Skip to content

Early Spring Cleaning


Wow. I see that my last post related to kettlebell training was on January 27th, 2015. So much has happened in the last year. There is too much to explain, so let me sum up: Over the last year I went in a new direction with a new coach – Abigail Johnston from Scotland. 2015 was a time of transition so I did not put any unnecessary pressure on myself in terms of competitions. I tried to save some money and did not travel to as many places, or as far away. I just enjoyed my training and playing with long cycle, and biathlon.

My 2015 Competition Schedule looked like this:


April – Agatsu Competition, Toronto, Canada, 20kg OALC, 89 reps (CMS Ranking, KETA)


June – Niagara Kettlebell Sport Open, St. Catharines, Ontario, 16kg Snatch (5min) – 91reps (Rank 1, KETA)


July – Bells on the Beach, IKFF Comp, Rochester, NY, 16kg biathlon (170 jerks, 128 snatches) (Rank 1 IKFF – biathlon, CMS for jerk only)


October – Agatsu Competition, Toronto, Canada, 20kg jerk only, 134 rep (MS rank, Agatsu/Keta), TALC – 12kg, 84 reps


December – North Texas Kettlebell Sport Open, Frisco, Texas, 20kg, OALC 93reps (CMS Ranking, KETA)

The transition to a new style of programming took a few growing pains, but even still, I managed to set personal bests at every competition. Three competitions I performed events that I had never done before on the platform. The year ended with me feeling very optimistic and confident in my lifting.

So enough living in the past. Here’s 2016. What’s up is my first competition is in 6 weeks. In the winter I really need a long training cycle. There are so many events and commitments I have as a teacher between October – February. It’s insane. It challenges my ability to stay organized and my commitment to staying prepared and doing what it takes to meet my goals. As anyone who juggles a career with kettlebell sport (and for many parenting as well) will tell you – it ain’t easy to keep a consistent sleep schedule, and nutrition on point when you have so much to juggle at once. At any rate for me, I prefer not to add the extra stress of preparing for a competition during these months. Instead, in the winter, I hunker down like Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV. It’s a great time to just lift. In some ways I know I have used my time well and I can feel and see some growth in my lifting. On the other hand I am disappointed in how my mobility and flexibility routines have suffered.

Hahahahaa…..and it really only took THIS long to get to the point of this post. Lmao. When I don’t like the way something is working – I change it. Instead of wallowing in the disappointment of my current state of mobility (and nagging wrist injury), I am getting proactive with shit. I’ve made a plan for the next 6 weeks to make the following TOP priority no matter what else life throws at me:

1. GMB Hip and Shoulder routines on lifting days

2. GMB General Routine/+Gymnastics homework on non-lifting days

3. Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) twice a week (Tuesdays and Saturdays)

I have a few movement benchmarks that will let me know how I’m progressing – e.g. sitting in lotus, shrimp squats, and animal walks.

LLLT brings in a new addition to my support team (lol). Colin Badali is a RMT+CSCS+LLLT and friend who I once worked with as a personal trainer at Strengthbox. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Colin as he begins his career. We are both data nerds and I am just as excited to see the results as he is. Colin is also one of those people I feel is a natural healer. He has a very calming presence and usually offers a more conservative and safe approach which for me has traditionally been the most effective long term. ¬†LLLT is fairly new to me and I must admit that I do not know more than what’s in this video, and this youtube video. What I do like is that is is pretty non-invasive and therefore allows me to train while still doing these sessions. I’m optimistic that it will help my preparation over the next 6 weeks, and my hope is it will heal up this issue with my wrist and let me get back to handstands and crawling activitiesūüôā


This is my formal public declaration that I am committed to resolving the weaknesses I have in my lower body. My mobility/flexibility routine is not an option but something I MUST be committed to working on every day. Over the next 6 weeks as I prepare for the Agatsu competition in April, I will be reporting in on the progress I am making with my 3 new areas of focus. Thanks for reading!



Recipes By Request


I like to photograph my meals as a visual idea bank. Looking at a photo is all I need to remember the recipe and steps I took to prepare a meal, or remind me which cookbook it came from. The down side with posting them publicly is that then people want the recipe. Lol!!! I don’t mind sharing, I’m just too lazy to write/ type it out. So here I will post a few things I have made recently that are slight variations on recipes I found from others. ¬†They are so easy they definitely occur in my regular rotation. What I love most about them is their simplicity. It’s fantastic when you can make something yummy without it taking up a huge amount of time.

1. Meatza


This recipe is a simplified version of the one from Diane Sanfilippo’s Book, The 21 Day Sugar Detox.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

For the Crust:

1lb grass fed groundbeef

1tbsp coconut flour (almond flour was what Diane’s recipe called for)

1 egg beaten

1tsp granulated garlic

1tsp ground black pepper

2tsp Italian seasoning

1tsp Himalayan sea salt

To make the crust combine the above ingredients in a mixing bowl. I used a plastic ziplock bag so I could mix with my hands without them getting messy. Mix thoroughly and form into a ball. On a parchment lined baking sheet roll out the meat dough into a circle about 8-9inches wide and 1/4 inch thick.  Bake for 15-20min or until cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 425.

For the Toppings:

Do whatever you like!

I used :

2tbsp tomato sauce (pesto would be awesome too)

3 roasted garlic cloves

1/2 green bell pepper

1/2 red bell pepper

1 small tomato sliced

6 spinach leaves

1-2g Sharp aged cheddar (optional- leave out if you’re paleo)

I prepped the toppings while the crust was doing it’s thing. Once it was out of the oven and cool enough to go near, I put on toppings and then baked in the oven for another 5-10min until the toppings soften just a bit.

2. Sweet Potato Buffalo Chicken Caserole


I hear the word caserole and I am in! A meal in a bowl! A bit of work to prep but then always keeps on giving in the servings you get. This recipe is so dead simple its a no brainer. Best part is I can just post the link from the fine folks at Preppy Paleo. No recipe for me to type out! Lol!

3. Rogan Josh


This picture doesn’t do it justice but this meal is so comforting! I love it so much. From Melissa Joulwan’s book “Well Fed” I can once again be lazy and post the recipe from her blog. I like to serve this on cauliflower rice. There are a few different ways I like to make my cauliflower rice. Usually I will zap a head of cauliflower in my food processor until it is rice consistency. Then I will put it on a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, and ground black pepper, maybe a sprinkle of sea salt.

4. Spaghetti


It has been years now since I have replaced grain pastas with vegetables. Spaghetti squash is my usual “noodle” but lately we have loved our veggie spiralizer and love making zucchini noodles. I still use the same sauce from Diane Sanfillipo’s book “Practical Paleo.”

Most of my food ideas weren’t original ideas of mine….I just saw something someone else did and wasn’t afraid to try it. Pinterest just blows my mind. I’ve only just begun to tap into it. When I take a picture of a healthy meal I made I throw it in my Eat Like A Champ photo album and the ideas grow. It reminds me that I can do it if I take the time to care about the way I’m fueling my body.

How I Spent My 2015 Summer Vacation


Although I have read no scientific literature on it’s absolute necessity, I have always held the firm belief that body weight training is mandatory for anyone that competes in any form of weight lfiting. Afterall, why would I ask my body to support substantial external loads, if I am incapable of supporting myself? Initially I wanted to write this post as a research based article on either the importance of gymnastics as a form of physical therapy for kettlebell sport lifters, OR the importance of body weight training to weight lifters. Instead of nerding out reading as much peer reviewed literature as I could find, I decided to just train. I conducted my own experiment and this post is a summary and reflection of my results and where I plan on taking things next. Of course the overall big picture of any goal I take on is improvement. In some way it has to make me better – and right now if there is the potential to help improve my efficiency as a kettlebell sport lifter, I’m going to be open minded about checking it out.

As a kid I was always obsessed with gymnastics. During the summer Olympics, I would say without question- track and field, gymnastics and swimming are my top 3 sports I LOVE to watch. Not gonna lie – when I was growing up there were next to no role models I could relate to in either gymnastics or swimming. They were sports I thought were made for skinny white kids….lol….but I was always envious and in awe of the control, skill and grace these athletes had in addition to a ton of strength. By the time I was able to see more diversity within the sport and even see some successful Canadian role models, I felt way too old to participate. I was clearly wrong. Upon discovering kettlebell sport and making the decision to be a competitive 40+ year old athlete I decided right from the start to do things right. Here there are also many amazing role models. Multi- world champions Sergey Rudnev and Sergei Rachinskiy are similar to my age and known for their physical feats with their own body weight as well as with kettlebells. All the things I ignorantly took advantage of in my youth I was going to make a priority – eat well, sleep well, respect the warmup and the cool down and put time into a flexibility program.

Over the last 3 years I have consistently worked on my mobility and flexibility and definitely give it credit for¬†keeping my body healthier than just lifting kettlebells alone. Even with these awesome changes however, all is not right in the House of Cyn. I still have weaknesses and imbalances I need to be working on daily. Ofcourse I am not going to sit by and watch myself struggle in the same places or feel sore and weak in the same spots….nope. I tackle that shit head on. If you ever attend a workshop or certification with Shawn Mozen from Agatsu Fitness – that dude can lay some pretty dope advice if you are a good listener. He pretty much gives away the secret to being successful when learning any new skill, and you can tell (if you follow any social media) who does it and who doesn’t quite easily. My summer experiment was to enroll in a gymnastics class, which was going to make me confront head on my feelings about being too old to try it, combined with forcing me to confront the weaknesses in my lower kinetic chain and poor core control.

Words of Wisdom #1 – Spend time with people who are better than you.¬†For the 8 weeks of summer I decided to take a gymnastics and focused flexibility cert by one of Gold Medal Bodies (GMB) lead trainers – Kirsty Grosart. ¬†I have known Kirsty for a couple of years now so I know what a phenomenal athlete and coach she is. If I was going to confront the issues in my lower kinetic chain and core stability I needed some hands on help. The skill development and learning curve I made this summer has made me feel more confident to try out other amazing people I know in the handstand and flexibility world such as Sara-Clare Lajeuness from Agatsu and Andralyn Zayn from Deflying Fitness. I have a 3-5 year plan of courses I would like to take with each of them in addition to the yoga teacher training with Yoga Detour. So much time….so little money. Lol. Seriously though, if you want to learn to move your body better I recommend all of these people.

Words of Wisdom #2Invest the time to develop a consistent practice. Often times I hear people say “I want do more pullups, or I want a muscle up….or I want __________________.” They say this, but then put no real effort towards their goal. They don’t reaallllly want it! For 8 weeks I had the accountability of attending class twice a week for 2 hours. On the days I wasn’t in class I incorporated movements into my lifting warmup and cool down. I realized it was as simple as adding 4 extra movements to my routine to see improvement. Moving forward I feel much better equipped to maintain my routine and keep progressing.


Short story – the words of wisdom work. End of story. No real need to read further. Below I will post some pictures and highlight what improvements I noticed. I’ve divided my results into 4 sections. These are areas I think not only address my weaknesses but also important areas required for kettlebell sport. I am definitely going to continue to use photos to monitor (and hold myself accountable to) my progress as I continue forward with my practice. The process has also made me more curious about GMB’s programming and something I look forward to learning more about.



On top is my beginning pic and below is after. This was already a strength for me going in, but after 8 weeks I did notice more openness in my shoulders which allows for a better shape and ability to kick over. Moving forward I want to be able to work on going in to bridge from standing.

Hips, Knees, Ankles, Hamstrings


This section was the toughest for me. I did notice improvement in my hamstring flexibility but I still have significant work to do with my hips and ankles. Overall I think my progress was slightly hindered during the this testing period because I had done a kettlebell competition only a few days before these photos were taken. Still, to be completely honest and accountable I didn’t practice my lower body drills as much because of the discomfort and challenge. Moving forward I am going to attack this more tenaciously.



This one bums me out a bit because I did try to work on my shoulders much more diligently during this 8 week period. Again I blame a little bit on the timing of the pics falling after a competition and will admit my shoulders were feeling sore. Still….this is something I will add extra focus on my next training cycle.


A part from working on my weaknesses, adding some variety to my gpp, having serious fun acting like a kid and doing things I haven’t done in decades…I was hoping this work would really provide assistance to areas that would make me stronger and more prepared for kettlebell sport. The competition I had towards the end of this training cycle was my first 16kg biathlon. I pr’d by 10 reps in my jerk with a 170 total and did 128 snatches for a personal best total of 298. Although still a long way to go I did notice improvement in my core control and glute activation. I definitely do not attribute any negative impacts from the gymnastics training on my lifting. I do feel confirmed in my hypothesis of its importance and I will continue to strive to improve my badassery of physical autonomy for life!ūüôā

Paleo Apologies

So…I’m feeling so guilty I have been a horrible human being! I am notorious for being addicted to buying books that I rarely get around to reading, or only read about 1/3. Such was the case when I purchased Cindy Sexton’s amazing cookbook “Paleo Takes 5-or-Fewer.” Cindy is a fellow teacher who is one of the most blessed people I know to have more than 1 career. Her blog and now cookbook inspire me not only to maintain my healthy “eat like a champ” lifestyle, but also to pursue all things I am passionate about. Naturally it was a no brainer when it came to purchasing her ¬†book….I was just a dumbass who didn’t read it right away!

Last weekend I finally dusted her book off my cookbook shelf and started reading it. I then started cursing at the yummy new ideas I could have been eating…and then I got all the way to the end and saw in the Resources section she listed my blog!!!!

I truly feel like an asshole for taking so long….please forgive me Cindy!!!! Lol. My first of many of her recipes I intend to preview is the bacon -crusted chicken strips. I love the simplicity in the instructions and a way of using bacon I hadn’t thought of. The proportions for the coating were bang on perfect. ¬†I used every last bit with no leftover and got ample coverage on all of the chicken. Usually I run out or have too much.


Cindy is fantastic for so many reasons…but what I love most is how passionately she pursues her interests and lives her life. Anything she is involved with is gold. She’s an outstanding and committed educator, ¬†a talented writer – and for a teeny package she’s one feisty woman!

Thank you for the shout out Cindy!!!

The Snatch Experience


WOW! It has been way to long since my last post. There are so many things I should share. First, the reason for my long departure I must confess was the victory of some people close to me who turned out to be haters. I was made to feel ashamed for the way that I am – honest, genuine, hard working. I finally decided that I needed to let go trying to please everyone, especially people who clearly don’t actually care about me. I will say I have a nasty habit of trying to please people who are never satisfied, and who ultimately will never be pleased. Now that I am over gaining the approval of haters, I am ready to get back to the business of sharing my love of movement and keeping on top of what was supposed to be my virtual training diary. Before I continue I do want to give a shout out to those people who have stood by me since the beginning, and are still standing by my side now. You know who you are, and I thank you for some of the most real and honest friendships I’ve ever had. Please know how much I appreciate and adore you!

Initially I had intended on doing a comeback post that reviewed 2014. It was a great year for me as far as kettle was concerned. Emotionally however, it was a very tough year and one that I would prefer not to review. Instead I have chosen to move forward. My lifting season basically ended in October at the Agatsu Regional competition. I had a great result – another CMS ranking, and only 2 reps shy of MS.


CMS – 20kg Jerk Only, 58kg, 130reps


Since I did not know what direction I wanted to go in for 2015 I decided to spend the rest of 2014 working on my snatch. As it crept into 2015, and I still was not sure where to take my next platform attempt I decided to continue with snatch. The time has now come where I will need to make a decision and I’m still not certain. The whole progression to snatch has been amazing. There was a time last year I tried snatch for a little bit and I was terrible….could not last even 2min an arm with 12kg, and managed to build to an 8min set with 10kg. Since then however, I have taken several workshops and a sports camp with world champions and received a lot of instruction on snatch that I hadn’t had the opportunity to put into practice yet. Here was my chance. I also began doing a fair bit of coaching in 2014, and most of my lifters were female snatchers. I decided if I was going to coach snatch I wanted to have a CMS rank as a minimum.

My progressions with various weight bells has been much quicker than I imagined. Trust me, I respect this sport and I respect the bell. I am not one to be a jumper. Just look at my long cycle resume. I have been groomed to respect technique above all else. I spent over a year working on 16kg OALC, even though all around me girls were jumping from 16kg to 24kg in a year. All I know, is that today, I do not lift like they do, and I prefer it that way. I intend on being the same way with snatch, but I will say I made significant progress in 4 months to close the gap between the discrepancy of what I can jerk and what I can snatch. I’m excited for the day they are equal. I feel much better about my relationship with the bell and feeling the way it moves, and the way I move around it. I have learned to create moments of relaxation, and to use checkpoints on every rep to make sure I recognize where energy leaks may be and try to correct them on the next rep. I’ve come a long way. No more over gripping, no more early grip fatigue…now just exhausted legs! On a proud note- not one hand tear ever! Lol! Below is a re-cap of the progress I have made so far.

21/11/2014          10kg/8min/ 134reps (66R/68L)      

 29/11/2014         10kg/10min/ 171reps (84R/87L)    

13/12/2014           12kg/8min/130reps (66R/64L)      

20/12/2014           12kg/10min/176reps (88R/88L)    

3/1/2014                14kg/6min/98reps (50R/48L)       

10/1/2014              14kg/8min/133reps (67R/66L)      

17/1/2014               14kg/10min/175reps (88R/87L)   

24/1/2014              16kg/5min/81reps (43R/38L)         

I am committed to this snatch project for another 4 weeks. Towards the end of February I will try my hand at my first 10min snatch set with 16kg. What I am most proud of about the work posted above is that every set is a pr for both reps AND time. They were all sets I had never previously attempted (unless you count the 12kg…I had attempted that before and failed miserably – but that was before any real GS snatch instruction). Once I go back to training for long cycle I fully intend to keep up my snatch work. I have become so fond of it I am actually thinking thoughts of biathlon.

As for GPP I continue to make goals for myself and work on improving my mobility and flexibility so that I will be able to compete in kettlebell sport for many years to come. I love this part of my training. Still riding high off of the Agatsu Movement camp in the summer I decided to make flexibility a challenge for me this year. I started off doing a splits challenge that I found on facebook. Twice a week for 2 months I religiously dedicated time to stretching. I followed a program I purchased on-line from Deflying Fitness. I hope to do some flexibility and handstand workshops with them soon. I wasn’t able to progress to the point of touch down, but I did develop a consistent practice and I definitely noticed improvement!


On the left is the beginning of my journey and on the right the end. In addition to this work I also spent time getting back to my barbell goals. Ever since the Cali Open Sport Camp I have wanted to 100reps at 100lbs of deadlifts, backsquats, front squats, jumping squats and good morning. This cycle I was able to cross deadlifts off that list. Not as cleanly as I wanted to do it but we built it up probably a week faster than we should have. Still I am super proud of the achievement and I can really notice the benefit it has added to my lifting.

WATCH OUT EVERYBODY! I am stronger, more efficient and more stoked than ever to set new pr’s and accomplish new goals in 2015. I have some exciting announcements to make in the upcoming months as well. If anyone is reading this – THANK YOU! I look forward to sharing my new kettle adventures with you.

No Excuses


I was sure I had already posted a blog about this, but since I cannot seem to find it I am going to take the risk and post what I should have about a year agoūüôā

Last year Carl and I decided to embark on some pretty major home renovations. This included a new kitchen. Ofcourse the project you think will take a month takes 4…and maybe still has some incomplete elements a year later…at any rate, going that long without a kitchen almost drove me insane. I was completely stressed out about what I would eat and how I would maintain my weight for competition. Turns out it wasn’t thaaaaat badūüôā One awesome feature to our renovation was getting a gas line outside so that we could bbq hassle freeūüôā It was basically like having an outdoor oven and stove. I also had to overcome my apprehension toward bbqing…definitely a growth experienceūüôā

I found breakfast time to be the toughest. Microwaved egg variations on a paper plate became my instagram theme for quite some time. Then with the help of my friend and nutritionist, Summer Innanen I was able to awaken some creativity and breakfast kabobs were born.

Houseofcyn Breakfast Kabob 1



cherry tomatoes

green pepper


Marinade: pineapple juice, olive oil, sriracha, cinnamon

Houseofcyn Breakfast Kabob 2



green apple



Marinade: coconut milk, curry, cinnamon

It was so easy to whip up a batch of these. They also made great snacks. I think this will easily become a new food genre.ūüôā

How Does Anything Happen? Move Past It!!!

The title of this post will be a test of your character. If you recognized it as a line from the show “Always Sunny In Philadelphia” then we would be fast friends! It’s brilliance is in the simplicity of it. Any potential stalkers out there may recall posts where I mention one of my dearest friends – Bryanna, and about our pact to do one thing daily that scares the crap out of us. I can get really comfortable in routine and the idea of changing things up can make me anxious. I’ve found the best cure to be to completely mix it up and throw myself into a new situation and confront my fears head on. Look, I was going to write a blog post recapping my year in kettle. When I began this sport just over 2 years ago I only had the intentions of attending 2, maybe 3 competitions a year. In October it will be my 5th competition, and in all likelihood I will be in Texas in December which will make it my 6th. It had been suggested to me that a year in review would make for an interesting post. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn’t want to go back. I made some excellent progress this year, but I am more excited about using those experiences to reshape my future, then to look back and reflect. The timing of this discovery was followed by a friend of mine posting this meme….or maybe the meme made me have the thought in the first place? Whatever. Let’s just move past it.


¬†I would rather tell you about my most recent experience that I feel has made me (and will continue to make me) a better kettlebell lifter. This summer I went to camp. That’s right. Full on day camp for adults…obviously perfect for teachers but mostly filled with other fitness professionals. Master’s of Movement is a very unique fitness experience and I have to say, I needed this. I needed to throw myself outside my comfort zone to find out which skills/energy systems of my kettlebell training would transfer over to activities that were completely new to me, or that I had not done for several years, and which skills/energy systems I still needed to develop. There was absolutely no question that¬†Sara-Clare Lajeunesse and¬†Shawn¬†Mozen of Agatsu¬†were the ones to do this with. A couple of years ago I had hired Sara for some private sessions to help me work on some body weight skills and knew she’s a brilliant teacher with a smile that makes you happy for days. I had the opportunity to get to know Shawn better when I took the Agatsu Upper Body Level 1 Mobility Certification.

These two really are masters of moving pain free and I honestly attribute much of my transformation to better health because of the prehab work I put into my warmups and cooldowns to work both mobility and flexibility. I’ve spent a lot of time crafting my routine from ideas I have gotten from my coach Jason Dolby, Steve Maxwell and Erwan LeCorre mostly. Agatsu is another place I love to go for professional development in this area. Basically, I chose their summer movement week¬†so I could spend more time with them AND because they had booked the Mayhem Bros to have Hip Hop dance as one of the activities we would be exposed to throughout the week. I had worked with Mayhem Bros before – you may remember they helped choreograph a dance routine that I used with my grade 4 class¬†(where Awesometown was born). I had been dying to have an opportunity to learn from them for ME. I knew with those 2 elements I would have a great time so I didn’t even pay attention to the rest of the line up (true story). Here’s just a small snippet of what I took away with me this week:


Photo Credit – Shawn Mozen/Agatsu Inc


Photo Credit – Sara-Clare Lajeunesse/Agatsu Inc

  1. Opposites are Good.

For 5 days I had the great opportunity to learn olympic weight lifting from the great Alexander Varbanov. If you do not know who he is….shame on you and go do some basic internet research and come back. I had actually known this would be a part of my week and I was also excited about this opportunity. I totally assumed being a kettlebell sport lifter that I would have the most in common with this activity compared to the rest, and therefore assumed I would enjoy it the most. Although I did enjoy it – it challenged/frustrated me way more than I was expecting. By the end, it had tapped into my competitive spirit in a way that is different from kettlebell sport, but I had to reign it in and avoid lifting beyond the capabilities of my right shoulder that was still sore after NorCal Open. For me, oly lifting was the most challenging of everything we did this week (with the exception of juggling and some of the club work). Lifting under tension has become a bit of a foreign concept to me…but it was exciting to reawaken and have the opportunity to practice. Spending time under tension made me more aware of the relaxation I am able to create in my kettlebell lifting and how that translates into increased endurance and reps over time. I also love exploring ranges of motion beyond what I need for kettlebell sport. It feels so awesome to squat deep and I know it has helped relieve the repetitive tension and limited range of motion I accumulate from continuous quarter squats jerking.


Photo Credit - Shawn Mozen/Agatsu Inc

Photo Credit – Shawn Mozen/Agatsu Inc

2. We are all full of shit.

All¬†of our days were spent being engaged both mentally and physically. There were a couple brief moments of down time where we could sit and absorb new ideas… but still mentally were very much challenged. One of these moments was with¬†Dhani Oks, co-founder of the Academy of Lions which was also the host location. Dhani provided a series on Coaching and Cueing really centered around many different ideas so I can’t even begin to sum up his talk here. But I will highlight one idea that made me feel something. He introduced me to the idea of the Pyramid of Shit. To oversimplify his model for the purposes of time – basically the higher the pyramid, the more emotional baggage you have in terms of how you deal with adversity. So at the top we would see those people with a negative world view (the world is shit), or a negative self view (I am shit) in response to something that didn’t go their way (e.g. a poor performance on the platform at a lifting competition). If you have ever been a coach you know that it takes a lot of creativity and emotional energy to pull these people into reality and further down the shit pyramid. These folks are the most difficult to coach.

Lower down on the pyramid you have those that can separate their shit and see it for what is. After lifting poorly in a competition they would not say “I am shit”, but rather “my lifting was shit, or I stepped in shit.” It is much easier to progress with a student who has this level of awareness because you can get right to the root of what needs working on, where the true focus needs to be. I realized that I have a Jekyll/Hyde with this pyramid. As a teacher/coach I am very low on the pyramid. I spend my days motivating my students and helping them escape the loneliness of the top of the pyramid. When I have a student caught in that shit funk I look for new and creative ways to pull them out of it while being sensitive to what they’re going through, but not taking it personally or attaching their shit to me. I get it, I’ve been there. It’s cold at that altitude, but I love to help.

As an athlete/student I realize that when I am trying to overcome the adversity of learning a new skill, or pushing through a barrier I can be very hard on myself and at the top of that pyramid. It sucks and I admit I can have a hard time pulling myself out of it. I’m very fortunate I have people around me that are experts at helping me and each new seemingly impossible challenge becomes easier and easier to face. My big take home was first and foremost having empathy for my coach – it ain’t easy… that’s when it hit home that I think it is important for coaches (who can especially have a tendency to be hard on themselves) to have good coaches in terms of their ability to communicate and deal with their shit. That relationship will be more solid if the person you have entrusted that role to is someone who can remain at the bottom of the pyramid and help pull you down off the frozen peak of shit when you need it.

Photo Credit - Dave Anderka

Photo Credit – Dave Anderka

3. Adaptive Bodywork is AMAZING!

The Agatsu mobility cert introduced me to the idea of muscle distraction and it’s use with mobility to help warm up joints. I started adding variations to my warm up. It definitely made me aware of “sensory rich areas” that were quite painful. Some I knew I had been avoiding and some areas I’m often surprised because I didn’t even realize they were sore. I have learned that the more I confront the sensory rich areas and work on releasing tension at the root cause, the better I feel, and the faster I heal. During my week of day camp we were able to experience a session of adaptive bodywork with John Sutherland. This was just a small taste of what is actually possible and my mind was blown at how much more effective it was than my current routine. I honestly believe that this will be one of the keys to keeping my joint integrity as I age and help me move the way I am now for a long time. I am definitely going to be pursuing certification in this at some point and will try to see John whenever he comes to Toronto!!!

Photo Credit - Sara-Clare Lajeunesse/Agatsu Inc

Photo Credit – Sara-Clare Lajeunesse/Agatsu Inc

4. Find love where you least expect it.

I love surprises! Possibly because I am terrible at giving them…so when they do happen, I remember how awesome they are and I should work harder at being better at them! Just another reason taking risks is awesome. You discover cool new things you had no idea you could do! Last year I had really wanted to attend Masters of Movement pretty much solely because Deflying Fitness was one of the presenters delivering a handstand series. Being able to go in and out of a controlled handstand is one of my top 3 goals. Anyway, my true love kettlebell sport was calling during that week last year and I was at a competition. I pretty much zoned out of everything else Deflying Fitness had to offer. I’m such an idiot. I had no idea what I was in for. A whole pile of awesome was what I fell into!!! For me it was such an interesting and challenging use of body weight strength. Some movements I was surprised were easy – but because I have put them into my regular practice (e.g. bear grylls). Other movements I felt as though I had the strength and mobility to execute but my brain just couldn’t send the right signals to the right places!

I have no problem being upside down, but I haven’t spent nearly enough time performing movements upside down. It felt amazing to scratch the surface at trying to create that new kind of awareness and has made practicing kind of addictive. I had no idea I was about to find an entirely new and fun way to work on my shoulder mobility. The entire workshop paid for itself the first session we used our wrist strap that came in our goodie bag. We did some awesome exercises that opened up my shoulder, deltoid and bicep like nothing else I had tried. It also gives me awesome feedback on how prepared I am for ring and bar work. Similar to gymnastics many of the movements and positions require a strong hollow body and ribs closed position. This is a challenge for me but I am finally able to distinguish the two positions and create more awareness of what each offers. Although break dancing was super fun and badass….the Deflying Fitness sessions were by far my favourite. Andralyn and Duane are pretty much the best people ever. I will definitely be doing handstands and flexibility with them…hopefully soon in Oakville…

Photo Credit - Shawn Mozen/Agatsu Inc

Photo Credit – Shawn Mozen/Agatsu Inc

Photo Credit - Shawn Mozen/Agatsu Inc

Photo Credit – Shawn Mozen/Agatsu Inc

  5. Always Attempt the Impossible

This week I felt the difference my kettlebell sport platform battles have given me in physical preparedness and mental confidence. My body was much better conditioned to participate fully in all of the activities. Olympic lifting was the only activity I was cautious with as I didn’t want to risk an injury. ¬†That being said I still worked on my technique and was able to perform numerous repetitions. Anyway….¬†my point was that if I had tried this week of movement back was I was 35+ lbs heavier it would have sucked. I would have gotten through…but it would have sucked…and just barely in that “sucks so good” kind of way….mostly in the “if you’re lucky you’re just broken down, if you’re unlucky you’re injured”. It reminded me of the 5 day MovNat retreat where I was that heavy and by the last group workout my knee was the size of a grapefruit. ¬†I did not miss a beat at the Master’s of Movement week, and I have to say the order of programming was exceptional. The sequencing I’m sure also contributed to how much better I feel compared to what I was expecting. ¬†At the end of the week I was more mentally and emotionally tired than physically tired. Despite 5 days of constant activity I was more than ready to get back to training on Monday. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than doing things I previously thought I couldn’t do. In 5 days I took some risks, tried some new stuff, got uncomfortable, got too comfortable, collected new tools for my training tool box, met awesome people, drank great coffee, and felt super appreciative of my training and hard work….oh yeah, and smiled and laughed lots!!!!


…and go back to school…summer is almost over¬†:(