The RKC culture: What does it mean to be an “RKC”?

Often you will hear within the media or just generally, “If you want to learn how to train with kettlebells properly and effectively, then contact your local RKC Instructor to learn.” What does this mean, “RKC”? Unless you are an RKC Instructor yourself, or a client of an RKC instructor, then it is very likely that not only, do you not know what “RKC” stands for, but also the depth of what it means beyond the tool of the kettlebell.

High Standards

For those of you who are not familiar with the RKC, “RKC” stands for “Russian Kettlebell Challenge”, and the RKC is a School of Strength. RKC Instructors, as administered by Dragon Door and Chief Instructor Pavel Tsatsouline, are the gold standard of kettlebell instructors. As an RKC, these certified instructors are required to undergo a very rigorous, both mentally and physically, certification training, in order to receive their RKC Instructor Certification. In fact, this certification is so challenging that there is a 30% failure rate. Personally, the only thing that I could equate to training and testing for my RKC Instructor Certification was the four-year journey towards my Kung Fu Black Belt. In addition, RKC Instructors are required to re-certify every two years in order to maintain a current and active RKC Instructor status. To my knowledge, and as someone who held a non-RKC kettlebell certification prior to obtaining my RKC Instructor Certification, there are no other kettlebell certifications that hold their instructors to such standards. Furthermore, in general, there are very few other certifications in the fitness industry that hold its members/instructors to such high standards. This is one of the many things that I find admirable about the RKC organization, as this alone demonstrates an RKC’s Power of Commitment.

Evolving Skills and Techniques

Why have this requirement? Like a foreign language, or martial art, kettlebell training is a perishable skill; if you don’t practice and maintain the skill, you lose it. As an instructor, you don’t ever want to “lose” your skill, but rather you want to be able to maintain the highest possible level of the skill that you are teaching to your clients. Furthermore, the science of exercise is constantly evolving and changing. Based upon this evolution, changes to curriculum and technique should naturally develop and be implemented. How is the instructor supposed to maintain existing skills and learn new techniques unless trained and tested regularly?

A Strong Culture and Effective Training Philosophy

Holding the certification of being an RKC Kettlebell instructor goes far beyond the tool of the kettlebell and the skills required to use a kettlebell. A few months ago I read a fantastic blog in Fast Company Magazine entitled, “Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch”. The focal point of the blog was on “Culture” and how it relates to an organization’s success or failure. In sum, a strong, cohesive culture results in an organization’s success whereas a stagnant or non-existent culture contributes to an organization’s failure.

Shawn Parr, the article’s author, identified the items that make up the culture of a strong and successful organization. As I read, I kept thinking, “The RKC has this… The RKC has that… The RKC maintains a strong culture.”

In relation to the RKC training philosophy, my colleague and fellow RKC Instructor, Greg Robins, stated:

The Kettlebell itself really isn’t the focus of the RKC community in my opinion. It’s just the chunk of iron they use to facilitate a lot of things that can be done with other shapes and sizes of iron. The RKC community has a fantastic approach to training, and if you don’t dig deeper into what it’s about I think you’re doing yourself a disservice.” Greg Robins, RKC, NASM-CPT, IYCA

I think Greg is right on. All of the techniques, and skills that the RKC teaches as part of its RKC Method, is applicable to other training tools. Generally, the RKC Method of kettlebell training is a Hardstyle of kettlebell training. Hardstyle is defined as Bracing all of the time and using every muscle (total body) in order to perform movements. As Greg highlights, the hardstyle technique, and other training components of the RKC training philosophy, can be applied to any other training tool.

The RKC Code of Conduct and the Collective Power of Commitment

Beyond the emphasis on the hardstyle technique, there other components of the RKC training philosophy that make it unique and effective. In addition, there are specific components of the RKC Culture that make it a connected community with a clear communication of its purpose and value system.

As I mentioned earlier, as an RKC Instructor we all share the Power of Commitment. Commitment not only to maintaining the integrity of our certification but also to our training mission: to help people be better, feel better, move better and be stronger. As an RKC Instructor, we are held to a Code of Conduct for which we are expected to adhere to or else we risk losing our RKC Certification. As I am sure all RKC’s are, I am honored to follow this code of conduct. As RKC’s we worked very hard to obtain the certifications that we hold and it is an honor to maintain the standard of skills required for our certification, as well as to follow the code of conduct.

The RKC code of conduct is based on a few principles. First, we are required to represent the RKC with professionalism in both our professional and personal lives. Moreover, we must maintain modesty – teach, not impress (as there are many extremely strong and talented instructors, both men and women, within the RKC community!). Thirdly, we must continuously improve our skills and enhance our strength. Next, RKC’s should conduct themselves as gentleman and ladies in public places, including the internet. Lastly, an RKC should remain humble enough to say “I don’t know” if it is out of the realm of their expertise.

So as you can see, the RKC is not just about the kettlebell. The kettlebell is the training tool which RKCs are passionate about and use to demonstrate the training and cultural philosophies of the organization. The RKC’s Code of Conduct, dynamic and engaged leadership, and an individual RKC’s Power of Commitment, combines with the RKC community’s collective focus, motivation, connection, spirit, and values, in upholding responsibility and accountability while celebrating success and the process of learning from failure. These characteristics and ideas foster a strong, motivated, cohesive and successful RKC culture. Its instructors are incredibly intelligent, professional, strong (both in mind and body), and remarkable people. I am proud to be in such great company.

If you are interested in learning more about this culture and the individuals who make up this culture, contact YOUR local RKC Instructor today ;)…

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