Val’s South Korea Trip – Getting Closer!

As it gets closer to the day I leave for South Korea, I’m getting more and more excited about this trip.

My son’s taken care of. We have day care and very generous friends lined up to help with him so that my husband can still work while I’m gone! I’m (sort-of) mentally prepared to leave him for 12 days, although I’ve been told that days 3 & 4 are going to be the hardest for me, and then I’ll get into a groove.

This FACE though!


Mama’s Sweet Boy


I digress….

So I’ve been asked how I prepare for a trip like this and I wanted to write a little about what I’ve been doing.


Number 1: I want all of my skills to be as close to perfect as they can be.

As one of my students, you know that there’s ALWAYS something to work on, but I want my cleans to be clean, my snatches to be smooth, my clean and jerks to be strong and crisp.

Every time I’ve assisted or led a team, I go in wanting to be my very best. So for the weeks ahead of the certification, I make sure I’m doing what I’m asking my students to do.

It’s a little about me and wanting to do well, but it’s also about wanting to represent this StrongFirst organization the best I can. I have a job and I take it very seriously and I want to do it well.

Number 2: I want to make sure I know the manual like the back of my hand.

And so I’ve been reading, re-reading, and highlighting every chance I get. I still haven’t gotten my teaching assignments so I don’t know what skills I’ll be teaching at the Level 1 or the Level 2, but I know I need to be prepared to teach it all.

A couple months ago, I would have had a panic attack just thinking about not knowing going into the weekend, but I’m trying to take it in stride. I’m sure Jon Engum will give me my assignments before I leave the states, and at least I’ll have a 16-hour plane ride to prepare….


Weekend Reading & Preparation

Update! Since I wrote this post, I have gotten my assignments! I’m teaching the Clean & Snatch at Level 1, reviewing the Squat & Snatch and teaching the Windmill at Level 2. I’m also leading a couple of training sessions. Now that I have my assignments, I’m even MORE excited! (I didn’t think that was possible)

Number 3: Get all the logistics figured out!

It’s been a while since I’ve been overseas and so I have a little checklist:

Passport: Had to change my name because I haven’t traveled overseas since I got married (side note: make plans to travel overseas with hubby)

Tums/Ammodium: Because I’m really excited to try ALL of the food over there and Dr. Mark Cheng told me to get some (because it’s ‘different’ than our food)

Money: Find out which credit card doesn’t charge the international transaction fee. Already found out a couple of my cards won’t even work in South Korea because it’s one of those high alert countries with lots of fraud. Must call the other card companies.

Cell Phone Usage: called AT&T to find out how to NOT have a zillion dollar bill when I get home. I know I’ll have wifi in my hotel and I need to be on FaceTime with the fam at least once a day. Trying to figure out the best plan of attack. Any hints/suggestions from seasoned travelers are greatly appreciated.

International Charger Converter thingy: I think I have one but have to make sure it works in South Korea.

All the other essentials, like StrongFirst gear (just ordered some more), black & khaki pants, clothes for the days of exploring Seoul, and CAMERA to take lots of pics of my big adventure.


Thank you

A big thanks to all of you for going along with me on this journey. It’s going to be so much fun and I can’t imagine it being possible without all of your love and support. Teaching every day at NBKB brings me so much joy and I love that I’m able to take the time to be away, experience another culture, experience another kettlebell culture, and bring some of that energy back to you all!

Gabby, Sharon, Gina, & Amy – You all ROCK! Thank you for helping out covering my classes while I’m gone!

I’ll blog and Facebook and Instagram from over there so keep watching those feeds!


News & Events – September 15, 2014


It’s off to a great start! Thank you to everyone who’s participating. We’ve written down our goals, we’re talking about eating better, staying away from our temptation foods, and cutting portion sizes. You’re already feeling better and that’s what we love to hear!

Keep up the great work and if you haven’t let us know what your goals are, please see us before or after class or set up an appointment for your first personal training session (included in the price of the challenge!)

And if you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late! Click here to sign up and join the fun!

Swing/Snatch Workshop

We decided to combine the Swing & Snatch Workshop. It’ll last probably about 90-minutes, and you still get all of that for just $25. Sign up for the 9am Saturday, September 27th workshop now!

Can’t come to that workshop? Come for a personal training session and work on what YOU need to help your swing &/or snatch. Better yet, get a friend (or two) to come with you and do a semi-personal training session!



Student Spotlight: Amy – Kettlebell Momma

Our Student Spotlight this month is Super Kettlebell Momma Amy Long, SFG. She has an adorable almost-3-year-old girl and just added a boy to the clan 6 weeks ago. She’s funny and inspiring and always looks great, so we decided to pick her brain to try and figure out how she does it!


NBKB: What drew you to kettlebell training?

AL: It was more of an introduction than me seeking them out. I was introduced to them five years ago by my then trainer, Mike Spiegel of New York City’s Crunch Fitness. Mike helped me find Val who helped me find Gabby and North Beach Kettlebell when I moved back to California from NYC.

Once I was introduced, I was hooked. The practice of kettlebells has done so much for me – major strength gains, cardiovascular improvement, body fat reduction and overall, it just makes my body feel good. If I have any pains, I know a few solid practice sessions will get me walking tall and pain free again.

Kettlebells are such an efficient way to work out. Why run all over town to different types of gyms for different types of training, when I can get what I need in one compact 20 – 45 minute workout? I’m a mom who barely has time to shower let alone spend hours working out. Not to mention, I think my family is pretty rad and I like to spend time with them.

NBKB: How long have you been using them in your fitness practice?

AL: Five years.

NBKB: What is your favorite lift and why?

AL: I love the clean and press and bent press. Oh, and pistol squat.

I like doing clean and presses because the gains are very tangible for me. I can feel myself getting stronger. I’ve learned how to use tension and relaxation through my practice, and I can apply them most effectively with the press.

The bent press because it feels good everywhere and I feel like a badass when I do it.

And, the pistol squat is just so hard! I get all giddy when I do them, and especially when I can add weight. It takes all my concentration to make it happen, and I just love that.

NBKB: You continued your training with kettlebells through two pregnancies. Did that work well for you?

AL: Yes, it worked out better than I could have imagined. My first labor (active) was about 20 minutes and my second was 12 minutes. Three pushes with the first and a sneeze with the second.

My practice had to change, obviously, but I wanted to be as strong as possible going into the labors and deliveries, as well as bouncing back to my pre-baby weight and strength. Pregnancy is something that’s taken for granted these days. It’s a major event! Your body goes through so much; so many changes through the course of a pregnancy. I wanted to treat my body well so it would return the favor. My recovery with both deliveries has been a breeze, and I give a lot of credit to my kettlebell practice.



NBKB: As an NBKB Instructor and mom to a 2 year old and a newborn, what advice do you have for other moms and moms to be?

AL: Be kind and patient with yourself. Being kind means taking care of your body and staying strong and healthy. The patience comes in when you want to press a 20kg bell or do a five minute snatch test with the same fervor as before and you realize it’s not the best idea, or you simply can’t do it! Adjust what your training means and what you want to get out of it. Be realistic, but develop your routine early. Like in the first trimester. You may be sick, you may be tired, maybe you’re both. Push through, listen to your body, and on your worst of days just get out and move. It will be way harder to get moving later in your pregnancy.

For me, I was more tired than I thought possible. The only thing that got me through the fatigue was exercising. When I got tired, I rested. You must listen to your own body. It knows best.

Your body is going to go through a lot of changes – some you haven’t even thought of yet. Embrace them, love every minute and set yourself up for success. Again, listen to your body. And, just move!

Oh, and talk to your doctor.

Explore kettlebells. I’m telling you, it’s the most efficient workout you will find. When all else fails, I grab my 16kg (well, it’s really Gabby’s) and swing it for 10 minutes. I’m a sweaty mess when I’m through, my glutes, quads, pelvic floor (ahem, ladies, pelvic floor…) and core have all gotten a solid workout.


I’m six weeks postpartum with my second and I don’t know what I would do without the kettlebell quickies. I’m trying to get the baby to settle into a schedule while keeping up with a 2 – ½ year old and just don’t have the time for a long workout. And frankly, I don’t want a long workout. I want fast and effective so I can spend time with my husband and our amazing, super fun babies.

Least of all, don’t worry. It will all come back. Slowly but surely your body will respond to what you’re asking. You’ll feel your abs again, you’re skin will tighten and that annoying pregnancy induced cellulite will begin to fade.


Thanks Amy!