Saturday, July 18, 2009

Guest post by The World's Strongest Librarian!

Okay all you Average To Elitists, today we have a guest blog post by Josh Hanagarne RKC. I am mentioned favorably in this one, so it gets posted. :)
Keep an eye on Josh as I see great things coming from him in the not so distant future.

Because It’s Worth Doing Right
By Josh Hanagarne

I always hesitate to speak in absolutes, but during my first 16 months with kettlebells, I’ve learned indisputable facts.

1. Kettlebells can change your life in positive ways you can’t imagine
2. Improper kettlebell use will change your life in ways that really, really suck

Now, I haven’t made costly kettlebell mistakes that have punished me, but I could have. I trained for a year on my own before seeking instruction. When I did look for help, Jordan’s presence on the Dragondoor forum and his youtube videos convinced me that I was probably doing some things wrong.

Enter the RKC

One month ago I became an RKC. My suspicion that I had been doing some things wrong had been confirmed with a bazooka strike to my ego and also to my perceptions that self-assessment is the way to go.
Oh, I was a sweet, innocent little lad.
My instructors were all kind and insistent. They kindly insisted that I knew nothing and showed me how to do things correctly.

The misguided temptation to teach
Like most people I’ve known who get bitten by the kettlebell bug, I immediately set up a ministry in my head and ran around yammering to anyone who would listen the ravings of this new convert. I can be very persuasive and charismatic, so it was a slap in the face when people said, “Oh, that sounds awesome! Can you teach me?” and I then realized I couldn’t. Not really.

It was kind of tempting. I’m a pretty good guitar player, but you can show off for anyone who doesn’t play the guitar. You could strum any heinous Matchbox 20 song for someone who’s never held a guitar and you can come off like a virtuoso.
In the same way, people who saw me practicing with kettlebells were impressed at the power I could generate and the weight I could lift. They wanted to invest me with credibility I didn’t have.
It’s fun and easy to collect compliments, even if you don’t deserve them. But luckily I had the sense to step back and say, “I’m so glad you’re interested. I’m not qualified to teach you at all and should probably shut my mouth. Take care!”

I was fine letting people watch me do my exercises, but it was painfully apparent that I had no idea how to instruct.

Great instruction looks like this.
I’d been watching Jordan’s videos and was beginning to understand the meaning of thorough instruction. And those youtube videos, excellent as they are don’t even being to scratch the surface of how knowledgeable he really is. I didn’t realize this until I got the chance to preview his upcoming DVD The Corrections. And now I’m saying these long DVDs are also not scratching the surface of his knowledge. But I’ll take it for now until the next set comes out, which I can only hope is once a week from now on until I die.

Great instruction is impossible to misunderstand
Really good instruction is impossible to misunderstand. You don’t scratch your head and say, “I wonder what that means?” You don’t have to guess, and you shouldn’t have to guess, because a good instructor will be able to size you up. They’ll say, “Do this, cut that out, tighten this up.”
Proper instructors give examples and try to tell you why they’re having you do certain things. There’s nothing wrong with doing what you’re told, as long as it gets the results you’re paying for, but if you do ask questions, expect your instructor to provide answers. Answers that can’t be misunderstood.

A great teacher knows when to lighten up

I mean this in two ways.

1. You’ll get farther if your instructor has a sense of humor. It helps lighten the stress of a nasty workout. This stuff is fun and rewarding and it can improve the quality of your life by leaps and bounds—but it is not life or death. It can be okay to act like it’s life or death while training, but maintain perspective.
2. A great teacher has nothing to prove to themselves. They should respect how you say you feel and be aware if you start pushing yourself in dangerous or counterproductive ways.

Anyone can prescribe a nasty, horrible workout that will kick your butt. If I tell you to do 1000 snatches in an hour, that will be difficult. As soon as I realize you’re physically incapable of it, I should get you out of that situation. Good instructors don’t just smoke you—they smoke you in ways that lead to greater gains. There’s a vast difference between working hard and working hard and productively.

Accountability and integrity

Jordan’s sense of humor, his ability to quickly pinpoint and troubleshoot problems, and his concern for the welfare and results of his clients have led me to seek his advice over and over. I’ll keep doing it, too.
The RKC is an honorable system of strength. This sounds corny to some people, but we don’t apologize for it. Without integrity, you have no business teaching anyone.
A good hardstyle instructor teaches the RKC system in the way it is intended. They promote only the techniques and principles that are proven and brutally effective. They hold themselves accountable, admit their mistakes, and conduct themselves with honor—because he takes what he does seriously, and what he does is make us better.
I don’t care if it sounds corny. This “exercise” system has changed my life and taught me things about myself that there is no other way to learn.
The effects of physical health and strength are inseparable from the rest of our lives. I don’t believe you can separate your body from your mind, or your mind from your health. We are the sum of our parts and strengthening one area strengthens all in time. Strength leads to confidence. Confidence leads to progression. Progression leads to improvement and that is what gives us joy. The rejection of boredom.
Insist on evolving. Don’t be average, because that makes a mockery of profound and awesome human potential.
Hard training changes you. If you commit to training hard, it is worth doing right. The time will come when you can do everything on your own. Until then, find a trainer that can help you reach that point in the least amount of time.

I know a guy in California who’s pretty good. His name starts with a J.

Josh Hanagarne, RKC, is the World's Strongest Librarian. If you're looking for more information on kettlebells, coping with Tourette's, buying pants when you're 6'8", you need a shoulder to cry on, or you're wondering how to write a successful but unfocused blog, he's your man.

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