Monday, April 21, 2008

Me and Marla (Marla's combination)

Part of what I do, is that I get to talk and consult with people all over the country, (and Canada!) about, not only KB training, but food and diet, and life. I do single phone or e-mail consultations, and I also have a monthly program that lets me connect with clients 2-3 times a week for workout routines, diet strategies, and, I'd like to think, positive, and supportive energy.

So when one of my clients, Marla D, from Albuquerque NM, e-mailed me and told me she would be here in San Jose for a week on a business trip, I told her, "Marla, you are so stinkin' lucky! You just hit the jackpot! We can train together, walk together, cook together, go to the beach, and I'll even drag you to yoga! I'm going to send you back home in better shape than you came here in!" And did I? Well you would have to ask her that, but I gave it my best shot, and boy did we have some fun!
Marla has been training with kettlebells for about a year, at Firebellz NM, (much more about Firebellz to come!), and called me for the first time about a few months ago. She has an amazing weight loss story of her own, currently she has lost 100lbs. and is in the second part of her transformation,(I'd like to think, with my help!), with the last 50-70 lbs to go. She had always been athletic, playing sports in high shool and college, so with her background, once she found kettlebells, she just took off! Combined with a commitment to change her eating habits, Marla had changed her body and her lifestyle. After meeting her, I know there's nothing this woman can't do!

One of the changes I suggested to Marla was to add in high volume combination swings to her already busy workout schedule, and because she was 'Stones Gym'....I got to show her in person! Man, she was sweating up a storm! And after our first KB workout together (one of three!), she could see exactly how I train, and why I have developed the style of training that I do for fat loss and 'crazy' conditioning!

During our first training session together I came up with 'Marla's combination'. It's a 100 rep swing combination in this order,

20 2 hand swings (I messed this up in the video, and Marla corrected me, lol)
20 transfers
10 1 swing, 1 transfer combos (20 reps)
5/5/5/5 one hand swings (20 reps)
20 2 hand swings

Marla's homework is to end each KB workout with this combination 5 times. This chick is strong! She had no problem blasting this combo out, at the end of our workout...I think we did it 3 x, the first time. We also did a double KB workout together on Wednesday, when we did double swings and double cleans with the 16kg's! It was the first time in a long, long time I was actually sore the next day! (so was Marla!) But she went toe to toe with me evey step!

Here's what all we did,

Sunday we met, talked and went on a shopping trip to Whole Foods together.
Monday, 7:30am KB's
Tuesday, 5:30pm cooking lesson/dinner, and a 45 min. walk
Wednesday 7:30am KB's (doubles)
Friday, she came over to my kitchen, we made lunch for the beach from Tuesday night's leftovers and walked, did yoga poses and ate, on my favorite beach....on my favorite day!
Saturday, 30 min. KB swing class, and Bikram yoga (90 minutes, 104 degrees!)

Woo Hoo! She was such a good sport for lettting me drag her around with me all week! But of all the things we did together, I would have to say that I'm most proud that she did Bikram yoga with me. Bikram yoga is no joke, especially the first class, and as a beginner to yoga.

I am so lucky! I know that Marla and I will be friends for a long fact, I'm going to New Mexico in October....Woo Hoo!


Tori said...

Cool! I am in Tucumcari, NM about 160 miles east of Albuquerque. I have read about Firebellz and was hoping to go to a workshop this summer. It's a small world!

Tori said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dawn said...

I'm curious as to why you don't bring the KB all the way overhead in any of your videos and what weight KB do you use?
Thanks, I enjoy your blog and also the recipes.

Marla said...


I had a blast last week. It was a whirlwind of activity and I must admit... tough as the Bikrum yoga was... It was relaxing and felt good to sweat.

I have been reflecting on just how stinkin' lucky I have been. My fitness and weight loss have been a wonderful journey. I have been fortunate to work with some of the best trainers in Albuquerque. Heidi Rothenberg (who is now one of my closest friends); Brian Hartsfield, and Zar Horton. Heidi, Zar and JJ Blea own the FireBellz Studio (all RKC certified) where I workout and train.

Now I have you to add to my list of stinkin' lucky... the journey continues...

Tracy Reifkind said...


I was lucky enough to meet Heidi and Zar this past Feb. in San Jose at the RKC, that's were I got my first "Firebellz" hat and t-shirt, which I wear constantly. I can't wait to train there in Oct.

More about Firebellz to come! Check out their website

Tracy Reifkind said...


What do you mean? Bring the bell overhead in the swing movement? I bring the bell overhead all the time in a snatch movement and a press movement.

The top position af a swing has many variables. For my training and my body I never feel the need to bring the bell higher than chest level.

Tracy Reifkind said...


I can't wait to meet all of the trainers and your friends at Firebellz in Oct......I'm still invited, right? lol

We'll be talking soon....oh yes, when? E-mail me!

Mark Reifkind said...


check out Tracy's picture that accompanies all her that what you are referring to?

Mark Reifkind said...


that video of all you three swinging together looks like a class made for Fit TV!

Marla said...

Well I have already spoken to the mayor of Albuquerque about rolling out the red carpet when you come in October... Do you like to ride in convertibles?

Dawn said...

Thanks for your response. Yes, I know in a snatch that the bell is overhead however in a KB swing, I've only seen the Russian KB technique which brings the bell up to eye level and then the American technique which is to bring the bell overhead. I've not seen anyone just bring the bell to the chest in a swing, that's why I asked. Thanks again.

Gabby Eborall said...

perhaps you are referring to the "crossfit" technique of the swing. Here is what Greg Glassman had to say...
(Also you can google jeff martone american swing for a look at both ways.)

The Kettlebell Swing, by Greg Glassman - Sept 04 CFJ

At CrossFit we swing the kettlebell overhead while the kettlebell community swings to eye or shoulder height. No matter how many times we’re admonished for our excessive swing we proceed unabated? What gives? Are we in need of additional, more “qualified”, kettlebell instruction?

While admitting a penchant for iconoclasm, we are not contrary solely for the sake of being contrary. Rational foundations for our programming, exercises, and technique are fundamental to CrossFit’s charter. We swim against the current only when we believe that doing so delivers a stimulus truer to our product – elite fitness.

In the March 2004 issue of the CrossFit Journal we stated that, “Criteria for (exercise) selection include, range of joint motion, uniqueness of line of action, length of line of action, strength of line of action, commonness of motor pattern, demands on flexibility, irreducibility, utility, foundational value, measurable impact on adherents, and, frankly, potential for metabolically induced comfort.”

This month we apply some of these criteria to an analysis of the two kettlebell swings and then assess two other CrossFit staples, the clean & jerk and the“thruster” for comparison and further elucidation of our thinking in selecting exercises for regular inclusion in our program.

JJ said...

We at Firebellz are fortunate to witness your tansformation right before us. You truly are an inspiration and we thank you for all that you contribute. You are on a mission and it is within your grasp. We will continue to be here for you in any way we can to help you acheive your goal.

Anonymous said...

Great post Tracy, and I am the 3rd stinkin luckiest person behind you and Marla LOL :)

Thanks for posting!

Aaron Friday said...

FWIW, I believe the Crossfit community is indeed in need of better kettlebell instruction. Stating that an overhead swing is rational does not make it so, and the fact that it's "different" does not mean that those who disagree with it are prejudiced by tradition. But, by all means, do it if it makes you feel good.

I swing heavy up to eye height, but the stress is managed by my posterior chain of muscles, which are huge compared to those that comprise my shoulders. When the bell goes overhead, it's a snatch, which is achieved by swinging it high enough that I can move my body in a way that "supports" it overhead with my arm. I do not expect my shoulder to decelerate the weight that my hips managed to swing.

If that's the American-style swing, then it sucks. Just my opinion. You can swing low for reps and time, or you can swing to face level or use two bells for explosiveness with heavier weights. A full overhead swing is just a bad snatch. It's the way all my friends snatched when they were just learning how to, and so far none of them have been happy with it. They all strived to learn better technique that didn't feel uncoordinated and dangerous.

Aaron Friday said...

Dawn, Tracy almost always lists the weights she uses. Read a bit past the first blog entry, and then you'll know what kinds of weights she uses.

RKC technique is to swing the bell to a comfortable height, depending on the weight, the number of reps to perform, and the momentum of the kettlebell. RKC has nothing to do with the height of the kettlebell in a swing; it's about how people move and manage the body alignment and tension/relaxation when they swing. Could be crotch height; could be top-of-the-head height. But it's definitely not overhead.

Evidently, there's an effort by Crossfit to define an "American swing" that is a bastardized version of both the swing and the snatch. I resent this. I'm as American as anyone, and I've never, ever felt the urge to attempt an "overhead" swing. The mechanics make no sense, and if feels crappy.

If you're currently swinging a kettlebell overhead with both hands, I encourage you to drop down to one hand, perform a decent snatch, and join the rest of the kettlebell world. Seriously, just because hundreds or thousands of people are doing it, that doesn't make it wrong.

Dawn said...

Thanks for the info. I've been doing snatches with a 16kg and can do 154 in 10 minutes. For KBS I usually go overhead with the lighter weights (16kg/20kg)but I did 2 pood last week and there was NO way I was getting it overhead, but I was getting it to eye level. I've always been taught to keep your arms straight and get it as high as feels comfortable, which was why I asked my initial question.
Thanks for all the info from everone.

Tracy Reifkind said...


So nice to see your comment, I can't wait to meet you and train at Firebellz on October! I have to wait until October?

Aaron Friday said...

Dawn, you were very polite with your response. I wasn't. My apologies to you.

I understand that people want to get creative with kettlebell lifts, but I haven't seen a compelling reason to merge the two-hand swing with the one-hand snatch.

You can train overhead positions much more safely, and just as effectively using half the weight with one hand at a time. Snatch, press, jerk, TGU, etc.

The overhead swing just strikes me as another way for Crossfit to distinguish itself from everyone else. Much like high-rep Olympic lifts. There are a few who can do it all, and they will be awesome, but the average person is taking more risk than they need to for improvement. RKC is safer.