A Weekend at the SFG2 with Dan John.

Nancy Searle performing double military press.
Nancy Searle performing double military press.

Many of the regular Unique Results members have asked me over recent months why I seemed to be training so regularly with the kettlebells with my training partner (and UR member) Guillaume Justier (also known as the Parisian Bull 🙂 )

Guillaume Justier (the Parisian Bull) at the top of a 32kg TGU.
Guillaume Justier (the Parisian Bull) at the top of a 32kg TGU.

The answer is that we were both preparing for the very challenging StrongFirst Girya Level 2 (SFG2) Kettlebell Instructor Certification which took place over the weekend (8-10th May 2015) at Unique Results. We had both taken and passed the Level 1 in May 2014 and had set ourselves the very daunting task of doing the more advanced certification.

To pass the Level 2 we would need to pass all of the Level 1 ‘Standards’ again along with a new set of Level 2 Strength and Technical tests.

Coaching assistant Jason Elliot SFG2.
Coaching assistant Jason Elliot SFG2.

The Level 1 tests are as follows:

10 Single hand swings on each arm with a 24kg bell.

5 Double Cleans with 2 x 24kg bells.

5 Snatches (each side) with a 24kg bell.

5 Double Front Squats with 2 x 24kg bells.

5 Double Military Press with 2 x 24kg bells.

1 Turkish Get-Up (each side) with a 32kg bell.

SFG Snatch Test: 100 reps within 5 mins with a 24kg bell (multiple hand changes allowed).

Clodagh Loughnane practicing the bent press.
Clodagh Loughnane practicing the bent press.

I have to say that I personally don’t find any of the above tests ‘easy’ although I am a lot stronger and more technically proficient than I was this time last year. The snatch test in particular is a very daunting thing as you know before you start that its going to get pretty uncomfortable. The first 60 reps are fairly comfortable, 60 – 80 start to get more tiring and 80 – 100 are always pretty nasty and I find myself just waiting for it to end as I cross the finish line.

James St Pierre from Unique Results with Dan John.
James St Pierre from Unique Results with Dan John.

The Level 2 tests are as follows:

5 Double Push Press with 2 x 24kg bells.

5 Double Jerks with 2 x 24kg bells.

3 Windmills (each side) with a 24kg bell.

1 Bent Press (each side) with a 24kg bell.

1 Military Press (one side) with a bell 1/2 of your bodyweight.

I was in all honesty the weakest physically of all the candidates in that I found the tests more challenging than most of the others, even so, I

Mirko Bordignon from Italy finishing off a Turkish Get Up.
Mirko Bordignon from Italy finishing off a Turkish Get Up.

managed to pass everything apart from the 1/2 bodyweight press. This is something I will continue to train for with Guillaume for the next 8 weeks (and longer if necessary) until I can retest – candidates can retest or video submit any failed criteria up to 3 months after the date of the cert. I think 4 out of the 13 candidates need to still pass the press test. Dan John is back at UR in early July so I hope to have significantly improved my press strength by then and have already started on a new program to do so.

The weekend was a fantastic and incredibly testing personal challenge for me and also an amazing learning experience. Spending 3 days with the ‘Coach’s Coach’ Dan John (who flew in especially from Utah USA) and the 3 Coaching assistants Claire Booth, Jason Elliot & Phil McDougall as well as the 12 other candidates (some who had flown in from Ireland, Italy and even Australia!) was a major contributing factor to the weekend being so enjoyable and transformative.

Drew Cozens straightening up at the end of a windmill.
Drew Cozens straightening up at the end of a windmill.

The message I want our members (and other readers) to take away is the importance of constantly challenging yourself and stepping outside your comfort zone. It would be pretty easy as I approach 40 (couple of years to go yet) and continue to grow my business and spend much of my time coaching others to relax, kick back and get a little complacent. I personally always need a challenge on the horizon, be that physical, emotional, intellectual or something like a holiday or travel to look forward to.

While spending time with Dan John over the weekend his level of passion, drive, enthusiasm and energy was amazing. He is now 58 years old and still competes in Olympic Lifting, Highland Games, Throwing sports and travels all around the world every year teaching and helping others. He is a true inspiration and one of the most giving people you could ever meet.

Dan John, Jason Elliot, Phil McDougall & Claire Booth: The SFG2 Coaching Team.
Dan John, Jason Elliot, Phil McDougall & Claire Booth: The SFG2 Coaching Team.

We will be holding more Kettlebell courses at UR in the upcoming months aimed at both those who want to become Kettlebell Instructors and also those who want to learn more about kettlebell training for their own personal use and enjoyment. It would also be great to see some more of you soon in our 4 weekly Kettlebell group sessions if you have not already tried them.

Yours in health (and strength),

James St Pierre.

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