I must have written this a million times in my head and yet every time I tried to get it on paper, I found myself with writer’s block. I now know the reason was because the story wasn’t quite ready to tell.

Let’s backtrack to April 2009, when I attended my original RKC kettlebell certification workshop. In my snatch test, I dropped the kettlebell.  When I had just 2 reps left.  In front of Pavel himself.  In the days where your reps were determined by your body weight in kilos, so just 58 reps for me.  

I felt embarrassed, shocked, unworthy and I felt like a big loser. But then I did the worst thing possible and I retreated and wallowed in my self-pity instead of letting it go and making my RKC weekend the best it could be. Don’t get me wrong, it was still an awe-inspiring and life changing experience, but the weekend could have been so much more. It remains my biggest regret of my training career. Most people got to know their team members really well and developed lots of life-long friendships with the other candidates, however I did not. I am NOT proud of how I behaved, both to my team mates, other RKC candidates and to myself. So for that, I truly apologize to all of you and to myself.

A year later, I was still struggling with the experience. I was filled with self-doubt and feelings of being unworthy of my RKC title. To make matters worse with my negative self-talk, they had changed the testing standard to the current 100 reps in 5 minutes. I reached out to my team leader for advice and he said “it’s been a year – you need to just get over it.” I really took his words to heart and thought, “but just HOW do I get over it?”

I first needed to reflect on where I went wrong with that fateful snatch test. My technique still needed work so I had little to no efficiency in my movement. I’m a really nervous test taker, no matter the kind of test, and I found myself getting more nervous with each successive snatch. And I lost control of my breathing, which amplified all of the above.

Reflecting on my experience this way made me aware that there was no need for me to react and behave the way I did that weekend. If any of my team mates thought I was a loser, it’s because I acted like a loser. I am not the only person who has dropped a bell in a snatch test, but the others handled it much more eloquently. The experience was only a big deal because I made it a big deal.

Having determined all of this, I wondered if learning to meditate would help me in the future. Perhaps if I could learn to calm my mind and get into a zone, then I could overcome my fears with testing and rid myself of the self-doubt. My yoga instructor confirmed that meditation techniques can be used during a very active endeavor, so that became part of my training regimen. I also started practicing in situations that would evoke my nervous tendencies, like in front of my clients and at the park.   

I was preparing to re-certify at the CK-FMS certification workshop I attended but I had an injury and I was unable to test. Even though I was allowed to submit a video after I was healed, I decided to test in person when a senior instructor was visiting for a local workshop. Testing in front of people was the only way I was going to be able to face my fear head-on and fully heal myself of the experience.

At first I didn’t want a whole bunch of people in the room for my test. But I knew that I wouldn’t accomplish my goal of “getting over it” if I asked them to leave. So I sucked it up, faced the fear head-on and ended up testing in front of 7 local RKC’s; all people I admire. I felt my nerves and self-doubt creep in a few times but I reminded myself to focus on my breathing and technique and keep my eyes on the prize. Some of the RKC’s knew about my nerves and my experience, and everyone just cheered for me and encouraged me the whole way. Although my last 10 reps were really hard and not with my best technique, I did it!

After that test, I fully realized what I had learned from all of this. The RKC community just wants the best for each and every one of us. They aren’t here to watch us fail or to judge us; they are here to support us and help us learn how to be the best we can be. 

I later emailed my team leader to tell him how I took his advice to “just get over it.” One of the things he told me was to pay it forward to someone who looks up to me. I was recently able to take that advice up a few notches by paying it forward to someone that I look up to.

I recently had the huge thrill and honor to host an RKC workshop. Assistant instructors are required to do snatch and skills tests to re-certify. The night before the start of the workshop, one of the assistant instructors and I met with our head instructor to do our testing. I was nervous, but as before I calmed myself when I started as well as any time I felt the nerves and fatigue set in, and I finished strong. However, this time my friend struggled with his snatch test. He had been sick for weeks prior, hadn’t been able to train and you could literally hear that his lungs were not healed from the virus.

On Friday before the cert started, my friend was feeling that since he hadn’t done his best, he shouldn’t be assisting. He verbalized so many of the feelings I once felt and it made my heart hurt. I told him I wanted him to stay, that it wasn’t a big deal and that it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s an amazing and well respected teacher. I also told him about my experience and I asked him to please not make the mistakes I made by retreating. He thanked me for the encouragement, decided to stay and told me I was an inspiration to him. I really have no words to explain how it makes me feel that someone who inspires me told me the very same thing. I get choked up just putting it on paper.

It was in that moment that I realized everything had finally come full circle. While I still get really nervous leading up to and during testing, I have become confident in my technique and in my ability as a trainer, so I am able to release the nerves instead of allowing them to be self-destructive. I’ve also found that it helps me to verbalize my nervousness ahead of time, as a way to release it. I have been able to pay it forward by helping nervous candidates and now I have been able to pay it forward to someone who inspires me.    

I’d like to take this last moment to thank the many people who have helped me during my kettlebell journey. I hope you all know who you are and I deeply appreciate your help and support.