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Dragon Door Interviews Beth Andrews, RKC

April 12, 2013 05:30 AM

Dragon Door:  You've been in the fitness industry for a while, but how did you discover kettlebells?
Beth Andrews: Actually, a friend my husband has known for a long time knew I was a trainer and said, "Hey, has your wife ever heard of kettlebells?"  He  had heard that some people he knew were getting very strong with kettlebells.  Of course, I’d never heard of them, but was curious and googled kettlebells.  I found Dragon Door and immediately ordered From Russia with Tough Love.   

Dragon Door:    That’s a classic!

Beth Andrews:  Yes, it is!  I started with small kettlebells, a 4kg and an 8kg—only 10lbs and 18lbs—but I was in total shock.  When I had just 8kg in a windmill position, I was wiggling all over the place!  I thought, "Holy cow!"  Then I did a few goblet squats and my heart rate started to shoot up.  Before this I thought I was reasonably strong and in good shape.  I've been lifting for a long time as well as training people in a gym for years.  It was hard to believe that a little bitty weight kicked my butt.  I was intrigued, so I kept ordering videos and started doing kettlebells two or three days a week.  Soon, I quit conventional lifting and totally immersed myself in kettlebells.  I saw such a difference in my strength and how my body looked.  I was big on bench pressing before kettlebells, but it would make my shoulders hurt.  After switching to just kettlebells for about eight months, I went back to bench press and found I could do sets of five with my previous max.  I thought this was just ridiculous and couldn't believe how much stronger I'd gotten—and how much this strength carried over.

At that point, I was sold and decided to train with an RKC instructor.  Up until that point, I had just taught myself by watching the DVD videos from Dragon Door.  The instructor gave me a lot of pointers and cues for my training.  After training with him I thought, "I'm in, this is what I want to do," and started looking for certification workshops.   Soon, I went to the first ever HKC in Atlanta in 2010.

Dragon Door:    How long had you been a trainer previous to finding kettlebells?

Beth Andrews:  I've been a trainer for the past 12 years but have been training with kettlebells for six years.

Dragon Door:     You mentioned the bench press, but what other lifts were you training before?

Beth Andrews:  The typical gym exercises.  But, I was always real big on bodyweight exercises like push ups and pull ups.  I also did a lot of barbell exercises.  Deadlifts and bench press were my favorite. 

Dragon Door:     How was your HKC experience?

Beth Andrews:   My glutes were rudely awakened!  David Whitley taught the HKC and it was just incredible.  I had an issue with chicken necking at the top of the swing, and a few other things to work on, but it was a lot of fun.  We finished with the furnace and that just lit everything up.  Right after the HKC, I immediately started looking for an RKC Certification Workshop and found the one in Orlando—and you were there too!

Dragon Door:    I remember seeing you there!  What a weekend,  there was so much to take in—and such a great group of people.

Beth Andrews:  Brett Jones was my team leader, and it was an incredible weekend—especially since it was at the ESPN-Disney Sports Center.

Dragon Door:    When did you start training your clients with kettlebells?

Beth Andrews:  Right after my HKC.  Before then, I had been training with them myself, and had started talking to a few clients about it.  But, I didn't start training others until I got my certification. I wanted to make sure I was swinging correctly.  But they were very interested from seeing the amazing results I had gotten with kettlebells.  After the HKC, my business just exploded.  I had just left the gym, and was training people in their homes, but my business grew so much I ended up moving into a place of my own.

Dragon Door:    That's awesome!  And other than doing multiple sets of 5 with your previous bench press max, what were some of the other specific changes you experienced after training with kettlebells? 

Beth Andrews:  For one, I just stay leaner, and I didn’t change my eating at all when I got into kettlebells.  They've given me a very athletic look.  Plus, my strength and endurance just went out the roof.

Dragon Door:     And your clients?

Beth Andrews:  The same thing.  What I really noticed was kettlebells got them in shape faster than traditional weight training.  Of course, I learned a lot about movement with kettlebells too, so my clients began to move a lot better.  They weren’t just stuck in a leg press machine or in a set position the whole time.  My clients really got much faster results with kettlebells. 

Dragon Door:  What’s your favorite kettlebell exercise?

Beth Andrews:  Snatching of course!  It just feels right to me, and it seems to have a perfect balance of strength and endurance.   There’s just something about snatching for time in general—the 5 minute snatch test, or another interval.  It brings something out, I can see it in my client's faces about halfway through.  I think that’s why I love it so much, it brings a little something extra out of everybody.

Dragon Door:     That makes sense.  So, along with the Orlando RKC in 2010, something else we have in common is our quest for the Iron Maiden Challenge, will you be attempting it again soon?

Beth Andrews:  Yes!  When I set out to do something, it may take me a few times, but I make it happen.  I learned so much about myself the first time,  and looking back, I can see a lot of areas in my training which could have been better.  I'm still training for it now and plan to make another attempt at one of the upcoming RKC workshops—maybe the one at my place.

Dragon Door:     That would be really cool.

Beth Andrews:  I barely missed my press, so I’ve done a lot of work figuring out the issues that I had.  Practicing a lot of bridging, handstand push ups and other good things fixed a lot of mobility issues with the press. 

Dragon Door:    It blew my mind when you just nailed the weighted pull up with 24kg kettlebell.  It looked like you could have done it for reps!

Beth Andrews:  I spent so much time on the pistol, but not so much on the press.   But since I had had a lot of pain with it, I didn't work on it as much.  Pulling is definitely my strong point, so I'm learning to balance out my program with more pushing.  These past  months, I've spent a lot of time on my weakness—pushing.  It’s definitely made my pushing a lot better and my pulls a lot better too.

Dragon Door:    We're already convinced that pull ups are great for everyone, but what advice do you have for women or anyone just getting started?  

Beth Andrews:  Obviously, we're not limited just because we’re women—that’s the first thing we work on when women come to our gym.  We start with all the lead up exercises for the pull up, and as soon as general strength improves, they get on the bar!   We start with knee raises, hanging leg raises, flex-arm hangs, and mix other things in there too.  My main goal is getting them on the bar—a good bit of confidence comes from hanging on a bar even if you’re just doing hanging knee raises.  It’s cool.

Dragon Door:    And congratulations on your promotion to Senior RKC, what do you feel you can bring to the leadership at Dragon Door? 

Beth Andrews:  I truly have a desire to create a belief in people that they can do whatever they set out to do.  I am really big on encouraging people to set goals and that may eventually lead to them setting a goal to pass the HKC, RKC, RKC II, or the PCC.  So, I’m a positive person and a motivator.  And if I’m doing something, I like to let others know that they can do it too—because it’s really just believing that you can, we’re all capable of a lot more if we just believe.

Dragon Door:  Agreed!  What's the format at your gym like?

Beth Andrews:  I do mostly group training, but with an interesting flair—it's personal training in a group setting.  Instead of formal classes throughout the week, we have open times.   It's easier for people, and they're never late for a class.   I have a few other instructors who work with me and when a new client starts, they stay with an instructor to learn the basics like swings, squats, and the get-up.   Then we start adding more exercises to their training.  That’s the personal training part of it, along with programming that works towards a goal.  We cycle the programs about every five to six weeks.  Our clients get personalized attention, and become very proficient at the exercises before following their workout on the board.

We always need to supervise, and it requires all my instructors to truly learn how to coach and communicate with our clients instead of just teaching a class.  This makes group training a lot more personalized.   On a busy day we might have 20 or more people come through during the whole afternoon.

Dragon Door:    That’s really cool.  So, do you have an example of a favorite workout or combination?

Beth Andrews:  "We swing, Ya'll plank" is a favorite I-go, U-go combo:

10 rounds of 10 double swings and RKC Hardstyle planks

Another favorite workout is based on a 10-1 countdown of the following exercises:
  • R/L snatch
  • goblet squats
  • R/L 1 arm chest presses

On Saturdays we workout outside:

  • We walk a lap around the block (approx 400m) with overhead walks to each corner.
  • We stop at the corners for 20 swings, 10 push ups, and 5 goblet squats before switching arms for an overhead carry to the next corner, then repeat.
Dragon Door:     Any plans for the future for your training or facility?

Beth Andrews:  I definitely have plans to grow and expand.  I just started online training, and they’re re-working my website for that.   Already, I've been helping online clients prepare for the RKC snatch test, along with answering questions about bodyweight training. 

For my own training, pull-ups and snatches are overall my two favorite exercises period.  Everyone likes to do the things we’re good at because it feels good.  But, spending time on the things you’re not so great at is really important. And I didn’t quite process that idea until realizing that over the last year and a half I was spending too much time on pulling exercises.   I learned that working on my weaknesses made everything improve.

Dragon Door: Can't wait to see what you're able to accomplish next!  Thanks so much for talking with us today.

Senior RKC, Beth Andrews is a gym owner and instructor at:
Maximum Body Training
41 S. Public Square Cartersville, Georgia 30120