Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SFG Resignation

It 's been a very productive 10 years in Pavel's RKC and now SFG, but it is time to move on. I've learned so much from my experience as a student of the kettlebell, then as an RKC instructor then an RKC/SFG Senior then Master instructor.It has completely changed my life and my the life of my wife Tracy as well. In ways too many to count

But the road that SF has gone down since leaving the RKC two years ago is not the path I am now, or have been, interested in. I fell in love with the kettlebell when I read those words " a back of iron and legs that never quit,"
The idea of sustained strength.
Of being All Day Strong
Of  the kind of strength Pavel wrote about in the original RKC book, of the functional strength everyday people need. The strength that comes from repetition kettlebell lifting.
Pavel and the RKC created the option of repetition kb lifting from that of  girya sport endurance to  kb to GiryStrength with hardstyle kb training, which I still love will continue to practice. Repetition kettlebell swinging for strength not just endurance

I never believed in the idea of that strength was first. In the original post about SF Pavel said that strength was my most important quality for the healthy athlete.
That leaves basically 99.9 % of the population out of it. The don't need strength first, they need to unlock their bodies and being able to  Move First.

 My belief if the correct order of training progression has been the same since I found it from Paul Chek 20 years ago

1) flexibility/ mobility
2) stability
3) strength
4) endurance
5) power

If you can't move being stronger isn't going to help much. Now, I do believe, as I have said and written many times; strong fixes almost everything.
But you can be strong in your stretching, strong in your mobility work. strong in your breathing practice. Strong in whatever you need to do to get yourself to be better.
When I was so broken that I could barely get out of a chair getting stronger with a barbell wasn't going to make me better
Being strong in my discipline in my flex/ mob work was. Measuring myself by my one rep max in the kb press, the deadlift or ANY specific exercise was and is fruitless because how strong you are at any one time is very much a moving target. It's about knowing HOW to get stronger and when to push and when to hold back that's important.

Win, lose or draw, the next day it's back in the gym ,so that type of measurement as a indicator of your ability as a coach or even athlete is doomed.

There are MANY ways to be strong because it is , more than anything, an attitude, a way of approaching a task. Not a specific number. SF has way too much emphasis on heavy heavy heavier. especially for their level 1 course for beginners

I believe in a single bell level one and a focus on the ballistic moves more than anything as those are the movements that are truly kettlebell movements.

You can do a getup or a press or a squat with many different implements, But you need a kettlebell to do the swings and it IS the ballistics that are the most transformational of all the training movements,especially for beginners but also for older athletes and people just training to be healthy and strong for life.

The barbell takes from you,  kettlebell ballistic movements give back. Both are important but if you are only going to do one thing it's the swing and the kb.

But that's just my opinion.

So I am going on. I will continue to teach the Way of the Kettlebell in every way I can. I will teach Body Maintenance workshops helping people to unlock themselves and build pliability,durability and resilience into  their muscles  and learn how to take care of themselves.The basics of self myofascial release using simple tools and basic daily stretch routines that assess and address what's going on before you load.

I will speak at the StrengthMatters Summit and write for the magazine of the same name. And soon I will be teaching and creating instructors again in a a different setting, the details of which I am not sure of yet.

But they are just the details. The main points are above. The gag is off my mouth. I can speak my mind and be myself again. The weight is off my shoulders and in my hands again and it feels great.






55 comments:

Chris said...

Good to read Rif. Speaking your mind and being free is always worth it. It will be good to see you develop and explain YOUR philosophy and approach in more detail in the future.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks man, it is very exciting for me. it's been so long since I really could be me. it will take some time to shake the rust off but it should prove interesting :)

Centar za promicanje zdravlja Miketa said...

Great post.. As a physio I really know what what are you talking about. Strength is an attitude, not a number.
Aleksandar Miketa

Taikei Matsushita said...

Keep us updated.

Myself, Gergely Niklai and few others in Japan will be around you for another while.

I constantly mention you as "Rif" in Japan.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Taikei good to hear your support. You were one of the first to speak out for me. thank you :)

Mark Reifkind said...

aleksandar thank you much man, I know you know what's important priority wise

Giovanni said...

Wow Rif, that's awesome ! I can totally relate to every part of your philosophy. I think as older athletes we've come across the same conclusion, we need to move beter ! We work on mobility first, Imsooo love Keyy Starret. What he has done is amazing, He is not the reason I after 20 years of having my body broken down by being an auto mechanic decided to pursue a degree in Physical Therapy, but I get excited about the future when I learn more about how the body actually works. The heavy barbell lifts might be great for some, but structurally, my body stopped at the DBL body weight deadlift, it kept telling me no, and I finally listened ! I love the deadlift, I just lift less weight and more reps, sorta like a swing. I look forward to seeing what develops from your future, my goal when I graduate is to help people move better, then we can talk about adding some weight ! Thanx for being you and being honest and following your heart, some times it takes a pair of,you know what to do that, much love !

Kip Hurst said...

Informative, thought provoking, and refreshing, thanks.

Mark Reifkind said...

Giovanni

Starrett has helped me so much he was instrumental in getting me deeper into SMR. I believed in it before but he gave me even more confidence , from a PT place.
As I said, the barbell breaks us, the kb builds us. I spent 23 years under the bar so I know how tough it is.
thanks for your support :)

Mark Reifkind said...

you're welcome Kip glad you liked it.

bruce said...

Best of luck Rif. You have my greatest respect.

Diana said...

I never quite understood why SF felt the need to make all the testing for a level 1 cert using double bells. Pretty much takes a lot of "regular" KB lovers out of the picture.
I look forward to hearing what comes next from "Team Rif!"

Laura said...

This is wonderful. I follow your 1-5 in how I train at KB360. I hope other coaches are doing the same. We will be doing the next generation a huge favor by passing this along so we have a reduction in imbalances and injuries in our athletes and our everyday clients. Best wishes to you on your new journey. I will be following you along the way.

Jeff Jones said...

Nice work Mark.

Andrei Jablokow said...

Thank you Mark. I appreciate the clarity. Good luck on your journey and I look forward to learning more. Shine on!

Christopher Wishnie said...

Well said and well done, Rif. As I read this I found myself saying, yes, simply brilliant. I love Pavel's work and StrongFirst and implementing its principles has transformed my body and my life. I will be forever grateful and hope to continue to grow in it.

What you've so clearly articulated here makes perfect sense to me. I still want to become stronger and work toward that daily, but its really important to me to move better also.

I respect your knowledge and experience in things strength and movement related and have learned a lot from your sharing it. I also admire the courage of your conviction and your commitment to adhering to it.

I'm happy for you and looking forward to seeing what the next chapter of your career will bring.

Wishing you all the best.

Dave Fujita said...

Rif,
I've been a student of movement for awhile. I have rehabbed from surgery and have been dealing with scapular stability issues which cannot be fixed by force so I am completely with you. You were my inspiration for persevering through RKC and into SFG. I, like you, will always use the KB as one of my tools. There are far too many to pick only one!
I look forward to hearing more about your new endeavors.

Dave Wright said...

Much respect Mark. I think it is high time to start you won certs anyway.

Mike Moran said...

Awesome Rif. Looking forward to your ideas and I hope to attend one of your workshops some day!

Chris said...

Rif I think there is scope for you to develop something unique around the hard style swing. Dan John has written a lot of good stuff on this and there is an opportunity to really focus on that as Tracy already has

Roland Denzel said...

I love your hierarchy, and I look forward to learning from you even more.

David Hinton said...

Rif I know this had to be hard for you. Wishing you continued success. P.S.I've been a fan of your writings and videos for several years now. P.S. You definitely married up with Tracy!

Teresa G said...

I'm so so so glad you're going in this direction. With the baby boomer generation where it is today, being able to move is our number one priority. You've got your audience. Now you can help us move and enjoy the rest of our lives in good health. THANK YOU!

Michelle said...

Pavel has had some good ideas - but not the ONLY good ideas. Excited to follow you on your journey!!

Peter Swallow said...

Hi Mark, sorry to hear of your resignation, and hope you will be around for a long while.
I wish you all the best with your future endeavers, and hope to met you in person one day.

I never looked upon SFG level 1 as heavy, heavier, and heaviest. to me it was and still is a coaching certification, not a strength cert.
I was 57 when I took my SFG cert, and I now teach group classes to ordinary run of the mill people.
The first thing I tell people is that the SFG way is mobility, stability and then strength.
If they are not mobile, or stable, they cannot hope to get stronger without the massive risk of injury. I don't suggest any client of mine pushes themselves for the sake of it, and although the SFG cert was with double bells, I very rarely teach them to general population, because they are not ready for them. If they do not wish to push themselves, that's fine, I work mobility and stability with them. I do train myself with double bells, but not solely. it depends on how I feel and what my goals are..
I never thought that the SFG was about "only" teaching double bell training. SFG1 for me was an instructor qualification, and if I am training other people I need the best standard I could, & SFG was that. Over the three days we did quite a lot of single bell work, but technique testing was with double bells. To me single and double bells are not mutually exclusive, but are part of the whole.

I wish you all the best, and I am sorry to hear of your resignation, but I look forward to taking one of your Body Maintenance Workshops when you come to the UK.

eric mccarty said...

Really good stuff Rif, and inspiring. I can't wait to see where this leads to!

Mark Reifkind said...

Peter

well obviously I disagree. It USED to be as much about mobility flexibility and movement as it was strength but then it was mainly about kbs( single at that for the most part)

There is a huge barrier to entry for a level 1 coaching course( having to use two 24's for any male over 140 lbs and 2 16's for any females overs 123 lbs is heavy, sorry if you dont agree but that's pretty clear to me)

I would have no problem with a single 24 kg bell for the whole weekend but double 24's is too heavy for learning these moves well AND if you are already trained up enough to do so what do you need the course for?

We spent almost NO time on the teaching segment as we could never really figure out how to test it so mostly it's about surviving the weekend with heavy weights and volue and then the testing.

I've been there for 10 years straight and believe me, this iteration is MUCH different than it was in 2005 when I went though and the many variations that changed each and every year.
The heavy emphasis ( pun intended ) on barbell work and heavy kb pressing as the main course is just not what I am into.

we can talk about this in Feb if you are going to take the body maintenance course

thanks for the comment :)


Telling people that SFG is about mobility stability and then strength is just NOT the party line
Strength is the Master quality and the key. Movement is barely mentioned in the principles or the elements.

We don't even use pavels Relax into stretch or joint mobilty work in the certs.

Mark Reifkind said...

Teresa

thanks for the support. the correct direction is so obvious to me. glad you agree

Mark Reifkind said...

glad you like it eric, it should be interesting indeed

Mark Reifkind said...

david

actually it's not hard for me at all, it's liberating. what's been hard is feeling like I had to represent a system I didn't believe in anymore and yes Tracy rocks!
thanks for the comment and support all these years

Mark Reifkind said...

david

actually it's not hard for me at all, it's liberating. what's been hard is feeling like I had to represent a system I didn't believe in anymore and yes Tracy rocks!
thanks for the comment and support all these years

Mark Reifkind said...

agreed Michelle I learned so much from pavel but there are others as well. When the student is ready the teacher will appear :)

Mark Reifkind said...

exactly chris,, the swing is the thing :)

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Jeff this is turning out to be bigger than I thought

Mark Reifkind said...

Dave! good to hear from you. the reality is, is if one trains hard as they grow older there are many things that need to be focused on to keep the engine running besides just one rep max strength. many more . glad to hear we are of like mind

Mark Reifkind said...

lol thanks David, we'll see. I will keep teaching the bell in one way or another, that's for sure

Mark Reifkind said...

welcome Andrei and glad I could shed some light on things for you

Mark Reifkind said...

you got it Christopher. the two go hand in glove, along with other forms of body maintenance . We all need to be able to do the basic tuneup on the machine, especially as it ages

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Laura

I learned that from Chek and it made perfect sense to me. Combined with louie simmons's conjugate training and I had a template for training, not just a program

Mark Reifkind said...

I obvously agree Diana. it's been a point of contention for many years now for me

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Roland I look forward to seeing you guys again as well :)

Brandon Nugent said...

Good Luck Rif! Glad to hear you are focusing on your practice and I look forward to hearing more about it.

Cheers,
-Brandon

Meredith said...

Good for you Mark. I have to say that chasing the double 16's has been a loooong battle for me. Double 12's? I kill it. Now with my shoulder repair healing I am reevaluating all my ideas as I get to start from ground zero. I look forward to hearing about your new direction- sounds solid and wise. Maybe I can come to some seminars :)

Mark Reifkind said...

Meredith there is no good reason for a level 1 kb cert to be about double bells, of whatever weight. Period. I've argued this point with pavel for years.

People need to put serious time in with single bells as this asymmetrical loading builds excellent stabilization, unlike double bells which builds more strength but less stabilization

Single bell work is lighter but harder in many ways.
Hope to see you at a seminar soon too :)

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Brandon!

Anonymous said...

I was trained by an excellent SFG II who used the progression you described. After 2 years of training, I decided to do my SFG I and came away very dissapointed. I think the instructors meant well, but in the end it felt like a hazing. I didn't learn a single thing new. It was just a weekend of abuse with very little feedback. I passed but in the end I felt kind of cheated. I haven't followed much of your work but looking forward to it. Thanks for deciding to take the next step.

Anonymous said...

I was trained by an excellent SFG II who used the progression you described. After 2 years of training, I decided to do my SFG I and came away very dissapointed. I think the instructors meant well, but in the end it felt like a hazing. I didn't learn a single thing new. It was just a weekend of abuse with very little feedback. I passed but in the end I felt kind of cheated. I haven't followed much of your work but looking forward to it. Thanks for deciding to take the next step.

Mark Reifkind said...

exactly anonymous. in a teaching cert using heavy weights is counterproductive. How well can you focus on subtleties of technique if you are just trying to survive the load?

especially with double bells. and it IS an instructor course- that's the FIRST statement I made when I started a course. Its' not about you it's about your ability to teach

Hey, I'm all for a serious KB challenge weekend but this was not supposed to be that.

thanks for the support. the next venture I do will not be a hazing, that sure.

Mark Reifkind said...

exactly anonymous. in a teaching cert using heavy weights is counterproductive. How well can you focus on subtleties of technique if you are just trying to survive the load?

especially with double bells. and it IS an instructor course- that's the FIRST statement I made when I started a course. Its' not about you it's about your ability to teach

Hey, I'm all for a serious KB challenge weekend but this was not supposed to be that.

thanks for the support. the next venture I do will not be a hazing, that sure.

Mark Reifkind said...

testin

Iron Tamer said...

How many conversations have we had about this subject? You are truly a Master Instructor of strength and movement. Looking forward to what the future holds......

David Liljeros said...

I think you made a good and wise decision.

An organization in training that focuses on despising “political correctness” has to create their own overton window to keep up the party line. In the end that means to oppress the opinions of others. Political correctness can sometimes be a good way in a bigger picture for human beings to learn democracy, rights and core values, I believe. But a training system that chooses only one narrow way to address the complex human being? I don’t think so. Sooner or later an excluding and closed system will get problems in an including and transparent world.

To me strength is relative and depends on so many things in the prerequisites and surroundings. The meaning of the term "strength" is not even universal. That's why I think it is impossible to choose just one way or a "truth" in this subject. That’s my five cents, anyway.

How do you see the merging between Strong First and FMS - “Foundational Strength”? To me it sounds highly contradictory, to say the least.

Best regards

David Liljeros, Sweden
RKC 2009, participate RKC2 2010, renewed twice. Exit RKC 2014.

Mark Reifkind said...

david

thanks for the comment. They key thing for me is that as a instructor course we should be focusing on teaching people how they can get strongER, not how strong they are just to get in to learn how to get stronger!

I also don't think a double bell cert is a beginning cert and by keeping it that way we keep SO many good people out

Also Pavel has basically disappeared from the scene, no dvds one book no youtube or FB presence and basically has abandoned the fitness industry which is where my customers are :)

FMS and Strong First get a long fine. they are the corrective branch. If someone has a 'movement' problem the advice is to see an FMS person.

I preferred the old "figure it out Comrade" approach myself


Mike C said...

Hi Mark Rif- Great,amazing posts on your blog on this topic. It was great to go through 2 RKC weekends when you were a master instructor.

I will pay attention to your current direction. As an aging athlete, just a little behind you in terms of years :], I'm sure I'll learn huge amounts.

Mark Reifkind said...

Mike C

thanks man, the road as an older athlete is just a tad different than when we were younger. that will be my focus audience in the next phase. thanks for the support