by Coach Chris Wilson of Team Critical Bench
The weekend before my big debut with Team Critical Bench started with a 3 Day Workshop in Tallahassee Florida and about 30 hours of kettlebell exercise.A few months prior to this amazing weekend the Founder of Critical Bench who is my good friend Mike Westerdal reached out to me with an opportunity.
We had already been discussing the possibility of me joining the business but at the time he was searching for a training partner.
He wasn’t looking for a spotter or motivator…he was looking for a commitment from a hard working friend.
Mike had recently been rewarded with the chance to train with kettlebell’s. And not with Joe Schmoe either. With the most prestigious organization in the world for Russian Kettlebell Training…Dragondoor.
He’s like, “Hey, do you know much about kettlebells?” I said, “a little bit, stuff like swings and squats I guess.”
He proceeds to tell me a little bit more about this awesome chance to learn from the best in the business and offered me the opportunity to join him. Knowing that I had a real chance at joining Critical Bench in the near future, I felt almost an obligation to say YES to Mike.
So the date was circled on the calendar and I felt great about it, until…I drove up to where Mike had been training for the past few weeks with an RKC Instructor and I had a…….
I meet this really nice, reserved fellow named Mike Wille as well. We make friendly conversation during warm ups and then we start doing some basic kettlebell exercises.
Fast forward about 5 minutes…
I’m already dying and scared about what’s coming next! Meanwhile, Mike the trainer is tossing these things around like they’re 5 lbs AND I outweigh him by at least 50 lbs! Talk about feeling wimpy.
Mike Westerdal & Mike Wille, RKC
I barely get through the hour long workout and I have to drive back to my old work (almost two hours by the way…ughh). Let me tell you, I’ve been training with weights for years and just one hour of doing strict kettlebell movements left me beaten, battered and extremely humbled.
I was so nervous about not only the next training session with “Mr. Nice Guy” Mike the trainer but I was seriously considering bailing out on that RKC Workshop thing at the end of April. Well, I didn’t quit just yet…I wanted to stay the course for my friend and see if there was any chance that I could improve my skills with that darn 24 kilogram weight. I’m usually pretty confident when it comes to strength movements and being explosive.
But not doing stuff like deadlifts, power cleans, clean and jerk, and push presses for a while will drastically destroy your chances of being truly explosive with weights. I practically had to reteach myself to be explosive and move with real power through my hips.
By the fourth session with Mike the trainer I had a smidge of confidence in myself. Enough to remain committed to my friend and this upcoming weekend workshop.
Russian Kettlebell Certification “RKC” WEEKEND
Mike and I make the drive to northern Florida from the Tampa Bay area in good time. We decide to eat some burgers (with some reservations of course) the Thursday night before the workshop started.Little did we know, we could have eaten 5,000 calories if we wanted to and still lost weight over the weekend.
By Friday evening (after 10 hours of straight exercise), Mike and I were so sore, so exhausted that we looked at each other at dinner and thought, “how in the world are we gonna be able to do that again on Saturday AND Sunday???”
Well, Saturday came and went ending with the kettlebell Snatch Test, an RKC special. After moving around all day long with kettlebells varying in weight from 16 kg to 32 kg, we were asked to do 100 reps of kettlebell snatches in 5 minutes or less….it still scares me to think about.
I was toasted. I failed to get 100 snatches. My hands were destroyed with open sores and I fumbled my way to 67 reps. Mike did much better and got to 88 reps. His powerlifting background really helped his efforts. For the rest of my life, I will remember those numbers!
Sunday was more of the same with even more testing at the end along with the final workout called the Graduate Workout….let me just say, imagine the worst 20 minutes of your life and multiply it by 5.
Easily, one of the most grueling exercise routines I’ve ever participated in. A non-stop combination of kettlebell swings, cleans, presses and squats….I mean non-stop…you never put the weight down!
Mike and I received certificates of attendance and we passed on several of the skills but both of us had to retest the Snatch Test and we had 90 days to do it following the workshop. Good old Mike was the first one to nail it and a few weeks later (after 3 failed attempts) I reached 100 reps with the 24 kg kettlebell in 5 minutes and became an RKC certified instructor too.
Here is a cool video of me passing my snatch test finally. This was months after the RKC but it is an example of what perseverance and dedication can do when achieving your goals.
And of course, we can’t forget the man himself, Coach Mike passing his snatch test!
Easily, one of the greatest and most challenging accomplishments of our life.