FLEXIBILITY IS A SKILL

The author in the splits.

Flexibility is a Skill

In the RKC we teach that Strength is a skill… so is flexibility.

For nearly 30 years I had practiced Taekwondo, a martial that relies heavily on flexibility to deliver a wide range of kicking techniques.  While I did improve my flexibility through the practice of kicking I never achieved the flexibility one would expect of someone with that much time under the belt.   I did train with many instructors and attended workshops and clinics with world class martial artists but when it came to flexibility no instructor was able to teach flexibility as a skill. The best they could do was demonstrate a position or technique and tell us to practice. Frustrated, I had decided you either have flexibility our you don’t.

It wasn’t until I learned of Pavel Tsatsouline’s flexibility methods and read his books that I began to realize there was much more to flexibility than simply holding a pose and trying to force a stretch.  Reading the material helped, I made great progress faster than ever but it wasn’t until I FELT the methods during workshops taught Pavel Tsatsouline and Master RKC Jon Engum that I understood them and could consistently repeat the results.

Finally, for the first time in my life I understood how to correctly combine tension, relaxation, breathing, strength, posture to achieve flexibility goals.  These master minds of flexibility showed me how to combine these ingredients like a master chef to achieve seemingly unbelievable results in minutes and sometimes seconds.

Using the methods I’ve learned as an RKC Kettlebell Instructor and CKFMS Functional Movement Specialist I’ve been able to get clients to improve their toe touch from mid-shin to a full toe touch or from shallow ugly heels up squat to rock-bottom butt-to-heels squat in as little as 5-minutes.

Although these methods are simple they are still not well known.

If you would like to learn more about improving your flexibility I invite you to attend a private lesson, group class or flexibility workshop.

Until then I hope you’ll consider the following resources and enjoy the article I wrote about one of my favorite stretches for reducing stress.

Enjoy.

John Scott Stevens, RKC II, CKFMS

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RECOMMENDED FLEXIBILITY INSTRUCTIONAL RESOURCES

Relax Into Stretch DVD: Instant Flexibility through Mastering Muscle Tension
Relax into Stretch DVD

Beyond Stretching the Seminar DVD set –
4 hours and 48 minutes of a flexibility workshop taught by Pavel Tsatsouline
This is  gold mine and virtual encyclopedia of stretching techniques that literally covers everything from head to toe.  

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A FAVORITE STRETCHING TECHNIQUE OF MINE

A Passive hamstring stretch is one of my favorite stretches for stress relief. It works for me well as I tend to carry a lot of stress in my hamstrings and neck.  Doing the stretch from the supine position allows me to relax both my neck and my hamstrings and experience a dramatic sense of relaxation and improved mood in as little as 5 minutes.

  • Lie down on the floor and loop a strap, belt or towel around one foot. I prefer a quiet room with dim lighting or something covering my eyes to help me relax.
  • Rest your head on the floor or on something like a pillow so that your neck is completely relaxed.
  • Using the towel for assistance extend your straight leg into the air until you feel a mild stretch and hold your leg in position with the towel. Imagine your leg growing longer as your heel and hip extend away from one another.
  • Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. This is to prevent shrugging, relax your neck and prevent injuring or tightening the muscles around the neck.
  • Keep the toes of the stretched leg pulled back toward your shin.
  • Keep your hips parallel to the ceiling.
  • Hold the outstretched leg in the air for 30 seconds to minute or so
    and….. here’s the big tip…
    during the last 5-to-10 seconds of the stretch push your leg slow but hard against the strap as if trying to resist the stretch. You must hold the leg in position by resisting this push with the strap. The idea is to sufficiently fatigue the hamstrings so that are “relaxed” or unable to resist the next repetition.
  • Lower your leg to the floor, then raise it up again with a second or so and repeat the process.
  • With each repetition you should be able to go a little higher than before without pain.
  • Switch legs when you can no longer make progress and repeat the process.
  • Focus on your Breathing while you stretch.
    • Breathe in slowly through the mouth for 3 to 4 seconds, pause for one second, exhale through the nose for 3 to 4 seconds, pause for one second and repeat.
    • While inhaling your stomach should rise as you imagine forcing the air down deep into your belly. While exhaling your stomach will fall.
    • This diaphragmatic breathing is a great way to reduce your stress level at anytime and can be performed while sitting in traffic, trying to fall asleep or before speaking in front of a group.
  • When neither leg seems to be making any more progress  I will begin to shift tactics and employ a series of various methods learned from Pavel and Jon Engum to trick my muscles into an increasingly deeper stretch.
  • Finally, I’ll finish up with a few easy sets of 10 legs swings per side.
    • Hanging on to a wall or chair for balance swing a straight leg in front of you with your foot rising to stomach, chest, face level or higher.
    • Keep your spine straight and look up.
    • Swing your leg only as high as you can while being relaxed. You should not feel any fear or pain as long as you stay well within your limits.
    • Exhale on the upswing.
    • Perform the leg swings at a casual pace with an emphasis on using strength to achieve height rather than speed.

After all this I stand taller and typically experience a sense of improved mood and freedom of movement.

Give it try and when your’e ready for more, give me a call.

Stop the Insanity: Simpler is Better.

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It all started for me in 2006, I went to bed one night and woke up the next morning fat.
I bought myself a Speed Rope and Buddy Lee’s book on jump rope training and stuck to the plan. I started off fat but average at jump rope and within a year I was making that jump rope hum and buzz at a dizzying rate enough to make Rocky Balboa look bad. I could jump 40-minutes with only a handful of missed jumps and do things like 110 revolutions in 30 seconds. 50 consecutive double-unders & double-under cross-overs were something I do on moments notice on a bad day. I was lighter, faster, more agile and a hell of a lot leaner. Two problems…

  • I’d wake up with my feet killing me. (Plantar Fasciatis from all the stress of jumping.)
  • While I was indeed leaner with improved cardio, I was not any stronger.

I realized that while jumping rope was an incredible exercise it wasn’t something I wanted to do or could continue doing for up to 40-minutes 5-days a week for the rest of life and it wasn’t going to improve my physique or strength past a certain degree. Then I discovered Kettlebells. For years I had been reading books on martial arts and flexibility training and there’d always be these ads by some Russian guy promising to get me in the splits in record time. I’d read those ads and sneer…. until I bought one of those books and his stuff worked, not full splits in minutes… but 12 inches improvement after years of being plateaued in seconds. So when this same Russian promised Kettlebell training would deliver the same sort of rapid strength and endurance gains I was intrigued to say the least.

I purchased the book “Enter the Kettlebell” and read it several times, took notes and bought my self some kettlebells. I followed the plan provided in ETK and stuck to it. A few weeks of the break-in program called “The Program Minimum” and then I began my journey to as the Evil Russian put it “become a man among men” by following the program entitled the “Rite of Passage”. Within months I was making rapid, incredible and unbelievable gains with only six exercises: Getups, Swings, Cleans, Presses, High Pulls and Snatches all done with a single kettlebell. Here are just some of the benefits I experienced

  • I lost 14lbs of body fat and replaced it with 14lbs of muscle.
  • I rehabbed a shoulder that used to sound like broken glass during warm-ups
  • I rehabbed a chronically sprained ankle that had bothered me for years within 4 workouts
  • I went from pressing the 16kg/35lb kettlebell to man-handling the 24kg/53lb kettlebell
  • My posture improved so dramatically that I was frequently shocked by my own reflection in mirrors. Out of the corner of my eye, I would honestly see this guy following me that I didn’t recognize, turn my head and realize it was my own reflection.
  • Developed forearms that drew unsolicited compliments from other men in the gym.
  • Develop muscles on neck, back and shoulder that honestly freaked me out the first time I discovered them by accident in a mirror.
  • Lowered my resting heart rate from the 70s to the low 40’s in just 4 weeks.

That was the start. Now it’s 5 years later. I completed the Rite of Passage: I can one arm press a Kettlebell 1/2 my bodyweight and perform 200 or more reps of kettlebell snatches in 10-minutes with a 53lb kettlebell. I’ve earned my RKC, RKC II and CK-FMS Kettlebell instructor certifications.
I’ve taught thousands of group and private Kettlebell lessons, hosted kettlebell workshops and certifications, successfully trained others who have gone on to lose weight, transform their bodies, become better athletes or go on to become HKC and RKC certified instructors themselves. Just yesterday I returned from a continuing education workshop for kettlebell instructors and strength coaches and I’m scheduled to attend several more this year alone. I learned more about fitness in 23 hours of my first RKC than most trainers learn in a decade. Since then I learned even more, more than I honestly ever thought there was to know and I’ve discovered that strength and fitness are simple. Not easy, but simple and I owe everything I’ve learned to Pavel, John DuCane, Dan John, Jon Engum, Gray Cook, Brett Jones, Thomas Phillips, Zar Horton, David Whitley, Betsy Collie, Karen Smith and all of the strong, and intelligent professionals in the RKC School of Strength that I’ve had the honor to learn from.

Why am I telling you this? I suppose it’s because despite all the disinformation and crap out there concerning exercise and fitness there’s so little of it that actually delivers the results as promised in a way that is realistic, reasonable and sustainable for life. Programs like Crossfit, P90X, Insanity, and Biggest Loser are selling people on the idea that every workout has to be insane performed at a super high intensity. That if you’re not wearing a shirt that insults someone else’s performance you’re not a real athlete or worthy to train in certain gym. That puking and muscular soreness are admirable goals. That Box Jumps are appropriate for a 300 pound female with bad ankles and knees as well as for a teenage volleyball player who can’t perform a decent squat with her own bodyweight.

Fitness doesn’t require another intense 90-day program and boxes of supplements. It doesn’t demand high risk exercises like box jumps for obese weight loss clients or a skinny female trainer yelling at you on television. You don’t need Tires to flip, sledge hammers, bosu balls, plyo boxes, Concept II Rowing Machines, boxing bags, and all the other equipment necessary for the next Workout of the Day.

Still don’t believe me?
Here’s more proof… Karen Smith Sr. RKC performing a strict one arm press, weighted dead hang pullp and one legged squat with the 53lb kettlebell all in two months with just 10 reps a day of each exercise, … no puking, no box jumps, no screaming trainers.

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The RKC Methods can deliver elite fitness with as little a Kettlebell and your bodyweight.
But your’e not hearing me. The kettlebell won’t deliver the results, the exercises won’t either…the RKC Methods will. The RKC Methods will deliver results regardless of the tool you choose to use. It’s documented and proven and the RKC methods are currently in use by professional athletes, special forces and more… for a reason, THEY WORK! The RKC Methods consistently provide the kind of safe and effective techniques that can transform a fat couch potato into an athlete or transform an athlete into a champion. Moreover, the RKC never rests it is constantly improving. The RKC is a think tank that continues to attract the best of best and develops people that are stronger than they look and stronger than most people believe they have the right to be.

Are you tired of the fitness B.S. and seeking a coach that will cut the crap and give you ONLY what you need.

Do you want results, not fitness oriented entertainment?

Are you tired of the macho posturing in fitness; the puking, the tough talk and slogans that insult your intelligence?

Do you want training that is high yield, not high risk?

Do you want to be stronger in your 70’s that most people are in their 20’s?

Are you ready to commit to 6 years of smart, sustainable & repeatable training vs 6 weeks of stupidity that virtually guarantees injury?

If this sounds like you, then I can’t wait to meet you and help you achieve and ultimately surpass your fitness goals. As an active and constantly growing/improving RKC, RKC II, CK-FMS instructor I am uniquely qualified to deliver exactly what you seek. Safety, Strength, Intelligent training and Results.

So after you’ve recovered from your W.O.D. induced injury, discovered you really can’t train like the highlite reels from The Ultimate Fighter, put away your P-90X DVDs, or have gotten fed up with that skinny lady yelling at you in bootcamp, give me a call and together we’ll begin an intelligent approach to fitness that you will look forward to doing AND be able to do for the rest of your life.

Start your “Rite of Passage” from victim of insantiy to master of your own health by calling me at 402-850-5551.