Why I got a kettlebell coach & Why I still have one in Boston.

So there I was looking at these seemingly large kettlebells in July of 2013 in Chicago. I had no idea if I could, or even how I would lift these things. The instructors told me not to wear shoes? I was so lost.

I found myself in this bare-boned, strength and conditioning, kettlebell gym called Rebell Conditioning because I happened upon their website thanks to good SEO. (They were optimized online to pop up when people searched, “TRX Chicago”) I wanted to use their space to teach TRX classes, so there I was in this gym— a “gym” unlike any I had seen before.

The owners of Rebell Conditioning, Mike Connelly and Ryan Steenrod, gave me the opportunity to use their space to bring in my own clients to teach classes. It was an opportunity that changed my life. I am forever thankful.

They also encouraged me and welcomed me to learn the SFG style of kettle bell training, (Strong First Girya) in the meantime, which you can learn more about here.


At my very first kettle bell class, I was so perplexed as to why we were not jumping around more in this kettlebell “workout,” or sweating more. I wondered why the class started off the so slowly—almost like yoga. There was such an emphasis on breathing and primal movements; it seemed odd yet at the same time, it felt so good. Somehow, I quickly fell in love with it.

Reasons why I fell in love with it:

1. Measurable success and achievement: right away I noticed myself lifting heavier bells each week; I felt strong. My posture improved, and I could FEEL a difference. As much positive change as I noticed, my eyes also opened up to how weak I was in certain areas of my body’s foundation. I realized I had a of areas to improve upon. I saw a new challenge ahead. As a group fitness instructor I also noticed a difference in how I was cueing  others in their movements when I taught classes elsewhere.

I WANTED to get better as an instructor and I wanted to get stronger.

2. COACHING: this is a true testament to not only the types of coaches Mike and Ryan are, but how/when in life you need a coach. A coach should be someone that teaches you something you could not teach yourself or learn on your own. Coaches in any sport, or for technical/funtional movements are crucial; and these guys are masters. Not only that, but they themselves are continual learners. One of the first things Mike showed me, was his ever-expanding library behind his desk. They are always hungry for more information.

Also, as coaches, they can actually demo for you, i.e. a 24 kg weighted pistol squat, or a pull-up with good form. It’s “do as I do,” not just “do as I say.” They practice what they preach.

They are available to give modifications, and critique errors in form that you could not see yourself. Also, without mirrors in their facility you learn how to train based on muscle memory–owning the feeling of being in the right positions for each exercise. In this case, it was the first time since pole-vaulting in highschool that I truly needed a coach and saw GREAT SUCCESS with a coach. I got leaner, and was doing less cardio than ever before.

3. High caliber people: Thanks to Mike and Ryan’s superior coaching, their clients reflect Mike and Ryan’s passion for healthy, strong movements. The clients are fun, friendly and freakin’ STRONG. There are few “injured” people at Rebell and everyone exudes good proper form, thanks to gradual increases in difficulty of movements and weight of bells.

Here is a look inside Rebell:


Their facility embodies 100% what Strong First  practices and preaches. I knew early on, I wanted to become and SFG. And now, I am continuing my training in Boston at a gym called Achieve Fitness. My certification is September 5-7. I will delve further into what that means in a later blog.

One “coaching” / pivotal moment I will never forget at Rebell : a lesson on the strict pull-up.

In one of my first few weeks, we had to do 80% max pull-ups between military presses and sea-saw presses at a Rebell kettle bell class.

I was excited because I thought I could OWN pull-ups. I hopped up on the bar proudly, and just as I began to swing into it, Ryan stopped me.

He made me attempt the pull-up (or pull-ups so I initially thought), dead hanging.

I could not do 1 rep.

HELLO BANDS for assisted pull-ups.

After the initial shock and humbling moment; I now had a new goal.

Today, after much training, I feel so confident in my dead hang pull-ups and when people ask me how I achieved such strength, they don’t believe me when I say it came from general, basic strength training, including push ups, planks, and press ladders (done each time with the intention of striving for perfect form).

Takeaway: If you have something—some skill, task, or goal— you want to get better at to achieve something. Get a coachIt still means you have to show up and earn it, but that coach will make sure you are doing it right and help you see through the entire process for 100% achievement.

Check out Rebell Strength and Conditioning in Chicago: 


Or, Achieve Fitness in Sommerville, nearby Boston:



My new coaches Lauren and Jason from Achieve Fitness

My new coaches Lauren and Jason from Achieve Fitness



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