By Katie Armero, SFL, SFG
I still remember the feeling well. Pulling up to the gym for my first kettlebell class, partially out of interest and partially because I knew Dan, owner of Baltimore Kettlebell Club and a friend since middle school. I was at a point in my life where I needed something to provide direction and discipline, but I was only vaguely aware of that. I did know that when I pulled up to the gym that I would be back, because I had the distinct feeling that I couldn’t wait until this was the norm. But for that to happen, I had to take the first step.
Here I am over 4 years later, reflecting on what has transpired since that first day. I became a member and active participant in a far-reaching strength training community, one that continues to grow. Kettlebells led to barbells, logs, stones, hammers, truck pulls – and my goal evolved from building strength, to being a strength competitor, and now to a StrongFirst-Certified Barbell (SFL) and Kettlebell (SFG) Instructor.
I didn't always want to get my SFG Kettlebell Certification. I was fine with knowing that kettlebells were an important part of my training, and happily spread the word on their comprehensiveness and how they changed my life. As a competitive StrongWoman and powerlifter, and because I wanted to grow those types of programs locally, the SFL Barbell Certification made all the sense in the world. I viewed the SFG as something people do when they have a level of physical resilience that I just didn't think I possessed. Which is what I was saying at the SFL training when some great people I had quickly come to respect encouraged me to also pursue SFG.
So I went, and it was the ultimate test. Even though I had been training with kettlebells for years, I learned a tremendous amount - particularly with double-bell work and the dreaded Turkish Getup. For all the times I felt encouraged, there were as many when I felt fear of failure. When I didn't know if I could physically go on (and many others were there too), we were reminded why we were there, and why we chose StrongFirst to lead us on this journey. Because they are the people who are going to teach you that "strength has a greater purpose", to inspire us that we aren't just there to learn how to build strength, but that sharing that knowledge with others is a calling.
I left that experience with my certification in hand, with great affirmation that kettlebell training is an essential core to building strength, and also with the realization that this path to understanding should be hard. When you aspire to train others, you are helping them change their lives for the better. Improving physical fitness improves everything else - the discipline, confidence, and resolve that is gained in the gym is applied to all aspects of life. That right to help people on that journey shouldn't just be given out to anyone - it absolutely should be earned.