The Promotion

I attended and passed my Level I Russian Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification 5 years ago in 2011; before StrongFirst was established and when Pavel Tsatsouline was still teaching kettlebell certifications.

The weekend of my Level I certification 5 years ago in St. Paul, Minnesota was a whirlwind of excitement, anxiety, fear, confusion, swings, tummy-time and waking up every morning feeling like I had been run over by 3 MACK trucks as a result of the hours of training from the previous day.  It was also truly a bonding experience for my Iron Body Studios’ Co-Owner and boyfriend, Eric Gahan, and I.  Nothing says “I love you” like going to sleep next to your loved one when both of you have doused your hands in lotion and put socks on them so that they can heal overnight from all the swing work from the day; or when your loved one asks you to put your vibrams in a plastic bag so that they don’t stink up the hotel room.  Yes, my vibrams were smelly, his smelled like clean cotton, for real.

That weekend had a tremendous impact on me as a person and as a coach. What I learned at that certification changed how I train my clients and how I train myself.

That weekend I also learned about what was the Iron Maiden Challenge directly from Pavel. It went something like this…

Before we broke for lunch on the first day Pavel announced that we were going to break for lunch and then after lunch they would hold the Beast Tamer/Iron Maiden Challenge. He then went on to ask the group of 107 people (84 instructor candidates plus 23 instructors) if there was anyone in the room who was going to attempt the Beast Tamer/Iron Maiden Challenge after lunch.  I did not know what the Iron Maiden Challenge was so in front of 107 people I raised my hand and asked Pavel,

“What is the Iron Maiden Challenge?”

Pavel responded,

“If you do not know what the Iron Maiden Challenge is then you will not be attempting it.”

Embarrassing but also hilarious. At that moment he still did not tell me what it was, in fact he told me I would have to read my manual to find out; which is exactly what I did.

On the last day of the certification I told him that to me he was the Bruce Lee of kettlebells. His response,

“Thank you very much Artemis, but Bruce Lee had better hair than I do.”

The man has a sense of humor. 🙂

After reading my manual thoroughly 😉 and experiencing the certification weekend, which is something you cannot understand until you experience it first hand, I walked away with the goal of wanting to complete the Iron Maiden Challenge and with the aspiration to be a Team Leader.

The Iron Maiden Challenge was something that I knew was completely in my control. It was something that was achievable if I built the strength and perfected the skill of the lifts.

Being promoted to Team Leader, that was something less in my control. There are so many qualified instructors that it was something that I did not expect to be offered unless I really earned the promotion.

As such, I had hoped that maybe if I did the right things to earn this promotion it would happen but my primary focus was on building Iron Body Studios, my workshop series I Am Not Afraid To Lift, and writing and building the readership of my blog.

Fast forward to the present and many things have changed from that day…

What was the RKC split off to be two organizations, StrongFirst and the RKC.

Pavel has since moved away from teaching kettlebell certifications and moved on to other significant tasks as the Chairman of StrongFirst. In fact I think my Level II in 2012 was the last Level II he taught.

It took me three years to complete but I completed the Iron Maiden Challenge in 2014…

As for the role of Team Leader, the desire to be promoted to this position remained in the back of my mind but I stayed focused on my business and helping those kettlebell instructor candidates who came to me for help preparing for their certification, to prepare.

Unexpectedly in August 2015 I received a call from Brett Jones, Chief SFG, with the invitation to be a Team Leader. I was very surprised, yet of course excited, because I know StrongFirst must choose from many qualified instructors. I’m sure the decision is not easy.

After I got off the phone with Brett and had some time to let everything sink in, I felt just like I felt when I received my Level I Certification… this picture says it all ;)…


I accepted the position and StrongFirst announced leadership promotions last week. You can read more in the announcement HERE.


I am thrilled and honored to be a part of the StrongFirst Leadership team in the role of Team Leader. I’m excited to see what this next chapter of strength and leadership has in store. Congratulations to everyone who was promoted and may 2016 be a very strong year!



2 Comments on “The Promotion

  1. Artemis,

    Congratulations on your promotion to Team Leader! I love your story about Pavel and the Iron Maiden Challenge. I learned of the Iron Maiden Challenge while reading about your I Am Not Afraid to Lift workshop (which I attended this past November). Lucky for me I was on my computer so I could google it.

    You are a motivator for me…how is your barbell deadlift? I wish you continued professional and personal success. There is no doubt your success is due to focus, hard work, and a desire for excellence. I anticipate many more “promotions” for you in your pursuit of wellness and strength. I look forward to our paths crossing again soon. May you continue to “go at it”…whatever “it” may be.

    Mary E. Surprenant

    On Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 4:36 PM, IronBodyByArtemis wrote:

    > Artemis Scantalides posted: ” I attended and passed my Level I Russian > Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification 5 years ago in 2011; before StrongFirst > was established and when Pavel Tsatsouline was still teaching kettlebell > certifications. The weekend of my Level I certification 5 y” >

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