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This past weekend I was invited to assist at the Philly/Downingtown, Pennsylvania RKC. It was both an honor and a privilege to be able to participate in the workshop as an assistant instructor.

I assisted on Team Ross with Team Lead Delaine Ross, fellow Assistant RKC Instructor John Dixon and 11 amazingly dedicated and driven RKC candidates, Kathy Dooley, Jillian Gletow, Kristin Dankanich, Crystal Kahn, Mandi Landuyt, Anton Varzunov, Ryan Brown, Carla Grimm, Mark Fogle, Tony Smith and David Kenebrew.

Each time I attend an RKC event it keeps getting better; from participating as a candidate at both my RKC Level I and RKC Level II workshops, to this past weekend being on the other side, and participating as an assistant instructor. Each time, not only did I reunite with people who have been there all along with me during my journey as an RKC but I also met new people and formed bonds with people that no one can understand unless they too have attended an RKC event.

As an assistant instructor it was so exciting to see the thrill, nervousness and fear that the candidates have in anticipation of the workshop. Thrill because of the months of preparation for the weekend and anticipation of what they will learn. Nervousness because of not knowing what to expect or what curve ball will be thrown at them while they are there; and Fear because they care so much about succeeding that they are afraid to fail.

It was even more exciting, and most of all rewarding, to help the candidates prepare for their test day, and beyond as an RKC Instructor, over the course of the weekend; and to watch them turn the thrill, nervousness and fear into success and accomplishment. Even if a candidate does not walk out the door on the final day with a certificate, that candidate still accomplished a great deal through the course of the weekend and should still view completing the 3-day workshop a huge success.

The RKC candidates come from all over and every single candidate at the workshop has their own resounding reason as to why they are there. Even though they know that their RKC workshop experience will change their lives, they don’t understand how deeply until they are on their way home after the event is over.

Reflecting back upon the weekend, it made me nostalgic for my own RKC Level I workshop experience (Read more here about my Level I and Level II experiences). As someone who had been through it, I knew they had nothing to fear, but I also knew exactly how the candidates felt and why, and I understood that they have to go through their own process of emotions and evolve in their own time over the intense 3 day course.

RKC Philly/Downingtown Day One: I watched the candidates on day one of this past RKC workshop portray nervousness masked with excitement and positivity as they weighed in, performed their strength test and then went through their drills and workouts throughout the day. The swing, clean and press were taught on this day and as a team we helped them to correct many things, not knowing if the corrections would stick. The candidates left that day exhausted in mind and in body, but certainly not as exhausted as they were when they left on day two.

RKC Philly/Downingtown Day Two: Day Two the candidates arrived that morning (seemingly) fresh and when we started out with team practice of the drills that were taught the day before, people’s corrections started to fall into place and everyone’s skills were starting to look better. The training volume on day two was a bit more intense, in that the candidates learned the get-up, the squat and the snatch. Subsequently, afternoon training was filled with snatch practice. As a result of the intense afternoon training, the candidates were exhausted, mentally and physically. When the candidates were told that they had one more workout to do before they were dismissed, they just looked at us with a blank stare and the expressionless response “ok…”. Needless to say they all made it through the final workout and were dismissed with enough time to get a good night’s rest before the final day, Day 3, Test Day.

RKC Philly/Downingtown Day Three: On this final day of the workshop the words that I heard the most from the candidates were, “I just want to get this over with. Is it time to test yet??”, and with reason. The anticipation of testing, especially the snatch test, is the worst. All the candidates survived the testing and whether they were leaving that day with a certificate or not they ALL had smiles and looks of relief on their faces.

There were two themes discussed over the course of the weekend that resonated with me, as they are themes that I feel very strongly about and that I am always reminding my clients about.

The first one is “Breathing makes or breaks an athlete.” Breathing and the correct type of breathing for the activity at hand are tremendously important. Learning diaphramatic breathing vs. chest breathing and the different between when to use relaxation breathing and when to use power breathing and controlling the intensity of your power breathing can help you to have great successes in your training or challenges. Be the master of your breath, it is there to help you succeed.

The second one is Kettlebell training is a mindful practice.”  As a former ballet dancer turned martial artist and RKC, it is second nature for me to apply thought and care to my training. Kettlebell training is not just a “workout” it is a mindful practice that results in improvement of skills and strength. Just as one would practice a form in kung fu in order to improve, one should view his/her kettlebell training as practice to improve his/her skills and subsequent strength.

Upon wrapping up this post, I would like to give special mention to one candidate, on my team, Team Ross, David Kenebrew who helped me to PR my press and strict one arm press the 20kg (44lbs) bell. As an instructor, we should never forget that we too can learn from our students just as they learn from us.

Finally, I would like to congratulate newly minted RKC Sharon Shiner, who worked with tremendous dedication to prepare for her RKC certification in Philly/Downingtown, PA. Thanks to her training with Mike Perry, RKC Level II at Skills of Strength in Chelmsford, MA, the occasional class with Eric Gahan and myself at Iron Body Studios, and most of all, her own personal dedication to her training, she passed her RKC Certification with flying colors and is now officially an RKC instructor. She also PR’d on her press this past weekend and strict one arm pressed the 18kg (39.6lbs) bell. Congratulations Sharon!

Congratulations Team Ross and to all the other newly minted RKC’s from RKC Philly/Downingtown 2012. You worked hard and you are now one more step further along in your journey as RKCs. Here’s to the next one! Power to us!