No, it’s not like that… sort of

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MFD lift of the day: Jerk press. Max Effort style (hey, powerlifters stole the concept from the world of weightlifting)!

Combo Catch of the Day: Although not listed on our list of GPP combos yet, we’ll cal this one the David Lee Roth. It’s simple: sandbag burpees/cleans/presses. 30 reps for time. Here’s a couple of reps from our lucky model AJ, who is a client of mine at 6 am 3 days a week. That bag looks sort of small in his hands because he’s 6′ 8”! This is roughly rep 19-22…

No, it’s not like that…sort of.

Yesterday’s post could be construed easily as my disapproval for Crossfit, but, as those of you who have worked with me a bunch know, that simply isn’t the case. I’ll even put forth that Crossfit is an effective tool within a physical culturalist’s tool box. It isn’t the program (or any program), it’s the sheep. And this isn’t limited to Crossfit AT ALL, which has, towards the top of their power structure, a collection of utterly brilliant, and freakishly athletic, people.

How about a nice, non-workout related anecdote to sort of drive the point home:

About 2 years ago I saw Public Enemy in concert, something I’ve been trying to do since missing them tour un-ironically with metal band Anthrax almost 20 years ago. The S1W’s opened the show with their confusing brand of militia-inspired march/dance (should I be intimidated or is this ridiculous?), and then out came the infamous duo of Flava Flav and Chuck D.


Apart from the fact that the sound was atrocious (is hip hop hard to amplify in an amphitheater situation?), there was something happening between the audience and the band that was painful enough to watch that a strange twist in my stomach made me have to leave. I was reminded of a memorable anecdote from The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test. Ken Kesey and Paul Krassner were watching Paul Jacobs turn an anti-war ‘teach in’ into what seemed, through charisma, rhetoric and simple volume, something a bit more fascist:

Nodding toward Jacobs, Kesey says:

“Look up there,”…”Don’t listen to the words, just the sound, and the gestures…who do you see?”
And suddenly Krassner wants very badly to be right….”Mussolini…?”


PE sent similar shivers up my spine. Songs about anti-oppression and self empowerment were being turned into call-and-response games, seemingly twisting ‘power of the people’ into power OVER the people. The mostly-inebriated crowd was ever so willing to loudly scream whatever Flav instructed them to. And no matter how harmless it seemed, it felt prudent to ‘fight the power,’ so I left, with a slightly sunken feeling that might be akin to Kesey’s observations during Paul Jacobs speech.

Can I get a “hell yeah” for thinking for yourself?

“Hell yeah!”

Can there be a successful movement with an underlying theme of free thought? Can equality exist within a leader/follower scenario? Is A-rod really doing the Qaballah Mamba with Madonna? Do these jeans make my ass look fat? Please don’t answer any of those.

“Teacher” and “leader” are often perceived as synonymous, as are the words “mentor and “guru.” But let’s make a case that an educator should strive for a goal of their pupil’s self realization. This switches the concept of teacher/leader to teacher/mentor. Within the argot of clan, tribe or cult, a Guru might have positive significance, but in a jaded modern vernacular, ‘Guru’ has taken the meaning of ‘manipulator’ or ‘brain washer.’ Let’s not insinuate anything, these are just things to think about, that Guru and Mentor seem to invoke different connotations in people. ‘Guru,’ in western culture, seems like a self-appointed title of power and persuasion, especially in our silly little fitness world (“I am expert”), where ‘mentor’ is more often an actual role than simply a title, and often not self appointed. (“he/she teaches”).

This is what led Mel Siff to create his Guru Terminology Kit, which is an ever growing collection of hyperbole, catch phrases and advertising copy used by so-called experts (gurus) to sell their branding. Mel’s idea was if we can be consciously aware of the manipulation, then we can build greater skills of reasoning to discern if, behind the hype, there was actual merit. Often there might be, sometimes there ain’t.

The American Kettlebell Club is doing some interesting and impressive things recently, as our extended Bodytribe member Craig will attest to. But what do we actually learn about them from excerpts of their website like these (emphasis is mine, adding to the Guru Terminology Kit):

“There isn’t any one thing that solidifies Fitness, but what’s fascinating is Kettlebells enhance every one of these attributes and our methods seem to do it better and faster than anything else. Of course you can specialize, but Kettlebell Lifting, and particularly Kettlebell Sport IS a specialization in the general. Kettlebells ARE Fitness.”

“…Same with Powerlifters… They are masters of the Strength category, but overeating and overemphasis sometimes diminishes the other attributes of Fitness. Not Kettlebells. They seem to enhance all pieces of the Fitness puzzle at the same time.

Here’s a kettlebell:


I’ve seen quite a few in my time. I’ve watched them just sit there on the ground doing their thing, lounging around being heavy. The didn’t ‘enhance’ anything. They aren’t ‘fitness,’ especially under my definition of increasing the quality of life through movement. As Trainer Allyson commented, they just sit there.

Can you take away some top notch info from AKC? Heck yeah. But only with discerning eyes should you pierce the hyperbolic veil. Otherwise you might be led to believe that an inert piece of iron has magic powers.

Now for an example of there being absolutely no teeth behind the hype. Let’s play a game. Let’s pack our Guru Terminology Kit with all the fancy gobbly-gook that comes from the following video. From the overuse of the words ‘tone’ (?!?), ‘lower ab’ and ‘longer, leaner muscles,’ to the utter lie of how she ‘created’ moves that have been in the lifting catalog for over a century, this video makes me want to hurt someone (Thanks, Dean, for sharing… damn you).

I commented on the video, but the moderator wouldn’t post it (surprisingly). It was:

That’s not a kettlbell, that’s barely a step above a cat’s toy. Dance aerobics while holding a small ball in your hands is NOT kettlebell training, and calling it such is insulting to folks who actually TRAIN. Keep up the dancing, you’re obviously quite good at it (really), but put the prop down.

Now let’s get lifting and just all remember what we do this for!!

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Showing 12 comments
  • Megan

    I feel stronger and leaner just looking at that picture of the kettlebell.

  • Dean

    That video is creating quite a stir over on the Punch Kettlebell or as she calls it “K Bell” forum… Somewhere on YouTube there has to be an outtake of one of those dancers getting whacked upside the head with one of those KB’s

  • Brent

    And to think I’ve been dancing with a 5 lbs plate all these years. No wonder I don’t look like she does.

  • Chris

    That video made me laugh. Thanks for sharing. What was that thing she was holding ?……a paper weight ?

  • Marion

    If she takes her clothes off and then does the dance, I might just be able to tolerate it.

  • chip

    Three guys post, but it’s ‘Marion’ who takes it there. Careful, I have video of you that I can post (nothing of the Bodytribe-after-dark nature, just workout shots).

  • Zac

    On the P.E. show, I think I’ve only once seen live hip hop with anywhere near decent sound (it was the Jurassic 5 in a outdoor festival setting). Otherwise, sound problems & live hip hop seem to go hand in hand. Don’t know what the deal is there…

  • Craig

    She says “seemingly innocent”!

    There’s nothing innocent about it. The K-bell is innocent like a Koala is a gentle, passive creature. Those that have intimate knowledge of either knows this for a potentially tragic error in judgment. The K-Bell IS fitness just as the “seemingly innocent” Koala IS pure animal brutality.

    Fighting Koalas- now that’s a manly sport…


  • Ron

    The Kbell product stinks.

    For real results you need the Big String.

    It’s the perfect tool that will allow any woman to feel the flow of power, burn fat, tone, and build long lean muscle and a sculpted body.

    It’s so simple–you wrap the special string around your middle finger and extend that finger while using our Special Movements.

    Our Special Movements (optimal aerobics and fitness moves we’ve taken from our years of research and development) show you how to use highly effective methods that have been kept a secret for years.

    By using this perfect balance of Special Movements in harmony with the Big String you’ll see your fitness levels soar and get the results you deserve.

    The key is the Big String which magnifies the effectiveness of our Special Movements through the extended middle finger.

    Nothing else produces such profound effects so quickly. The Big String IS conditioning and toning.

    Finally, fitness secrets used by fitness’ inner circle are available to the rest of us!

  • Josh

    f$@king k-bell? Signature moves? She obviously has no shame as well as the other 99% of the fitness industry. What the hell is next? I guess the “Big String”. Hilarious.

    Chip…Body Tribe after dark? Now I understand all the carnal art in there.

  • Mallory

    One of the couples I work out over at the IC, their daughter (shes at most 8 or 9) uses the same KB as on that video to do swings and clean and jerks just like her parents. That video is a joke.

  • Chris

    Zac – I went to see “The roots” in Eureka one time. It was a real small venue. At one point early in the show the lead rapper was very upset with the sound man. The rapper threw down his mike in the middle of a song. Did his hip hop trot up to the sound booth. To show the sound man how to do his job. It was entertaining to say the least…..

    Marion – if they took their clothes off in the video. I would…..ahhh certainly tolerate it as well. Maybe they will include that in a K – bell series. What’s life without hope ?

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