I passed the Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) with Dan John August 17-18, 2019 Torrance, CA

This post is a bit late, having now been nearly 4 weeks after I passed the RKC but it’s one that needs to be done!

About 4 months prior, I saw that an RKC was announced on the West Coast in Southern California, and with Dan John. For those of you who might not know who Dan John is, this guy is a LEGEND. 45 years coaching experience, been there and seen it all. The guy is a walking encyclopedia of training and has lived through every known fitness fad in training history. A lot of it is documented in his newest book, 40 Years with a Whistle, which I just finished. He is also a prolific writer with many amazing books on training, coaching, and life. I’ve read many of his book and they are fantastic reads.

When it was announced that Dan John was running an RKC, I jumped at the chance to experience the man. And what an experience it was!

Me and the man!

The RKC was a two day event. It recently transitioned from a 3 day to a 2 day, so I wondered how they would stuff 3 days of content into 2. Still, I thought the 2 day format was better for me as I’d prefer to be away only for the weekend versus adding on one more day.

It took place at Kettlebells South Bay, run by Coach Jason Hidalgo. Coach Jason is an incredibly generous guy, offering us free water and he even gave me a KSB t-shirt! The other coach helping out the cert was Coach Joe DiStefano who runs a ton of wellness programs and retreats along with kettlebell training and health coaching. Both were amazing in assisting the cert and I really appreciated them being there to offer additional wisdom and guidance along the way.

Our silly group! I cannot believe this cert didn’t fill up; there were 25 slots but only 12 participants!

With Dan’s expert guidance we proceeded to go through an incredible amount of techniques and his favorite coaching cues for each required lift. Although the weekend had some structure assigned to it (we got a schedule beforehand), that structure evolved as things progressed. We could see Dan’s creative mind churning as we were guided to a new structure for the weekend!

The dreaded snatch test was in the afternoon of the first day. But Dan told us we could simply test whenever we felt like it, and if there was time, like during a break. I felt good about my snatch test, after passing it twice in rehearsal the week before. But I had not tested it at the end of a string of workouts. (For those of you who haven’t been to many certification weekends, the typical pattern is to not only teach you a lot but to work you out at the same time. Thus, it is good to have built up a lot of work capacity prior to such an event or else surviving two days of workouts every 1.5-2 hours can be very challenging.) So I was kind of worried but I decided to wait to test with the group. A few of our group did test before. They didn’t help my growing anxiety about passing.

After about 2-3 workouts later, and refueling at Whole Foods plus some sweet potato powder drink, we made it to the snatch test which I passed and felt strong throughout. It was a funny moment because I lost count towards the end, and I was still going and then I hear Dan whisper to Coach Joe to just let me keep going even when I hit 100. Apparently I had finished well before 5 min, probably due to cert adrenaline, and when finally Coach Joe uttered a count of 102, I called it quits by putting down the bell. I passed!

I passed whoo hoo!

I did want to mention that while I was concerned about sustaining energy through the snatch test, it actually wasn’t an issue. I think it was because of my prior training but also because the whole day was a massive warm up which primed my system for the big 5 minute event. So potentially it was better that I waited rather than doing it earlier in the day.

The rest of the weekend went well. I was very concerned after the first day when I thought I had tweaked my back. It was during double KB cleans with 20kg, which I haven’t done in a while. I think I did not absorb force well enough and my back felt a slight twinge. But luckily I had my Frequency Specific Microcurrent unit with me. I slapped it on all night long and used protocols for spine and discs. By morning it felt great! Whew!

The second day was a breeze without the anxiety of the snatch test hanging over me. I was depleted from day one, but felt fine throughout.

My hands survived, as did I!

All the while, Dan proceeded to give us an amazing amount of training knowledge including a ton of historical anecdotes. Much of it is actually documented in his 40 Years with a Whistle book, so I encourage everyone to have a look.

He gave us so many great tidbits. One of these is a set of coaching questions he asks all his clients: 2 decades, 2 years, 2 months, 2 weeks, tomorrow. Basically, you answer what you want to be doing for each time frame from now with 3-5 goals. Then as the time frame gets closer to the present, you start filling in things that will get you to the previous time frame’s items. I liked this; it plays well into my current training as a health coach.

Overall, his lectures were amazing look into a man who has literally done it all, and was there at the beginning of the fitness world. I did not expect this but basically we got a mini-private workshop with Dan John alongside this kettlebell certification.

He also paid me the most amazing compliment: As he handed me my certificate, he says “Dave, at 53 years old, you were one of the most prepared I’ve ever seen at a cert.”

It’s not in my nature to half-ass anything and especially this particular cert. As mentioned in my previous post, this cert was 8 years in the making. Since buying my first kettlebell off Amazon back in 2011, I’ve been trying to reach the requirements to pass a KB cert. It’s been a long journey, starting with the very wrong assumption that I could somehow hit a cert within a year. I was dead wrong. My body was not up to the task, and I had to spend a ton of time learning movements that were harder than they looked. KBs also revealed many deficiencies in my body and all of them had to be addressed. I got hurt many times through the years. These were disc injuries, shoulder problems, nerve problems, grip problems, forearm and elbow issues, along with neck and torso issues, and by the way throw in poor breathing patterns on top. I spent 8 years going through my body and fixing everything one by one and my KB technique improved each time.

I also sought out the best teachers I could find and want to thank them now for their advice and training along the way: Mark “Rif” Reifkind, Dave “Iron Tamer” Whitley, Kathy Dooley, Steve “Fury” Holiner, Aleks “The Hebrew Hammer” Salkin. There is also Tim Anderson and Original Strength which was instrumental in bringing my body back up to par. Also I’d like to thank the many therapists who taught me about rehab and movement restoration: Rikke Johansen, Steve Capobianco, Bob Gazso, Tina Madison. Many thanks to Martha Plescia and Christine Koth for their guidance on using Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) to address my shoulder nerve entrapment issue as well as speed up healing of any spine tweaks, and recovery in general. Along with FSM, I credit the Micro-Pulse, an amazing device using pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF), that brought me back in action time and time again when I would tweak my back or develop an ache in my elbows.

Lastly, during the cert, Dan John offered to coach me going forward. Disbelieving, I contacted him a few days later about it, just wondering what he meant by that. Honestly I didn’t think it would go anywhere; who here hasn’t gotten an offer like that only to find out later it was false? He replied, we had a phone conversation, and have been trading emails since. It is a testament to the man that he meant what he said and actually followed up. It also shows Dan’s generosity of giving his own time, whether a few minutes to pen a quick email reply, or even hop on the phone with me. At the moment, I’m not ready for full coaching, but I have a ton of ideas where to go next as well help from his end. One of these is his new website, Dan John Workouts.com. It’s basically a programs generator, built around some of his key programs. At $19/month, I consider this a steal, both as an end user and as a coach (if any clients want me to click buttons for them :-/).

All in all an AMAZING cert! I’m super glad I passed, after spending 8 years preparing for this moment. I highly recommend any time spent with Dan John. If you ever get an opportunity to experience coaching with him, or hear him I speak, I encourage you to jump at the chance!