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Becoming a Kettlebell Coach

Yet again the question of becoming a kettlebell instructor has been raised.

In a previous post I made clear of my position on the whole certification process that is currently in vogue. It seems, as far as I can see, any man and his dog may pay the requisite amount of cash, survive a beasting and walk away calling themselves an instructor. These “courses” are largely unregulated and as such there is no minimum standard on the entry requirement, or indeed the exit requirement.

The result, a huge amount of muppets walking around calling themselves an Instructor, but without the expertise that can only be gained by spending time under the Iron.

There are exceptions to the rule, Steve Cotter’s IKFF CKT is a tough ask, not only in the detail covered but also in the physical ability to perform the lifts. Pavel’s RKC is also a testing course, although I’ve never done it personally, but I have read their entry requirements (and tried them out), there’s no ay a newcomer would pass them.

So in designing my own certification process, I’ve had to think long and hard. To be fair, I’m still not finished tweaking it. But I am now going to lay out what I expect from a student before I’ll allow them to use the Wild Geese name to advertise themselves as a coach.

To pass the certification process, I expect each participant to teach either a class or workshop. Not their own class, oh no, one of mine.

And yes, I may plant spies in the group. Students that are very experienced and operating under instruction to test the instructor to their limit. So not only is technical knowledge required, but teaching skill will be tested.

For those of you new to kettlebelling, I recommend you go elsewhere to get certified, there is a damn good chance I will fail you. Go on some one elses weekend instructor program and your almost guaranteed a pass. Come on mine, it’s a longer commitment, and you still might fail.

To gain the required technical knowledge, and even to pick up the various teaching techniques and cues, I run a series of workshops. As I grew up in Martial Arts, these workshops have been given coloured grades:

· Level 1 – White – Swing, Squat, Press, Power Breathing This is the absolute basic level, no knowledge of weight training is assumed before taking this workshop so it is open to absolute beginners. More experienced lifters can use this workshop to review technique and pick up on the teaching cues necessary to train an absolute beginner.

· Level 2 – Blue – One Hand Swing, Clean, Push Press & Turkish Get Up Building on Level One you will see advancements on the techniques previously learned as well as taking in two new drills, the Clean and the Turkish Get Up. While having done the level one (White) is not strictly necessary, novice lifters may struggle without it. Again, the focus is on detail and ensuring participants leave with a thorough understanding of the content.

· Level 3 – Purple – Jerks, Snatch, Long Cycle, Anatomical Breathing & Timed Sets These are the classical lifts which differentiate Kettlebell lifting from other forms of strength training. A Level 3 (Purple) participant will need to have a background in strength training, and will have one the Level 2 (Blue) workshop. This is not open to novices.

· Level 4 – Brown – Doubles This level is a recap of previous information, and as such is only open to those who have experience, ideally having completed all previous levels. For the Level 4 (Brown) participants will review the basic strength and conditioning lifts of levels 1 & 2 as well as the classic lifts of level 3, only using a pair of bells. A greater focus will be given to the Classic lifts as these are the more technical and are the most difficult to master. It is recommended that potential instructor revisit this Level more than once.

· Level 5 – Black This level is still under construction. The simple reason is that while there is plenty more to teach, this is the final stage before a participant can apply for the instructor certification. During the Level 5 (Black) workshop I expect participants to be interactive, arriving to the workshop with questions, as well as learning variations on past drills. I am resisting the idea of setting a defined syllabus for this level, preferring instead to have a rough plan that can bend and flex according to the gathered participants.

Upon completion of Levels 1 – 4 a participant will have all the tools in their arsenal to build any Kettlebell training program, they should have a deep understanding on each and every lift covered as well as the desired result of performing that lift. Level 5 is the equivalent of the Martial Arts Black Belt. In other words it shows that the Lifter has a mastery of the basics, now is the time for them to go out and find their own way in the world of Kettlebell lifting. This could be instructing, competing in Girevoy Sport or turning to shows or strength, the choice is in the hands of the participant. One thing that will remain consistent is that each participant must show constant improvement, if they attend a level 4, but can’t do techniques from a level 2, they will fail.

If becoming an instructor is on the cards then this is what you will have to do:

You will have reach the Level 5 or Black Bell status, so you ought to know the basics inside out, yet always be looking to build on what you know and deepen your understanding. It is now you may apply to become an instructor. This is will be a two part exam.

1. You will be invited to teach either two of my regular classes or either a level 1 or level 2 workshop. Your performance here will be monitored closely, your ability to guide the students, pick up and correct errors and keep everyone involved motivated to perform.

2. You will be spot quizzed, asked about program development, mobility, assistance work, breathing techniques and more. This quiz will be changed on an irregular basis, but the knowledge and understanding required to pass it wont.

If you have survived this far, and demonstrated the attitude and aptitude required to teach, you will be granted the status of Wild Geese Kettlebell Coach. But do not rest on your laurels, as you will be using our name, we expect a standard of quality to be maintained, failure to do so will result in the title being removed.

All in all, I expect very few to take the challenge of becoming a Wild Geese Kettlebell Coach, most preferring to take a much easier route of a mere weekend course complete with a guaranteed pass. Plus there’s always the chance that you may just fail.

If you wish to become a coach, or are just looking to learn the art of Kettlebell lifting the dates for upcoming workshops are as follows:

White Bell (level 1) – 18/4/10, 13/6/10 Blue Bell (Level 2) – 16/5/10

More will be announced shortly, plus you may arrange to host one or more workshops at your own facility.



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