I am posting this video today for very good reason.  Yes this is the first time I have picked up 165lbs for more than one rep but that is not why I am posting it.  Three years ago I was able to pick up 165 for a single rep, but things happened and around that time I stopped barbell training in the same way.  Recently I have picked it back up because I realized that I needed a better strength base for kettlebell sport.  I am working with an excellent strength coach, Rob Ventre, with the goal of increasing my basic barbell lifts during a six week period before going back to full kettlebell sport training in mid March.  So far so good.  In just a couple months I have already surpassed any personal records I had from before and my technique is much better than it once was.  

Now why am I posting this do you ask?  

Because I am weak.  I am not strong.  I thought I was but I was very wrong. What I am is a technically sound and well conditioned kettlebell sport athlete who moves very efficiently.  My efficient technique has helped me receive many accolades in kettlebell sport but that efficient technique began to fail me as I transitioned to lifting the 20kg kettlebell last winter.  I aim to put up impressive numbers for a 115lb female with the 20kg kettlebell and then I intend to transition to competing with the 24kg kettlebell.  Yes 24kg is approximately 53lbs.  Yes I weight just under 53kg.  My entire body weighs just under 53kg and yes I will be lifting a 24kg kettlebell for 10 minutes straight.  

And I will need to be STRONG to accomplish that.  I am humbled by my current training protocol and humbled to be considered a fitness ‘expert’, whatever that means.  I am a weak human who intends to get stronger and I am a healthy person who once had a chronic illness.  These are the things that I know.  I also know that there will be many more road blocks to come between here and my goals, but I am ready to take them on.  And yes, I am grateful I picked up 165lbs three times in a row.  

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This blog turned three years old yesterday!  I can hardly believe how much progress I have made with my health and as an athlete in that time as well as with my business.  Thank you for reading!  

Week two of my six week mission to get STRONG for my Candidate Master of Sport attempt in Kettlebell Sport - which will happen in August - ended with a rep PR on my deadlift.  160lbs for 5 reps!  

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I am copying the photo @hayestronaut posted yesterday. Three years competing at the NY Open! 2012 - 1st ranking longcycle 12kg, 2013 - 1st ranking longcycle 16kg and 2014 - 1st full 10min of longcycle with 20kg, 62reps and 1st place! #ilovekettlebells #lightweightathlete #shakleeeffect #shakleeathlete #pureperformance

I am copying the photo @hayestronaut posted yesterday. Three years competing at the NY Open! 2012 - 1st ranking longcycle 12kg, 2013 - 1st ranking longcycle 16kg and 2014 - 1st full 10min of longcycle with 20kg, 62reps and 1st place! #ilovekettlebells #lightweightathlete #shakleeeffect #shakleeathlete #pureperformance

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A few more photos from my competition last month.  I especially love that my friend Victoria captured the triple extension as I was going into the jerk. My Coach Sergey always says it’s like you see the wall behind you.  It’s a funny feeling at first and very hard to balance.   Your toes stay glued to the ground but it feels like you are jumping in order to send your arm, and as a result the kettlebell, into the air.  

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Time is a tricky thing. And when you juggle as many balls as I do on a daily basis, being a master of time is extremely important. I am grateful to have learned how to accomplish more and be more effective in less hours. Especially since my athletic training can take up to 15 hours per week at times. #grateful #ilovekettlebells #whyishaklee #businessowner #instaquote

Time is a tricky thing. And when you juggle as many balls as I do on a daily basis, being a master of time is extremely important. I am grateful to have learned how to accomplish more and be more effective in less hours. Especially since my athletic training can take up to 15 hours per week at times. #grateful #ilovekettlebells #whyishaklee #businessowner #instaquote

There were many failures on the road to me getting on the platform with the 20kg Kettlebell and camera failure also means that I don’t have a solid video of my set. Regardless, it happened and I stayed on the platform for the full ten minutes with the bell that some people call ‘the purple people eater.’ #grateful #success #ilovekettlebells #iksfa #shakleeeffect #picstitch #instaquote

There were many failures on the road to me getting on the platform with the 20kg Kettlebell and camera failure also means that I don’t have a solid video of my set. Regardless, it happened and I stayed on the platform for the full ten minutes with the bell that some people call ‘the purple people eater.’ #grateful #success #ilovekettlebells #iksfa #shakleeeffect #picstitch #instaquote

If anyone still wonders why I love kettlebell sport so much maybe this photo can help you understand.  Steve Burroughs captured this photo of me from the back when I had just set the kettlebell down after completing my ten minute set.  The clock shows no time left and a total of 62 reps.  The people you see clapping and cheering are both people I have known for months or even years and a few that I just met that day.  Regardless, when you are on the platform the support from the crowd is overwhelming.  I will admit that during a set I completely tune out my surroundings and listen only to my breathing and to what is going on in my body.  I occasionally look at the clock to make sure I am staying true to my rep per minute pace and that all of my reps are clean and being counted, but most of the time I pick a spot straight out ahead of me and stare at it.  I do the same thing during training sets for the most part.  
That said, though I may not be actually listening to or looking at the crowd during my set, I can feel the positive energy.  I can feel them pulling for me and wanting each rep just as much as I want it.  Kettlebell sport is an extremely accessible sport…I believe anyone of any age can learn the basics and compete safely with light kettlebells at first and heavier with practice.  The sport forces you to work on strength, flexibility and endurance and is a mental as well as a physical challenge.  The very best part, however, is the community.    

If anyone still wonders why I love kettlebell sport so much maybe this photo can help you understand.  Steve Burroughs captured this photo of me from the back when I had just set the kettlebell down after completing my ten minute set.  The clock shows no time left and a total of 62 reps.  The people you see clapping and cheering are both people I have known for months or even years and a few that I just met that day.  Regardless, when you are on the platform the support from the crowd is overwhelming.  I will admit that during a set I completely tune out my surroundings and listen only to my breathing and to what is going on in my body.  I occasionally look at the clock to make sure I am staying true to my rep per minute pace and that all of my reps are clean and being counted, but most of the time I pick a spot straight out ahead of me and stare at it.  I do the same thing during training sets for the most part.  

That said, though I may not be actually listening to or looking at the crowd during my set, I can feel the positive energy.  I can feel them pulling for me and wanting each rep just as much as I want it.  Kettlebell sport is an extremely accessible sport…I believe anyone of any age can learn the basics and compete safely with light kettlebells at first and heavier with practice.  The sport forces you to work on strength, flexibility and endurance and is a mental as well as a physical challenge.  The very best part, however, is the community.    

Thank you to Steve Burroughs for these two fantastic photos from the AKA/IKSFA New York Open on Saturday. I have had many setbacks in my training since I competed last fall but my Coach Sergey Rudnev has been patiently guiding me all the way. Even though I originally wanted to attempt a rank of CMS (Candidate Master of Sport) on Saturday - which would have required me to complete 80 reps of longcycle in the 10 minute set - Sergey was wise and recommended the goal of 60-62 reps in my first competition with the 20kg Kettlebell.

I achieved exactly that, 62 reps, and kept an even pace the entire time. I’m pretty sure Sergey was as excited as I was when I stepped off the platform and I love that Steve got a photo of us! Reaching a goal is always something to celebrate but somehow it is that much sweeter when setbacks have been overcome. Setbacks are a part of training in any sport or general personal training program. What makes a coach special is how they help their athletes navigate those setbacks.

I also have to credit my strength coach Rob Ventre who stepped in in the last couple months of training to support increasing my overall strength and athleticism. I will be continuing to work with him as I continue to set my sights on CMS and 80reps with 20kg.

To be where I am now as an athlete and to be able to make goals like I have and for them to be REALISTIC feels amazing. The days of waking up more exhausted than I went to sleep and with debilitating pain feel like a lifetime away. I don’t even remember what it felt like when my body didn’t work, I only remember that I felt stuck and trapped and like I wasn’t free to make my own decisions. I was at the mercy of what my body said was possible. Having freedom from that is a gift that I hope to continue to share with others.

A year ago I stood on the platform at the NY Open and completed my first ever 10min long cycle set with the 16kg kettlebell.  I completed 93 clean repetitions for a 1st Ranking.  Today I will attempt my first ever 10min set with the 20kg and I want to do is to stay in it for the full 10.  I am nervous and excited and grateful to be here!  I will post a video update when I have it.  

A year ago I stood on the platform at the NY Open and completed my first ever 10min long cycle set with the 16kg kettlebell.  I completed 93 clean repetitions for a 1st Ranking.  Today I will attempt my first ever 10min set with the 20kg and I want to do is to stay in it for the full 10.  I am nervous and excited and grateful to be here!  I will post a video update when I have it.  

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I’m not interested in just saying I’m going to do something, I’m interested in following through and DOING it. Who’s with me? #action #biggame #walkthewalk #ilovekettlebells #shakleeathlete #painfree #grateful #instaquote

I’m not interested in just saying I’m going to do something, I’m interested in following through and DOING it. Who’s with me? #action #biggame #walkthewalk #ilovekettlebells #shakleeathlete #painfree #grateful #instaquote