Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy birthday. And (more importantly) happy coach/student anniversary.

he's going to be doing this more now.
because he's old
Four years. That's how long John Wild Buckley has been my coach.
It's his birthday today, and I've been thinking about the last few years on and off this last week.
I met John in October of 2009, I wanted to get "good" at kettlebell sport in order to do well in a KB certification. I hired him to train me online as soon as I (all certified) could.
I've never looked back.

Bullet point time!!! Yay!
Since that time:
  • I've been to Russia.
  • He's coached me to Master of Sport in both Biathlon and Long Cycle.
  • Together we have built an incredible community of lifters at Juno
  • He has introduced me to amazing people, there are too many to name them all but here's a few: Sarah Lightfoot, Nazo, Jason Dolby, BJ...so many!!!!
  • He made me a head coach for the Orange Kettlebell Club.
  • Nazo, Kaufman, Jonathan and I have the pleasure and frustration to train with him three times a week.

We don't always see eye to eye (we totally argue like brother and sister) but we always listen to each other even if it takes two days to absorb. And somehow we always manage to stay friends.

Thank you for taking this journey with me. 

KIDDING!!! I would never ever actually say that. Happy birthday motherfucker. You're the best.

we should totes get a manicure...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Matt and the master...um...and stuff

Matt the new guy at Juno here, still recovering from that crazy kettlebell weekend, and I had some thoughts I thought I’d like to share. Here goes.
I like to think I’ve never turned down the opportunity to learn from a master. Whatever their field of expertise is, I’m pretty game to sit down and hear some tips. Call it beginner’s mind maybe, but there’s some people out there who make us all look like beginners. I find they’re usually worth listening to. Then again, one time I took life-changing advice from a homeless person who told me he was god, so I guess I’ll listen to just about anybody. (Yes I followed his advice, and it worked out pretty well).
Anyway, Denis Vasilev. Being new to kettlebells gave me a little pause about taking the OKC Certification, but a gentle nudge from Juliet and I hopped on board. I know -- Juliet, gentle? Just a figure of speech.
So here’s some takeaways I took away (ha!) from spending a weekend learning from Denis Vasilev and immersing myself in kettlebells, OKC style. These are things that stood out to me as a trainer, and things that I will carry with me into my own training.

Stretch More
The first thing I noticed about Denis is that he seemed to be in a constant state of “limbering up.” Pretty much every time I saw him he was working something, even if it was just a small stretch. Between judging events he would be up finding some kink to iron out, and when I walked in early to the certification he was on the floor stretching out already. This guy stretches more than many dancers I know. And I know a lot of dancers. And no, that’s not some sort of stripper joke.
When we got to the programming section he taught, he laid out the parts of a typical training session: warmup, main exercise, and cooldown. Guess what? Stretching in all three parts. Then he emphasized the role of stretching in recovering from hard sessions. Your recovery begins with your cooldown stretch.
He walks the walk, he talks the talk. He stretches the stretch. Or whatever.

Supplement When Necessary, Simplify When Possible
Another point about training was to pay attention to “alarms.” This word might be a strange translation for something in Russian, but it was his word and I like it. An alarm is a wake-up call that you need to supplement your training in order to continue to improve. The assistance exercises he mentioned were squats, deadlifts, and push-ups. I could not be more on board with this program (unless there was ice cream involved somehow).
On the other hand, he also mentioned that he has now dropped almost all extra work and just does kettlebells. So I guess once you arrive, you’ve arrived. He’s an amazing girevik and his physique speaks for itself.

Keep Going Back to Basics
This one’s simple: after every competition, he goes back to 16kg bells. He spends at least one session at each weight, going up in 2kg increments until he reaches his working weight for the next competition. He doesn’t get back up to 32kg until a couple of weeks out from the next competition. I’ll just let you chew on that one for a bit, but trust me, it’s pretty fucking brilliant. Better yet, trust him.

Lifting Should Feel Good
If I had a dollar for every time Denis mentioned feeling good or pleasant... Maybe we could throw in some cash for the phrase, “rational method.” The bottom line is this: feel the kettlebell. If it feels bad, if it beats you, if your body hurts… be rational. Find a way to fix it. This applies on a macro- level as well as it does to the microsystem of a single set, each individual lift, each moment even. Lifting, or any physical activity for that matter, sets up a feedback loop. Best be in the loop.
We all got to watch Denis lift -- and what spoke undeniably to me was the fact that he was feeling every single repetition. I mean really feeling, in a Berkeley-hippie sort of way. Rep one all the way through rep 250 had his full and undivided attention. He was listening to the kettlebell.
One final note here: I make my own yoghurt, I’ve totally gone to an Ecstatic dance jam, and I even know someone who knows Alice Waters. I can be as Berkeley-hippie as I want. Feel the kettlebell.

Don’t Stop
Finishing your set is part of the practice. You either practice finishing, or you practice quitting. Part of the trick here is to have smart enough programming that you’re not over-reaching impossibly, and it was pretty amazing to hear Denis speak about how much he trusted his coach. But it still comes down to a game of psychology -- you simply cannot allow yourself to think, even for a moment, that putting down the kettlebell is an option that is available to you. Even if you have to kill somebody with your samurai sword… uhh maybe that part was from Jason… moving on…

Be Generous
I don’t think I have to even explain this one. We all felt it, from Denis and from all the OKC crew. I never in my life thought I would shake hands with a world champion of anything and hear the words “Good luck with your training.” That’s so crazy.

I feel lucky to have learned from quite a few masters and quite a few crazy bums in my life. Last weekend was a bit of each, and the best of both.

So... BOOM

BOOM. Am I doing it right?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Times, they are a'changin...

Juno Fitness is my baby. For the past five months I have neglected my child. And Juno has suffered for it. I won't go into the ugly details, but trust me, it's ugly. 
i need attention!!!
cute monkey, gym.
same thing...

I really got stuck, and relied upon all the trainers at Juno to cover me (and they did admirably!!!) while I sank into a depressed malaise.

Let me tell you what happened, lo my 2 readers by this point, all the Juno trainers gave notice within 4 days. Holy Shit. First Willow (she gave me 6 months, because she's...Willow), I boo-hooed mightily because I love her dearly and she has been with Juno since the doors opened. Then the avalanche: Julie, Jennifer...at this point I was all "No way, all I need is Carey to give me notice..." and voila, she totally did, 2 days later. Every one of them said it had nothing to do with me (I am super paranoid, I always think I'm doing something wrong) and although I believe them, I also know that I haven't been there for any of them. 

When Carey gave me notice, I was all: "Fuck this shit, time to get it together."
john is a sweetie, love him
So here's the deal, I am going to miss these women terribly. But, now I'm back in the saddle. Ready to take it all on again. All inspired sayings for: I need to get off my ass and get working.

(BTW, John Wild Buckley is still kicking it live at Juno...)

This is the new NEW breakdown:
Starting the first week in June:
Mondays and Wednesdays, I will be teaching 6am bootcamp
Starting the first week of July:
Monday and Wednesdays, I will be teaching 7pm nitey-nite bootcamp (y'all missed me, right?)

Starting the first week in July:
Tuesdays and Thursdays our new trainer, Matthew, will be teaching 6 and 7am bootcamp.

You guys are in for a good time with Matthew. I've been trying to find a way to get him into Juno for about 6 months. Here is his abbreviated Bio:

Matthew Beals, NSCA-CPT/USAW-Level 1
Although Matt’s first love was for software, his life abruptly jumped the tracks as a youth when he decided to supplement his diet of computer hacking with classes in Kung Fu. Discovering a love for movement and training, he went on to graduate from Pomona College with a degree in Modern
Matthew! prolly looking at a heavy weight.
Dance (minor in Computer Science), and perform in Buenos Aires, New York, and Los Angeles. To deepen his knowledge of human movement and physicality, he pursued graduate-level studies in Acupuncture and later in Modern Dance. Through the years he has uses weightlifting and strength training both for corrective purposes and to increase his performance.

As a personal trainer he uses a technique-first approach rooted in knowledge of anatomy and alignment. He believes that full-bodied strength training, taught as a discipline of awareness and movement, is the keystone of true fitness.

Actually, that's not abbreviated at all. He's the real deal, and we are proud to have him. He is also available for personal training.

So...for now...Juno will be me, John, and Matthew.
So much fitness, it will make you cry.

Friday, March 8, 2013


I have been going to Juno since July of 2012. A relatively short time, but I just moved to California in May 2012, so pretty much since I have lived here. I started off as a client in boot camp with Juliet, Jennifer, and Willow, and slowly worked my way into training under the guidance and wings of Willow and Juliet to help me learn the ways of teaching boot camp  Since I was 19, I have belonged to several different gyms. I would say since the age of 15, but my high school gym was used for hiding in the corner in those uncomfortable gym shorts or the locker room. I have belonged to neighborhood gyms that cost $25 a month with very few amenities. I belonged to my college gym, but I pretty much went there to check out the hot tattooed guys that frequented the weight room. I have belonged to swanky gyms in Chicago that cost more than my rent. Okay not that expensive, but at the time it felt like it. I have belonged to climbing gyms, Pilate and yoga studios, boxing gyms, and to my home gym (aka my area rug and DVD player). Over the years, I have hired running coaches, triathlon coaches, and personal trainers to help me reach my goals. All of them remain a faint memory with the exception of one personal trainer in Chicago who has guided me towards my goal of becoming a CPT.

I recently went to Juno to let Juliet kick my a$$ into shape and stayed to watch the kettlebell class. I stood back and watched the students. I swear I can watch people swing kettlebells for hours. It’s so beautiful. I watched Juliet and John instruct each student, watch each student, correct each student, and laugh with each student. They know each student by their first name, and they share life stories with one another throughout class. The students respect one another’s abilities (and let me tell you, they are all awesome at lifting bells) and they coach one another through difficult sets. And something hit me like a ton of bricks as I was standing there watching, observing, and silently taking it all in. It hit me why Juno is so different from any other gym I have ever been to or belonged to.

There are so many gyms these days that simply care about how many clients they can get through their doorways. It doesn’t matter if they can give personal attention or learn your name because sadly, that is not their goal. They use daily deals to simply bring in money, but sadly do not have the capacity to get to know their clientele. Juno is different. The trainers are different. The clients are different. Ever since I stepped foot in Juno, I have always felt a sense of belonging, like I have another family, and I know that the entire staff truly does care for each and every person that walks through the door. As a newly certified personal trainer, I learned that night, even more so than ever, that it never is about how many clients I can see or help in one day, but it’s about truly understanding and caring about the people who trust to put their fitness and health in my hands. Being a good and effective personal trainer means truly caring about the goals of my clients and for them as a person. If I could achieve this, I would be just like every single trainer at Juno. Every single one of them. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

the back and getting back.

In October of last year I made Master of Sport in biathlon. Everyone who knows me, and the five who read this blog (prolly more like three now, I've been so negligent in my writing) know how hard I worked for years to achieve this goal. And.I.Fucking.did.it. And you best believe I am proud.
Over the next months, I took a bit of time off and then semi competed in November. I was burnt out. I needed a break.
Oh, be careful what you wish for.
oh..bitch, you are SO not training...
My back is hinky at best. I have genetic problems, all the women in my family have scoliosis. I am no exception. I have SI problems...and blah de blah and on and on and on. Kettlebells have consistently strengthened and improved my back issues. But I don't know when to stop. A day in December and I was training. I felt my back just ache during the GPP portion, deadlifts...good mornings. I continued training for a few days, ignoring the ache. And then the pain became insane, I was rolling out and basically screamed because suddenly the back of my right leg was just in agony. Ask me if I stopped training. Nope. My husband was furious. My coach was glare-y.
this shit feels weird.
awwww...poor juliet, she suffers.
It's two months later. I have had to go to multiple doctors, take medicines I fear and despise, get an MRI, learn that when an MRI report says you have a "large" herniation poking your sciatic nerve, they ain't kidding, cry in pain, get a Epidural cortisone shot. Basically my life shut the fuck down.
(Oh, and my personal favorite, organizing the OKC California Open, and being on prednisone the day of the competition, basically I was INSANE)
I couldn't work, more importantly (to me) I couldn't train. My beacon of sanity. The thing that prevents me from going postal. I lived in a perpetual space of self pity. And oh my god, I can't thank the trainers at juno enough, I owe each and every one of them a plate o'pancakes. And jeebus, where would I be without my students. Love you guys, and NATHAN I miss the fuck out of you.
I say lived in self pity because I am hoping to get beyond this fucking place. Even though the back doctor said "yeah, well...you can't spinal load (aka jerk/snatch heavy) for 3-6 months..." my response was "3-6 weeks you mean." nah, he meant 3-6 months. Ok, ok, enough already. Fuck, I bore the shit out of myself.

So now what? I got off the meds. I come out of my shell. I swim (oh my god, water is all WET) to lengthen, I do (gulp) pilates to even out my muscle imbalances. I do wee 8k snatch sets. For the next 3-6 months. What a fucking haul. But I truly truly need to work and write and start working out on some level. Or go even more batshit.
Enough, enough. Here's to kicking myself in the ass (with a little help from my friends).


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

pimpin' out the minions

Jennifer and Julie. It WAS movember
Somehow, trainers just fall in my lap. Not in a naughty way, but in the best way possible. Willow showed up right before Juno opened, and she has been with us for the three years we have been open. Miss Carey happened to be training at Ralph Gracie next door one day about a year and a half ago. The moment she shook my hand I knew she was right for Juno. John, well, he's my coach and has been instrumental in building our amazing kettlebell community. All of our staff are beyond amazing, I am grateful for them every day.
jennifer=note taking minion.
But let me introduce you to the trainers in training, Juno's minions.
An old friend emailed me about Jennifer, saying she was interested in becoming a trainer and did I have any tips (this is very similar to how I hired Willow, btw) for her. She dropped by and I knew she would fit right in. She faithfully attended the am bootcamps, observing, working out, taking ten jillion notes (I will never understand that, I think I'm just lazy as fuck). When I decided to add a pm drop-in class, I decided she would be the one to teach it. She worked with me all summer and took over late August. I think that all of the clients who get their asses whooped twice a week would agree that she rules. 
julie explains how sprint intervals are better,
not that we have a treadmill...
Julie moved here from Chicago and strolled into the nitey nite bootcamp, did the workout, posted a 5 star review on yelp (because...she was a minion even then!) and emailed me about tips on how to be a trainer.  She started assisting Willow in the mornings, and has been rocking her trial client, Liz. She is funny as hell, which I love. Even if she does send me links like this when I am doing the whole 30.
Both the new minions are great, I am really am amazed that these people just fall from the sky (like, it's raining men, only they aren't men) into Juno.
And, I know, we all roll our trainer-y eyes at Jillian Michaels, but this video is hilarious.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Why We Do This


On July 14, 2011 this email arrived at Juno: 


As you can see I am very near by. I am looking for a trainer to work with who will get in my face, not take my bullshit, and push me to do what I know is best for my middle age, middle class, white lesbian, 250 pound body.  So please tell me the truth, is that you?  There's aches and pains and 60 hours a week of work and I have two labradors and a damn elliptical in my garage that I clean every month or so and my heart rate only goes up when I'm in the hot tub every morning. I drive by you all the time and wonder if we were working together would I walk the 8 blocks or drive? My life has become a series of mental negotiations to avoid exercise.

So, are you for fit folks wanting to be fitter or can you take on a struggling ex-athelete trying to figure out how to get some amount of control back in her life?
the before

I feel like I'm writing a personal ad but I'm a little desperate.


Juliet asked me to make the follow-up call and Marj began training at Juno in early August of 2011.  

From day one Marj knew she had some demons to face and some work to do BUT she never actually complained. Not once. I have rarely seen such drive and dedication.  Marj was ready.  

Soon Marj's partner Tracy started training too and they inspired each other in a team effort.  They initiated major changes in their nutrition and educated themselves about what foods work the best for them individually.   They began working out between training sessions on their own and together.  Their dogs didn't know what hit 'em!

Of course there were setbacks. There were the aches and pains that accompany a leap into exercise.  There were times when we had to construct workout work-arounds to keep the momentum going despite old injury flare-ups and the body shifts that come with such full commitment to lifestyle change.  

They developed mental toughness and self-compassion.  They learned about physical self-care, respecting their limits and how to keep going when the going gets...hard.  They learned perspective. 

And: They took everyone with them.  They became vocal about their commitment to health and fitness.  Marj participated in a cardio challenge fundraiser and began posting her workouts online.  People noticed.  Juno noticed.  

Their hard work paid off: They are in amazing shape.  Their in-session training intensity is high-level.  Over 14 months Marj has lost 60lbs and Tracy has lost 40lbs.  And they want to take this further.  THEY ARE NOT DONE!

They took themselves on a walking tour of Tuscany last week and I got this email from Marj: 

The trip is fantastic! We are hikers! I've always wanted to be hikers. People talk to us like we are hikers. Yesterday we hiked 5 miles straight up and down a hill (twice because we took a wrong turn) and it was totally doable. We thank you with every step.

We, at Juno could not be more proud of, impressed with and inspired by the two of you. (Juliet admitted she actually shed tears over how far you have come, and Juliet is...well...badass).  This is why we do what we do.  THANK YOU. 

the after