Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

10 Days in Dover

Posted: November 1, 2016 in Uncategorized


It’s been 3 months since I landed in Dover, and now looking back I’m not sure where summer went. My 10 Days in Dover were Epic. I have so much to share with everyone, which is the hardest part about sitting down to write.

Where do I begin to tell you about August 2016? For over 2 years I had been preparing to swim the English Channel, and it always seemed so far away. Then, before I knew it, I was on a flight from Vancouver Canada to London England, and then on a train headed to Dover Priory station.

Let’s start there… stay tuned!


My mother-in-law is British, and sometimes she says things that sound so perfectly British with her accent, that her words will linger with me for days. For example, not too long ago when I was stuffing myself with BBQ ribs she had something perfectly brilliant to say:


Picture this… there I was, with sloppy fingers and mounds of messy, used napkins all around me. (not her good linen ones, fortunately!)  Finally, I patted my big belly and said I couldn’t eat another bite.

My mother-in-law took one long look at me, shook her head, and said: “Kate. You’ve got to swim with the body you’ve got, and stop this nonsense!”

“This nonsense” being the over-eating I was doing to try to gain weight.

She was right.  And I knew it.  I was not going to tackle the English Channel by stuffing myself with BBQ ribs. (but they were delicious!)

From my previous “donut” post, you will remember how I was tracking my weight-gaining progress. (I’ve added July here.)

January: 130 lbs.
February: 132
May: 136
June: 137
July: 139

I’m nearly at my goal of 140 and I’m happy about that, but I quickly realized that there was no way I could eat my way to becoming shiver-proof.  I still get goosebumps, and I still shiver, and so I’m stuck with this body I’ve got.

What I needed to do was figure out this “cold-water acclimatization thing.”  So I picked up The Chanel Swimming Manual by Geoff Cox, and read it again.  and again.  with a highlighter.  I was determined to figure this out.

Probably the most important drill I did was straight from the Manual (page 102, taken from the Channel Swimming Academy, Acclimatisation Brief).  The drill involves going through 3 acclimatisation cycles, getting in and out of very cold water three times over a period of 5-8 hours, with a 30-40 minute swim each time, and warming up for about 1-2 hours each time out.  (no warm showers either… just a towel and warm clothes to mimic being on a fishing boat, not a yacht.)

It’s true, your body will not want to go back in the water, but you must force yourself to do it.  The book says you will be pissed off.  The book was right. But do it anyway.

Moral of the story?  Hard work pays off, and it’s important to be grateful for what you have. My body allows me to do many things that I enjoy, both in & out of the water, and I am fortunate for all the experiences I’ve had.

Now it’s time for dinner… 🙂



The body is capable of so much more than we think.  I’ve been obsessed with how I’m going to get my body ready to swim in 60 degree water with no wetsuit.  I’ve read lots of books and researched many acclimatization techniques.  But today, a week out from the start of my swim window for the English Channel relay, I’ve circled all the way back around to what I knew from the start.  The mind-body connection is strong.

Yes, it’s important to do the cold water drills.  But equally important to recognize the roll the mind plays in all of this.  Every time I think about the risk of getting hypothermia during a cold water swim, I think to myself, “I’m not going out like that. That’s not me. No way.”  I don’t even take that thought into my subconscious brain.  I reject it immediately, and I say it out loud if I have to, “Absolutely NOT!”

One of the greatest sources of strength we have is to tap into the unlimited reservoir of imagery.  A technique used by the top athletes in the world, when we visualize the feeling we want, our body responds.

Start by visualizing exactly what you expect from your body, from start to finish.  If you can recall an event from your past when you had strength and success, tap into that. It’s as if you’re saying to your brain, “Forget what you know, trust this feeling I’m sending you.”

Funny thing is, as I begin this process, sometimes a sneaky smile rolls across my face because it feels like I’m up to no good.  (It’s that smile you get when you’re about to go skinny dipping in someone else’s pool!)  It feels like I’m about to do something clandestine, because I  know the secret code or something.  But this is the secret code!!

When we allow our mind to tell our body what we expect from it, our body will respond.


Today I sunbathe, absorbing the warm rays of the sun deep into my skin.  I capture this moment, and save it for later when I will need it for a training swim.  Like tomorrow… when I jump in Puget Sound for a sub-60F swim.

So now that I have a plan for tomorrow… it’s probably time to tackle the jellyfish.  I need to figure out a way to minimize my “freak-out” response.  As always…I’m open to your suggestions! 🙂

Peace Out,


My Daily Donut Diet

Posted: June 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

My “Daily Donut Diet” is over. The gluttony had to end.


Here’s the deal: I’m still on my quest to gain a few extra pounds of “seal fat” before my English Channel swim in August, but the sugary carbohydrate treats have not been serving me well, and I’m looking for new ideas.

Before you roll your eyes, let me put this out there… I’ve heard all the “poor baby can’t gain weight” comments.  But just as people struggle to lose weight, the opposite is true too. The body likes a comfortable plateau.

To be honest, my inability to gain weight has been difficult for me, and I’ve had some pretty shitty days.  As passionate as I am about open-water swimming, I’ve had days when I struggled to get my head in the game. I found myself questioning my passion (and competence) for cold-water swimming.  Questioning the very sport I love!  What!??  Yes, I’ve had bad days where I wanted to throw in the towel altogether and leave my sport.  On one very bad day, I screamed at my training partner that I never wanted to see the lake again. Then I swam a shitty 1/4 mile and went home. (shivering all the way).  Training like that will not get me across the English Channel.

Attitude is everything… and while it’s true that I’ve been on a diet that most would envy, I was struggling to gain weight and my attitude was not improving.  I was on the “eat anything and everything you want” diet, but I made myself ill in the process.  My energy levels suffered, my moods suffered… and my workouts suffered.  Surprise!  (well, maybe not)


On a side note: The Southern Banana Pudding ice cream is pretty amazing!

But even if you do have a very good reason for needing to put on weight (such as, to prevent a trip to the ER with hypothermia!) it just doesn’t add up.  Or, as my father likes to say, “It doesn’t compute.”  You simply cannot eat junk food and expect to perform well as an athlete.

It’s the same rule I use for mixing cocktails: “Good in, Good out”.  Food is the same way, and I honestly don’t know why I thought it would be any different.

Just for fun… here’s an idea of how painfully slow my weight gaining has been since the start of this year:

January: 130 lbs.
February: 132
May: 136
June: 137

Problem is, I feel like most of that gain has been muscle weight.  I’ve been consistently chasing new PR’s powerlifting in the gym with my trainer.  (This year I broke 200 lbs on my deadlift and got to a 160 back squat.)  Those are both much heavier than last year…so I know there is muscle weight in there.

But where’s my SEAL FAT… and how do I get it??  A few more pounds over the next few weeks would definitely help my cold water tolerance in the “No-Wetsuit” zone!

Okay, I’m off to eat to some pasta and an avocado now and maybe I’ll double-up on some protein powder… but I’d love to hear your ideas!





On Memorial Day, I have committed to match my power with my purpose:  This August, I will be swimming the English Channel on a 5-person relay team from England to France.  Afterward, I will be touring the beaches of Normandy to show my respect.  It is my wish today, Memorial Day, to honor those who braved these same waters before me on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

It is with much thought and consideration that I have chosen the Navy SEAL Foundation as my charity for my English Channel swim.

The History: Elite Special Forces (Underwater Naval Combat Demolition Teams and ultimately those who became known as the U.S. Navy SEAL’s) were the first men to be sent into enemy territory on a stealth nighttime mission.  It was their job to prep the beaches of Normandy to ensure the success of the landing forces.  With a casualty rate of over 50%, it was the single deadliest day in Naval Special Warfare history, but their bravery and fortitude contributed to the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control.

My Story: Many have asked me why I have identified with the Navy SEAL’s and chosen the Foundation for my charity.  It’s really about fortitude for me.

Long-distance open water swimming is a unique mix of hard work and meditation, wrapped in an odd cocoon of sensory deprivation.  To be alone with your thoughts can send your mind to strange places.  Add to that ocean swells, currents, and the various aquatic life one might encounter along the way, mental fortitude is essential.  Even harmless seaweed can shock a swimmer into a panic attack if the conditions are right.

When my mind starts to wander off into dangerous territory, my tactic has always been to visualize myself as a stealth Navy SEAL.  It works every time.

I don’t really remember when I started imagining myself as a Navy SEAL, but I just know that it works for me.  I know my strokes get more powerful as I begin to visualize.  I can feel my mind take on the imagery and my body begins to respond with strength, fortitude and perseverance.  Just the other week when I was swimming in Puget Sound, I was going for a personal record with no wetsuit.  The water temperature was 51F/10C, and the air wasn’t much warmer.  It was gray and cloudy that morning and I needed to get 45 minutes in the water.   At about 30 minutes in, I started to slow down from the intense cold.  I had lost feeling in my fingers and my feet, and my mind was going to that panicky place.  Just then I heard what I thought was my friend shouting: “You’re a Navy SEAL!!”  My brain took that in, I smiled inside and calmly said to myself: “Yes I am.”

I persevered for the whole 45 minutes, achieving my PR.  As we were drying off I thanked her for saying that.  She laughed and said “Oh, I didn’t say that!  I saw you slowing down and I shouted “How do you FEEL???”

All I can say is, the mind plays tricks on you in the water.  I heard what I needed to hear. And it worked!

I have a tremendous amount of respect for what it takes to become a Navy SEAL.  From my little part of the world, as I train in Lake Washington and Puget Sound to prepare for the English Channel, this is my salute to you on Memorial Day.

By the way, if you’re still reading, and you’re interested in supporting the Navy SEAL Foundation, I’ve started a Crowdrise page here:

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 this.


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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