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Some Thoughts From a Kettlebell Boomer

June 21, 2011 09:00 AM

ColeSummers article 
"Isn't  Why would you want to be strong and healthy after you turn fifty? the same as Why would you want to be happy after you turn fifty?"– Sean Schniederjan
For several decades I've been a strength and conditioning coach in many disciplines. For the last few years I've focused on trying to become a very good Hardstyle RKC kettlebell coach. During the day I train high school students. In the evenings and weekends I train adults of all ages, in RKC principles. My students vary greatly in physical abilities and mental maturity. Some are initially shy, socially and physically awkward, and lacking in confidence. Others are current or former Provincial and Canadian National team(s) members. Many are involved, in one form or another, in the medical profession. Some are police officers. Some are ordinary folks. A growing number are Boomers in their fifties and beyond, like myself.
The famous Czech composer Bedrich Smetana's masterpiece Ma Vlast (My Country) was a gift to me by the great Czech rugby player, multiple MVP, and later Czech Rugby Union President, Bruno Kudrna. The beginning of Ma Vlast represents a tiny babbling stream, the beginning of the river Vltava. The music builds as the Vltava broadens out and flows into Prague. This has often served as my inspirational music during my own kettlebell training sessions. It helps that I associate this with the great memories of the intensity of our rugby matchs in Czechoslovakia, over two decades ago.
I often think of Ma Vlast when I view the progress of my kettlebell students. They start slow, then safely…gradually, they reinvent themselves. Quite simply, a beautiful process of progression occurs in front of my eyes. This is a very strong image for me. As one who will be turning 64 this September, I'm familiar with some of the life thoughts, and training concerns, many Boomers may have. Health, performance, mortality…certain things are far less likely to be taken for granted.
Major personal goals for me are to continue to learn, and to spread this knowledge to as many students as possible. In addition, I have physical training goals, which I've come to understand, would be quite high for the average 30 year old. At first surprising to me, some people are curious about how many injuries I've had through sport, or more violent events, over the years. I've pulled/tore my calves close to twenty times. I broke my lower leg, both bones, in 3 places…cracked ribs on three separate occasion…several shoulder separations…torn finger tendon...complete tear right ACL…stretched right MCL…Meniscus tear left knee…the usual assortment of contusions and cuts, etc.
Injuries have been a normal, and expected part of my life experience, as I grew up in a family of Hall of Fame athletes. Great Uncle Art…New York Rangers, Chicago Black Hawks; Uncle Bobby…at one point Canada's leading jockey, whose home track was Santa Anita; Father Danny…9 years pro hockey,Team Canada, and played in the Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League Championship. The reason I write about this is that, some of my kettlebell boomers have told me that they are encouraged to train with me, despite their real or perceived limitations. "If he can do it, why can't I?" I agree with them. As Matt, a school colleague, said to me: "Cole, something's going to stop you sooner or later. Why should it be you?"
I strongly recommend that people in their forties, fifties, sixties, and beyond, who seriously want to be the best they physically can be, seek out an RKC to learn the art and science of kettlebell training. The RKC system is scientifically, and in the trenches, proven to produce great results. I see it every day.
  • I begin my kettlebell classes with a preliminary group meeting. Here I discuss ethics, manners, protocol, chain of command, and general expected behaviour. I look for strength of character…good people.
  • I am very selective with whom I train in my private classes. This is a long standing rule for me. In the 1970's, when I started training hockey players to fight, I refused many offers to coach goons and bullies. Instead, I focused on great players and people like Lars Eric Sjoberg ("Shoe"),Captain of the WHA Champion Winnipeg Jets. Shoe, like many Swedes back then, was a potential victim of jingoistic and racist attitudes held by some in the mainstream Canadian hockey world and sports media. Incidentally, the turning point for Shoe came when one big name player tried to rough up him up (again)…and ended up going down for the 10 count. Happily, Lars went on to have a great career, which he greatly contributed to our training.
  • Right from the beginning, I tell my students I don't care how strong they are, or what they look like. You've never trained before?...good, you'll improve tremendously! All you need is a strong mind, the ability to concentrate, follow simple directions, and possess good manners. Everything else will take care of itself.
  • It is very important to me that all my students succeed for both, altruistic, and selfish reasons.
    • Altruistic because I was brought up to do the right thing. I will come to care greatly for my students.
    • Selfish because my students are walking billboards for me. Many times over the years coaches have come up to me and said, "You're training so and so now, aren't you? I thought so. Their performance is through the roof!"
  • I understand that if my students don't succeed, I haven't done my job. To do otherwise would be a disgrace to my family's name and history.
When I start training my kettlebellers, I follow the RKC system to a "T". It's all laid out...…basic technique…progressions. First we check, and clean up, movement patterns. When the technique looks good, we begin to safely, carefully, and gradually load the movements. We walk before we run. Everything is done to build success.
Gradually, my kettlebell boomers undergo a metamorphosis. They begin to perform Hardstyle kettlebell exercises with grace, beauty, power, and authority. They move and walk better. Their body composition improves. Their strength soars, they are quicker, more mobile, and possess far more real life endurance. Their posture improves, their eyes sparkle, they smile more. They look 10 to 15 years younger.
Everyday tasks are easier. Boomer Hardstyle kettlebell women frequently outperform younger non kettlebell men in tasks like shovelling snow, carrying/lugging water, logs, rocks, etc.
They look better naked. Frequently, my boomer kettlebellers will comment on how their sex life has been invigorated. Beaming couples will descriptively talk with me, as if I was their sex therapist…good for them!
Although not fifty yet, here is an example of what good RKC kettlebelling can do. Forty three year young Kiwi, Sid Roberts, played high level rugby in New Zealand. In 1998 he represented Canada at stand off, in the Dubai 7's Rugby Tournament. Not many years ago, he thought his rugby career was on the embers. The last couple of years Sid has been diligently training kettlebells with me. A few weekends ago, Sid played in the Edmonton Rugbyfest tournament. He scored 5 tries ("touchdowns"), and 7 conversions. On one scoring run, he blew around two twenty something opposing players, and easily out raced them to the try line. Sid, and teammates are raving about his "new" quickness and his ability to repeat this quickness, over and over. Most importantly, Sid said to me: "Thanks Cole, for giving me my love of the game back!"
World famous coach, Marty Gallagher, frequently says to me: "Cole what excites you? What fires you up?"
Concentrate on what you can do. What brings you joy? The sky's the limit…

Cole Summers, RKC, CICS, coaches people from all walks of life and abilities, and is also a strength coach for Team Canada Women's National Volleyball Team, National Boxing Team members, Pro boxers, Olympic Hockey Team members, NHL and WHA Pro Team Champions, Manitoba Rugby Union, University of Winnipeg Women's Volleyball Team, University of Manitoba Women's Basketball team, and University of Manitoba track. He is based in Winnipeg, Canada, and can be reached by email at
Cole can also be seen as one of the featured Athletes in Master RKC Andrea Du Cane's new DVD The Kettlebell Boomer.