This week we have covered show strength training has helped foster healthy body images in some seriously strong women I know. Not only that, we have seen how empowering strength training is in terms of reaching new personal records. We have looked at the strength training in the form of art, and even got our feet wet with crossfit. My curiosity lead me to sit down and talk with the women that actually trained me for my RKC. Guys, say hello to level II RKC Kerry Swick, owner of Pittsburgh Kettlebells.
Kerry and I have become friends over the years I have trained under her. She now even allows me to teach at her studio. Kerry has been working as a personal trainer for over 20 years and has spent countless amounts of hours with clients to help them become the strongest version of themselves. Not only that, Kerry has worked in the fitness industry long enough to have a real say on the fads and crazes surrounding exercise programs. If anyone could be a great part of my interview series, it would be Kerry. And HEY! She sat down with me and talked with me about all things related to female strength training, body image, and enjoying life through functional fitness. Here’s what Kerry had to say.
Janelle Pica, RKC: What lead you to strength training/kettlebell/functional fitness in the first place?
Kerry Swick, RCK II: “I have been a personal trainer for a while and had been using weights in my practice. I was fortunate enough to have met Brett Jones years ago at the Duquesne club. Brett had introduced me into kettlebells. I fell in love with them. They didn’t hurt my body and I love the efficiency of them. I got certified as an RKC instructor as of 2006 and then received my RKC II as of April 2012. I have never looked back since!
Janelle Pica, RKC: That’s incredible! Brett Jones is an amazing man! I know I was incredibly honored to have him at HKC Pittsburgh in September 2012. It was also a pleasure to work along side you for a number of years leading up to my own RKC. I know you’re strong, but I’m sure you have goals for getting stronger. What are your goals for your own strength training at the moment?
Kerry Swick, RKC II: I am trying to get my pull ups and presses mastered. I have had some neck problems in my past that hindered me, but I am working on my volume since I have seen improvements in my neck from chiropractic care (I had a whip lash injury a year ago). So far, my progress is looking great strength wise.
Janelle Pica, RKC: I’ll say! I have seen you at the studio doing pull ups! Great work! Speaking of strength training, I asked a friend of mine who does Crossfit about this fear women tend to have about “bulking up” when lifting weights. You’re a strong woman, but by no means are you “bulky””. What would you say to women who are afraid of “bulking up” when weight training?
Kerry Swick, RKC II: First of all, women should not be compromising their strength. Honestly, I remind my female clients of real life situations when they pick up heavier items. As an example, if you are lifting heavy bags of mulch from your car, heavy groceries, etc. I tell my clients that I lift heavy a lot and I have not “bulked”. I tell me women that lifting heavy is great for bone density. When my clients are swinging 45 to 50 pound kettlebells without a problem. When my female clients see other feminine clients swinging heavy weights, there is a pier effect to that.
Janelle Pica, RKC: This is true, as I have witnessed it myself first hand at the studio. Now, here’s the other side of the coin. Is there an obsession with becoming too strong? Do you think that the competitive type females can actually become so driven for strength gains that it actually works against them? What do you think is the key to becoming strong in a reasonable way?
Kerry Swick, RKC II: There IS something related to exercise that can become obsessive. You CAN become stronger but there is a line you have to draw in terms of your health. There seems to be this new trend of extreme working out that is more of a beat down than it is a healthy and realistic, yet challenging workout. I believe in progressing up to higher volume exercises, not going into high volume exercising all at once. Anything that generates negative feedback is unhealthy. No one should ever leave a workout feeling as though they cannot keep up with the demands of an exercise.
Janelle Pica, RKC: That’s an excellent point. I got into strength training myself to function better as a whole. In your opinion, why is strength so important in terms of functionality? What is it about strength training that you think truly enhances how you handle your life?
Kerry Swick, RKC II: I love being self sufficient. I like to know that I can do something that requires strength, I can do it. I want to be able to age well and continue to do things myself as much as possible. My BONES! hormonal regulation is important as well. I’m in my mid 40’s, so maintaining my strength from here on out is crucial to keeping me more equalized hormonally. It’s a great feeling that I can do whatever I need to do for myself. I DON’T have to wait for someone else to pick something up for me. I know how to live and be self sufficient.
Janelle Pica, RKC: I couldn’t have said it better myself! I have one last question before I let you go. What would you say to someone on the fence about strength training?
Kerry Swick, RKC II: First of all, I tell people I push them towards an appropriate tolerance level. I am not here to hurt you. Working hard, working smart are whats important. As far as “gaining weight”, I remind my clients that what the scale says in irrelevant. Wight loss and fat loss are NOT one in the same. I have had clients that drop weight, then add weight back and have dropped a few pant sizes. I try to make the distinction between body fat and muscle. If your scale upsets you, throw it out!
This week we have taken a look at three different women who used strength training as a way to enhance their overall enjoyment of life. They look better, feel better, and love their new found sense of independence. These interviews have sparked so much interest in me that I have decided to take a hard look at one more person: myself.
On Friday, I will be concluding this three part interview series with some reflections on everything I have learned over these interviews. Be on the look out for my reflections on finding new found strength, and why that matters so much in terms of a woman’s overall health and well being. This has been an incredible series thus far, and I hope with the concluding remarks will serve to further the discussion on strength, body image, and why both are so important.
Until then, remember to eat smart, train hard, and enjoy your life!
Janelle Pica, RKC