Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Beauty of Simplicity.

It's been nine months since I signed off of this blog; this will be my first post since then. Nine months: the requisite time to give birth to something new and although this blog will be about the same things as it always has been: the journey of my training and my thoughts about it, it will also be different. The gestation period between my last post and this one has given birth to a new me, born from silence, observation,contemplation and, as always, lots and lots of training.

And although the difficulties life has presented in the last year did not allow me to reach the goals I had set the year prior it did strip things down to the most bare essentials, the key ingredients from which every other thing is made from and counts on. And nothing became more clear than one of my favorite and most frequently used sayings : training is the source.

The source of strength, of will, of insight, of clarity and of power, both literal and figurative.

I never stopped training this year although my sessions became truncated. I still snatched and swung the bell twice a week, still trained my Yoga and Rifga 4-5 times a week and still used my clubbells twice weekly as well. The intensity was not as high, the numbers nowhere near as important as they had been, the personal records almost non existant except for the most important PR:

I did not miss any workouts, no matter how hard it was to make them.

Things got stripped down to their most basic, their most simple.And at the base of that simplicity I found what I always knew to be the core: Beauty.

The beauty of movement,especially pain free, natural primal movement patterns done with grace and ease and determination. Over and over and over again.

And in those simple beautiful movements I remembered what was really important in training; that consistency trumps intensity; all the time. That intensity is born from consistency. That one cannot force it, one has to lay in wait for it, patiently, instinctively, calmly and be ready to grab it when Grace lays it down in front of you to take it.

I had forced it for so many years and paid the price. That was what I thought athletes, especially athletes with aspirations to Greatness( whatever that really means) did. And I paid the price. No more.

I have finally found how wonderful the most basic, simple things in life, even an athletic life, really are, and how they should not be sacrificed for the call of the ego unless one really does not mind paying for it for the rest of their life.

Most are fine about it til the rent comes due. Then it's a different story. Me too. No more.

I have a client who has torn up their knee again, for the third time playing a ballistic sport. They need more surgery and if they are not really really careful they will soon have NO cartiledge left and will eventually need a knee replacement.

I asked them if they were ready to come back to simple basic training with the most safest implement I know of, the kettlebell and forsake the ego based competition they are addicted to. Their answer was: 'um, I'm not sure. I so love to kick other peoples asses'.

Sure, most do. The problem is that these days they spend more time in rehab than training and will continue to until they are FORCED to step back. They could CHOOSE to step back now but they can't. CAN'T.Not won't.

They don't appreciate the beauty of what they still have left in their body. The ability to use all their primal patterns, strongly, easily, painfree. But not with the intensity of their youth.And not in the high intensity world they crave. They will keep being self destructive until they have no choice left and can say " I wanted to keep going but I couldn't". Seems easier than voluntarily stepping back.But it isn't.

To me it's a simple choice now. To them, not so. But soon.

The most simple things in life are the most precious to me.That is so clear, and one of those simple, beautiful things is being able to swing, snatch a kettlebell.Nothing gives me so much while taking so little from me.

And yet, as my dentist who trains with me says "most people won't do this, it's too hard, even though it would change their life it they would."

And he is right. It's too simple for most to appreciate. and too hard. Just like life. And just that beautiful.


Iron Tamer said...

Awesome words Rif....

Jordan Vezina said...

Good to have the blog back Rif, and that's a great start. I've been fighting this battle with a few clients as well. It's hard to get the zealot to understand that dropping the throttle back a bit now will benefit them much more in the future.

Mark Reifkind said...

Thanks David, much appreciated. it's time to get bakc in the mix.

Mark Reifkind said...


thanks man and yeah it's such tough battle with clients to get them to really understand the importance of the deeper levels of training,not just the "shiny new things" as MRKC Brett would say.

Casey said...

Great read, and I look forward to future posts!

The wise Walter Sobchak once said “The beauty of this is its simplicity. If a plan gets too complex something always goes wrong.”

Chris said...

Great to have you back Rif - you have been missed.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks casey and chris,I thought I might get back to it someday just didnt know when.this seems like the right time, can't say exactly why.
it became harder NOT to blog than it was TO blog,lol.

Tracy Reifkind said...

My Love,

It was great having you, your wisdom and experience all to myself for the past few months, but nothing makes me more proud than how you share with others, what I already know which is, how brilliant you are and how easily you express that through your writing.

I always say I'm the luckiest girl in the world, for many reasons, but I hope your former and new readers also realize how lucky they are that you're back and willing to give, again, your time and talent.

Brett said...

Glad you are blogging again. I'm currently working with Betsy Collie and have worked some with Tim Anderson. Both are awesome, and speak very highly of you.

I told them I've never met you, but your blog got me interested in the bells a long time ago. I finally got serious this year ... Hope to get to meet you at a cert one day! Look forward to learning more from you.

Brett Cornwright

Mark Reifkind said...


words cannot express just how much YOUR words mean to me,especially to see them written.I've learned so much from you these past months(especially those numerous hours bikrams and max vo2 workouts) that there is so much to think and write about.
writing here will really help me help you write the swing book which has to be, and will be done.
it's time.

all my love


mc said...

welcome back to the virtual


Mark Reifkind said...


thanks for posting. Betsy and Tim Rock! great people.and I also hope to get the chance to meet and work with you someday at a cert. it's a very small world it seems.
There is just nothing I've seen in the last 38 years of training that comes close to kbs. nothing.

Mark Reifkind said...

hey mc
thanks for the kinds words. I'm not I'm ready for the virtual world again( or it's ready for me) but here goes anyway.Plus I do need to write a real book too, it seems.

Boris T. said...

"consistency trumps intensity"

Truer words have never been spoken, good to see your blog back.

Good luck.

Mark Reifkind said...

you got it man! thank you for that.
and thanks for posting. People would tell me all the time that they read my blog but never commented. It's really motivating when people comment.

Diana said...

Mark, I have been so lucky to learn from Tracey's training and advice, now to have you blogging your thoughts is a great opportunity for me learn even more.
I am so into the triathlons right now, not the big ones, just the sprints (for now!). I have never felt anything work me harder in the last 2 years than the kettlebell has. I really mean that. Once my hand went through the handle....I knew, I just knew.
I love all 4 things I do. I don't see myself ever giving up any of them. But I know, for a fact, the swim/bike/run thing is strong because of the training with the bells. I have no plans of giving up any of my "4" loves and you count that they will have to bury my kb with me in my coffin and hopefully on my tombstone it will say: "she snatched until she died!"
I hope you don't mind that I put a link to your blog on mine. I want to get more kb blogs on there to help "spread the word!"
Looking forward to meeting you in September when your wife kicks my ass!!

Mark Reifkind said...


thanks for commenting. I've seen your work with Tracy and I'm so impressed with your grit and determination, not to mention your incredible transformation.I hope my thoughts about training can help you progress even further.
I don't know if you know I trained extensively for triathlon( though I never competed) when it first arrived back in the early eighties. Triathlons, no matter what the distance are no joke.
great luck on your journey.

Mark Reifkind said...


and oh yes, you can link my blog to yours, no problem. and can't wait to meet you in Sept and for you to experience TracyStyle first hand,lol.

Shaf said...

Nice to see you back, Rif.

All my best to you and yours.

kamal singh said...

Hi Rif. Great to have you back and what a great post to come back with. And I wonder why I am hurt all the time, lol.

Mark Reifkind said...


thanks man, I appreciate it.

Mark Reifkind said...


thanks and yes, it is a hard lesson for most of us to learn.

DanMartin said...

All right then.

Mark Reifkind said...

Hey Dan, good to see you here.

a said...

Greetings Rif,

Ive been a silent reader for close to a year now. Ive been lifting for over 10 yrs now & discovered the kettlebells about 2 yrs ago, then found your blog. You opened my mind up to trying bikram yoga & now I believe my wife & I hooked on our new practice. I hope that you continue to write about your practice also.
thank you

Richard 'Chiggers' Chignell said...


I am also so pleased that you are back and writing again. Your (and Tracy's) have been very inspirational to me. I have been stripping back to the basics on all things and your first 'new' post resonated with me.

I look forward to many more,


Sean Schniederjan RKC said...

Nothing like hearing the words of a man who has walked down the path...damn that this is exactly what I needed to hear in regards to my own training lately....thanks a ton and see you in Ventura. Especially like the imagery of rebirth....will be chewing more on these words.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rif,
We haven't met, but I have followed your blog ever since I got my RKC in '07. Gotta tell ya...glad to have you back!! Your perspective on life and training is very insightful, encouraging and full of wisdom. Thanks for sharing!! Now let's get to snatchin'!!

Alan Martin

Jon Alford said...

Glad to have you back! It's a tragedy to bottle up such wisdom. You never know who you might motivate to be better!

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks jon, what a cool thing to say,much appreciated.for me inspiration is the key to motivation so if I can inspire someone thats great for me as a teacher and coach.

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. said...

Great Post! I appreciate you sharing your wisdom. I had always wanted to use the heaviest bells, but learned that it all must be done in the context of movement efficiency. Now, I enjoy the movement so much more and get so much more out of my training. Simple, but so hard for many to understand.

sztheomo said...

Dear Rif,

I'm really happy that you are back in blogging. I started using KB 1 year ago and your blog helped me a lot not to stop with it. Thanks for the motivation.


Howie Brewer said...

Rif, you were the inspiration for me to buy my first kettlebell. Good to have you back! My best to you, Tracy and your family.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Howie, I can't ask for more than that. hope your training is going well as well as your family.

Mark Reifkind said...


very cool man, glad I had some impact on you. it's a small world hope to see you at a cert ( level2?) one day.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks for no longer being a silent reader and glad I helped inspire you to suffer alongside us in Bikrams!

Mark Reifkind said...


you got it. that's precisely the point. enjoy the movement and make it harder by making it better. so much easier and more productive for the long run.

Rob O'Brien said...

Welcome back!

Steve Reishus said...

Wow! It's great to see your back, man! Looking forward to some more nuggets of wisdom.

Mark Reifkind said...


thanks man, just trying to stay ahead of you in the snatch race,lol.

Mark Reifkind said...

hey steve,
hope I can get some things on the blog that help.take care

Rob O'Brien said...


I just started back again this week (MV02)after 8 weeks off to try "Return of the Kettlebell". My shoulders were taking a pounding from the long cycle C & P's so I decided to give it a rest until I hit 50,000. I hope we do it the same day! Stay healthy...


Mark Reifkind said...

I only wish I could press and jerk again. my shoulders seize up pretty quickly if I do any at all. snatches and swings and overhead holds help. every thing else hurts.
that would be cool to hit 50,000 at the same time.good luck and I know you will do it for sure.

Bob O. said...

Welcome back! Now I can get my fix of Rif wisdom...can't wait to read.

Phil Scarito said...

Rif, I read this post over and over again, awesome! This is what Marty and I talk about all the time.

I have been trying to get out to the West Coast now for about a year. When I do I will certainly stop by.

Jamie Hunter said...

Mark, that's the most honest and best post I've read in a good while. Simple too, is true and honest and grounded.