Saturday, March 30, 2013

Rise to the Occasion of Your Everyday Life, The Swing Quest

I would love to write a blog post about this mornings 2013 The Swing Quest, but I'm beat!  All I have to say is that everybody amazed me in the most positive way!  One of my students that has never done more that 1/4 of what we did this morning stayed and completed it, and was happy about it!  Her intention was to only stay for one 500 rep workout!  Another student paced herself doing what she could and chose her bell size carefully to be able to finish with all of us.  And yet another who started training with me just last year, has already lost a good amount of weight, and has never missed a workout, killed it at the event this morning.  Oh yes, and a facebook friend that has only been training with me using my DVD's fit right into the group and completed each and every swing!

The Swing Quest is an idea I came up with last year before my book came out and I still have a lot of work to do to get it up and running.  First I have to define what it is, and I will, as soon as I figure it out!  But what I can tell you is what it isn't.  The Swing Quest is not a "challenge" to do more swings than anybody else on the planet!  It's a commitment.  A commitment to training regularly, whether it's swings or something else. The point is not to rise to the occasion for a one time event, or a month long of workouts.  The point is to rise to the occasion of your everyday life and to live to your physical potential.

I was hoping to model The Swing Quest events like marathons, to organize and offer them a few times a year so we could all train together.  But the difference is that it's not a race, but it a particular distance.  Yes it is designed for over 2000 swing reps, based on the "2 hour distance", but you can swing less, or swing light if that's where you are this time!  I hope to break it down and translate it into the equivalent of a 5K or 10K working up to the marathon.  Either way it's all good and fine!  The goal is to show up, and keep showing up because The Swing Quest is never over!

I hope I can get it together, and work out the details to inspire you to want to be part of The Swing Quest with me, with us!  You are all invited!

June 29th, 2013. Be there or be square!

Friday, March 29, 2013

"Ten" reworked and ready for The Swing Quest 2013

Here is the cheat sheet I made up for the new reworked routine "Ten".  I will have all of the workouts written down not only for me to follow, but it will be helpful for the participants to know what's coming  up too!  I went through the first two routines yesterday morning and already decided to make a little change and it's a good thing I did too. Not only do I see a better adjustment, but I made a mistake and accidentally repeated a couple of sets adding 120 extra swings, Yikes!  I would have had to change the name of the event to The Swing Quest 2133!

I you do in fact follow my cheat sheet for an individual workout at any time it's still a great routine! The mistake was in the sets after the 7 min warm up and practice sets.

10 2 hd sw
10 R + 10 2 hd sw
10 L + 10 2 hd sw
10 R + 10 L

I accidentally wrote "x 2" after the first set and tried to change it to a "1" but as you can see it still looks like a "2"  So I wrote a note on the left side to repeat "x1, x2, x3" to remind me that the four sets are only done one time the first go round.  There are four sets in this rotation and in the original only the first set (10 2 hd sw) and the last set (10/10) are repeated in a 1-3 ladder.  The two sets in between are always only done once...but if you do them twice (the extra reps) you would repeat all the same side before moving on, for instance;

10 2 hd sw x 2 (or x 3)
10 R + 10 2 hd x 2 sets (or x 3, then go on to the L side)
10 L + 10 2 hd sw x 2 sets (or x 3, then go on to repeat the last set)
10 R + 10 L x 2 sets ( or x 3)

This way it equals 620 reps for the entire workout (31 min), or if you only take all 15 sec rest intervals it still only takes 25 minutes exactly.  I know that because that's what I did using a lighter weight.  That's also how I knew it was wrong!  The workout took too long with the shorter rest periods which didn't make sense, and that's when I went back and saw where the mistake was.

I did not have time to do a video demo yesterday, and I'm not planning on video taping any of the workouts on Saturday.  I will be writing another post about the event and including the re-worked routines in short hand.  But to start you off, here is the first one.  It's 500 reps exactly (25 min) and all work is done with an equal rest ratio.


10 2 hd sw x 2 sets (15/15 x 2 = 1 min)
10 R
10 L x 2 sets each (15/15 x 4 = 2 min)
10 2 hd sw + 10 R
10 2 hd sw + 10 L
10 R + 10 2 hd sw
10 L + 10 2 hd sw (30/30 x 4 sets above = 4 min)

warm up 140 swings 7 min.

10 2 hd sw x 1 set(15/15 = 30 sec)

10 R + 10 2 hd ( 30/30)
10 L + 10 2 hd sw (30/30 = 1 min)
10/10 x 1 (30/30 = 1 min)

3.5 min 70 swings

10 2 hd sw x 2 (15/15 x 2 = 1 min)
10 R + 10 2 hd sw x 1 (30/30) x 2 if you want the longer version
10 L + 10 2 hd sw x 1 (30/30) x 2
10/10 x 2 sw x 2 (30/30 x 2 = 2 min)

100 swings 5 min

10 2 hd sw x 3 (15/15 x 3 = 1.5 min)

10 R + 10 2 hd sw x 1 (30/30) x 3
10 L + 10 2 hd sw x 1 (30/30) x 3
10 R / 10 L one hand sw x 3 (30/30 x 3 = 3 min) 
130 swing, 6.5 min

10 2 hd sw x 1 set
10 L x 2 sets each, alternating
10 2 hd sw x 1 set
60 reps, 3 min

500 swings, 25 minutes

620 swings, 25 min if you only take all 15 sec rest intervals.  This is the advanced version

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Everything Old is New Again! Five 2 minute 16kg snatch tests revisted!

I came across a snatch workout I did two years ago (almost exactly).  It consisted of five 2 minute snatch sets w/16kg resting 2 minutes in between each work set.  The sets were tested for reps, all out.  Although I forgot about doing it until I came across it, I completely remember that day and how hard it was!  And you do know when I say "hard" I mean "fun", right?  I was surprised at how short a 2 minute rest period is, but then again a 2 minute work set goes by pretty quickly too!

As I mentioned, the original workout was, for the most part, done for highest rep total.  My rep counts 2 years ago were:

set #1 57 reps
set #2 57 reps
set #3 57 reps
set #4 58 reps
set #4 58 reps

In total, 10 minutes of work, 287 16kg snatch reps

Because of my recent interest and adventure into Kettlebell Sport, where the goal is only one hand switch per 10 minute set, the longer you train your grip and your technique to last before having to switch hands the better.  So this time around I decided to train the first set 'all out' switching hands when I felt the need.  The next 3 sets I would try a 'hand switch progression'.  The second set I switched every 30 seconds.  The third set I switched at 45 sec, leaving two 15 sec switches at the end.  The forth set I switched at 1 min/1min, and the last set I went all out again...well at least all out as I could!

I never did post the original workout OR video, so here is the first set from 2 years ago and all five of the sets I did yesterday.

March 2011, set #1 57 reps

This was done using my "old" snatch test rep strategy of:
7/7 (50 reps, repeat to equal 100 if I were doing a 5 min test)
+ 7 R
Funny looking back at it know how I was so afraid of 10 consecutive reps and mow I can do 20 +, hell I did 18 consecutive 20kg reps a couple of weeks ago!  I've come a long way, but in some ways not really!  Total rep count was nearly the same!

Here I switched hands when I felt the need.  Like my 20kg test a couple of weeks ago I depended on the video (or counter) to give me a total rep count and I only switched when I felt I needed to.  The breakdown went like this
10 R/ 11 L
12 R/ 13 L
7 R/ 8 L
2 R
total 58 reps

This next set, #2, I switched hands every 30 seconds.  The breakdown went like this,
14 R/14 L
11 R/13 L
total 53
My left side is usually stronger because it's driven by my right leg.  You may start to see a new technique developing....

Set #3, the first hand switch was at 45 sec, that left a 30 sec interval so I had to switch at 15 second R and L at the end.  The breakdown?
20 R/17 L
6 R/ 7L
total 50
So you see, the less you get to switch hands the more you have to conserve your grip.  In the next set for sure you will see a huge difference in form and technique when I could only switch hands one time.

Last set with restricted hand switch, 1 min/1 min,
23 R/21 L 
total 45
I think I take more time getting in the last rep on the R side, and because of that the transfer swing takes 5 seconds out of the time my L has.  Interesting to me that I'm not purposely trying a different technique!  But once you train for endurance it's almost a natural progression to use you hips and the momentum of the bell more than your grip and pure brute strength.

Okay, enough fun!  Last set so let's get back to some "all out" go for it snatches!  I chose to switch at a traditional 10 reps per R and L
10 R/10 L x 4 
5 R
total 55

The total for five two minute sets was 261 compared to two years ago 287, a 26 rep difference.  Not scared of more than 10 snatches anymore!  But I also felt the rest period of 2 minutes was more than enough, where as when I went for total reps, mulitple hand switches two years ago I was still sucking wind as the rest period ended!  26 total reps makes a huge difference, but what is the training goal?  This time around I had other priorities, next time? Well, who knows!  It was still hard and hell of fun!  261 26kg snatches before my swing workout?  Nice!

PS  I lead my next class through their workout for an hour, but it wasn't really "my" swing workout. So I did some 28kg swings around 12noon, alternating two sets,
20 2 hd sw reps "otm"
10 2 hd sw reps "otm"
x 10 rounds
300 reps, 20 minute

Not even at an equal work to rest, but it was the 28kg for god's sake after a long morning! lol

Monday, March 25, 2013

Herbs and Meat Pie!

Here in Northern California, where I live, winter seems to be over and spring is starting to arrive!  Really?  I think so!  I say that because for the past 2-3 years, maybe longer, spring and summer kind of skipped us!  It wasn't cold and it wasn't hot, but it wasn't "nice" either!  It was weird and unpredictable.  Summer, for sure, forgot us!

Last week I made a chicken pot pie, pastry and all.  Typically a winter dish, in fact I'm not sure now what lead me to making it in the first place (?).  Meat pies are basically, meat, veg, gravy, topped with pastry or mashed potatoes (Shepard's pie), or variation on.  These days everybody seems to want to try and change traditional meals/dishes to fit more modern dietary beliefs (less carbs, less fats, no gluten), and I completely understand.  I've screwed up my share of dishes trying to make them "healthier"!  But I'm a huge fan of traditional recipes using good cooking techniques.  Make minor adjustments successfully and then get all crazy with it!

This morning I made a second meat pie.  Shopping for ingredients over the weekend I knew I wanted more herbs!  But I also wanted to taste the last bits of winter.  Mushrooms, onion, celery, and carrot are the staple veggies and this time around I added brussels and rutabaga...rutabaga, the forgotten, or never thought about, "secret" delicious root veggie!  I could live on rutabaga, sweet potatoes and kabocha squash!  In fact instead of a pastry crust you could make a mashed topping of any of three or a combination of (celery root and cauliflower would be great in a mashed veg topping too!). I had some leftover tarragon and I picked up some chives from the market.


Knowing how to cook with and prepare foods with fresh herbs is so....I don't!  I've decided that this is going to be the year of the herb!  I started by ordering 2 cookbooks, "The Herbal Kitchen" and "The Herb Farm Cookbook", both by Jerry Traunfeld.  I might even grow an herb garden!  My BFF Fawn is the Queen of the Herbal Salad and I've got to talk her into sharing, posting, creating and teaching her method for putting salads together using fresh herbs!  Lots of good herbal goodness to come!  But before winter is gone, make a meat pie!

Chicken Pie

Harvest the meat from one cooked chicken in big chinks (homemade or store bought already roasted).  Personally I love a "meat heavy" pie!  But you could use as little as 2 large breasts or 1/2 chicken.

Olive oil (or chicken fat)
mushrooms (1/2 lb cut into quarters)
onion (1 med, large dice)
celery (2 stalks, large dice)
1 lg, or 2 sm carrots (peeled and cut into rounds)
1-1/2 c. frozen peas
2 tbl flour
1 - 2 c chicken stock
1 c. heavy cream (or half and half, or whole milk)
salt and pepper (do I still have to list salt and pepper?)


Pastry (aka pie crust)

If you don't want to make pie dough then I suggest "Pillsbury Already-Made Pie Crust"!  It's super yummy and I promise no one will know the difference!

Mashed root vegetable topping, or combination of.

potato (russet, or any variety of sweet potato)
celery root

Simply heat up 1-2 t/l oil and saute mushrooms and onion for 4-5 min.  Add celery and carrot (brussels cut into halves, potato or rutabaga in med dice) and saute for another 4-5 min.  Sprinkle 2 tbl flour, coating veggies, and cook until "raw" flour smell is gone.  Add chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Add cream/milk and fresh herbs.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for 10-15 minutes on med/low and the sauce (gravy) should thicken while you deal with the pastry!

If using you own pastry recipe, it should have been "resting" in the fridge for at least one hour, and now it's time to roll out!  If using already made pie crust, simply open package!  If using a mashed topping you should have been boiling water and cooking potato/root veg in salted water until soft enough to mash, and now's the time to finish that!

Once sauce is thick and vegetables are partially cooked through, turn off the heat and add cooked chicken and frozen peas (if using).  Stir to combine and pour cooked veg and gravy into casserole, or pie dish. (oh, and please taste at this time to make sure you have seasoned it enough with salt and pepper).  If using pastry, brush the parameter with an egg wash, that's the bottom sides that will "stick" to the casserole dish.  After topping with pastry, brush the entire top with egg wash and slice a few steam vents, in a decorative manner of course (!) on the top.  OR if using a mashed veg topping, simply spoon and spread on top.  Place into a 375 degree oven starting at 35 minutes.  When the crust is golden brown (it may take 45-50) and the bottom is bubbling the pie is done!

I figure I can roast a turkey this coming week and make a couple of turkey pies!  Once spring hits full force I'll be adding in a ton of spring veg and herbs.  And who know what else!  Now that I'm getting comfortable with pastry again a pear galette?  Or maybe I'll keep it savory.  Or maybe follow the trend of sweet/savory and add in "herby"!

The Swing Quest 2013 Official Invitation!

Did I forget to invite all you all?  What I mean is that I am literally inviting anybody and everybody to actually come, in person, to swing with us!  Whether you are a local KB Instructor or have been working with one or training kettlebells on your own in a gym/home you all are always invited to come to any of my swing classes/workouts any old time, but especially 'The Swing Quest' events I'll be leading every 3 months.

I've been so busy with other projects and workouts that I haven't spent nearly the amount of time I need to promote this event properly.  I hope in the next three months, (before the next event Sat. Jun 29) I can finish the details to get this thing up and running so we can all train together and support and cheer each other on at least 4 times a year.

Mark and I work in Palo Alto (30-40 min south of San Francisco) at Noxcuses Fitness Studio.  Here is the address and phone number:

2741 Middlefield Road, Suite 102, Palo Alto, CA 94306 | 650-325-1273 | 408-421-8293

Next Saturday, March 30, starting at 7:00am I will lead the second 'The Swing Quest 2013' workout.  There are 4 individual swing workouts per event, approx 500 repetitions each.  All workouts are "equal work to rest" which last 25 minutes.  There will be a 5 minute break between each workout so it will last 2 hours!

I wanted to create an event similar to a marathon, but unlike a marathon you can come and go, start or stop anytime you want to.  No one is required to complete all 2013 swing reps, in fact I highly suggest that everybody work to their own level, get a baseline the first time, and then train to reach a little more for the next time!

I'm suggesting that only one bell be used!  This means for 2 hand swings as well as one hand swings, but at the end of the day (or I should say, at the end of 2013 reps) it's up to you.  I will have a few more advanced options for anybody participating that feels their work capacity is beyond this work to rest ratio, but let me tell you, if you are feeling like the rest periods are too long, you don't have the right size bell!

The cost is $40 and if you are interested you must contact me to confirm.  The studio is not that big and can only accommodate a few more people than my regular class size, so space is limited, and bells are limited.  This time I will have someone taking pictures (so come looking pretty!) and everybody will need to come early and sign waivers and releases (also the images will be available to you as well!)

I will write more details about anything I may have forgotten in the next few days.  But if you are within driving distance I would love to have you come and train with me!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"50/50" And what would you do with 30 sets of 15/15?

Saturday morning I start out my own training for 90 minutes, along with two other women, Meg and Maribel.  For the most part they do what I suggest!  Of course they do, that's why they keep coming!  I consider this first 90 minutes of the morning an Advanced level.  It's not just the level of skill, but 90 minutes, 1 1/2 hour is a long, long training session.  In fact I don't know of a whole lot of other people that train much more than 1 hour, if even that.

Meg and Maribel have been training with me for years and I can give them a quick run down of what I want to do, and we'll be off!  I don't have to count reps, or lead them through a particular combination which comes in handy when I'm training with the weights that are challenging and appropriate for me....I'm kinda busy breathing!

I'm barely recovered from my hamstring strain I got a couple of weeks ago during my SFG Cert, but I needed desperately to swing long and heavy.  But I also have to practice next weekends 'The Swing Quest' workouts.  The Swing Quest workouts never have sets longer than 40 reps (1 min), so I altered this one for next weeks workout.

In this Intermediate/Advanced routine all sets are 50 reps done starting every two minutes (1.25 min work/45 sec rest).  Becasuse it's only slightly more difficult because of the work to rest ratio the size weight you use turns it into an advanced workout!  When I posted this workout last August I did not have a video demo, so here it is!  I trained two rotations, the first w/16kg, and the second w/20kg.  And because I used two heavy weights, and trained two rotations and trained sets of 50 I've re-named this workout "50/50"!  This is my actual workout and you won't hear me talking much through the 20kg half!  20kg one hand swings are no joke!

150 16kg 2 hd sw
100 16kg one hd sw
150 20kg 2 hd sw
100 20 kg one hand sw

10 sets of 50, 500 swing total, 20 minutes

We then went on to a quick double and single clean/press/squat warm up, maybe 8-10 minutes.  After the warm up we were all on our own for 30 15/15 sec sets (15 minutes.  I chose squats because I have to make myself do them!

4 dbl sq w/12kg's x 5 sets (2.5 min)
4 sngl 12kg front sq x 10 sets (5 set R, 5 sets L, 5 min)
4 gblt sq w/20kg x 5 sets (it was still in front of me from the swing workout! 2.5 min)
4 gblt sq w/16kg x 5 sets
4 gbl sq w/14kg x 5 sets (whew!)

120 sqats total 
15 min

Meg chose to do all sets of one clean/4 presses;

4 press w/14kg x 10 sets (5 R, 5 L, 5 min)
4 dbl press w/12kg's x 10 sets (5 min)
4 press w/14kg x 4 sets (2 R, 2 L, 2 min)
4 dbl press w/12kg's x 6 sets (3 min)

56 14kg press
64 dbl 12kg's press
15 min.

Maribel chose to do a combination of all three!  She did three sets 10 times;

4 press L w/10kg
4 press R w/10kg
4 gblt sq alternating w/10kg, 12kg, 14kg, repeat two more times starting with 10kg, 12kg, 14kg, and ending the very last set w/dbl 10kg's!  Wow, she laddered up the intensity!

80 10kg press
36 sngl sq
4 dbl sq
15 min.

Looks like Meg also laddered up the intensity, while 'yours truly' laddered down!  Actually I kind of waved the intensity of my squats.  What I didn't realize until the end is that I pretty much did 20 squats with 24kg (dbl 12's), 20kg, 16kg, 14kg and 12kg R, 12kg L.  You can't get much more variety than that!

What would you do with your 15 minutes in 30 sets of 15/15?

We ended the workout with some speed work.  A slightly 'beyond Max' snatch routine for the last 20-25 minutes.

300-350 approx. 12kg snatches

On to my 8:30-9:30 Intermediate class when we did some super fun practice with "cleans" and ended with?  Anybody guess?  Yep, swings!

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Good-ness!  I've been going through old Flip videos and documents/downloads on my old computer so I can edit everything down before transferring to my new computer, and let me tell you something!  I could repeat the last 4 years of workouts and routines, exactly, and still be a better, stronger, more fit and healthier person if I just followed my own training!  If I never, ever, come up with another new thing I could still be challenged every single day!  How did I do some of this stuff?  My blog is a goldmine for the self motivated, if you want to dig out past workouts, and the less motivated if you just want to check in every once in a while and do a couple (hundred) swings!

If you are looking for challenge, read the 5 years of archives on this blog, as well as my original blog 'Living My Physical Potential' that I kept for 4 years! Seriously!  I'm going to go back myself! Seriously!  You think I may be joking?  I'm not!

I have often said that I feel as if I've won the lottery, hit the jackpot, and found the gold at the end of the rainbow.  It's true, it's 100% completely true.

PS the photo from above was taken when I did some sort of 16kg snatch workout that I found on video, but I haven't found blogged.  I think it was five sets, two minutes long "all out" for reps, with maybe 2 minutes rest in between.  The rest period is kind of important, so I HAVE to find out what it was!  Guess what we are going to do at the end of Tuesday mornings class?  

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Pep Do"

Every once in a while I need a pep talk myself.  This seems to be one of those times.

I'm not going to get into all the reasons why, but as I got out of bed this morning, the second morning I've slept in this week (and I rarely sleep in), I almost started to feel sorry for myself.  In my head I tried to give myself a little pep talk and started to think about all the things I should be feeling good about and that's when I realized that I didn't need to listen to myself talk, I needed to make myself 'do'!

Quit wondering why, or where these feeling of crap are coming from, and do something about it! You're gonna feel so much better!

ps this is where cute yoga clothes come in handy!  lol

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Crust and all!

It's been a while, but I'm roasting two chickens this morning.  I was at Whole Foods on Monday and they had priced chickens at $1 per pound less when you bought two.  I stood there, in front of them, contemplating whether or not I wanted to carry two (I had a hand basket, and I was tired!), since I only went in for one!  I walked away...  I also needed to decide whether or not I wanted to deal with two birds when I only really wanted and needed one.  But I did in fact need one, but for a 25% savings I dealt with having to carry both!

That got me thinking about what I wanted to do with two birds.  I don't like freezing an already previously frozen bird (which was also part of my resistance to buying 2).  Roasting two birds is not much more work than one, and it will certainly not go to waste!  I think I'm going to make a chicken pot pie, crust and all! I used to make a pretty mean pie crist, let's see if I still got it!

Chicken pot pie can be loaded with vegetables, winter or spring.  It's a basic white sauce, yes, a bit of flour too.  Herbs are a must, in fact I could probably make an herby crust?  Would that be fun?  Okay, let's not get all fancy smancy!

What are your favorite vegetables and herbs to eat in a chicken pot pie?  Crust or no crust?  Homemade, or store bought puff pastry?  I think I'm going to use tarragon and make my veggies big and chunky, and I'm going to give my old pie crust making skills a bit of a test!

onion (I read a recipe that used pearl onions, yum!)
leeks (yes please!  especially with tarragon)
peas (frozen)
string beans? (frozen)
root veggies, parsnips, potato, turnip, etc
red bell

The possibilities for ingredients is endless, and even the sauce technique is very forgiving.  Here is a video of Curtis Stone's technique originally aired on the Today show.  Looks like I'll be getting out my cast iron pan!  Fun stuff!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Getting on with the Adventure

It's been just a week since my three day Strong First Certification weekend. One week since having to perform hundreds of double 16kg swings, AND hundreds of dbl 16kg power swings in addition to hundreds of reps in the clean, front squat, presses, snatches, Get-ups.  Strength and technique testing in all the skills on the third day after the first two 10 hour days.....I may be getting too old for this!

For the first time ever, in my entire life, I said to my training partners that I wish I was 29 again!  Even I couldn't believe I felt that way because I've never wanted to be younger.  I've never felt held back because of my age.  And it wasn't that I felt held back this past weekend, after all I was successful at passing my snatch test with the 20kg, something most women half my age can't do, it's my recovery!

I trained dble 16kg and single 32kg and 36kg swings for an 8 week cycle in preparation for SFG, along with heavy Get-ups, Max vo2 snatch practice, front squats (which I rarely did before) etc., but not knowing how much more would be asked of me.  Near the end of day one I felt a pretty strong muscular strain on the back of my left calf, but I trained through it.  That night I couldn't straighten and stretch that leg out completely without extreme pain.  In the morning I asked Mark to look at it and that's when he told me that the back of my knee was severely swollen.  I was freaked out.  At this point all of my future training goals were at risk.  What if I couldn't continue my own swing practice or lead classes?  What about my new interest in GS sport?  I had my 'real' life to think about and that had to take priority over this certification.

I did what was required on day two, trying to be smart about my potential injury while knowing I had testing on Sunday (day three).  The order of the day was Get-ups, squats, and snatches, and of course the obligatory swings (dble and single) and I managed to not make it worse.  I was there to learn about teaching and training and to use the strength and skills I have been practicing every week for years, not to 'workout'.

2013 is proving to be an extraordinary year as I expected, but not in the ways I predicted!  I forgot to quit being so serious and have more fun!  Having fun doesn't mean being stupid and disrespectful of true responsibilities, it means to be and feel light....isn't that what young feels like?  I have so much more now than I did when I was 29!  Now let's get on with the adventure, shall we?  29?, 49?  Bring it!

Friday, March 15, 2013


This morning I posted on Facebook about the chili I made this morning.  I make a ton of chili and I've written about it 100,000 times (at least!).  I grew up in sunny California never really experiencing stews or soups because it's alway summer here (well it used to be!).  It wasn't until about 4 years ago that I happened to be talking with my BFF Fawn Friday on the phone and she mentioned she was making chili!  Hmnn...that sounds good!  And better yet, that sounds easy! (especially when you love to pressure cook, like me!)  I asked her for a quick run down on spice blends and basic technique, and the rest is history!

Here is my very first blog post about chili!

I don't want to repeat myself, so I urge you to blog search "chili" on this blog and my former blog (Living My Physical Potential).  There are so many variables except one....chili spices!  Spice blends are up to you, but chili powder/cayenne/red pepper, etc are the kick, and spice, in chili stews.

This morning I made two stew/soups.  Ham and split pea, and lamb chili.  I used the smokey ham stock for both and the smokey fat from the ham shanks to saute' my veggies in (for both).

Lamb chili

1 lb ground lamb
2 lamb and rosemary sausage links

Brown and remove from pan.  Add a bit more fat to the pan and saute' until translucent (chopped in food processor)

red chard stems
jalapeno (2)
pasilla pepper (1)
celery (2 stalks)

add chili spices and 2 tbl tomato paste and cook until fragrant

Chili spices

2 tbl chili powder
1 tbl smoked paprika
1 tbl ground cumin
1 tbl ground oregano
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves

Add stock and deglaze the pot. ( I made the stock with garlic, so I did not add more).  Add 1 c. presoaked beans (black), 1/2 c red lentils, 1 garnet yam, grated (sweet potato).

Lock lid, bring to pressure, cook for 15 min, let pressure come down naturally.  Open and check to make sure beans are soft, and add browned lamb back into pot.  Season with salt and pepper.

I did not use tomatoes, but I did choose 2 tbl tomato paste to thicken.
I used smokey ham stock.
I used red lentils because they completely break down, helping to thicken the chili.
I used sweet potato to balance the spices instead of tomatoes.

Oh yes and I also chopped the red chard leaves roughly in the food processor, adding them at the end to wilt in the hot chili.

So again I ask;

Tomatoes, or not?
Beef, chicken, pork, lamb?  Has anyone ever heard of a seafood chili?  Not me!
Thick or thin?
Beans or not?  What about lentils? Split peas?  Grains?
Would you add greens, like I do? Spinach, chard, kale?
Red chili, green chili?

Oh, and it's not uncommon for me to ladle hot chili over shredded cabbage!  Limitless possibilities!!  How do you serve it?  sour cream, plain yogurt?  Sliced green onion, cheese?  (oh no, not cheese!)

PS I've got a great Jambalaya recipe to share as well as a spicy pot roast coming soon!  I better eat this damn chili so I can test these great recipes sent to me by a couple of blog/facebook followers!  Do you have a great recipe for the pressure cooker?  Please share and email me,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

At The End of The Day....welcome home

I think the paperback version of my book, The Swing, is available today!  I "think" because no one has really told me, or called, me, or emailed me, so I guess it's not a big deal!  I've learned loads about writing, publishing and most importantly selling books, but really I don't know shit...about the publishing world!  What I do know is how to, and what to do with the kettlebell swing!

I'm probably not the best person to beg people to buy my products, specifically my book, The Swing!  Sure I have a few DVD's, but really I have a great book about how I program this one little, super magical, miracle of an exercise, that not many people seem to want to do on a regular basis to get the body of their dreams, because why?  Well, all I can say is I can lead a horse to water....  But I suspect because it feels hard!  I'm not going to say it IS hard, because I believe that hard is a feeling, not a fact!  And it feels way harder being fat, bloated, ashamed, unfit, weak, sick, ugly, yep I said it, ugly, than it feels to do a few sets of 10 kettlebell swings! (I didn't feel very pretty at 250lbs.)

But at the end of the day I don't live my life to sell books. (but will you please buy loads of copies? lol)  I live my life so wanting others to feel "this".  The last thing I write in the acknowledgements of my book is this:

"Finally, to all the chubby little girls and boys who have had to sit on the sidelines knowing they are capable of so much more, and to everyone who has ever felt underestimated: you know the greatness within you--bring it to life and stop waiting for another day--today is the day!"

I received a facebook message today from a woman who was referred to my story by a fellow Instructor.  She wrote to me about how she was encouraged by this Instructor to have hope, so he gave her my name.  She googled me and found my story, then found me on facebook, here is part her message;

"....he mentioned you. I came home and Googled and wow, I feel real hope. I really appreciate his approach and I appreciate you sharing your story, especially since I am where you once were. I'm not striving for a certain size but I want energy, strength, confidence and I want to want my body.
I just started reading your book and I feel inspired! Thanks for sharing and thanks for leading the way!"

To which I answered;

"You're going to lose 100 lbs, you're going to lose 100lbs...repeat after me, "I'm going to lose 100lbs!" This is something you don't have to share with anyone else, not even your husband (if you have one), your mother, God forbid, don't tell your mother! Just keep it to yourself! You know what you have to do. Stop eating so much of the junk, and be the smart woman you know you are!
Walk, swing, prepare you lunches and dinner. Have a plan, make your own rules. Don't blame anyone or anything else. You got yourself here and you'll take care to get what you really want, a smaller healthier, prettier body! And your face will thank you too!
We are not idiots! Just keep your eye on the road ahead. It's all fun! the first 5lbs is fun, then next 5lbs is fun, the first 20 and 25lbs feels fabulous and empowering! 50lbs you feel invincible! You know without a doubt you will see that 100lb weight loss!
And training kettlebells will help you get back so much of what you thought was lost. It isn't lost, its just waiting. Waiting to welcome you back home."

This is why I do what I do.  I train.  I cook.  I write/blog.  I facebook.  I live by example, and if I can do it, if one person, and there is more than one, can do it (I'm not the only one!), then it CAN BE DONE.

At the end of the day, whether or not I sell one book, two books, a zillion and a half books (please, thank you!), I will still show up and train.

PS  something I just learned about the publishing and book selling world is that once a book goes into paperback production the hardback is no longer available.  I have found hardback copies of The Swing by way of a google search and the only reason why I'm mentioning this is because the hardback version is a beautiful book!  (and now you can find it on sale!)  The last meeting I had with my editor she pointed out that Harper One had to use a better quality paper (more expensive!) because of the instructional photos!  So if you don't have a copy yet you may consider finding a hardback, but the paperback is lovely also!

What is SFG?

I can't believe it's been almost 1 week since my last post, but I've been kind of busy!  Before I get into all of what's been happening to me the past couple of months I want to share a little bit about this past weekend. I will be writing more about how I was prepared and how I was not prepared!  But first I'll share with you a portion of the speech Mark was asked, by Pavel, to write and deliver at the first SFG.  It was originally broadcasted live on Saturday, but I took this while sitting front row with my iphone!

This past weekend I participated in the first ever Strong First Girya Kettlebell Certification Course.  This past year Pavel Tsatsoline, the man that brought kettlebell training to this country,, and his system of learning how to build strength, parted ways with Dragon Door and "RKC" (formerly Russian Kettlebell Challenge and/or Certification), the first company that published his books, and helped him teach others his methods while leading Instructor courses across the US as well as Internationally for going on a decade now.  Pavel, with the help of CEO Mark Toomey, started his own company, SFG (Strong First Girya) when he realized the direction with his former partnership, Dragon Door, was not in line with what his teaching and training philosophy were about.  Moving on...

My husband, Mark Reifkind, was given the title of Master Instructor by Pavel in 2008 (one of only 5 MRKC's at the time) after being a Senior Instructor since 2006, and there was never a question in his mind that he would also leave DD's "RKC" and move forward with Pavel's "SFG".  Mark was given the honor of teaching at the very first SFG KB Certification course and I was honored by an invitation to participate as well by going through the course as a student.

It has been three years since I last earned KB Certification in San Jose, Feb 2010.  You can earn re-certification 2 ways.  If you qualify, you can assist a Senior or Team Leader during a three day certification course, or you can, like anybody else, pay to attend and participate during the three days.  Since 2006 I have assisted three times and gone through the course, including this past weekend, three times.  I've also been lucky enough to have been at another handful of courses accompanying Mark (I never get tired of listening to him teach!  Lucky me!).

This was by far the most challenging.  This is not for everybody!  How is it different?

Over the years Pavel, along with his Master and Senior Instructors, constantly updates his methods and techniques to reflect the most simple and direct way of learning how to become strong, and how to teach others the skill of strength.  "Strength is a skill" and should be trained as such, is the core of Pavel's original system.  And this past weekend, strength, coming into the weekend strong, was at the forefront, and we were expected to deliver.  And I'm proud to say that I am, in fact, "SFG!"

Thursday, March 7, 2013

How to jump into the middle of a set of swing reps

All of my swing routines are scaleable, all you have to know how to do is two things!  #1 Know when YOU need extra rest and TAKE IT!  And #2, know when you are ready to start swinging again!  Sometimes this means in the middle of a different set, so how can you jump in?

Here's how!

A lot of the time I will cue students in, as I do here, in this video.  It just takes a bit of patience and practice!  What else you got better to do anyway?  lol

PS, I apologize to my training partners Maribel and Brenda for being so damn bossy!  What's up with the finger snaps? Man!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Top 40" companion workout!

I want to thank all of you that purchased my latest Kettlebell Swing workout, "Top 40"!  I had a ton of fun creating and designing workouts that are challenging for all levels, but especially for my new "beginners" audience.  As a bonus-bonus, I've designed a short (or long) workout that fits progressively between workout #1 and workout #2 on the DVD.  Of course if you did not buy the DVD I still invite you to train along with us, but I think the experience of training the workout progressions on this DVD is of great value as you build your skill, cardio endurance, and strength.

That being said, enjoy!

This workout uses only 3 swing combinations:
2 hand swings ("2 hd sw")
10 R, 10 L (10 one hand swing w/right hand and w/left hand)
5/5 (5 R, 5 L, switch on 5th swing rep, switch back on 5th swing rep)

"Top 40" bonus-bonus, as promised!

warm up (15 sec intervals, 15 sec work/15 sec rest)

10 2 hd sw x 2 sets
10 one hd sw R x 1 set
10 one hd sw L x 1 set
10 one hd sw R x 1 set 
10 one hd sw L x 1 set
5/5 one hand sw x 2 sets

80 swing reps, 4 min.

The "workout" is 4 sets of 10 reps, and one set of 40 reps, OR 30 reps if you are training "equal work to equal rest (I demonstrate this ratio while my training partners push the work/rest ratio higher)

first rotation 

10 2 hd sw x 1 set
10 one hd sw R x 1 set
10 1 hd sw L x 1 set
5/5 x 1 set

10 2 hd sw + 10 R + 10 L (end here OR) + 5/5 one hd sw (45 sec work/rest if you complete 30 reps, 1 min/30 sec work to rest if you complete 40 reps)

70 or 80 swing reps 3.5 min

second rotation

10 R x 1 set
10 L x 1 set
5/5 x 1 set
10 2 hd sw x 1 set

10 R + 10 L + 5/5 (end here OR) 10 2 hd sw  (45 sec work/rest if you complete 30 reps, 1 min/30 sec work to rest if you complete 40 reps)

70 or 80 swing reps 3.5 min

Total workout
220 - 240 swing reps, 11 min.

OR repeat starting with the first rotation (video demonstrates the repeat of the first set of the first rotation)

360 or 400 swing reps, 18 minutes

This workout is a great "add on" to the end of workout #1 when you are ready for a little more, or at the beginning of workout #2.  In itself you can train a quick 11 minute workout, or double up and complete 400 swing reps in less than 20 minutes!

I love what I do, and there is so much more coming!  Thank you all for your interest and your support!

Monday, March 4, 2013

10 min Swing - Out! Friday, March 8th

In case you are not on Facebook, you still might be interested in this event being put together by Certified Kettlebell Instructor and my friend, Candice Clem in Seattle.

"Kettlebell friends! This Friday, we are putting together a google hangout at 5pm PST to do a quick swing workout together. 10 minutes. Quick and dirty. If you would like to join us, stay tuned for more details. First thing you'll need to do is make sure that you have a google account and a kettlebell ;) Looks like we will have a special guest, too!!! — with Tracy Reifkind."

You need to friend Candice to message her for more details!  We may be able to turn this into a regular event!  

It Don't Mean a Thing, if I ain't got my swing!

A couple of years ago, right after my story was published in Tim Ferriss's 'The 4 Hour Body' I started getting phone calls from people looking to learn more about kettlebells and of course the kettlebell swing specifically.  Some wanting private sessions, some wanting classes and/or group training options, but they all were looking for the same promise to lose weight, and/or get in shape, fast! (and easy!)

My life didn't change that much as far as my own personal routine.  I did what I had been doing for the previous 5 years, or so, training every T/TH/Sat, preparing and making my own homemade meals, keeping a blog, and teaching kettlebells as a Certified Instructor.  Yes, I did get a handful of new business but nothing really had changed, which was perfectly fine with me, I had everything I needed!

One day one of my clients, who found me because of '4HB', said to me "Wow, 'The 4 Hour Body' must have really changed your life!"  To which I quickly responded by correcting her, "No, the swing changed my life!"

If it weren't for my training the kettlebell swing I would have never been lucky enough to have part in 'The 4 Hour Body' in the first place.  But even if Tim Ferriss would have never shared my story in 4HB I still felt as if I had hit the jackpot years earlier.  Of course more and more great things have kept happening since, including my own book, 'The Swing', but it all comes down to, for me, my training with  kettlebells

I really can't ever imagine a time when I will stop.  As exciting as my new venture into Kettlebell Sport is, it's because of the years of training the swing and other Hardstyle kettlebell movements that is helping me make that partial transition.  I say partial because I don't have to choose one or the other.  And neither does anybody else!  In fact training the swing compliments just about any other kind of physical sport or activity you can think of doing or want to do.  No other training has given me more and continues to open up worlds of possibilities beyond what I had ever imagined.

'The Swing' is my story.  I believe that everybody finds their own way.  It may be running/triathalon sports for some, yoga, martial arts, dance, cheerleading, skating (skateboarding), skiing, whatever!  As much as I love and believe in my training/sport doesn't mean that it's the only way.  But for me, it don't mean a thing, if I ain't got my swing!

As I write more and more about my new kettlebell adventure into GS I will always know, and I want you all to know that it is not, and never will be, a replacement, nor does it have to.  But a compliment to my practice to get and stay strong for whatever my life brings my way!

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!"

I included this particular video of Ella Fitzgerald singing "It Don't Mean a Thing (if it ain't got that swing)", because in the introduction she explains and her love of music, all music by sharing a few different styles of "that swing"!  I interpreted her message to mean 'that swing' is the passion to which you feel.  Be it classical, country, jazz.  Be it kettlebells, yoga, or running a marathon.  It's the rhythm that is in your heart.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Student First, "Strong First"

In one weeks time, next Friday I'll be waking up and getting ready for the first day of three days to learning more about being "Strong First".  I'll be writing a little bit more about what "strong" and "strong first" means to me, but today it's just business!  I've been doing some serious training for the past 6 weeks in preparation for some new physical strength requirements for my recertification as a qualified Kettlebell Instructor through Pavel Tsatsouline's new Certification program Strong First Girya (SFG)

Here are the requirements I have to pass 

15 second bent arm hang
5 minute snatch test, 100 reps, 16kg
16kg Get up
10 double kettlebell swings
5 rep double kettlebell front squat (weight to be determined)
5 rep double kettlebell cleans
5 rep double kettlebell military press 

Oh, and basically three full days of practice and training.  

It's not the testing and training I'm the most excited about, because in between the testing and training is the learning!  I've decided to give up everything I know, I mean really give up everything I know, for three days and fully immerse myself in becoming a beginner again, a student of strength, and hopefully a qualified Instructor of Strong First.  For three days I will pay attention and take everything I can from some of the most qualified Instructors in the country, in the world.  Check out this list!

MSFG Mark Reifkind
MSFG Dave Whitley
SSFG Karen Smith
TL Lauren Brooks
TL Jason Marshall

The standards Strong First has for it's top level Instructors is of the highest and I will walk into those three days as a nobody in comparison.  I am not going as Tracy Reifkind, "Mark Reifkind's wife", and I'm not going as Tracy Reifkind "Queen of the Kettlebell Swing", or author of "The Swing", I'm going with a clean slate, a fresh ear and a brain like a sponge!  With that attitude I can only imagine who I will walk out as!

One of the things I think makes a good Instructor is not what you know, but knowing what you don't know!  In other words, never thinking or acting as if you know it all, and being open to new and different ways of growing as an Instructor, teacher and coach.!  I'm very lucky to get this opportunity and I will not take it for granted.  I am a student first....and next weekend I'll be Strong First.

Photo at top taken at the first SFG Leadership weekend in Salt Lake City UT Feb 2013.  

Middle photo is me in the red jacket at my very first RKC, St Paul MN, April 2006.  

Bottom photo is Pavel, me and Mark at my last RKC in San Jose CA, Feb 2010.