Last weekend I was assisting in the IKFF CKT cert course in Oulu, Finland. I was attending the same course in Barcelona last year. This time, I had the change to follow from ”the outside” how Steve and John taught. The emphasis of the IKFF cert is how to teach the basics to other people, not so much on refining each lifter’s own tehcnique to the fine details. They teach the fundamental issues, like how and why and where power should be produced and what are the preferred body positions for safe lifting. These principles apply to any lifts and any stunts. This is good stuff for someone who wants to teach kettlebells for fitness to anyone, for example in personal training, in gyms, etc. because there’s emphasis on how to break down the exercises and what are the typical problems.
I’ve been to some other certs and compared to those, this gives a person more tools on working with others. I think all the certs have has a different approach and different goals, so it’s actually pretty hard to compare them one to one. But, I will post my thoughts and opinions on them anyway :). Last year, I attended the IUKL 1st and 2nd level Girevoy Sport coaching course in Ventspils. (since then, the course structures have been changed). It was led by Vasily Ginko, and the goal was to teach how to coach kettlebell sport athletes. So, we went trough the basic lifts in detail, and covered also massage and nutrition issues. The mindset was in Girevoy Sport, and how to increase performance in that. Good stuff. These courses have now changed to IKSA GS courses.
Before that, I also attended a finnish cert, which taught a variety of exercises with kettlebells and also mobility. The way of teaching was giving the person a huge amount of exercise examples, not focusing on any lift in detail. This was like a catalog of different exercises and their variations, good maybe for someone who thinks ”you can do only this and that” with weights. This course is now the IKSA fitness kettlebell course. A fun course but too much variety for variety’s sake in my opinion.
I haven’t been to the RKC and AKC certs, so no idea how they approach kettlebell lifting. Well, I have some idea of course, based on friends’ experiences but not personal experience.
For the, all of these have given me some tools on how to approach my own teaching and training. IKFF CKT has been the most beneficial for me on teaching to others, IUKL was beneficial for GS and the third one gave some new ideas about mobility exercises.
As for recommendations, before attending any cert, I would recommend practicing the basics for many months to a year and getting in good (not necessarily great) shape. Think about what you want to get out of the course, why you are going. All of the courses have a great deal of physical work, so it’s good to be in such a shape that you can work a lot and still focus. For GS, the primary learning tool in my opinion is one’s own lifting and especially competing. If there’s a change to be reviewed by a more experienced lifter, use it. Ginko is a good teacher, and if he’s doing a full GS course, it will be good stuff. For general fitness and teaching others I recommend the IKFF CKT.
For one’s own personal training, I recommend getting together with other kettlebell enthusiasts and just training. The basics aren’t that hard, it is really the common man’s or woman’s sport. Learn the basics well, add in variety from DVDs and/or youtube for fun, mix and match according to your goals. Just my opinion.
So, to sum up my recommendations:
I know the basics, want to teach others in a gym, a group, my own personal training business -> IKFF CKT
I train GS, know how to lift but want more details and info about program design -> Ginko GS international level
I mention these because they are generally accessible as buyable producs. Of course there are other GS coaches in Russia for example and you can travel there and try to find someone. In general, I think if one’s a GS athlete or a coach, the significance of a cert is minimal. I mean, for a sport, performance and getting better at the sport mean something, papers don’t. I think the IUKL cert is aimed at us westerners, who really have no idea about GS, to learn the basics in a good way. So, while the papers are not important, the information about the history and time tested approaches of the sport indeed are. In the fitness industry, the papers are probably more important. I think the IKFF has a good reputation for offering quality courses, so that’s why it can be valuable to have that sort of certs if you are thinking training others and charging money from it. Of course, even in that, the personality and skills are more important than any papers.
Well, it all depends on so many variables that all the ranting is pretty much meaningless in the grand scheme of things anyway 🙂 Accept no bullshit, train hard and have fun are good principles for kettlebell certs too! 🙂