A little over a week ago, I attended the StrongFirst Kettlebell Level 1 course. It was a phenomenal weekend filled with plenty of learning and laughter. What amazed me was the attention to detail and the high standards that were set from the moment we entered the facility.

For instance, one of our tests requires us to snatch a kettlebell for 100 repetitions within 5-minutes. If you drop the bell, you’re disqualified. It doesn’t matter if you hit all 100, you must park the bell in a controlled manner. If you don’t fully lock-out at the top, the instructor will say “no count.” These are but a couple of the many seemingly minor details that the instructors were looking for.

Whenever an instructor or team leader went to demonstrate a movement for the class, it was done fluidly and with intent. Of course they’ve practiced the movements much longer than I have, it was the way they set the bell down that amazed me. During that entire weekend, I didn’t hear a single kettlebell being dropped. It reminded me of stories my mother would tell about Army Basic Training.

Every little thing mattered in training, even the small things were heavily scrutinized. For example, my mom’s unit in basic was called the Cobras. They had a mural of a huge cobra painted in the center of their block. If a Drill Sergeant saw you step on it, the punishment was pushups. At my SFG weekend, each second we were late equated to 1 punishment kettlebell swing (needless to say, we learned our lesson quick and started arriving early).

Now, kettlebell training is nowhere near as intense as military training. However, there is a tremendous amount of commonality among the two disciplines regarding philosophy and mindset. The following is the key lesson learned from the weekend that stuck out to me: Everything matters. Be on-time, be a professional and take care of your equipment. When returning it, place it back in the proper location. This sets the tone for everything else. If you take shortcuts on small tasks, how can you be trusted with something on a larger scale?

Pavel Tsatsouline said that the kettlebell is an ancient Russian weapon against weakness. Respect its ability to build you into a stronger, more durable version of yourself. Just like my Team Leader Mike Perry said: “Own the position.” Don’t just throw bells around and make noise, respect the tool and use it properly.

I was completely blown-away by the extremely high standards that my team leader and instructors maintained during the SFG course. I’m grateful for the example they set for us, showing us how professional coaches train. If you want to take your training education and experience to the next level, I couldn’t recommend a StrongFirst event more.

To your lifelong health and success,


Demarco Crum, CPT, SFG

Dad, not in public. You’re embarrassing me!

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