Monday, 07 November 2011

Interview with Trent Murgatroyd

This weekend I managed to get a few minutes with the 'Murgatroyd' himself.  Trent is the regional representative of IKFF Africa and holds both his CKT and RKC in kettlebell training.  Trent hails from a prevalent background of martial arts, and has been lifting kettlebells for the last 8 years.  

Aside from being a self made superhero, Trent has worked with some of the top world ranked competitors in Boxing, Judo, Enduro, cycling and mountain biking.  His extensive knowledge and experience within the sporting world is truly humbling.

Trent is an inspiring teacher, a dedicated student and a coach that every aspiring trainer should take the time to work under.  His workout regimens are challenging, functional and fulfilling in every way.  He calls on your inner beast and lets it out to play whilst instilling discipline, development and personal motivation.

Here's what the Murgatroyd had to say.

Kettlebells are still very much an unknown quantity here in South Africa, as a true patriot, ambassador and athlete of ‘GS’ what are your views on the future of KB’s in our country and what would the ‘Murgatroyd’ have to say had he the chance to talk to the nation?

Awareness about Russian kettlebell training has grown significantly in South Africa, especially over the past few years. Just a decade or so ago, when one spoke of Kettlebell training, the standard response would be a confused “Huh?” … A descriptive explanation would then be necessary. Since then, however, there has been a noticeable growth in the awareness of kettlebell training – thanks primarily to Megan of Pace & Power.  She has, in all probability, single-handedly raised the awareness of this type of training to the general public in SA via her extensive database. And although kettlebell training is now a familiar concept, many “gym-rats” have yet to muster the courage to step outside of their set routines and experience a session with the bells. 

I am obviously delighted with this rapid growth and increased demand for kettlebell training, but many personal trainers have been “climbing on the bandwagon” by teaching kettlebells without having completed any internationally-recognised kettlebell certification. To make matters worse, many of the well-known Personal Training Schools are not certified to offer kettlebell courses! Many of their lecturers have not been properly trained to teach kettlebells. This is indeed a disturbing trend: Kettlebell training, as I am sure you are aware, is not a standard “gym” exercise routine where the risk of injury is relatively lower. The ballistic/ plyometric nature of Kettlebell training increases the risk of injury if the move is not executed correctly: And so, if your trainer is showing you incorrect technique, the risk getting injured rises exponentially.

That said, Kettlebells are an awesome training tool if used correctly – In fact, professional Kettlebell Sport (Girevoy Sport) has one of the LOWEST recorded injury rates when compared to almost any other professional sports in the world. This is because technique is taught systematically; athletes are progressed with caution and judiciousness. According to recorded history, Kettlebells have been around for at least 3 centuries – and so it makes sense for us latecomers to pay attention to hundreds of year’s experience that lies in this momentous Grandfather of physical conditioning. Steve Cotter, who is the head of the IKFF, has had the privilege of training with the best Russian kettlebell coaches worldwide and he shares his cutting-edge training technology as part of the CKT Certifications. The IKFF Certifications are, in essence, the "gold standard" of kettlebell certifications. And so, as head of IKFF Africa, (the International Kettlebell Fitness Federation), my message to South Africans is that if you’re considering training with kettlebells, MAKE SURE THAT YOUR KETTLEBELL INSTRUCTOR IS PROPERLY CERTIFIED through an INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNISED institution.

You have earned yourself much respect amongst local kettlebell revelers, as the ‘Murdertroyd’ and act as a mentor to myself and many others with your disciplined, challenging, and functional methods of laying down the law training wise.   What advice could you give to other aspiring lifters who strive to be effective and successful coaches?

To be a successful coach, one needs to understand the application of sound training principles as they apply to that unique individual: Periodisation and progression in relation to frequency, intensity, duration as well as the type of exercise selected for that particular athlete or individual. A key principle in kettlebell training is not allowing the participant to go too heavy too soon! Steve Cotter emphasises this careful and prudent approach!

Besides the above, to be a successful coach, mutual respect is imperative: The oldest person whom I have trained was my 90-year old grandmother. Great respect to her! In addition, I never ask my students to do anything that I, myself would not be prepared to do: I place value on earning respect, and respecting the folk with whom I train.

Lastly, and by no means least, to be an exceptional coach, one needs to stay “in the loop”. I personally re-certify with the head of the IKFF every year to stay ahead my game. I believe in sharing my knowledge generously – The passion and love I have for kettlebell training makes this a sheer delight and pleasure to do!

As a child of the seventies you have seen your fair share of training tools come and go over the years, how do you think these pieces of Russia differ and personally how have you seen yourself and your training styles grow through kettlebells?

Uhmmm... child of the sixties actually *blush* :-[
kettlebells to be, by far, the most effective for me. In the words of Steve Cotter, kettlebell training is a blend of strength, power, cardiovascular fitness, muscle endurance and core stability. In terms of athletic conditioning for various sports, Kettlebells are one of the most effective prepping tools: The entire body is loaded on every repetition, strengthening the core and various movement patterns, preparing the athlete’s body to withstand the demands of the sport. I have trained “ordinary” folk of all ages and fitness/strength levels, as well as top athletes, and with kettlebells, there is always a significant improvement in their performance!

Rumour has it John Buckley used the Murgatroyd as a tool to perform the ‘Windmill’, could you tell our readers what the deal was here?

When a VERY strong fella giant, weighing about 400 lbs/180 kgs (at the time), decides to do a 1-arm press - using you as the “kettlebell”, I thought it wouldn’t be terribly wise to decline. I was honoured to be lifted to such heights! John has since lost more than 100lbs/45 kgs and is now not only incredibly strong, he is fit and lean too. John also performed a 1-arm barbell snatch using a 60kg Olympic bar; as well as a double “bottoms-up” press using 2 x 32kg kettlebells. He is a really strong guy!

You are a remarkable teacher, yet also a student – where to next for you?

I think of myself more as a student than a teacher. When one ceases to learn, one ceases to evolve.  The kettlebell journey has taught me much! And with this journey, I have discovered my passion :-)
Next up? More fun with greater expansion! We have already embarked on a program to take kettlebells into the rest of Africa. It makes so much sense! Kettlebells are such a simple, yet effective training tool that can be used anywhere, anytime… and really, they should be available to everybody. It's not supposed to be an elitist sport. Africa has some incredible natural athleticism, but lacks good training tools and systems. A kettlebell is an affordable item - you don’t need 26 pieces of gym equipment to get full body conditioning: One kettlebell will suffice! I also believe that kettlebells can play a significant role in raising our standard in the international sports arena where we are currently lagging - such as rugby and soccer. We are told that the All-Blacks have been using kettlebells as part of their sports-conditioning for some time now. Given their results in the recent World Cup, that’s an exciting trend! 

The IKFF with its systematic approach has much to offer South Africa and Africa as a whole - It is truly an honour to be associated with them! 

Thanks for your time Trent, we look forward to having you back on local soil in the near future.

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