Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Game Changer

There are only a couple of weeks before my book is released and I recently started some media coaching with a publicist at Harper One.  Fingers crossed that I'll get lots of interviews, including and especially on TV, and saying the right things in a short amount of time not only benefits me and the sales of my book, but to all RKC's in the business of teaching the kettlebell swing. Very exciting times ahead for all.

I remember last year when Tim Ferriss' 4 HB came out and how generous he has been with everybody who was part of the success of his book.  I hope I can do the same.  But at the end of the day I will still be doing what I always do, and that's to keep training, keep teaching and sharing what an amazing and transformative exercise the kettlebell swing has been in my life on more than a physical level.

One of the questions I was asked to think about in preparation was this one;

"Beyond losing weight and getting fit, how has your life changed since you first picked up a kettlebell?"

I didn't have to think about the answer to this for more that 1 second....losing weight and getting fit changes everything, even if nothing else were to have changed.

Sure, I am an RKC Instructor, teaching all kinds of people from ex Marines and competitive athletes, to skinny, fat, young and old, the kettlbell swing.  And of course the biggest change is that I am now a published author....yay, hooray, I, yes me, "Tracy Reifkind" is a published author with my name in print on the side of a freakin' book that will be for sale in actual books stores, with pictures of me, yes me, former 250lb+ chubby all my life, formerly obese, almost 50 year old, self, demonstrating and teaching an exercise!  Crazy, crazy, wonderfully crazy!  But back to regular life.....

If none of this other stuff happened I would still be a mother, wife, grandmother, maybe I'd still be a professional Manicurist, maybe I'd have gone to cooking school?  All of this "other" stuff, the real stuff my life is made of is completely changed by losing weight and getting fit.

A healthy, light, fit wife and mother is completely different from an unhealthy, heavy obese inactive wife and mother.  I cannot have changed such a huge part of my physical life without changing absolutely everything else in the process.  Being healthy light and fit is a game changer, the game changer, at least it was for me. Once you cross having to lose weight, getting healthy and "in shape" off the list nothing else seems hard.  Think about it...what would be next for you to do in life, but to enjoy every other thing that much more?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Better Than Nothing? Really?


OK, so here's the deal...  I am so freakin' crazy happy that I can do an "exercise" like the swing, not only can I "do" it, but I can "train" it, and I can realize an athletic potential that few people my age ever think they are capable of acheiveing mush less excelling at. ...and I'm not even taking into consideration my history of obesity or practically a lifetime of inactivity.... I've said it before and I'll say it again....I've written about it before and I'll write about it again...the kettelbell swing, the kettlebell ballistics, are the great equalizer!

I'm not trying to be down on any other kind of training or exercise BUT working in a fitness studio (and I experienced this at Equinox) and seeing all the crazy ass stuff that other people do makes me so appreciate how I train.  For starters, when I describe it as "crazy" I mean #1 dangerous, and #2 not effective for any real life application, much less effective at making any kind of visible physical changes before one gets discouraged and stops, #3 does not produce any, or very little, measurable progress as far as learning a skill that involves strength.

Sure, I acknowledge and appreciate the effort of anybody that gets their butt to a gym, fitness studio, yoga class, or follows any kind of physical pursuit, hobby, or sport, no matter what their current condition is.  And for those people that invest in hiring a trainer to help them, I say "bravo".  But it's not all good.  Should anyone be satisfied with "well, it's better than nothing"?  Not if it's dangerous and I see that kind of stuff all the time.  From deconditioned, weak, overweight, or down right elderly people asked to do side steps and step ups, to passing out in a Bikrams yoga class in the 104 degree heat, are these things better than nothing?  And just because you may be young (er) and not overweight is a burpee the best exercise to help you get in shape?  Do you know what kind of strength is involved in performing a "correct" and safe burpee?

To quote a Master RKC that I happen to know....."There is no bad exercises, it's when exercise is are performed badly.  You should be qualified to perform an exercise because you've progressively worked toward the skill." 

Knowing what I know, having been where I've been, when I see the effort people are willing and committed to putting in, all I want is for them is to actually see, and feel a pay off....and I know that training the kettlebell swing will give them that.

OK, enough already.  We all find our own way.  I've found mine.  I can walk right by all the fancy smancy equipment, straight to the kettlebells.  All I need is in one cast iron weight with a handle.  I don't have to settle for anything that is "better than nothing".

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Classic 100" Swing Ladder Workout

Here is another version of one of my workouts I consider a "Classic 100".  A "classic one hundred" is a workout whose total rep count is divisible by 100 reps. You can do part of it, all of it, double it, etc..  A "classic 100" uses my swing progressions usually in sets of 10, 20, 30 and 40 rep sets.

This workout uses my newest swing ladder progressions, so if you haven't practiced them it would be a good idea to do the workout I posted a couple of weeks ago.  I am posting each rotation for this workout in four videos so you can take the rest period you need between every rotation. (suggested rest periods are in parenthesis) This workout would also qualify for a "one bell" routine.

workout "classic 100"

10 tr (15/15)
20 tr (30/30)
30 tr (45/45)
40 tr (1 min/1 min)

1/2 sw ld
1-4 sw ld
1-5 sw ld
2-6 sw ld

5/5 x 1
10/10 x 1
5/5 + 10/10 x 1
10/10 x 2

10 2 hd sw
20 2 hd sw
30 2 hd sw
40 2 hd sw

400 swings, 20 min.
100 swings, 5 min per rotation done "equal work to rest"

I also taped a "power swing" workout with 3 variations and hope to post that by Monday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First Things First

Is it Wednesday already?  The best things about Mondays and Wednesdays for me are that I get to cook and prepare food all morning.  I have the most energy and the least hunger first thing in the mornings so it's perfect for me to pre make meals for the following days. In fact it's unusual that I would even be on the computer right now before I get some foods started.

I learned a few new things from hangin' with my bud, Fawn, even though she probably doesn't know it!  She picks up a few things from being in the gym when I teach classes and I pick a few things being around her and the kitchen.  Fawn's salads are different from the ones I make.  My salads are cabbage based so I can make them ahead of time.  Fawn uses more delicate salad ingredients that are best prepped and put together as you are ready to eat them, baby greens, avocado, cucumber, etc.  as long as you have these ingredients it takes only a couple of minutes to put together a really fresh yummy I'll be trading in the cabbage (and Brussels) for a while...

But first things first.  Soup. I roasted a turkey the day before Fawn arrived, harvested the meat, some of it ended up in our salads, some in the freezer and on Monday I made some really rich turkey stock from the carcass that I'll use in some lentil soup this morning.  I can also PC some 6 grain rice for later toady and for the week, and organize what ingredients I have sitting in my fridge that need to be used, making a list of some others to fill in gaps (baby greens and kale I know I need).

So here I go....bye.  (go make your lunch!)

Friday, February 17, 2012


OK, first thing this morning we checked in on the San Jose RKC, took a few pictures, and then headed up to San Francisco.  I decided we should hit the shopping real quick before the bridge....but we never made it to the GG...whoops...  It's fine because Fawn is here for 2 1/2 more days, we'll get around to it because I really want to walk across it, maybe Sunday.

I was a little stressed for time as I had the honor of leading a 10 minute "Sinister" swing workout with the RKC candidates scheduled for 3:00-ish and traffic was crazy.

After swinging the 25kg for 200 reps we made a beeline for the nearest market for dinner supplies and now? Well now we are waiting for Mark to come home and enjoy a bottle of and some dinner together.  Life is good, and spending some time with a best friend makes it that much better! more really really cool freakin' thing.  Heard the UPS drive up...but I didn't order anything (I know, hard to believe), and low and behold?  I received 4 hard back copies of my book, sent to me by my editor!  Awesome!

Spending the day with Fawn

I'll come back with an actual picture of me and Fawn on the Golden Gate....that's where Fawn and I are headed after crashing the Cert real quick....

I've never walked across the Golden Gate as long as I've lived here....of course we have to stop at Lululemon in the City first....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Soup!

I'm in the home stretch of trying to get my home ready for a house guest, and cleaning out the fridge is topping my list.  A few months ago I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) and have been buying a small box of locally grown organic produce, more about that another time.  The point is that I've been getting produce I would not normally buy and I'm learning a big lesson about waste, again, more about that another time.

There's nothing a smoked piece of meat can't make taste delicious!  Along with my pressure cooker I cooked up a batch of smoked turkey, chicken and bean soup with everything else I had in my kitchen, but the kitchen sink!  See if you can identify all of the veggies, there are nine (well actually eight, but two different parts of the same veg).

I haven't pre soaked my beans in forever, basically since I did some pressure cooker recipes for Tim Ferriss, trying to get into his new book (4 Hour Chef), none of which made the cut, but I believe that's only because Tim didn't let me teach him! lol.  Anyway, all of the recipes I adapted for the smaller 4 qt PC, as time needed to be taken into consideration, and although I used my new 6qt this morning, I used two methods I learned from the prior experience, #1 I used dry, unsoaked beans, #2 I cut my smoked meat into thirds to cook faster.  The whole process took around 1/2 hour-45 minutes. I also cleaned out all the veg and chicken bone scraps in the freezer and used my 10qt to make them into stock. I've got another batch of soup to make (chicken lentil and mushroom) but I ran out of celery.

I skipped 6:00am yoga for a later class, still a ton of things to get done glad I cleaned out and got rid of so much crap already!  It's 7:30am and I've got to leave in 1 hour....can I get the fridge done in 1 hour?  Yikes!

PS  You know a soup is good when you can eat it cold!  I think I ate near another whole bowl waiting for my dinner portion to heat up!  

Veggie list, from bottom to top.  Jalapeno, yellow onion, leeks, celery romanesco, Brussels, outer leaves and stems (the rest was used for salad), celery root (top left), carrot (top right).  I also used white beans and pintos, chicken thighs and 1 lg smoked turkey leg.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tracyrif's Newest Kettlebell Swing Ladder Combinations and Workout!

Real quick because I've got to take off to teach this morning....

Here are some new swing ladders that accompany my "1/2 swing ladder" (1/2 sw ld).  I demonstrate, again, the 1/2 sw ld and added three more swing ladders that equal 20, 30, and 40 reps.  There is only one little tricky part so watch the video to see what I'm referring to.

In the video I demonstrate each swing ladder three times.  I decided to keep it all on one video so you could use it as a workout in itself!  (skip around if you don't want to watch the whole thing).  It takes 15 minutes and totals 300 swing reps!

1/2 sw ld x 3 (10 reps, 15 sec)
1-4 sw ld x 3 (20 reps, 30 sec)
1-5 sw ld x 3 (30 reps, 45 sec)
2-6 sw ld x 3 (40, reps, 1 min)
300 swings

Practice these combinations because I've got a killer workout using them that I will post next week.

If the video does not get uploaded before I leave I'll have to do it when I get home this afternoon.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Universal thoughts about home cooked meals

I came across this article on Etsy of all places,

The writer so nicely puts into words the same feelings I have about home cooking.

"The women’s efforts underline just how innate an instinct cooking is, an activity that fundamentally makes us feel human. Whether preparing food with high-end appliances or repurposed, makeshift tools, the act of cooking provides a sense of home and belonging. "


Always here

I should be cleaning something right now in preparation of Fawn's visit in less than a week! But instead I'm sitting at my computer drinking another cup of coffee a small state of overwhelm.  I've got a long list of things to do, yet I can't bring myself to start my day....well, I did actually get a bunch of stuff done already, but I hit a snafu.

I taught a close friend of mine how to swing last Friday morning, and we agreed that she would "give it a go" every Friday for 4 weeks, at my request, before making a judgement about it, or deciding it "didn't work".   This morning I waited....did some light Get-ups....opened up my hips with a few goblet squats....did a few hangs and planks....did a few more goblet friend.

I have mixed feelings.  Sure I feel a little let down.  But my experience with this kind of thing in the past is that I can't do it for anybody I can only do it for myself.  I can not, and will not, chase anybody down and beg them to train.  But I'll always be here if anyone needs me.  It's not just what I do, it's who I am.

Yikes....15 minutes to get ready to leave for yoga....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Same 'ol, same 'ol

It's been brought to my attention that I haven't been posting much about dieting....I agree!  Couple of reasons....

#1 Not much has changed in forever.  Usually I have two or three favorite meals and I eat them everyday and I look forward to them everyday.  All of the foods I make for myself I enjoy tremendously, no complaints, no wanting for anything different. And the fact that I take the responsibility for feeding myself makes me the happiest of all.

 I eat 2 meals with a large amount of veg and protein, either a salad, and/or soup.  I routinely pack my own lunch and foods to take with me if I'm going to be away from home.

Although I roast chickens and turkeys like a mad woman I've also been eating more complex carbs lately, in fact I've been eating more calories lately.  If I could live on plain yogurt and Grape-Nuts (and a squeeze of lime), or multigrain rice and peanut butter I would!  I rarely have both of those meals on the same day....but it's been known to happen.

I still start my days out with coffee and real, whole cream...usually 1 tbl per 10 oz cup.

If I buy it, I'll eat it, so most times I don't buy it...most times.  Dang, I wish they sold little bitty boxes of Grape-Nuts!  But truly, I can go weeks without buying them or eating them.

5 days out of seven I finish my last meal between 4:30pm and 6:00pm.  I eat my first meal (s) between 11:00-1:00pm....which brings me to my next reason....

#2 My book will be released in 6 weeks and I write about my diet strategies and philosophy extensively.  Not to mention that throughout the past 5 or 6 years of blog posts I've written about the same basic diet beliefs.  For me I use a combination of calorie counting and nutritional science.  I'm very familiar with how certain foods affect me, and that's why I still have half a dozen Japanese sweet potatoes sitting on my kitchen counter instead of in my stomach!

For me I know what kind of "trade-offs" I want to, and need to make.  For instance, I'll choose multi grain rice over sweet potatoes, or I may not have one of my treats to save up a double treat for the next day or the weekend. But I get to eat plenty of the foods I love, and I'm happy with the amount of food I get to eat given my training schedule (around 1900-2200 calories a day to maintain my current bodyweight).

I get into a routine Sunday through Saturday afternoon, and then I get to "party".  Last week my party was, yep, sweet potatoes AND yogurt with Grape-Nuts!  Pretty crazy huh?  OK, throw lots of chocolate fudge in the mix, and a shared bottle of good red that's a party!

But seriously, I never eat fast food, and only eat out when I'm practically forced.  French fries and french bread are distant memories and I don't miss them at all.....but as I just admitted, I love Grape-Nuts, so I'm not trying to come across as some sort of "clean eating" snob.  I also eat a piece or two of candy 3-5 days out of 7.  I love sugar and I love salt, but just because I love these things doesn't mean I love how they make me feel.  And because I know how I'll feel by overeating those and other foods
it's rare that I "binge" eat.

But at times I do find myself acting out the old habit of eating something's not against the law!  I don't know why sometimes I react to an old trigger, but when I look back at this kind of behavior I know that it's not the reason for the reaction, but the habit the reaction creates that I want to change...make sense?  I don't have to stay awake at night trying to figure it out....but I have been known to get up to figure out an idea for a swing routine.....

The last blog posts I wrote about "Eating In" were actually in direct answer to someone who messaged me on facebook.  I still enjoy talking about diet, food and eating and I'm happy to give my opinions when asked. I want this kind of success for everybody!  There's something to be said about the same 'ol, same 'ol.  But I am still evolving, thank goodness!  Like training, I go in and out of food and eating phases, and when I do, you'll be the first to know!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Another "Plus 50%" workout, but this time I show you how to get there with "work into rest"!

Here is the workout I created last week.  I went through it a few times with clients, and in my own training, working out the details, but as you will see in the videos, even I "mess up"!  A left out set, a miscounted set, but at the end of the day it still adds up! Here is a 600 swing workout that will help you add 50% more to your workload!

I explain the workout in the first video, but what I want you to watch in the workout videos (if you do watch the videos!) is how I coach Anne on how to change the workout to suite her abilities and needs (Anne is getting ready for the RKC in less than 2 weeks and started training with me about 4 weeks ago....I'm happy to say she did in fact pass her snatch test last weekend!).

Anne was doing the same workout but only using the two hand swing, until she felt the need to relieve her grip and use the one hand swing.  She also uses, progressively heavier bells leading up to the 24kg in the last half of the workout.  She did a great job scaling workloads, in fact I think she mentioned it was the first time she had ever swung the 24kg!  Won't be the last though!


rotation #1 (both videos demonstrate both #1 and #2 rotations, but slightly different versions)

10 2 hd sw x 5 (2.5)
11, 12, 13, 14, 15 reps (2.5)

5 min, 115 swing per rotation

rotation #2

10 tr x 5 (2.5)

10 tr + 1 2 hd sw
11 2 hd sw
10 tr + 2 2 hd sw
12 2 hd sw
10 tr+ 3 2 hd sw
13 2 hd sw
10 tr + 4 2 hd sw
14 2 hd sw (I forgot this set...but don't you!)
10 tr + 5 2 hd sw
15 2 hd sw

7.5 min, 180 swings per rotation (there is another video demo on youtube FYI)

repeat rotation #1

10 2 hd sw x 5 (2.5)
11, 12, 13, 14, 15 reps (2.5)

repeat rotation #2

5/5 one hd sw x 5 (2.5)

11 2 hd sw,
5/5 + 1 2 hd sw
12 2 hd sw
5/5 + 2 2 hd sw
13 2 hd sw
5/5 + 3 2 hd sw
14 2 hd sw
5/5 + 4 2 hd sw
15 2 hd sw
5/5 + 5 2 hd sw

add at the end

10 2 hd sw x 1 set

total workout (including 1 minute rest periods between all rotations (4))
29.5 minutes, 600 swings

Saturday, February 4, 2012

No Brain Cells...a freakin' great day, a freakin' great life!

Good God....sorry for those that are offended by my using of God's name in vain but....

I had a grrr-eat day (in the words of Tony the tiger).

I must be the luckiest person I know.

I don't have the energy to write an entire blog post, only highlights of my life, today....

Let's start out with this morning.  Awesome workout in my first class and hopefully by the end of the weekend I hope to post the entire thing.  "Riding shotgun"....I've been lucky enough to have a great training partner for the past month who's getting ready for the RKC in 2 weeks, Anne Jelinek.  Here in this little tidbit....Anne is swinging the 24kg and rising to the occasion!  (sometimes when you know a camera is taping you can dig a little deeper!)

My morning went on to lead two more classes and a few more privates....with an awesome large cup of coffee from Philz', and a new pair of striped tights purchased at Lululemon, Palo Alto...seriously cute with a capitol CUTE!

I've also reconnected with someone who had a huge impact on my life but disappeared for the last year.  Miracles happen, and I'll never stop believing in them.

I'm drinking an amazing bottle of wine right now, and that's why I have to get back to you in the morning. (lol)

So much good stuff.  My best friend Fawn will be here in less than two weeks.  Mark and I will be traveling to Israel, possibly India and Croatia this next year.  I'm getting closer and closer to getting rid of all of the riff raff crapola in my life.  My oldest son Rick will be 30 years old this month and is ready to make some really positive changes in his life that hopefully I can help him with (hopefully I've been the example for him).  I have absolutely nothing to complain about...lucky me.

But, as Mark says, "You live the life of the rich and retired!"  And you know what?  Thanks to him, the love of my life, I do!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fast is Not Boring

Thursdays are turning out to be great swing workouts for me....but seriously when do I have a bad swing workout?  Never!  I go out into the garage gym with an idea, I get to train the idea for about 15 minutes before my training partners (now only a single partner) show up and then I get to take them through a longer, harder version of what I had practiced before they got there!  Then I get to do it all over and tape it for all of you guys! (I'll post the new swing workout before the weekend)

I only have about 2 hours in total to train, and video taping sometimes takes up more of that precious time than I predict (batteries run out, I flub up the instructions, etc).  When I finished all of my swings, I had to do some sort of snatching, since I did only swings and jerks on Tuesday.  What to do, what to do... I know I'll do 10/10 (R/L) 12kg snatches as fast as I can "on the minute" for 15 minutes!  That's 20 snatches per set and in only 15 minutes that equals 300!

Well, I managed to squeak out another 5 sets for a total of 20 sets of 20 reps, 400 snatches in 20 minutes time.  Although I repeated only one set over and over 20 times, in no way would I describe it as boring!  I just didn't have time to be bored!

If you cannot snatch this many reps, at all, or this fast, the good news is that you don't have too!  But remember that the point of these sets is speed, not rep count!  If you can only do 5/5, or 6/6, or 8/8 and use the remainder of the minute to rest enough to start the next set strong and ready to go. But do them as quickly and cleanly as your ability allows.  Do not "short" the snatch reps.  If you can do 11/11, 12/12 or more, great!  The training goal is to know how to go right up to the edge, your edge, not over, BUT leaving a little room for the next workout.  I may do more reps, I may ladder up or down, or I may use a different weight next time, neither is better or worse, just different.  In fact, you know I will indeed do another version of this workout on Saturday....haven't decided what yet, only that it will be just a bit more challenging...or maybe this exact workout, repeated, will feel more challenging than it did today.  Different day, different body...I'll see which one shows up this weekend!

What is the fastest way you would do 300-400 snatch reps? (not counting doing them continuously)  these were done at a 30 rep per minute pace btw.

video demonstrates the last set of 10/10 "on the minute" (40 sec work/20 sec rest)