My Strong First Experience: What It Taught Me

Today is Tuesday, July 12th. I just completed the requirement for my 5 minute kettlebell snatch test. I’m still coming down from the intensity of it as I write this.

I attended the Strong First Girya (Kettlebell) Level 1 in Philadelphia on June 3rd-5th. If you’re looking at these dates, they don’t meet up. It means I didn’t meet the standards. I spent 7 months doing nothing but kettlebell training and I spent 22 hours over the course of 3 days in Philadelphia, training in a gym with no air conditioning for no certification.

Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you because what I took from this certification was so much bigger than letters behind my name.

The coaches that run the certification are extremely knowledgeable and experienced. They know what they’re looking for and they expect the absolute best from you and everyone else. They were also the most personable and honest coaches I’ve ever met. I learned so much from the way that they coached us and I did everything I could to listen, learn and observe. I realized that was my purpose, to take as much knowledge home with me as possible

My Strong First Experience: What It Taught Me

The SFG Level 1 weekend requires training on Friday and Saturday from 8am-6pm. You train for the weekend and not the test on Sunday. It is unforgiving and intoxicating. During that time, you learn the standards for the exercises required of you to perform on Sunday. You learn the intricacies and how to coach and troubleshoot them. When Sunday arrives, if you pass the standards you get the certification and if you miss one thing, you do not. By the time I arrived at my AirBNB Friday night, surviving the next day and even making it to the test on Sunday seemed so far out of reach. But, I woke up Saturday and kept moving. There was no other option. The only way out was through. It was time to burn the boats. I was there to stay.

Saturday was incredibly rewarding. We crushed the day and made it to the gym on Sunday morning. It was time to test. We went through the skills portion and things were going smoothly for everyone. That was the amazing thing about this weekend, every participant supported the team. We were in it together. The 5 minute snatch test was the final requirement. You have 5 minutes to get 100 reps with a kettlebell based on your age and weight. As anyone who has attempted the test knows, it is no joke. They gave us a few minutes and by the time I was walking back from the bathroom they were calling my name. My preparation consisted of me crossing the gym and approaching my bell. This taught me the biggest lesson of the weekend. It was a feeling of, I never want to be unprepared for training or life ever again. I need to be able to kill it at any moment. They began the countdown and I grabbed onto the bell.

98, in case you were wondering. I got 98 of the 100 required reps. I did not meet the standard. Good. Did I want to pass? Yes, but I got something even better. That weekend exposed something in me that I didn’t know was missing. Grit. It took me to my limits. It challenged me physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and professionally. I was now a student of strength. It offered me what I needed. It gave me grit. It made me uncomfortable. It made me a better coach, for you.

My job was now to come home and get back to training after a week of rest. All of that training just to come home and train more. The job wasn’t done yet. I tested again after 3 weeks and got 99 reps. This is meant to show you that you have to keep going. This is a process. You will not magically walk into the gym and get better. You have to do the work, nobody is entitled. It will be challenging and that’s good. Everything is earned. I got 100 today but my true reward was to come home and have an impact on the First Capital Gym family. Take what I learned that weekend and teach it. I can now be more involved in your journey and your health. That’s what matters. Life is always bigger, don’t quit. 

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Michael Allen

Author Bio

Michael has been working with clients in the gym and countless adults in a physical therapy setting since 2013. He spent 3 semesters working at Towson University with student-athletes from nearly every sport at the school. He served as the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Kennard-Dale High School during the 2019-2020 school year. His goal is to always get better and give you the safest and most effective use of your time at First Capital Gym.