“Pick a program. Stick with the program.” ~Fabio Zonin, Master SFG, Strong First
It was Saturday afternoon and I was feeling overwhelmed, very overwhelmed. In the months leading up to the SFG I certification, and where I was at that moment seemed worlds apart. I had planned and practiced for this weekend, and knew I was as ready as I was going to be. My work was finally paying off, but my plan was different than so many others who were attending that I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of my choice.
I wasn’t overwhelmed by the amount of information so much as I was by the feeling that somehow I wasn’t “enough.” The testing, which I had always planned to follow-up after the weekend, was looming large and most attendees were singularly focused on it. I was finding it hard to stay focused myself and to feel confident in sticking with the plan I had set.
The weekend’s grueling pace wasn’t helping, and I was pretty exhausted. The surge of emotion, the pure feeling of inadequacy, was a surprise; I hadn’t felt it in years and I didn’t like it. However, this time around, unlike a decade earlier, I was prepared. My yoga training had equipped me with the tools to simply explore the emotion, rather than react to it.
In my head, I went back to my goals and focus for the weekend. By pulling back from my knee-jerk reaction to the sensations I was feeling in my body, I was able to work through the entire episode with a sense of curiosity (why am I feeling this way?), logic (because I am exhausted) and focus (remember your training plan and why you are here) rather than allowing my emotions to ruin the very experience I had looked forward to for the past two years.
When Sunday rolled around and the testing began, I found myself remembering my martial arts days of testing. All of the anxiousness passed as I stepped into the testing box. I actually enjoyed the feeling of focus and having a brief moment to display my skills. Testing can bring about a sense of confidence and pride that few other activities can match. I passed four of the five techniques and was not too concerned about the fifth technique because I knew I had lost focus for a moment but would easily be able to redo it at a later date.
After the techniques testing came the much ballyhooed snatch test. Not having passed the snatch test in my home practice prior, I was not surprised when I missed the 100 mark by twenty-one. I gave it all that I had but fell short. My teammates all did well and much celebration followed, including the grad workout (but that’s a story for another time!).
So, yes, I failed. I even had planned to fail, but the failures were truly golden nuggets for me. Accepting failure graciously (even failure for which I had planned) while watching nearly all my teammates pass was amazing! I could actually be happy for my teammates and enjoy the process – both successes and failures at the same time. I didn’t have to be upset because I had my own goals and a workable plan.
I remember being honestly pleased and proud of everyone and in no way disappointed. I didn’t have to hide tears, hold back emotion or put on a brave face for my teammates. I was truly happy to have completed the weekend successfully and to have achieved my goals in accordance with my plan!
So what were my goals?
- I primarily wanted to learn to be a better teacher. I wanted more knowledge of the “how” and “why” of kettlebell, and I wanted to bring home quality teaching to my clients and students. Of course I wanted the certification, but it was honestly secondary to the experience itself. I felt like putting too much focus on the testing would have actually hindered my ability to get the most from the instruction.
- I wanted to complete the weekend without getting injured or being incredibly sore.
- I wanted to learn how to “do” kettlebell better. I wanted to learn the intricacies of developing power and strength so that I could come home and use the 16 kg kettlebell properly, including being able to complete the snatch test within ninety days.
My yoga training, once again, proved very handy. With most yoga trainings, no one really expects to pass after his or her first attempt. Often video after video must be submitted and training after training attended before any type of certification is granted. Knowledge that follow-ups are simply a way to correct and revise technique aided me greatly in creating my own plan and also allowed me freedom to absorb and enjoy all the flavors of the weekend.
I am happy to say that I came home and passed my snatch test on my first attempt. I was able to put into practice much of the knowledge I learned and finally made the step up to the next level in my training. It was certainly a satisfying experience to put to rest the dreaded snatch test but it also made me realize how important it is to know your own goals and to have a workable, achievable plan. Most important, I learned that being able to set a path that makes an allowance for public failure takes courage, strength and faith in the process.
Now that I have my certification, I am looking toward the next level of SFG II in a few more years. Once again, I will access myself, the requirements and will attempt to find a workable plan that suits both my students and me. Ultimately, a teacher cannot teach without students and all of the training in the world is of no value without someone to share it with.