What is StrongFirst? (And Why You Should Care)

Brett recently wrote a fantastic blog detailing our recent experience at a StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor Certification in Atlanta. I agree with my partner’s assessment of the event but would like to explain to you more about the organization that created such an environment of learning and growth. We are both proud of our opportunity to represent Charleston at these events and equally proud to represent StrongFirst here, in Charleston, and everywhere we go.
What is StrongFirst? First, they are an educational organization for coaches and instructors in the use of Kettlebells, Barbells and Bodyweight strength and conditioning. Hopefully, the person that you trust as your coach or instructor has some legitimate certification or education. We have collected quite a few certifications over the years but we now hold all of the StrongFirst Certifications. A lot can be discovered about Pavel and StrongFirst from a simple Google search and a review of their site. I encourage you to do your due diligence. However, this is a simple explanation. The idea for a deeper look at StrongFirst came to me from a speech given at the above-mentioned weekend by my team leader John Heinz. His words inspired this blog so, thank you John.
StrongFirst is an organization made up of like-minded people from all over the world with mutually held beliefs and concepts incorporated into an educational system of strength. It reminds me of a group of martial artists all growing and learning from one another. This bonding through practice with our bodies, minds and some specific tools have created mutual respect, strength and a culture that is more like a family than simply an organization that hands out training certificates.
Some of our mutually held concepts include, but are not exclusively, the following:
– Strength is the master quality. A lot has been written about this (here) much better than I can rehash it. Suffice it to say that strength allows for better development of all other skills.
– Strength is a skill that must be practiced. Again, like a martial art, sport, painting, music or any other worthwhile endeavor, we make the attainment of physical strength a frequent and consistent part of our lives. The practice of strength becomes a behavior.
– The focus is on the process and not the outcome. We strive to be the best at the basics and this will lead to mastery. The process is simple, but not easy. You will become strong if, like Pavel recently said in an interview, “Lift as heavy as possible, as often as possible, while staying as fresh as possible.”
– We practice “One body, any exercise.” How well you move is the most important thing. Your mobility, stability, quality of patterns, control, breathing quality, focus, practice of technique and tension as well as corresponding relaxation is the key. A kettlebell, barbell, set of rings or any other implement are simply tools. This mindset of mastery of self can translate to all things.
– Strength has a greater purpose. This is literally part of our StrongFirst code and may be the most important quality. This statement, like my friend John Heinz said in his original speech, is like a Zen koan, the answer to which must be realized by the individual. For me this means that strength is more than weight moved, more than how you look or how tough you are. These things are transient and will come and go. Strength, to me, is physical, mental and emotional. It is your character, how your carry yourself, your behaviors when no one is looking, and how you interact with and help others. It is how you remake your world into a better place for the future.
To me this is StrongFirst. These principals are what make up the basis of our methodology at Charleston Kettlebell Club and what we strive to deliver to you every day.

Mike Fickling
February 12, 2017