians, and non-patients learned how they could enhance their exercise routine with kettlebell training.

It was amazing to see the group’s transformation and excitement build over the course of the four-hour workshop.

While we were in New York City we had a full schedule of visiting colleagues, friends, clients, and family, from spending the weekend with my brother…


To lunch with my Aunt and Cousin…


To visiting our friends at Mark Fisher Fitness…

IMG_0769Me, Matt Wilson, Eric Gahan, Brian Patrick Murphy, Leonidas Scantalides 

I even had the opportunity to stop by Catalyst S.P.O.R.T to train my distance coaching client (and friend and colleague) Kathy Dooley, and see her very own brand new facility for the first time!


When I met with Kathy I taught her the double kettlebell or no hands Turkish get-up. This is an advanced variation of the get-up that is typically used in the Armed Forces to help military people learn how to get up without hands while carrying artillery overhead, while also having the ability to keep their eyes on the enemy and/or have the ability to keep their awareness and watch for danger.

I taught this variation to Kathy because she has been dealing with some discomfort and pain in her right arm with certain movements. She is seeing a specialist for the pain, and as her coach it is my job to make sure that she can continue to train, pain free, by avoiding movements that cause her pain so that she can continue to work towards her goals while she heals.

One of the movements that has been causing her pain is the part of the get-up when she comes up to her hand and posts for the leg sweep; both on the way up and on the way down.

Before I met with Kathy last Friday, over the past month I had instructed her train the get-up but only to either the elbow or to the hand so that she could continue to train this movement pain free.

The get-up is one of Kathy’s most favorite movements (as it is mine ;) ), so I thought what could possibility be better than to teach Kathy this advanced variation of the get-up.

She was thrilled!

Below are the steps, with video demonstration, to learn how to progress to training the double kettlebell or no-hands get-up.

Step One

Train the Deadman’s (called this because your arm position makes you look like a zombie) or Double Get-up Sit-up. Practice this movement bodyweight first.

Within this sit-up you initiate the movement with almost a McGill Curl Up except your arms are straight above your torso instead of behind your back.

  • Lay flat on your back and make an X with your body so that your legs are positioned right outside of your hips.
  • Move your arms so that they are straight above your torso, fingers pointing straight to the ceiling.
  • As mentioned previously, with your arms straight above your torso, initiate the sit-up with a McGill Curl Up.
  • After you sit up, hold that brace, engage your glutes and quads, flex your feet, drive through your heels and then move through your hip hinge with a stiff spine to sit up.  In the video below you will see how my legs push forward as I move through my hips and drive through my heels.
  • As you sit up, drive your fingers straight to the ceiling and bring your ears between your biceps.


Do not let your arms fall forward and pull you up with momentum.


OPTION: You can add a dowel while practicing this movement if you need a target to help you keep your arms from falling forward.


Again, do not let your arms fall forward and pull you up with momentum.


Practice the Deadman’s sit-up in your training for a few weeks, two times per week. Start with 3 sets of 5 repetitions and then build up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions. When that tenth repetition on the third set is easy and you can still maintain your form perfectly, then start to load it with weight.

Step Two

Load the Deadman’s or Double Get-up Sit-up.

Start with a REALLY light weight in each hand, like 4kg (10lbs) kettlebells. Or if that is too much, you can even use one 10lb barbell plate and hold it just as you were holding the dowel.

Below I demonstrate with two kettlebells. Notice that my arms do not fall forward and I do not pull myself up with momentum. I sit up with an abdominal brace and by moving through my hips.


You can also practice this movement with just one kettlebell in one hand. Make sure to switch sides if you do this.

Practice the loaded Deadman’s sit-up in your training for a few weeks, two times per week. Start with 3 sets of 3 repetitions and then build up to 3 sets of 5 repetitions with your starting weight.

If you are training one side at a time with one kettlebell, do 3 sets, 3 repetitions with the kettlebell in the right hand, then 3 repetitions with the kettlebell in the left hand. Build up to 3 sets, 5 repetitions right side, 5 repetitions left side.

When that fifth repetition on the third set is easy and you can still maintain your form perfectly, then you can raise weight of the load and/or start to train the full double kettlebell Turkish get-up.

Step Three

Practice the full no hands or double Turkish get-up bodyweight first before you load it.

  • Start the movement with the Deadman’s sit-up.
  • Then sweep both legs around to one side of your body by bending your legs so that you are sitting on one hip.
  • From there, come up to a tall kneeling position.
  • Your arms are still straight above your head.
  • Move on leg in front of you so that you move from tall kneeling to a half kneeling position.
  • Stand up just like you would in a tradition Turkish get-up except that both arms are overhead instead of just one arm.
  • When you come back down you will reverse everything.
  • Drop step lunge down to half kneeling.
  • Come to tall kneeling.
  • Sit to one side of your body so that you are sitting on one hip.
  • Sweep your legs from a bent position to straight out in front of you resuming the finish position of your deadman’s situp.
  • Slowly roll yourself down to lying down; arms are still straight up above your torso.
  • Lower your arms to the rack position.

Below I demonstrate the no hands/double kettlebell get-up with one kettlebell:

Right Side

Left Side

Below I demonstrate the no hands/double kettlebell get-up with two kettlebells:

Work in the no hands/double kettlebell get-up into your training program once per week, along with training traditional Turkish get-ups on other days during the week.  Keep the training load to 10 repetitions total no hands/double kettlebell get-up per session.

Note: You will see when people attempt a max effort with the double kettlebell get-up that they will not initiate the movement with the deadman’s sit-up.  Instead they will initiate the movement with a knee tuck, to a kip, roll and sit-up to the finish position of the deadman’s sit-up.  This is because, since it is a max effort, e.g. two 20kg (44lbs – total 88lbs) kettlebells, it is very difficult to roll through a sit-up with that much weight overhead.  Click HERE for a good example of this movement.

Some important things to keep in mind while you prepare to train this advanced movement:

  • This is an ADVANCED variation of the get-up so please make sure to learn and practice the traditional Turkish get-up before you venture into learning the no hands/double kettlebell Turkish get-up.
  • Practice the movement bodyweight until you feel comfortable with the coordination of the movement before you load it.
  • When selecting a weight for this variation of the get-up, select a weight that is 50% or LESS of the max weight that you use for your traditional Turkish get-up.

For example, my max traditional Turkish get-up is 30kg (66lbs), I discovered that my max no-hands, single kettlebell get-up on my right side is 16kg (35lbs) and on my left side it is 14kg (30lbs). I am comfortable regularly training 12-14kg on each side. My max double kettlebell Turkish get-up is with a 12kg (26lbs) in each hand for a total weight of 24kg (53lbs). I am comfortable regularly training 10kg (22lbs) in each hand for a total load of 20kg (44lbs).

  • Do not try to be a hero. Focus on the mastering the difficulty of the movement, not trying to max out the load.
  • The get-up is a fantastic way to:
    1. Identify asymmetries; and
    2. Correct these asymmetries. The no hands get-up takes this to a whole other level in terms of both coordination of movement and load (see my max weights above for the single kettlebell no-hands get-up as an example).
  • This movement will SMOKE your abs. My abs were so sore on Saturday after teaching this to Kathy.
  • The Turkish get-up is indeed Turkish.

I once taught it to a Turkish client and she said, “This is not Turkish!”

I laughed and then explained to her, that actually, yes it is. Turkish wrestlers used to train this movement in order to build strength.

Her response, “Yes, that does sound like something Turkish wrestlers would do…”

This movement is challenging but A LOT of fun! So train safe and ENJOY!!


Join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift!

Coming to Columbus, Ohio on March 21, 2015 and Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 18, 2015.

Read more and register HERE.

Working towards a goal of a pull-up? Sign up for my Attack The Bar Pull-up Program on; Level I and Level II currently available.

Learn more HERE.

Holiday Swing Challenge!

2H swing

Have you signed up for my Holiday Swing Challenge yet??

Stay sane and in shape through the holidays and join me for my Holiday Swing Challenge!

Last December I did the 10,000 swings in 28-days workout plan.  This December I will be running my own swing challenge and I hope that you will join me.

The kettlebell swing challenge is about staying committed to your fitness routine through the holidays. Just because the holidays are upon us doesn’t mean you should thrown in the towel on your existing fitness routine or wait until the New Year to start a new goal.

You can enjoy the holidays AND stay fit, or even GET FIT, it IS possible!

Subscribe to my Holiday Swing Challenge email list and I will email you, FREE of charge, the 5-day swing plan for the month on Sunday November 30, 2014.

Subscribe HERE

After you sign up, please request to join the Facebook group to post your swing count updates and win prizes!  You can join the Facebook group HERE.

The Holiday Swing Challenge runs December 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014. I will explain details in my email on November 30, 2014.


1st Place winner with the most swings completed will receive one free month’s subscription to Iron Body Studios Premium Online Training Group through

2nd Place winner with the second most swings completed will receive 50% off one month’s subscription to Iron Body Studios Premium Online Training Group through

3rd Place winner with the third most swings completed will receive 25% off one month’s subscription to Iron Body Studios Premium Online Training Group through

Check out Iron Body Studios Premium Group HERE.

I look forward to swinging with you!




Just Eat


The day before my I Am Not Afraid To #LiftBoston Workshop I went to get a manicure and while I was drying my nails I flipped through some of the fashion magazines they had at the drying station. The only time I ever read these magazines is when I’m at the nail salon, drying my nails, or at a spa or salon waiting for some other spa service appointment. EVER. I’m always curious as to what they have published about “toning your arms and abs” or any body image driven articles that are published to help women feel better about their bodies or rather overanalyze even further if their bodies are “ideal”. I feel so detached from what they publish that it always fascinates me that 1) There are women out there who read this crap and take it seriously and 2) That these magazines still exist. Then I remember that, unfortunately, as a woman who has a healthy body image (now) and a balanced approach to eating (now), I am the minority. However, this was not always the case.

As I flipped through Glamour magazine an article caught my eye, “How do you feel about your body?”. It was actually a survey that they took once 30 years ago in 1984 and again now in 2014 in which they asked women that exact question. They reported that even though over the past 30 years there has been a movement of self-acceptance for women, that overall they actually feel WORSE about themselves today in 2014. According to this survey, in 1984 41% of women were “unhappy” with their bodies and now in 2014 54% of women are “unhappy” with their bodies. Now who knows how much truth there is to their results (refer back to point #1: “People take this crap seriously??”), but it definitely sparked some thought.

Despite the “self-acceptance” movement for women over the years, what was the reason for this 13% increase??

Social media.

I’m not surprised.

We all portray our best, happiest, sexiest, selves on social media with the most flattering filter possible.

“Look at me, look at me!! I’m so sexy, I’m so beautiful and my life is so incredibly AWESOME!!!” ~Instagram User @Foxy2399

So now, since the rise of social media, not only are we subjected to air brushed, altered photo perfection in magazines, but we also have social media to fuel our poor body image.

kimscene14n-4-web (A lathering of baby oil and a crafty airbrush technique will do the trick!)

However, remember this, no one is perfect, no one is happy 100% of the time, everyone has their own challenges, and no one is going to post their dark side (well, maybe Marilyn Manson will) or their bad day on Instagram.  (For an entertaining post about how people manipulate photos on social media to put forth false body transformation and their best self on social media, read “Transformation Tuesday: I’m Calling Bullshit”.) 

As I read this article, what really hit home and got my wheels turning to rewind back 10 to 20 plus years ago and to reflect upon on my life and where I was at during that time, were the answers to the question they asked women, “How much more could you weigh and still like yourself?”

The answers: “60 percent of survey-takers of all weights said five pounds at the most. Over a third of them said not even an ounce!”

That 5lbs that we want to lose.

That 5lbs that we don’t want to gain.

How did it come about that the number on the scale defines who we are, our body image, and how we feel about our bodies and ourselves?

Reading this answer caused me to think back to a time in my life, starting when I was 15 years old until I was 28 years old (I’m 38 years old going on 39 I January) when I always watched the scale and I was literally fanatical about what I ate down to the calories in chewing gum. I do not lie.

I touched upon this topic in my post “Strength Goals Trump The Scale” and in “Unsexy Training Methods Produce Sexy Results” (when I discuss intermittent fasting), but I don’t talk too much about this aspect of that time in my life because it’s so far away from who I am now. When I reflect upon that time in my life it’s hard for me to believe that I was actually that person.

At age 15 I started to become very unhappy with my body. However, this did not start at age 15. By the time I was 15 years old I had 12 years of the culture of classical ballet drilled into me, and had instructors telling me from the time that I was 9 years old that I could stand to lose a few pounds and that my curves and muscles did not fit the mold of a classical ballet dancer’s body. Combine 12 years of those thoughts and beliefs with a changing teenage body and you have a recipe for an eating disorder.

At age 15 I thought I was fat and that my body didn’t measure up to many other girls at school, or at ballet for that matter. As a result I became obsessed with losing weight and counting calories and making sure the Stairmaster reported that I burned all the calories I ate that day so that mentally I could feel like it was OK for me to eat dinner.

A typical day for me would be a slice of pineapple for breakfast, a can of cranberry juice for lunch, ½ stick of gum (yes, a ½ stick of gum because one whole piece of gum had too many calories to have all at once!), celery and carrot sticks and a cup of pasta, measured carefully for dinner. I rarely ate meat, and I would make sure I burned every calorie I ate that day on the Stairmaster before I had dinner (the pasta).

I would go to bed hungry.  My stomach would growl and instead of eating I would force myself to go to sleep and wait until the next day to eat again.

My obsessive eating behavior was driven by poor body image. I had anorexic tendencies. This carried on for almost a whole year. I lost a tremendous amount of weight, to the point that my family and my friends were extremely worried about me. My family would constantly try to get me to eat something and I would just run upstairs and lock myself in my room. For most people with an eating disorder the main factor that drives them is control. They feel out of control in other areas of their lives or how they feel about themselves so they control their food intake; then, for people who are anorexic, the weight loss and being thin empowers them. They may still feel like they need to lose weight even if they are rail thin, but they feel empowered by controlling food and weight loss and this drives them to continue on their self-destructive path.

This was my case. I felt empowered by the compliments I received about my weight loss and the teenager in me rebelled against my parents by not eating and I felt in control because they couldn’t make me eat.

The crazy and ironic thing is that even though you think that you’re in control, your obsessive thoughts and food are actually controlling YOU instead. Filling your brain with irrational thoughts that fuel your actions.

Eventually, as the months passed, and my daily energy diminished, I became hungry and I started to eat.

Even though I gave into my eating disorder and borderline starved myself, in the end, hunger did win the battle; which is not always the case for people when they fall into this dysfunctional behavioral pattern with food. More often than not people who have an eating disorder need behavioral, nutritional, and medical help because they don’t know how to help themselves.

Hunger helped me and somehow I was mentally strong enough to help myself.

HOWEVER, even though I started to eat again, and went on to finish my senior year in high school on a healthy note, I fell right back into this dysfunctional behavioral pattern my freshman year in college.

I continued to waiver between healthy eating periods and periods when I would eat very little, or not eat, count calories, and exercise to burn off what I ate. Usually I would fall back into my dysfunctional eating patterns (or rather NOT-eating patterns) if I was experiencing change or stress in my life because controlling what I ate, what I didn’t eat, and level of exercise was the one thing I felt like I could control when I couldn’t control stress or change.

This carried on until I was about 28 years old, shortly after I had started to study kung fu, started to lift weights more consistently and more seriously, and shortly after I obtained my spin instructor certification and started to work part-time as a group fitness instructor. After a year studying kung fu, lifting weights more seriously, and teaching spin classes, I finally started to get fed up with being victim to this obsessive behavior. The more I engaged in these activities, they helped me to focus on what I could DO and not how I looked or the number on the scale. As a result, I started to become stronger mentally and build a more positive body image.

Not only was I starting my journey as a role model for health, fitness, and nutrition as a group fitness instructor, but also I just wanted to EAT and not think about it. I wanted to eat when I was hungry, stop when I was full, and just be happy and not obsess about the number on the scale and whether or not I was staying at that desired number that would help me to think that, that number equated to my “ideal body”. Not muscles or being strong, but the number on the scale defined me and how my body looked to me; A NUMBER ON THE SCALE DEFINED THAT FOR ME AT THAT TIME. That sounds so ridiculous to me now as I write this because it is SO far away from who I am now!

I had my last dance with starving myself exactly 10 years ago in November 2004. Below are pictures from this time, when I was 28 years old. I was on vacation in Aruba with an old friend of mine and I probably weighed 105lbs, 107lbs MAX. Before I left for this trip I remember weighing myself at the gym after each time I ran on the treadmill to make sure I was staying under 110lbs. I weigh 117lbs now and have for many years now, happily and consistently.

Some of you may think I look “hot” in the bikini…

and if the camera angle was just right I actually didn’t look like I was starving myself…


…but hopefully most of you see how thin, miserable and both mentally and physically unhealthy I was.

In one of the pictures you can see this misery as my pants, which are supposed to be fitted, are falling right off of me…


While I was on this vacation, I ate, and I drank. When I got back I started to make positive changes to never fall back into these unhealthy not-eating patterns ever again.

I always made healthy choices when it came to food when I did eat, but this time around I made sure that I was consistently eating. I started to really pay attention to when I was hungry and when I was full and followed that. I made sure I ate three meals a day and ate snacks in between if I was hungry for them. I followed the 80/20 or 90/10 rule by eating clean 80-90% of the time and then allowing myself to enjoy wine, pizza, ice cream, a night out at dinner 10-20% of the time and NOT obsess about it or exercise excessively to burn off the calories.

It wasn’t easy but I worked hard for it because I knew it was important for my physical and mental health and important if I wanted to be a role model that truly represented a healthy, sustainable approach to fitness and nutrition.

In addition, personally, I wanted FREEDOM; freedom from my low self-esteem and poor body image. FREEDOM from caring about what the number on the scale read.

The stronger I became mentally and physically through practicing intuitive eating, training in kung fu, and focusing on strength training rather than running my calories off on the treadmill, the happier I became and the more detached I felt from my past obsessive and unhealthy behavior.

It was hard, it took work, mental will, changes in my thought processes and behavior but I was on a mission.

It was not just a mission for me to change this behavior in myself, but it was a journey, a new chapter in my life. I wanted to be free of these unhealthy thoughts and behavior. I was excited to NOT obsess about what I ate. I was excited to finally discover what it was like to JUST EAT. Eat because I was hungry, eat because I wanted to have energy to train, eat because I wanted to have energy to laugh and enjoy social events.

In 2007 my mom became a CHEK Level II Holistic Life and Nutrition Coach and I read the book How To Eat Move and Be Healthy, by Paul Chek. Learning from my mom, and reading this book was another step in my journey that helped me to learn about a holistic approach to nutrition that included everything from sleep and managing stress to eliminating the use of a microwave and the importance of eating organic foods, grass fed meats, and body type eating.

The more I focused on having a healthy and holistic approach to nutrition, worked towards building my career in the fitness industry, and embraced being a role model to others in the realm of fitness and nutrition, the more I moved farther away from having a poor body image and engaging in obsessive and unhealthy behavior related to food.

I am mentally and physically healthy and strong now and I rarely weight myself. I’m proud of myself for maintaining 117lbs consistently over the years since that trip to Aruba, and honestly don’t worry if one day the scale reads more.


 (This is me, year 2014, at age 38, as a result of EATING and Lifting HEAVY Weights)

I recognize that there is a plus or minus 3 pounds that we all waiver between and that is the natural, normal, human body to weigh less one day, more the next and even weigh differently at different times of the day. Hormones, menstrual cycles, a full stomach, hydration, sleep and bowel movements all play a part and the bottom line is, YOUR WEIGHT DOES NOT DEFINE YOU OR YOUR BODY IMAGE. That number on the scale doesn’t mean that you have a “perfect body” or a less than “perfect body” whatever the hell a perfect body is.


There is a healthy weight for each of us to maintain as individuals as we eat the diet that is right for our body type, and follow an 80/20 or 90/10 rule so that we can ENJOY our 10-20 percent.

As a result of overcoming my past struggles and changing my mindset to focus on what I could DO and not how I looked, I achieved my black belt in kung fu…

(I never would have been able to pass the strength test for my kung fu black belt test, detailed in Strength Goals Trump The Scale, or have had the energy and strength to endure my three hour, physically intensive black belt test if I was worried about the calories in a piece of chewing gum.)

Opened my own business…

3493lbs of Kettlebells

Completed the Iron Maiden Challenge as a lightweight…

Iron Maiden Challenge 2014_Thin No Text

 (I never would have been able to complete the Iron Maiden Challenge if I continued to starve myself.)

AND I have the opportunity to help others make similar positive changes for themselves no matter what a survey in Glamour magazine says.


In addition, my past shaped my philosophy and my approach to fitness and nutrition for the BETTER, which is to maintain a mentally and physically healthy homeostasis that you can realistically apply to daily life.

I was a slave to my past obsessive behavior and I am liberated from those thoughts and that behavior now. Therefore, not only will I never let myself be prisoner of that again, but nor will I let anyone feel prisoner to similar thoughts and behavior if I can help it!

SO when people obsess to me about eating a piece of bread on a day they are not going to exercise and worry that it is too many calories to eat, my response is (are you serious???), JUST EAT.

Or when people ask me, “Do you train fasted?”, “Do you take BCAA’s?”, “What do you eat BEFORE you train?”, “What do you eat AFTER you train?”.  My response, “I JUST EAT.  I never train on an empty stomach and I don’t take BCAA’s.  I JUST EAT.”

Or when people obsess to me that they fell out of their routine for a week because of travel, being sick, or other events. My response is wake up tomorrow, leave the past week behind you, because it’s the past and you cannot change it, start fresh tomorrow and look forward to getting back into your routine!

As long as you are following the 80/20 or 90/10 rule, exercising regularly (4-5 days per week is a good number to aim for), lifting weights and accomplishing BIG things in the weight room (Be Xena, NOT Edna!), as lifting weights and putting on muscle and muscle weight will help you to ENJOY that 10-20 percent even more, then YOUR best body image and sexiest self will reveal itself.

Lifting Weights = More Muscle = Burn More Calories = Weight Loss, Leaner Body, STRENGTH & CONFIDENCE!

The number on the scale may stay the same or go up, but your clothes will fit better, and maybe even go down a size, and at the end of the day who cares what the scale says, because Strength, Confidence, and Positive Body Image trumps the scale ANY DAY.

Be Xena, Not Edna, because Xena can eat cake and Xena JUST EATS.



Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press – Part Seven: Get-ups, Cleans, and Racked Carries

I’ve been a little behind with writing these past few weeks because I’ve been working on some really exciting projects! I hope to get back on track soon.

Online Personal Training


As I mentioned in Part Six of this Press Series, Crawling for Time, Eric and I launched our online training platform through and it’s up and running and rocking and rolling! We are really excited about it!

It’s been less than one month since we launched the online training platform and we have already received positive feedback from multiple clients. You can read some online training testimonials HERE.

We are about to enter month two since its launch earlier in October. This next month we will roll out five more instructional videos and three new workout programs, Level I, Level II, and Level III. Each workout is structured over a 12 week program, that’s 36 weeks of a training program per month!

If you’re interested in learning more about and signing up for our online training platform, you can learn more and register HERE.


This past June 2014 Reebok contacted me and invited me to become a ReebokONE Ambassador. It took some time to finalize things, but I accepted their invitation and as of October 1, 2014, I am officially a ReebokONE Ambassador.

I am beyond thrilled about this opportunity and to be a ReebokONE Ambassador alongside some of the most well known names in fitness such as Nick Tumminello and Tara Stiles.


It still seems a bit surreal at the moment, but I’m really looking forward to my role as a ReebokONE Ambassador.

Once I create my profile on the ReebokONE site, the Pulse, you will be able to follow me on the Pulse where I will post instructional content and be available to answer questions you have about training. I will let you know once my profile is up and running! You can check out the ReebokONE site HERE.

Don’t worry, I will still be writing my blog along with my new responsibilities as a ReebokONE Ambassador. I always keep a running list of topics and ideas and can’t wait to be able to carve out some time to write about a few topics I have on deck.

Oh, and by the way, I stopped by Reebok Headquarters in Canton, MA yesterday (they are only about 15 minutes from Iron Body Studios) to try on some clothes to determine if I was a small or extra small in their clothing. Usually I wear an extra small but sometimes with long sleeve tops I need to wear a small because of my bangin’ guns ;).

As it turns out I am definitely an extra small in everything Reebok. But wait???? I thought lifting weights made women bulky??? Clearly I debunked that myth yesterday when I proved that lifting weights makes one’s body leaner and more compact :) .

Where in the World is Xena?


I have an opportunity to take my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift to both London, England and Queensland, Australia in 2015. London is still pending, but Australia is pretty much confirmed as long as we have enough interested.

I Am Not Afraid To #LiftAustralia will be held at Queensland Kettlebells 4/62 Didsbury St, East Brisbane, 4169. If you are interested in attending this workshop in Queensland, Australia in late 2015 then please complete the contact form below. Don’t worry, I will not add you to any other email list. I will only send you information and updates about #LiftAustralia2015.

Here are my upcoming Workshops for 2014-2015:

  • November 8, 2014, I Am Not Afraid To Lift Workshop, Iron Body Studios, Needham, MA – There is still time to register! Register HERE under EVENTS.
  • December 6, 2014, Four Hour Kettlebell Workshop, NY Sports Med and Physical Therapy, NYC – This is open to both internal NYSM and external clinicians and non-clinicias. Register HERE under EVENTS.
  • May 30, 2015, Superhuman Strength Training, Perform Better, West Warwick, RI (held at their Functional Training Institute – Registration link pending.)

Potential locations pending but not confirmed for 2015 for I Am Not Afraid To Lift:

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • North Liberty, Iowa
  • London, England
  • Queensland, Australia (please fill out the contact form above if you are interested!)

NOW onto the seventh and final installment of this seven part press series!!

This is the seventh and final installment of a seven part series about how to train for a stronger press. In this installment I will talk about how training get-ups, kettlebell cleans, and racked carries with your goal press weight or heavier can help you to train for a stronger press.

If you missed the first six installments you can read them here:

As I mentioned in my post “How I Completed The Iron Maiden Challenge As a Lightweight” I wrote myself a specific training program to build strength for a half body weight military press in order to press 24kg (53lbs) successfully. Part of this program included Turkish Get-ups, Cleans, and Racked Carries, all with my goal press weight or heavier, multiple times per week.

Part of training to press a heavy weight, particularly a half body weight press, is to become really comfortable moving around the weight that you plan to press overhead in all other ways. Training the Turkish Get-up, Kettlebell Clean, and Racked Carries with this weight or heavier helps you to do that.

Turkish Get-up

28kg Get-up_v2

Once the movement is mastered, the Turkish Get-up is meant to be trained with a heavy weight. Typically, people can complete a Turkish Get-up with a weight heavier than they can overhead press. For example, I completed a Turkish Get-up with 24kg in August 2012. Almost two years before I owned the 24kg overhead press. Now my max get-up weight is 30kg (66lbs). Read more in my post “Is Your PR Safe?”.

By building up strength to train get-ups with your goal press weight or heavier, not only will you also build up upper body strength for the overhead press, but you will also build up confidence having that heavy weight, or even heavier, overhead.

Now you don’t want to train heavy get-ups every time you train because you want to have success every time you train them.

Program in two days per week where you ladder up singles to your goal press weight or beyond if you can complete a get-up with a weight beyond your goal press weight. Make sure to train get-ups on the other days that you train as well, but just vary the load and rep count.

If you want more detail as to how I structure get-up training over the course of the week, then please join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift. This is something that I go over in detail during the Program Design segment of the workshop.

Kettlebell Clean

When it comes to having a successful press, the clean is half the battle. The clean sets the tone for how your press is going to go. If you have a crappy clean, where the kettlebell doesn’t feel light and just float up into the rack position, and it ends up sitting in the wrong place in your hand and on your forearm, that bell is not likely to go up. Sometimes when that happens it’s best to put the bell down and re-clean it.

Practicing both single kettlebell cleans with your press weight or heavier, and double kettlebell cleans with the heaviest weight that you can successfully clean, multiple times per week, will help you to get enough practice.

I did not program kettlebell cleans separately. Instead, as a result of training racked carries, single and double kettlebell press ladders, and double front squats, I gained practice with my clean by virtue of training these other movements. This way, I was able to practice heavy cleans but without any added volume that might result in overtraining.

Single Kettlebell Cleans & Racked Carries

Every time I trained racked carries, I had to clean the kettlebell into the rack position. I would focus on executing a perfect clean each time and maintaining tension after I cleaned the bell before I started off for the racked carry. I would also visualize how I would press the kettlebell from the finish of the clean each time I cleaned the kettlebell.

This careful practice and visualization helped me to train to have a successful press.

The racked carry helped me to become comfortable holding that weight so that every time I went to clean it I didn’t think, “Wow, that was heavy.”

I programmed racked carries two times per week for 3 to 5 sets. This would total 3 to 5 cleans per session, two times per week. This was enough volume to get practice without over training.

In addition, when I trained single kettlebell press ladders, I would go through the same visualization and practice and apply tension techniques for the press.

I programmed single kettlebell press ladders once per week for 5 sets of 3 rung ladders. This would total 15 cleans per side per session, once per week with a moderate weight. Again, this was enough volume to get practice without over training.

Double Kettlebell Cleans

As I mentioned in my post,Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press – Part Five: Double Kettlebell Front Squats”, training both heavy double kettlebell front squats once per week, and double kettlebell press ladders once per week, far more improved my clean for a 24kg press than training single kettlebell cleans with 28kg (62lbs). Training double kettlebell cleans forces you to have to generate enough hip power to clean twice as much weight. So when you go back to clean your goal press weight, it feels much lighter.

I programmed double kettlebell front squats once per week for 5 sets of 3-5 repetitions. This would total 5 heavy double cleans once per week. This was enough volume to get practice without over training.

I programmed double kettlebell press ladders once per week for up to 10 sets of 3 rung ladders, 1 press, 2 press, 3 press. This volume would range from anywhere from 24 to 30 cleans with a moderate weight. Given the weight that I was using, this was more than enough volume to get practice without over training.

This concludes my seven part series on how to train for a stronger press. I’m excited to wrap up this series and move onto new topics! In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about this series and if you are interested in attending my Lift Workshop in Queensland, Australia then please complete the contact form included earlier in this post.

Below is information about my Boston Lift Workshop, there is still time to register!


If you would like to learn more detail as to how I structure programming specific to pressing or to train for a half bodyweight press then I hope you’ll join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift on November 8, 2014 at Iron Body Studios in Needham, MA.

If you have a current strength goal that you are working towards, or need help deciding on one, this workshop will help you to decide on a strength goal and learn programming to work towards that strength goal.

I look forward to lifting with you on November 8!


Read more about I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC HERE!

Learn more HERE ==>

Register HERE under EVENTS ==>

Early bird pricing through October 1 – $149.00

Regular price after October 1 – $199.00

I will see you on November 8 & I look forward to lifting with you!




#LiftBoston: Lift, Laugh, & Learn


Last week I taught a workshop to the trainers at Mark Fisher Fitness in New York City. While I was there, Brian Patrick Murphy, Co-Owner of Mark Fisher Fitness asked me if I would be willing to record a podcast with him for MFF Best of Life Radio. I was thrilled by his invitation, so of course I said “YES!”.

We talked about my Lift Workshop, Xena, empowering women through strength, the Iron Maiden Challenge, Iron Body Studios, a recent Facebook rant I had about how some people are always looking for a bargain or a discount, making your health and fitness a PRIORITY, my business and personal life with Eric, and on being HUMAN!

We laughed, we cried, we cursed, and we had an AMAZING TIME! If you have never met me before and if you would like to learn more about my background, a little about my journey, my training and life philosophies, then I hope you’ll listen in and join us for this fun filled podcast because it will help you to learn about me, where I come from, and what #BeXena is all about!!

Check it out here in Episode 9 of MFF Best of Life Radio –>


Now, I’ve received some inquiries about my workshop “I Am Not Afraid To Lift” on November 8, 2014 at Iron Body Studios and I thought it would be a good idea to answer these questions in this post.

“What will I learn at the Lift Workshop?” Read more in my post “What Will I Learn At The Workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift?”

“Is the workshop too advanced for me since I am a beginner lifter?”

I Am Not Afraid to Lift is for ALL levels.

For each “goal movement” taught, I will also teach regressions for that movement, and then also how to progress from step one so that you can work towards and complete the goal movement.

For example:

If you are an experienced lifter you will learn how the double kettlebell dead-lift can improve your barbell dead-lift.

If you have never dead-lifted before you will learn the hip hinge and kettlebell dead-lift.

If you are an experienced lifter you will learn techniques to improve your kettlebell press.

If you are new to lifting, you will learn HOW to do a kettlebell press.

For the workout segments if we are doing a group workout that is squats and pull-ups and you have never done a pull-up before, you will work on assisted pull-ups or flexed or straight arm hollow hangs.

There were many women at my I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC  workshop who had never done an assisted pull-up before and they did an assisted pull-up for the first time at the #LiftNYC workshop. It was an amazing moment for them!

Here are some excerpts of feedback from two women who attended the #LiftNYC workshop, one of whom was very new to lifting weights:

“I am quite thankful to have taken your workshop, that was a gift that keeps giving.” ~Melanie T.

“I wanted to thank you for a really interesting day on Saturday. I have been steadily working on at getting out of pain and gaining strength. I have been doing all of this work in my apartment! So, it was quite a revelation to be in a room full of women with similar goals.

As a teacher, I know how hard it can be to accommodate students who are on the extreme end of the spectrum-experts and novices. Compared to the other women at the workshop, I was definitely in the novice category. Even so, I never felt like I couldn’t participate and I came away with so much knowledge and a renewed sense of purpose. You and your boyfriend were patient and attentive and I so appreciated your guidance throughout the day.” ~Emily S.

If you are new to lifting and working towards your first pull-up, you will learn how to get there. If you have been training bodyweight pull-ups for some time, you will learn how to progress to weighted pull-ups.

The Lift Workshop is an opportunity to come together to lift, laugh, and learn.

It’s an opportunity to empower and inspire each other through strength goals, strength training, our own personal journeys, and to show that we are Not Afraid To Lift.

I Am Not Afraid To Lift Workshop Trailer

Read Schedule Details and Registration Link HERE.

I email out a survey and a very detailed agenda after participants register.

I hope you’ll join me on November 8, 2014 at Iron Body Studios! I look forward to lifting with you!

Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press – Part Six: Crawling for Time

I’m a little behind wrapping up this press series and that’s because Eric and I have been working overtime to rollout Iron Body Studios’ interactive online training platform through We finally launched the platform a few weekends ago on October 4, 2014 and we are REALLY excited about it! The platform is perfect for people who want the flexibility of training on their own time but also want the guidance of a coach to write their program and provide feedback. The online training platform is appropriate for all levels, even if you have never learned the kettlebell swing or the Turkish get-up before, we will teach you via the online training platform.


You can learn more about and sign up for our interactive online training platform HERE.

There is also still time to register for my strength workshop I Am Not Afraid to Lift on November 8 at Iron Body Studios! Details and registration link at the end of this post… Hope to see you there!

NOW onto the sixth installment of this seven part press series!!

This is the sixth installment of a seven part series about how to train for a stronger press. In this installment I will talk about how incorporating crawling for time into your training program, can help you to improve your upper body press strength.

If you missed the first five installments you can read them here:

As I mentioned in my post “How I Completed The Iron Maiden Challenge As a Lightweight” I wrote myself a specific training program to build strength for a half body weight military press in order to press 24kg (53lbs) successfully.  Part of this program included leopard crawling for time two times per week.

Why Crawling?

Crawling helps to build upper body strength, in particular shoulder and triceps strength, that will translate to both the press and the pull-up.  In addition, crawling is considered an Original Strength (OS) reset so it helps to enforce the necessary cross pattern (opposite arm and leg) that we need and use when crawling, walking, and running. Therefore it preps your Central Nervous System for exercise in order to limit the risk of injury.  Eric and I refer to crawling and other OS Resets as “Neural-Prep”. You can learn more about crawling from the instructional videos on the the Original Strength website HERE.

How Did I Program Crawling?

I programmed in leopard crawling for time two times per week. On the days that I crawled, I would start my sessions with crawling. The first week I started with 5 minutes of continuous crawling and I built up to 10 minutes of continuous crawling by adding on one minute each week. I would primarily leopard crawl and use baby crawling as active recovery if I needed a break from leopard crawling during the timed crawl.

Below is a video that I filmed for the New York City, I Am Not Afraid To Lift Workshop participants, as part of a series of follow-up guidance that I sent out after the workshop.  This video will give you some guidance on how I structured my crawling sessions…

In the next and final installment of this seven part series about how to train for a stronger press, I will talk about Get-ups, Cleans, and Racked Carries.  In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about Crawling for time!


If you would like to learn more detail as to how I structure programming specific to pressing or to train for a half bodyweight press then I hope you’ll join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift on November 8, 2014 at Iron Body Studios in Needham, MA.

If you have a current strength goal that you are working towards, or need help deciding on one, this workshop will help you to decide on a strength goal and learn programming to work towards that strength goal.

I look forward to lifting with you on November 8!


Read more about I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC HERE!

Learn more HERE ==>

Register HERE under EVENTS ==>

Early bird pricing through October 1 – $149.00

Regular price after October 1 – $199.00

I will see you on November 8 & I look forward to lifting with you!




Is Your PR Safe?

28kg Get-up_v2

It’s exciting to hit a Personal Record or a Personal Best in your training session, but is your PR safe?

You see all sorts of ridiculous, unsafe, feats of strength on the internet. Many that make me shake my head and wonder why someone would risk injury for one unsafe PR.

No matter how strong and skilled or advanced a lifter you are, safety should always be your number one priority in training, especially when you are going to attempt a lift with a new, heavier weight for the first time.

I have been working towards a 32kg (70lbs) Turkish Get-up. I have tried it a few times, but the bell still feels so huge on my arm that I cannot get past the roll up to my forearm.

Last week we received a shipment of 30kg (66lbs) kettlebells and since 28kg (62lbs) get-ups have been feeling strong in my training lately, this week I decided to see if I could do a get-up with 30kg.

How did I approach this PR attempt to ensure that it was safe?

First I warmed up by doing single get-ups starting with 22kg (49lbs) and then moving up a weight ladder of 24kg (53lbs), 26kg (58lbs), and then 28kg (62lbs). If the 28kg felt strong I was going to try 30kg.

The 28kg felt strong so I then asked Eric if he was available to spot me for the 30kg get-up. You’ll see in the video below, as I went through the lift, it felt very strong and I felt confident that I didn’t need him on high alert through the lift. Even though I communicated this to him, I still asked him to stay there and spot me just in case.

30kg – 66kg Turkish Get-up, Right Side


I also tried the left side, and even though the roll up looks strong in the video, my left arm did not feel quite as stable as my right and I was fairly sure that I might lose the bell after I stood up or on the way down. So, instead of risking this I decided to stop the lift. See the video below for how I did this… I will try it again on another day when the left side feels just as stable and strong as the right side AND when I have someone to spot me.

30kg – 66kg Turkish Get-up, Left Side Attempt


Some things to keep in mind to ensure a safe PR:

  • When attempting a lift that requires a spotter, such as a Turkish Get-up, Kettlebell Bent Press, or Barbell Back Squat, make sure to have a spotter and to establish with your spotter BEFORE you start your lift how you will communicate with him or her if the lift goes bad.
  • When attempting a lift that is hard to have a spotter help you, such as a Heavy Dead-Lift or an Overhead Kettlebell Press, if you know the lift is not going to be successful, aim for a “successful failure”. Don’t risk injury and continue to pull weight if you lose your form with a dead-lift. Stop the lift immediately and lower the weight to the ground or drop the weight.
  • If you are attempting a max overhead press but you are pushing your body away from the bell, leaning too much, and using your back to get the weight up, then don’t waste energy or risk injury on pushing a heavy weight through a bad pattern. In the case of a kettlebell press, stop the press, lower the bell to the rack position, put it down and walk away.

Below is an example of a “successful failure”. This press was not going the way I wanted to go, and rather than waste energy and risk injury on a bad lift, I stopped the press.

Successful Failure


 These are just a few suggestions and examples to help you keep it safe in your training.

Stay safe and lift STRONG!


If you would like to learn more detail as to how I structure programming specific to turkish get-ups and how they help to build symmetrical strength, or to train for a half bodyweight turkish get-up then I hope you’ll join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift on November 8, 2014 at Iron Body Studios in Needham, MA.

If you have a current strength goal that you are working towards, or need help deciding on one, this workshop will help you to decide on a strength goal and learn programming to work towards that strength goal.

I look forward to lifting with you on November 8!


Read more about I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC HERE!

Learn more HERE ==>

Register HERE under EVENTS ==>

Early bird pricing through October 1 – $149.00

Regular price after October 1 – $199.00

I will see you on November 8 & I look forward to lifting with you!