Tactical Strength Challenge

What it is:

A competition that takes place every April & October with the worldwide StrongFirst community. The focus is on three types of training; max strength, bodyweight strength, and cardiovascular strength.

The lifts are:

Max Barbell Deadlift, Max Number of Kettlebell Snatches in 5min, and Max Number of Dead-hang Overhand Grip Pullups (or Flexed Arm Hang)

The challenge will take place at gyms around the world on April 11th, 2015.

We have a lot of people training for it. If you haven’t yet signed up… Click here to sign up for the training.

To compete on April 11th and get your official TSC t-shirt, go to StrongFirst’s Official TSC Website.

You’ll get homework & we’ll have times on the schedule set aside for you to come in to the gym to work on the lifts with me. We’ll go over Barbell Deadlift technique, snatch technique, and you’ll have planned training.

Email me at val@nbkettlebell.com with any questions about how to sign up and we’ll get started!



Train Smart. Be Strong. Live Balanced.


Why We Do What We Do

Kettlebells. Strength. Cardio. Running. Yoga. Barre. Spin. Barbells. Pilates.

What do you do to round out your routine?

Last post was about why you do what you do. And this one will talk about why we do what we do here at NBKB.


Why do we use kettlebells?

Gabby and I both found kettlebells in 2008 when we went to a workshop taught by Pavel (read more about him here). We fell in love with this kick-butt workout and wanted to learn more, so we got certified in 2009.


Why are classes 45-minutes?

Gabby & I both came from a traditional fitness world. Gabby more from group-exercise and bootcamps and myself from more strength training, Olympic lifting, and running. The funny thing is, we both had the same basic “workout routine” and it looked like this:
(1) get to the gym, (2) get on an elliptical, bike, treadmill, or stepmill for 20-min, (3) do your 60-min strength training routine, (4) walk on the treadmill for at least 10-min, (5) stretch for at least 10-min, (6) leave the gym after 90+min of training. And it worked! It got us the results we wanted.

But I was a trainer who basically lived in the gym, and some days it was tough for ME to get my full 90-minutes in. And I was hard-pressed to find a working person with a family and a life, who was able to spend 90-minutes in the gym 4-5 times every week. It’s just not all that feasible.

After Gabby & I found kettlebells, we trained with kettlebells the same way we were used to: 20-min warmup, 60-min kettlebells, 10-min walk, 10-min stretch. We were exhausted. And we were overtraining.

I know I wasn’t sleeping, I was gaining weight, and I was getting aches and pains everywhere from not recovering.

Then it hit me:

Try shorter workouts!


In the last 5 years, here’s what we’ve figured out (through trial and lots of error with our own training… you’re welcome!)

  • Warmup
    1. 5-10-min
    2. If your training is set up well, and you get your heartrate up in a smart way with your workout, your warmup doesn’t have to get your heartrate up
    3. Instead, you can focus on opening up your stiff joints and getting your body ready for the work that’s ahead
  • Workout
    1. 25-35min
    2. With kettlebells, and performing the dynamic moves dynamically (i.e. plank at the top of every swing or snatch, explosively driving hips back, quickly snapping forward and down through the floor with every rep, etc), and weaving these dynamic moves into your training, allows you to get the cardio you need, the rest you need, and get you in and out of here in under an hour.
    3. Focusing on form with every movement and really driving all of those ideas home will not only help you get a better workout, it’ll help you ‘stretch’ while you ‘strength train’. It’ll help you find your full range of motion and you’ll be working through that instead of just doing what ‘feels good’ to your body and what your body is used to. Forcing your body to find it’s end rages of motion and pushing through those barriers will help you get a more well-rounded fitness routine.
    4. A little secret… In our own training, a lot of times Gabby & I only train for 10-20-min. If you’re doing the right stuff, we’ve found that’s all we need to maintain! But we know you all want more. If you want less… ask us how!
  • Cooldown
    1. 5-10min
    2. We’re going to stretch while we bring our heart rate down.
    3. The beginning of our after-training stretches will be active. You will continue to move and slow your breathing and therefore your heart rate.
    4. We will finish with some traditional stretches to get deep into those warm muscles.


My apologies for the long explanation, but I feel it’s necessary.

We want you to know that we didn’t pick 45-minutes because we don’t want to work for a full hour. We picked 45-minutes because that’s what’s best for YOU! That will get you all the work you need without over-training.

The things we do in class have a reason.

Please ask us if we’re doing something that you don’t like or don’t understand why we’re doing it! (or fill out this survey here) Most of the time, we have a reason but if we don’t, your question will make us think and might make us re-consider what we’re doing.

It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.

This is an industry that is constantly changing and evolving and even though we do continuing education, we know that you have great ideas! One of our students is a massage therapist and former pilates instructor – I’ve stolen a lot of cues from her that work really well for our students. Another one of our students is our chiropractor and she’ll give us insight into the spine and cues to use to help people understand how they more a little more. Others just tell us what they like and don’t like and we make changes based on that! (ps- don’t tell us you don’t like plank… we’ll make you do more!)

We love to learn and we’re learning all the time.

Ultimately YOU are in charge of YOUR training and you should know why you’re training the way you are.

Thank you for trusting us with your fitness and your health. And if there’s anything we can do to make it better, please let us know!

Val & Gabby

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Have you thought about your fitness routine?

Ok, if you work out, you’ve probably thought about what class you’re going to next or when you’re going to get your next run in. But have you REALLY thought about WHY you’re going to that class or on that run?

Does it fit into your schedule?

Are you really good at that particular form of exercise?

Did someone tell you to do it?

why question abstract

I think about this a lot, especially when planning workouts and programs, but I came across a Facebook post the other day that really made me think more and get a little deeper.


Dr. Kathy Dooley is a chiropractor in New York City in a gym she co-owns called Catalyst SPORT. She is an anatomy instructor at two NYC medical schools. Her resume is absurd (you can see it here: www.drdooleynoted.com), but it also includes an SFG and a CKFMS. She knows her stuff, she’s smart, and she has a really clever blog that always makes me think.

Enough about my lady-crush on Dr. Dooley =)


Anyway, her most recent post was about who she sees as patients and this is what she said:

“Fitness is about moving well and then building stability and strength on a solid foundation.
But I rarely see this in a group fitness class.
I see people setting themselves up for discomfort.
I see people who are too flexible going to more yoga classes to stretch even more.
I see people who usually carry around a 20-lb handbag or 30-lb toddler, now lifting a 2-lb pink dumbbell as they sweat to some hip-hop music.
I see people who sit on the transit, just to sit at work all day, to sit on the train to the gym – to take a spin class – where they are sitting again.
I see faulty pushups, lazy crunches, and overhead pressing with immobile shoulders.
But I’m not watching their classes.
I see them in my office, getting treatment for their pain.
The problem with the class is that it’s not individualized for the needs of the client.”

She goes on to talk about how people do what they’re best at and end up getting better at those things, worse at the things they avoid, and more often than not, injured due to the lack of balance in their training. And she talks about personal and semi-personal training and how those two methods might be better for you.

We run group fitness classes, so why promoting a blog that’s criticizing the very thing we promote?

Well, for one, we do offer small group personal training as well, if that’s something you’re interested in.

But I’m also bringing this us because I think our group fitness classes different.

For one, our classes are small (up to 12 people, max) and we focus on FORM!

I know that is sometimes frustrating to people first trying us out.

Why do they care if I squeeze my glutes when I swing? I just want to sweat?!

We care because we want you to continue to train! We want you to get the most from your training session. And if you’re not squeezing your glutes at the top of the swing, you’re not protecting your back, your glutes aren’t getting the workout they could get, you’re not getting the power and therefore the cardio from the swing you should, and you’re going to leave without getting the most out of your training.

Our classes are great overall fitness for everyone. We have strength-based classes, cardio-based classes and we hit all body parts. And we cycle these classes around so no matter what days you decide to come, if you come for a month, you get a really great balance in your training.

In a later post, I’m going to talk more about why WE do what we do, so for now, take a couple days to think about your training regimen and why you make the choices you’re making with your training.


Train Smart. Be Strong. Live Balanced.