Building on Strength: Year-end Review and 2019 Preview

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” Hal Borland

As we reflect on the past year and look towards 2019, the truth of this quote hits home. Even as companies (and individuals) “close out” a year’s worth of business and prepare for new projects and campaigns, there is no end—missions and goals go on. How we embrace wisdom gained in moving forward depends on all of us.

StrongFirst had a great 2018 of experiences and growth as we pursue, promote, and practice strength in new markets and in wider audiences. Global growth and “the tentacles spreading” has continued worldwide along with the progression of the curriculum and certifications.


Unified Recertification and StrongFirst Elite

This year we launched two initiatives to recognize and reward achieving multiple designations: the unified recertification process and a StrongFirst Elite designation.

Unified recertification gives our instructors the opportunity to recertify multiple certifications at one time, for one price, at a wider number of events. SFG, SFG II, SFL, and SFB—in any combination—can be maintained more easily and at a lower cost. And, depending on logistics and equipment availability, unified recertification may be available at events like Plan Strong™, Strong Endurance™, Second Wind, and All-terrain Conditioning. See details here: Unified Recertification

Why unified recertification? Most importantly, it rewards instructors who broaden and deepen their understanding of strength principles and teaching skills by achieving multiple StrongFirst certifications. Our School of Strength’s branches are based on and around unified principles; our instructors are unified by our Code. Encouraging instructors to achieve all certifications is a logical step. Next, it facilitates keeping their status current. “Student of strength” means honing our skills. Being regularly tested against StrongFirst standards shows a commitment to practice and professionalism. Our students trust that what we teach is current and that our own technique passes muster. Staying current proves that we walk the talk.

What does this mean from a practical standpoint?

Unified recertification means that an SFG, working towards the SFL, can recertify SFG at the SFL (or SFB, etc.…) and it is all wrapped into the cost of the new certification. Or if you are at your two-year recertification time-frame for SFG II and SFL, you can now recertify them both at the same time for one cost.

This brings us to StrongFirst Elite. After achieving all four certifications, instructors earn the SF Elite designation, the highest achievable rank within our instructor community outside of leadership. As such, it is a qualifier for advancement to leadership. In addition, SF Elite extends your certification validity by 50%, requiring you to recertify every three years instead of only two. Unified recertification makes that easier.


Accredited Gyms

We have long fielded questions by potential students on “where can I find a gym” or “where can I learn?” And while we facilitate connecting students to instructors on our website, still others were looking not just for a person but to immerse themselves in a StrongFirst community, environment, and culture. Our Accredited Gym program helps students easily find “brick and mortar” locations and confidently trust they will learn undiluted StrongFirst principles. To be accredited, gyms must meet standards and requirements including:

  • Hold at least two different, and current, StrongFirst instructor credentials.
  • Ensure that more than 50% of the facility’s trainers be StrongFirst certified instructors in good standing.
  • Support the StrongFirst mission, embody the StrongFirst core values, and live by the StrongFirst Code.
  • Warrant that training sessions and classes advertised by the gym as taught according to StrongFirst’s methods (or reasonably interpreted to be so taught) must be led by instructors holding current and relevant StrongFirst certifications. This applies to group and individual programming according to Plan Strong™ and Strong Endurance™. For example, an instructor must hold a current SFG instructor credential to teach a kettlebell class featuring the anti-glycolytic method; or there must be an SFB instructor if the trainer is teaching a TSC pull-up class, etc.

Click here for more information: StrongFirst Accredited Gyms

Curriculum Updates

Our Curriculum Advisory Board has been working on curriculum refinements for all certifications. You will see newly updated manuals released in early 2019 reflecting the changes. For the SFB specifically, we have added two skill tests: pull-up and pistol. And we have added Master’s Standards for both SFB and SFL.

New SFB Skill Tests

  • Pull-ups (x 5 for men) and Flexed-arm hang (x 45 seconds or 1 pull-up/chin-up for women), completed on the first day during registration.
  • Pistol on one leg (counterbalance optional), completed on day two, with the current OAPU/OAOLPU test.

Master’s Standards for the SFB

  • Men 50+: OAPU
  • Women 50+: 6-8” elevated OAPU
  • Men and Women 50+: Box pistol to below parallel
  • Men 50+: Pull-up x 1
  • Women 50+: Flexed-arm hang x 30 seconds (chin-up grip)

Master’s Standards for the SFL


StrongFirst Essential Kettlebell Exercises Online Course

We released our first online course, Essential Kettlebell Exercises, during the summer to make learning safe and effective technique more accessible to those unable to get to an SFG instructor or to an Accredited Gym. It offers detailed teaching, demonstrations, and talks by Lance Coffel, Brett Jones, Pavel Tsatsouline, and Fabio Zonin. In addition, each module comes with a downloadable manual including a program design section with suggested training plans. Be sure to revisit the course to see the new content.

Click here for more details: SF Essential Kettlebell Exercises


Strength has a Greater Purpose

“It is not the honor that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind.” Branch Rickey

Be a good ancestor was one of the lessons from the book Legacy and something I covered at this year’s Leadership meeting. I am honored to be a part of StrongFirst’s leadership—the heritage we are building drives me forward.

Over 16 years of teaching with Pavel, this community has played an integral part of my career and life as we pursue, promote, and practice strength. We see how our shared belief that strength has a greater purpose positively impacts our students’ lives every day, in ways that far surpass the gym floor. We do so with quiet professionalism, always remembering that we ourselves are students of strength. Pavel is intent on leaving a lasting mark on the world with our mission. It is an honor to be part of it.

Helping others is the epitome of strength’s greater purpose. Over the Black Friday weekend, the StrongFirst community participated in a fundraising effort for Dustin Rippetoe. One of our Team Leaders, Dustin is currently on dialysis and pursuing a kidney transplant. To help his family offset the medical costs, we will be working to organize two more fundraising opportunities in 2019. Join us in helping Dustin and his family.


Looking ahead at 2019, we are primed to capitalize on lessons learned and “tentacles spreading” to expose more people to our strength principles across all modalities so they too can live the benefits. Building more awareness of who we are, what we do, and why it matters will provide increasing opportunities for our instructors, gyms, and events worldwide. With several new books near completion, an expanded online offering, a continually improving website interface, updated curriculums, and new merchandise in the works, 2019 promises to be an exciting year.

We at StrongFirst wish you a strong 2019!
Where will your strength take you?

5 thoughts on “Building on Strength: Year-end Review and 2019 Preview

  • Thanks for the updates! Can you describe what a Box Pistol is? Is it doing the pistol on a box so that the straight leg can go lower (than the “floor”), or is it only descending down to the depth of a box (like a box squat).

  • Timmy –
    Yes – we will be looking at adding to the online course options.
    Glad you enjoyed the online KB course.

    Jeff –
    All will be revealed soon but Pavel is almost 5 years of research into what is coming…

  • Will there be a online basic barbell, bodyweight courses? I liked the online kettlebell course because it went into detail with regressions.

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