Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Six years ago this past March I started writing Kettlebellhell.  Throughout that time, I’ve had months where I’ve been busy blogging about the power of kettlebells, and then I’ve had months (sadly) with no posts at all.

For all my kettlebell fanatics, I just want you to know that I’m still crazy about kettlebells. However, for the next few months I’ll be blogging about my next adventure: In August 2016 I’ll be swimming the English Channel on a relay team.  Along with my coach, Trent Grimsey, there will be 3 Australians and 2 Americans on my team, and we will be swimming from England to France through the busiest shipping channel in the world.

I hope you will hang in there with me during this epic journey!  I will need all the support I can get.  Kettlebells are still an important part of my workout and I’m certain I wouldn’t have reached this point without them.  Kettlebells continue to give me a level of fitness confidence that allows me to say “YES” to a new challenge.  (I’ve blogged about this before, so I know you know what I’m talking about!)  With kettlebells, we just say “Yes, I’m ready!”

I know my strength will get me through the choppy seas… but I need to get to work on the other 90%… mental fortitude.

Stay with me!


Skinny Bitch Acclimatizes

Posted: May 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

They told me it couldn’t be done, and that was motivation enough. I’m doing it.

In 10 weeks I’ll be swimming the English Channel with 4 teammates in a relay event. Today, I’m on a mission to prove that by taking the proper steps towards cold-water acclimatization, the skinny bitch can acclimatize!

The thing is, I’ve been “the skinny one” all my life.  I’m in the 99 percentile for body fat, meaning I’m classified as having “Essential Fat Only” at 12%.  This is not helpful for open water swimming events.

2 years ago when I announced I was going to swim the English Channel (which is often considered a swimmers ‘Mount Everest’) many people responded with disbelief.

“You’re waaaayyyy to thin” they would say, “gain some weight… eat more donuts.”

“Don’t you know you’re not allowed to wear a wetsuit when you swim the Channel?!”

“Yes. I know.”

“When are you going to lose the wetsuit?!” they would ask persistently.

“Soon.” I replied.

This year, on March 15th, I lost my wetsuit.  Well, I didn’t actually lose it.  I ceremoniously washed my entire collection of wetsuits with my special neoprene soap, I hung them all to dry, and then I said goodbye and packed them away in the depths of my basement closet. That was a tough day.  I love my gear.

I’ve been acclimatizing ever since.

As someone with “essential fat only”, I’ve chosen a sport that requires me to swim in cold water without a wetsuit.  I’ve already experienced stage 1 and stage 2 hypothermia, and I’ve been dangerously close to stage 3.  So it’s time to fatten up.

I’m keeping a fitness log, a food diary, swimming logs, temperature notes… you name it. It’s all very interesting really.  And just when you thought it would be easy to pack on a few pounds… it’s actually not.

Now if you’re reading this and you’ve ever been told “No way!”, then stick with me through these next 10 weeks of my journey.  I’m going to take you through the highs and the lows of training for something that seems unattainable.  And we’ll see if it is.

Peace Out,

Truth in Powerlifting

Posted: February 4, 2016 in Uncategorized



Powerlifting has become my “yoga”.  Through it, I have gained a philosophy that I can apply to life and business.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned since working with my personal trainer is not to beat myself up over failure.  He says, “You can’t PR everyday, Kate.”

I know this.  (I think.)

But I definitely get caught up in the challenge and the excitement of hitting a new personal record.  It’s exhilarating.  (Although, disappointment can often be crushing.)

They say “the higher you fly, the further you fall.”  I believe it.

After one great success, we want to strive for another.  The thrill of a new challenge is what drives us all.  When we’re caught up in the moment, we forget that we’re not always going to make great strides every day.  Some days are normal days.  (Really?)  Yes… and some days… we even fail.

Failure is a lesson, and you can’t let it hold you back.  We need to remember that we won’t hit a new personal record on every attempt.

This is true in business as well.  When we shy away from new ventures for fear of failure, or lack of time or resources, we are not giving ourselves the chance to succeed.  But knowing that it’s impossible to PR every day gives us the space (and time) we need to get the job done without beating ourselves up in the process.

Sometimes I think I need a Post-it note on my computer that says:

“You can’t PR every day, Kate!”

This also reminds me of the importance of recovery, but that is another post for another day!:)


“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
                                                                                                    – Babe Ruth


Peace Out,


Featured image

Former UCLA basketball coach, winner of ten NCAA national championships, John Wooden coached his players to be mindful when putting on their socks: “If you don’t put on your socks properly you get a wrinkle, and when you have a wrinkle, it causes a blister, and when you have a blister, you can’t run and jump properly.”

Mindfulness has become somewhat of a buzzword lately, but despite its overuse, I still find myself advocating for it every day.  In the age of multitasking, telling someone to single-task puts me in a pretty unpopular position.  But just the other day I read an article about the “myth of multitasking” and it made me feel better about my position.  Neuroscience tells us that most of us cannot multitask, and our brains can only “switch-task”.  (Turns out that only 2% of the population has the cognitive flexibility to multitask).  So although it feels like we’re doing several things at once, we are instead caught in a constant state of switch-tasking, never paying full attention to any one thing, and therefore, not doing any one thing well.  Studies show, performance suffers when multitasking, up to 40%!

I thought about this in terms of swinging kettlebells.  When we really focus on our workout, and we pay full attention to our swings, we will get the greatest gains.  Call it mindfulness, call it awareness, or call it Zen… but anytime we can go from feeling frazzled to feeling focused, we will perform better.

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s important to commit your mind to your workout.  Don’t try and multitask in the gym. I saw a guy on a leg press machine once, trying to finish his novel.  Really?? Guaranteed he was not making any gains, he was just going through the motions. If your mind and your body are not connected to the same goal, your body will not respond.  Your performance in the gym will absolutely suffer.Featured image

Here are 3 ways you can bring mindfulness to your fitness:

  1. Honor the Time you Dedicate to Fitness
  2. Set Goals
  3. Keep a Training Log

1. First, honor the time you have dedicated to strength by putting away all distractions and fully committing your mind to how you want to perform over the next hour or so.  Ask yourself if you are truly paying attention to what is important to you.

2. Next, what strength goals have you set for yourself? Set a series of goals: I like to set goals for strength gains, as well as use various races and competitions as goals. For example, my secret goal for my deadlift is 200 lbs by the end of 2015. (whoops, not a secret anymore!)  But every weekly gain gets me closer to my end-of-year goal.  Also, back in 2014 I committed to swim the English Channel in 2016.  Planning such a large goal so far ahead gave me the luxury of time to place smaller monthly goals on the calendar to move me closer and closer to my big goal.

3. Finally, keep a training log.  A fitness diary will keep you mindful of what you’re doing every day, and see where you’ve been and where you’ve made gains.  I like this one: Each page is broken down into strength and cardio sections, as well as an area for flexibility and nutrition notes too.  I particularly like that this one has a “Weekly Wrap-Up” section at the end of each week, and you rate yourself based on whether you met or exceeded or goals. (or not!)  This is key to planning out what you need to be doing and when.  (This log is good for 6 months, so buy several at a time and log your long-term goals.)

Now, put on some music, grab a few kettlebells and get to work!

Here’s your Workout:

10 sets of 20: figure 8’s to a hold.  (that’s 10 on each side, with minimal rest between sets) 200 total in about 12 minutes, depending on what weight you choose.

You shouldn’t need too many songs… maybe just 3 good ones that will keep you in a good rhythm:Image result for the doors

The Doors, Backdoor Man
Nickelback, She Keeps Me Up
Awolnation, Sail  

Those three songs will be just short of 12 minutes, which is about all you need for this workout.

Happy Swinging!



CrossFit Open 15.1

Last month I competed in the CrossFit Open, and I was surrounded by athletes who were pushing the limits of their abilities and endurance. One day, when the going got tough, I picked up a few pointers from a guy who’s currently ranked 28th in the world. It took me a minute, but then I said to him “How many people are 28th in the world… in anything?”  It’s impressively mind blowing! So we talked about what that meant for him.

I went home and started thinking: despite his unassuming manner, it’s obvious that his physical strength gives him the confidence to excel in other areas of his life, not just at the gym. And then it hits me… Here is someone who is truly ‘grounded in his strength’, which is an important key to business strength.

Here’s the deal: when I’m not physically training for something, I’m training corporate executives on how to communicate with strength and confidence. Both require effort, determination and enthusiasm. Over the last 20 years working with business exec’s on public speaking, there’s one thing I know for sure: Nearly everyone would rather be in the audience than on stage giving the presentation. And quite often their reluctance has to do with low levels of confidence.

Microphone at conference.
Strength builds confidence, it’s as simple as that. So I coach my clients to get ‘grounded in strength’ before walking on stage to send confident messages to the brain exactly when they need them.

The problem is, many people have a hard time identifying their strengths, and therefore have nothing to draw on when the going gets tough.

In fact, in any evaluative situation where stress levels are high (whether they are on stage delivering a speech, in a conference room negotiation, in an interview, or in some kind of competition) it’s important to be able to project strong levels of confidence… but that confidence has to come from somewhere.

(Certainly if you and I were 28th in the world in something, our confidence would stem from that. Since we’re not, here’s the workaround:)

Identify your strength in a few activities, and then identify where you’d like increased strength:

1. Is there anything you’re doing right now that you do well?
2. Is there anything you’re doing right now that you’d like to do better?

Notice that the questions ask what you’re doing “right now”. Don’t pull from something you did 30 years ago and expect a surge of confidence. It’s important to pull from your current, present-day activities, and then write these two things down on a piece of paper, side by side. Take what you do well and let it help you perform better in the areas you want to improve. Basically, use the strength from what you’re strong in to give you confidence in what you’re not.

For example: I just hit a new PR on my bench press this week. Rocked that! But when I got in the pool for a 2 mile workout I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. After 60 laps my shoulders were screaming at me. But you can’t quit at 60 when 66 is 2 miles, so I needed to find that last bit of strength. I pulled from my success earlier in the day, got my brain wrapped around that feeling, and I finished.

This example uses athletic activities, but it’s easy to translate this to the business world: Bring your strength from one area, walk into that stressful situation and use these exact words:

“I did that. I can do this.”

I’ve used this technique myself and I’ve shared it many times in my professional training. Once you are able to identify your strength, you become better equipped to handle pretty much anything that gets thrown your way. This is not an arrogant confidence, but a strong, genuine confidence.

This is the foundation to becoming “Grounded in Strength”.  Good Luck!

My Epic Alcatraz Swim!

Posted: September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
The jump to start!

The jump to start!

“Epic” is a word that I think is often misused.  For instance, my kids get a high score on a video game and call it epic.  I suppose it’s all in your perspective, but for me, the Alcatraz Invitational Swim was, indeed, epic.  I’d like to take a break from the kettlebells for a moment and tell you about a fantastic experience I had “escaping the Rock” swimming in the San Francisco Bay chop.

Yes, the Alcatraz swim was finally here!  Sunday, September 14th, 2014.   I’ve written about race days before, but this race day was like none other.  Sure, we had the usual adrenaline rush, but I get one of those before I walk on stage to make a speech.  The difference is, I don’t ever think I’m gonna die on stage.  Yes, this day was something else.

From a pre-dawn check in, we had several hours of pacing around until it was time (9am) to start the long, slow walk (barefoot) to the marina.  Nearly 800 swimmers followed a bagpiper from the South End Rowing Club to the dock where two ferries were waiting to take us out to Alcatraz.  Though there were no handcuffs, there was something about walking down the street in our bare feet and being corralled onto ferries that seemed a bit doomful. Ominous.  We passed many people getting their morning coffees and newspapers who no doubt had never seen a sight like this! We were off to the island and there was no turning back now.

Once on the boat, there was a mix of anxiety and pure excitement everywhere, you could feel it.  We were biting our nails and drinking our last bit of water, and then at one point I remember a bunch of us doing the celebratory “End-Zone dance”, even before the race had begun!  Yes, this was a pre-race high like no other race.

As the ferries got into position and turned off their engines, 800 swimmers had to jump into the San Francisco Bay in the space of 5 minutes before the currents pushed the boats astray.  I didn’t think it was possible, but everyone jumped in 3 at a time.  Holding my goggles to my face, I took a deep breath and jumped in.  As if in a world of slow motion, it seemed like forever until I surfaced.  How deep was I?  Then my next sensation was how beautiful the water was beneath the surface.  It was a light crystal green color, just like a gemstone.  It was also super salty, and it reminded me of eating oysters on the half shell.  Then, sort of shockingly, my undersea fantasy world suddenly ended and I surfaced into a mass of swimmers.  More swimmers were jumping in, so I had to quickly start swimming away from the boat.  I found my friends, we all gave each other a nod, and we took off!


This race could have gone either way.  We all figured it would either be really hard, or it was going to be OK and our months of training would pay off.  Having never done the Alcatraz swim before, none of us knew quite what to expect, but that morning the weather turned out to be on our side.  It was a gorgeous day in San Francisco, and the 16 mile-an-hour winds that were predicted never seemed to materialize.

I can say now, without a doubt, that this race has reinforced my love of swimming!  Here’s why:

One of the suggestions given to the group during the pre-race instructions was to stop at the half-way point and do a 360.  “Take a minute to look around you”, they said.  “Take it all in!”  (They reminded us that chances were pretty good we weren’t going to “win” the race… only one person out of 800 wins… so most of us should not worry about our time.)  “You’ll never get a view like this again!”  So I took their suggestion, I stopped and treaded water, and spun myself around. It was Epic! (and I mean really epic!)  When I began swimming again, I got myself into good swimming rhythm.  I would breathe every third stroke, and sight every third breath.  During my sighting I would see many people stopping and taking in the views as I had done.  I just can’t tell you how incredible it felt to be somewhere so beautiful, while accomplishing something so challenging, and everyone around you was appreciating the moment right there with you!

At one point while I was sighting ahead, I saw a woman smiling at me.  A bit unexpected, she was just hanging out treading water right there in the middle of the San Francisco bay!  I couldn’t resist her huge smile and so I called out to her… “Well hello there!”  We talked for a bit, I can’t really remember what we said, but she was simply amazed by the beauty all around her and wanted to share it with someone.  I just happened to be there.  Yes, it was striking.  The sun was shining on the Golden Gate bridge, just like a post card.  We had left Alcatraz in the dust (dust?) and the San Francisco skyline was waiting brilliantly ahead of us.  Oh, and the SFFD had stopped all boat traffic, so one of the most amazing sights was looking up at what was probably hundreds of sailing boats all lined up, waiting, as if showcasing their beauty for all of us to see.  I am so glad I got to share that moment with a fellow swimmer.

I never saw her again, but the few moments we shared together in the bay reminded me why I swim. I swim because of the community of swimmers.  They are all superb human beings, glorious athletes, and most excellent comrades post-race!  (Oh yes, now that is another story altogether:  The Post-Race Celebration in SF!)

In the meantime, I’ll share with you my post-race photo of “Team Puget Sound”.  (Just three of us this time, but after all our stories, I think we may have a bigger contingent next year. Come join us!)

Peace Out,


Diana, Kate and Curtis

Diana, Kate and Curtis


For the last two summers I’ve been swimming in Lake Washington at dawn. I get up at 5am, have a bulletproof coffee ( then take myself down to the lake to swim a mile or two. Although this is an excellent workout, I have noticed a bit of a decrease in my muscular definition in the summer months when I stop some of my other training.  (This is a very good reminder to keep up the kettlebells year-round!)  There is really no substitute for weight-resistance training. Moving water out of your way is good work, but moving cast iron around is certainly a great complement to swimming.

Anyway, I’ve signed up for the “Escape from Alcatraz” swim, it’s fast approaching and I want to go in strong.  (I need to bring my A-game to battle the chop and swift currents… and maybe a few sea lions).   How?   Shoulder strength:

After talking to a buddy of mine (a former CrossFit trainer and currently a kettlebell fanatic like me) he suggested Turkish Get-Ups for my shoulder strength. His suggestion was to do 10 getups in 10 minutes. I gave him a funny look.  10 in 10 minutes?  That seems kinda slow.  “If I can knock one rep out in 20 seconds, are you suggesting I wait around on the floor for another 40 seconds before starting my next rep?”

“Kate, it’s not about the speed!!”   Take it slow, increase the weight, do a press at every position stop.

Hmmm… Alright. I tried it. This is hard for me… but I like it, and I could definitely feel it the next day.

I have also revisited some videos I love on shoulder safety:

Jason C. Brown practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and he’s very familiar with the ways kettlebells can improve his game. In fact, in this video, Jason calls attention to how important it is (as a fighter) to protect your shoulders and your joints at all costs. This resonated with me, because as a swimmer, I feel the same way… No shoulder injuries before Alcatraz!

I’ve always liked these videos, they demonstrate two great variations on the Turkish Get Up:

By the way, as a side note… A friend of mine recently reached out to me, post-Achilles surgery. He’s working with a physical therapist to get back out there, but I’m thinking this is great for him too, because you can stop a TGU at any time, you don’t have to go all the way to standing. For example, start on your back, go up to elbow (do a press), go up to hand (do a press), switch your feet and gently roll onto one hip (as shown is video 2, but stop before you kneel.) (do a press), and then reverse those three steps back down again. When he’s feeling stronger, go up one more step, maybe kneeling, or even try a side-plank position. After a few months, perhaps up to standing. But the great thing about the TGU is that you can modify it for your needs.

My suggestion is to time yourself on a “typical” TGU, and then slow it down from that.  I’ve been doing 20 reps in 10 minutes (10 left, 10 right) and that still feels a bit slow to me, but I’m adding the press, which is good work.  Everyone’s got 10 minutes… that’s just one long song and your shoulder workout is done. (Guns n’ Roses November Rain just about makes it!)

Let me know what you think… I’m off to put in my 10 minutes and jump in the lake!



Abdominal “crunch-time”

Posted: June 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’m modifying this workout as we speak… stay tuned!

Cast Iron Strength

Cape Cod beach at sunset, Race Point Beach

OK, we’re counting down to the beach… 2 days left!

I had a nice hill run this morning which was a good warmup for an abdominal workout when I got home.

Here’s a list of a few of the exercises that make up my “crunch time” to the beach:

1. The Plank

2. Kettlebell sit ups

3. The Plow

4. Russian Twist  (some people do these standing, other sitting…)

5. Bicycle Sit-ups.  (If you’re not sure what those are, ehow will show you how:)

Here’s the routine:

Start with a good stretch into a forward bend.  Then step back into the plank pose and hold that position for 60 seconds.

Roll onto your back, grab the 8KG kettlebell and do 20 kettlebell situps.  Repeat these two exercises, alternating Plank and Sit-ups.

Then, from the sit up position, roll back into a shoulder stand inversion, legs straight up, and then throw back into the Plow position just for fun!  This should…

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Yoga meets Kettlebells

Posted: May 14, 2014 in Uncategorized




It’s 10:00pm, I haven’t gotten my 20 minutes in yet, and I need to do something inside (tomorrow I’ll get out in the yard again) but I’m thinking this is a perfect night for a yoga/kettlebell mix.  By this, I mean flow.  Each exercise moves into the next with an even, smooth transition… and no breaks.

Music: Hendrix

Here we go:

1. Kettlebell Situps… do as many as you can, at least 1 minute.

2. Situps transition nicely into the seated Russian Twist.

3. Then put the kettlebell aside, and flip yourself over into a 1 minute Plank Hold.

4. Fall into a Cobra position to give your lower back a good stretch.  (you’ll need this if you’ve been doing a lot of traditional swings)

5. Now transition into Downward Dog, hold for a good all-around stretch.

6. Next… the Extended Squat (perfect if you’ve increased your running with the nice weather.) Step forward (feet more than hip-distance apart) hold your feet, and squat down.  Bring that into a deep squat, then stand up… still holding your feet…adding a good hamstring stretch.  This is hard to describe, so here’s a link: (  Each time down you should be getting into a good deep squat, and each time up you should be waking up those hamstrings.  Do at least 20 of these.  If you’re not grunting by now, you’re not doing these right.

7. We’re almost finished with the first round… stand up, grab your kettlebell again, and do a Standing Twist.

8. You can move from the Standing Twist nicely into a few Around the Worlds.  Done.  (with the first set)

OK, Water Break… then get back on the floor and start your second set.

Let me know what you think…








20 minutes a day... starts today!

The sun is shining, and the new lounger is waiting… 20 minutes of kettlebells everyday. Today, it will be the swing and release, with a flip and squat. Do it, Do it!

Swim, Bike, Run… etc.

Posted: April 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

My new training program for the Alcatraz swim and a few triathlons this summer is shaking out to look something like this: 7:3:2:1

7 x per week: Kettlebells
3 x per week: Run
2 x per week: CrossFit and Swim
1 x per week: Bike

My thinking is this:

Because Kettlebells are best everyday, I can add just a few minutes to my daily routine to stay strong and work all muscle groups. I’ll just vary the size of the kettlebell depending on the day. Sometimes light… stay with the yellow.  Other times push it with the green and red bells.

Running, ideally, I’d like to do 3 times a week. (I’m not sure if I can pull all this off, but today was a good example of a time crunch: It was 10:13, and I had a noon meeting that I needed to prepare for, and I still needed a shower! Most days I would have looked at the clock and said “no way… no time for a run!” But today, I said, hey… I’m trying to get in my days… I can do 2 miles. Who doesn’t have 20 minutes? So out the door I went, back by 10:30… shower, prepare for meeting, out the door by 11:45. Boom! Done. I love my new thinking… all runs don’t have to be epic!)

OK… CrossFit and swimming work well for me twice a week.

I’m not an avid biker, so once a week for a good long bike sounds reasonable to me.

Here’s how it would shake out:

Monday: Kettlebells and Swim
Tuesday: Kettlebells and CrossFit
Wednesday: Kettlebells and Long Run
Thursday: Kettlebells and CrossFit, Run
Friday: Kettlebells and Swim
Saturday: Kettlebells and Long Bike
Sunday: Light Kettlebells and Short Run (my rest day)

The lake is still full of snow melt and 50 degrees… so I’m not swimming yet… but I’ll try everything else, then add that in when I can tolerate the temps.  It’s an aggressive workout schedule… we’ll see how long I can keep it up.  I’ll let you know how it goes!  Do it with me!?


one week to go… for Big Climb 2014!!

Cast Iron Strength

Race Day… Sunday, March 20th 2011… 9:00am start time.

I was entering the unknown.  Having always raced in the great outdoors, it was quite a different experience for me entering the narrow stairwells of the tallest skyscraper in Seattle.  I had a new challenge in front of me and I had no idea what to expect.  Adrenaline was high, so it was essential for me to focus on the fact that I had trained for this moment.  Between the gym, kettlebells, and outdoor stair climbing, I had put in my time and I had to be confident in that.  But nonetheless… my heart was racing!

They took my picture, and then I set off into the stairwell.  I never have liked stairwells much… they actually creep me out.  Not as much as spiders do… but still, one time, many years ago, I got locked in a parking garage stair well and I got that claustrophobic panicky feeling you get when you think you…

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Hot Rocks!

Posted: March 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

I just had my first “Hot Stone” massage yesterday, and let me tell you… they work!  I’ve been training for the Big Climb (70 flights up the Columbia Tower) so I’ve been running stairs and my calves have been screaming at me.  There are days that I hobble around like a little old lady and can barely get down the stairs in my own house.  That’s true.  But no more!  (and to think that all this time there was something that could help… and I always thought it was just an expensive add-on at the spa.)

Hot stones can do what fingers and foam rollers and lacrosse balls can’t.  Here’s the deal:  Hot stones can slide across your muscles, and get into the muscle tissue like nothing else.  You know the feeling… you have a sore muscle, and if someone tries to massage it, you jump, cringe and yell “don’t touch that!”

Not with the stones, my friend!  Between the massage oil, the heat of the stone, and the size/shape of the stone… a trained person can get right into the muscle, just where you need it.  It was awesome and I feel like a million bucks today!  That was definitely worth the add-on cost.

So turn on some Hot Rocks (classic Stones from the 60’s and early 70’s) get out the kettlebells and start swinging!

Peace Out,

This is a great combo when you’re looking for a total-body exercise to add into your workout:

Warm up with a few rounds of alternating reverse lunges (sometimes called a step-back lunge). Then add a decent sized kettlebell to the move.  Now, if you step back with your left leg, hold the kettlebell in your right hand and swing it up into what I call a suitcase swing.  (or, as only Mike Mahler can describe so perfectly:  it’s a “One-Arm Kettlebell Bottom-up Clean”)

Check out his link below for a good illustration of the bottom-up clean (it’s about mid-way down).  Thanks Mike!

Now, put on some good music and get swinging!  If the kettlebell flops over at the top, it’s too heavy.  I’ll do about 10 on one side, and then I’ll switch sides.  You’re working on wrist strength and grip control with this one… along with good coordination to do the lunge and the swing at the same time.



                                    Add a “hold” to both the Around the World and the Figure 8’s and step up your game!

Cast Iron Strength

Want a great kettlebell workout today that will really make your abs work hard?

During your entire workout remember this one thing, and say it over and over: “Bring navel to spine.”.

This works really well during a kettlebell workout.  You essentially “suck” your belly in and bring your belly button back towards your spine.  Imagine bringing your “front body” through to your “back body”.   It’s a yoga technique and the visual will tap your abs during all your regular exercises… so check it out, give it a try… and then let me know in 24-48 hours how your abs feel!

One other thing, when you’re doing your Around the World sets, stay low on the first 100 reps or so, and then for the next 100 reps bring the kettlebell around and up each time to an alternate shoulder for the “Around the World with a Hold”.  As you do this, remember to suck navel to…

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Be Strong in Your Convictions

Posted: January 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Reblog from Jan 1012: Two years later, and people are still too damn busy for their own good! Probably even more busy. We’re too busy to understand ourselves and our convictions and our passions. Too busy to contemplate both our personal beliefs and to what extent we share them with others. Social media has brought about a culture of oversharing, but often in a hurried and scattered way. In 2012, the book I should have written was written by someone else. It’s called “A Mindful Nation”. Just reading the foreword of the book made me exclaim out loud: “Damn!”

“What’s wrong?” my husband asked from the next room. I told him I was reading another book I was meant to write. I hate it when that happens. Yes, I’m working on my book, but my writing ebbs and flows. In the meantime, I enjoy what others have invested their time in.

Congressman Tim Ryan has written an excellent book that reminds us how important it is to think and be mindful. He shows us how to start paying attention and prioritize what is important. As I read his book, it’s clear that practicing mindfulness and setting your intentions will improve performance, in all areas of your life. From the gym to the conference room. It’s a great reminder to be strong in your convictions. Always. Know who you are and what you believe in. That strength will serve you well.

Happy Swinging, and Happy 2014!
Peace. Kate

Cast Iron Strength

You already know how I feel about yoga and kettlebells.  Yin and Yang… perfectly matched, each one helps achieve a higher level of success at the other.  Today, I’d like to discuss a few things from my yoga practice.  At the start of every yoga class we’re always asked to set our intention. Our intention is something that will resonate through our practice.  It’s quite often something we want to work on… and then we are reminded to think of our intention throughout the class.

I always appreciate this part of class because it forces me to focus on something and be very present.

Today my intention was strength and compassion. I often feel like those are the yin and the yang of life.  I merge these two into a single phrase I can repeat: “Be strong, be compassionate, and be sure of yourself and your convictions.”  If there’s one thing that resonates true for me…

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“Maintenance” for 2014!

Posted: January 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

I was at my CrossFit gym yesterday, getting in one more workout before the end of the year, and something very interesting happened: The instructor asked the class what their fitness goals were for the new year. Normally, when you ask a room full of people about their fitness goals right after a big holiday of eating and drinking, losing weight and eating better will be at the top of the list. But not today.

Français : Force athlétique (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People just shrugged their shoulders and said “maintenance!” “…I want to maintain what I’ve got!” Welcome to a CrossFit box.

You all know I love kettlebells and encourage practically everyone I meet to try them, but this speaks volumes for CrossFit. We didn’t sit around and reel off the tired old new years resolutions about how much weight we needed to lose, and there were no complaints or excuses or sob stories. Just a bunch of people committed to exercise who will keep on keeping on. I love it! And it’s not that everyone is walking around with “perfect” bodies either. It’s just that they have achieved a level of fitness that allows them to enjoy life and they are happy with that.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… CrossFit works! I don’t care how “busy” you are… anyone can fit a few CrossFit workouts into their week, and that’s half the battle, isn’t it?

For the last year and a half I’ve been supplementing my kettlebell workouts with CrossFit, and it’s been a great combination.  I’ve written about this before in previous posts, but there is something very empowering about achieving a level of fitness that helps you move through life easier.  Just the other day I took my son and his new bike to the park and he says “Mom, run along side me while I ride!” (I was glad I was up for that!) But you find yourself in a great position to say “yes” when your friends ask you to join their running team, or meet them for a swim, or go for a hike… you don’t ask “How far?”… you just say “Yes!” This level of fitness allows you to keep life interesting by always being up for trying new things and meeting new people.

Let’s commit to fitness and start signing up for some races in 2014.  …and put them on your calendar.  Remember last year’s post on Strategic Fitness Planning?

An Alcatraz swim is on my list this year… along with my usual stair climb up the Columbia Tower and swimming across Lake Washington.  I want to try SUP Yoga, and do a trail run somewhere high and beautiful.  A few triathlons would be fun… maybe as a relay.  I’m open to suggestions!

Here’s to a great year ahead, and happy swinging!


Back from Vacation!

Posted: August 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

Two months have flown by since my last post. I’ve been riding it out for awhile on vacation. When I got home I had to step on the scale… and here’s what happened:

First, a disclaimer: Before my vacation I got down to my “fighting weight”. I trained like a crazy lady! Kettlebells, CrossFit, running, swimming, you name it… I exercised 6 days a week. I also avoided wheat and dairy for about three weeks before departure. So by the time I left, I was a lean and mean 124 pounds. (What!? No wheat or dairy? That’s right… I took it out because I was told it causes “inflammation” in the body. (More on that in a later post) Nevertheless, we were off to France and I was ready to eat some good French cheese and baguette on a daily basis.

I packed my running shoes, but never wore them.

My kettlebell stayed at home. Too heavy to travel with.

I packed a jump rope and a few resistance bands. I used them twice.

We were vacationing with friends and we all ate and drank like… well… people on vacation!

I was certain that after nearly a month of eating what I wanted I was going to pack on a few pounds. But here’s a (somewhat) brief little story about life in the south of France.


We rented a house in a little village in the Var region of Provence. (This is my soul’s home!)  The sun shines every morning with its warm yellow glow, and the day starts magically. Slowly, our little village of Salernes wakes up to the smell of fresh croissants and espresso. Soon the venders will be setting up their stalls for the morning market and you’ll find some lovely fresh vegetables, herbs and meats for your dinner later.


By about 12:30, everything closes down. You’ll find yourself in a little restaurant settling in for a nice, long 2-hour lunch that includes at least 3 courses and several carafes of rosé.  At 2:30 the shops open up again and life resumes to the village.  Music may start up in the square, the little boutiques open their doors, artists and potters display their things and then your wine guy opens his doors for business and he’s ready to help you select the perfect bottles for your evening meal. By 4 o’clock we were usually back at the house for an aperitif and a swim in the pool. Next thing you know the baguettes and raw French cheeses were being consumed in considerable quantities. Wine was poured, we’d prepare an amazing dinner and sit outside and watch the sun set behind the hills. Many hours later we’d still be out there talking and relaxing… long after you could see every star in the sky.


This was the good life!

Yes, it was idealistic. We drank good wine, ate amazing food… and our pace of life slowed down considerably. One would think we’d pay for this lifestyle with a few extra pounds. After we’d been home for a few days my husband and I looked at each other and knew we had to do it… we had to step on that scale.  Being “A Pig in Provence” was about to reveal itself with a number! (an excellent book, by the way, “A Pig in Provence, Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France”, by Georgeanne Brennan)

OK… so our numbers?  Maybe a pound heavier… maybe two at the most… but completely inconsequential!

The secret?  We walked to get our meals.

Yes, there is something to be said for walking, eating slowly and relaxing. (This, I believe, is one of the many secrets of the svelte French women: They eat what they want, but they walk to get it!) And not only do they walk to get it, they actually sit down to eat.  And I’m not talking about their car either.  (tres, tres mal… C’est déplorable!)  No, They will sit down in a restaurant and enjoy their food at a civil pace.

(I remember one day I didn’t have much time and I just needed a ‘coffee to go’.  Walking around the village, this Seattle girl was thinking “Where’s my Starbucks when I need one!?”  But there was nothing of the sort.  You must sit down and have your coffee in a small ceramic cup.  And it will be 30 minutes.)

From a fitness perspective, this vacation was truly ideal.  We walked to get our food and the food was all fresh and local.   I ate whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted, and with no guilt… it was fabulous!

Ahhh… so, back to life, back to reality.  It is now time to train for my next fitness challenge… swimming across Lake Washington!
Stay tuned!


Kettlebells and Sprints

Posted: May 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

WP_20130515_005I tested this workout this morning, made a few tweaks, and I’m proud to say this an awesome workout for a crisp, sunny morning.  Have at it:

2 lap run (1/2 mile)

30 Double-Handed Swings

1 lap sprint (.25 mile)

30 Single-Handed Swings (15 each side)

2 lap run

30 Two-Handed Releases

1 lap sprint

30 Figure 8’s (15 each direction)

2 lap run

100 kettlebell situps


I used greenie for the whole thing (12KG) and it was a good workout.  I finished in about 30 minutes (not including situps).  got a 2 mile run in, and a bunch of good swings.  (We start with a half-mile run, so that by the time you get to the quarter-mile it will feel short, so you should sprint it.  It’s all psychology!)  My runs were at a 9 min/mile pace, and my sprints we at a 8 min/mile pace.  (Give or take… I’m sucking wind on the hills near my house… so if you use a track, step it up if you can.)

When you get to the situps, put on a nice long song and try to finish all 100 before the song is over.  My new favorite is Guns n’ Roses, November Rain.  It’s 9 minutes long and it has a false ending at about 7 minutes in… so just when I think I’m not going to make it, I’ve got 2 more minutes to pound it out till the end.

Try it out, and let me know what you think!




Are you ready to try something new to kick off the weekend?  I’ve got a challenge for you:

Get out several sizes of kettlebells… put on Guns n’ Roses “November Rain”, and knock out 9 minutes of uninterrupted TGU’s (Turkish Get Ups).

Take No Breaks!   Just switch sides when one hand gets tired.  Sure, you can alternate getting up to standing, getting up to one knee, or getting up to side plank… but the point is… keep working for the whole song… and enjoy the bliss!

Good Luck… and Happy Friday!