Apr 2019 SFB experience

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
SFB certification experience

Well I finally attended the 7th and final StrongFirst course/cert (for now)... so I guess I better follow my trend, and share the experience! Here are all my prior ones:

Jan 2015 SFG Kettlebell Course
SFG Kettlebell Course experience

Mar 2015 SF Bodyweight Course
SF Bodyweight Course experience

May 2015 SFG I
SFG1 at The Dome
How to Prepare for and Pass Your SFG Level I | StrongFirst

Feb 2017 SFG II
SFG II experience - Portland, OR, Feb 2017

May 2017 StrongFirst Lifter (barbell) 1-day course
StrongFirst Lifter (barbell) 1-day course experience

Oct 2017 SFL
SFL experience - Oct 2017, Charleston, SC
A Look Inside the StongFirst Lifter (SFL) Barbell Instructor Certification | StrongFirst

Apr 2019 SFB

It was great to be back at The Dome in Chicago! That is where I attended SFG I (which I would have to say was THE most impactful event of them all, for me). This time around, 4 years later, was a historic event as it was the first time that all 4 certifications were held under the same roof: SFG I, SFG II, SFL, and SFB. SFG I and SFL are 3-day certs so they arrived and started on Friday. SFB and SFG II are two-day certs so we started on Saturday. I flew in Friday evening and pretty much checked into the hotel and went straight to sleep. Saturday morning I woke and got going, meeting my good friend Eileen Backman who was attending SFG II, and we walked over from the hotel to the Dome.

Master SFG Karen Smith was the course instructor and team leader, assisted by Senior SFG Dr. Mark Cheng, SF Elite Owen Chau, and a few others. Karen is just an AWESOME instructor. Always expert, clear, and personable. Day 1 we started with all 4 cert groups together and an extensive mobility series from Flexible Steel led by the creator of that, Master SFG Jon Engum. Then we split off into the respective certs. SFB had about 35 people attending (there were 191 people there in total). We spent about 4 hours on the one-arm push-up, with about 10 individual tension building drills leading up to it - taught, practiced, and coached each other. All were super helpful. The one that helped ME the most was learning to "unload" the top half of the body by pushing back into the feet. The push-up was instantly easier! I was already pretty good at the rest of the drills -- the things I learned from Karen 4 years ago at the 1-day bodyweight course have really stuck with me, and I've caught some great tips from StrongFirst instructors online.

We started on chin-up and pull-up drills before lunch. At lunchtime they allocated the time for recerts, so I had to do strength and technique tests-- and the snatch test-- for SFG I/II and SFL. Got to eat lunch quickly then, and next was the Beast Tamer/Iron Maiden challenge -- 2 men and 1 woman competing, but none of them made all 3 events. Then back in SFB group we did the rest of the Tactical Pull-Up section, then Hanging Leg Raise and all kinds of great progressions/regressions. Then we were able to test our OAPU if we wanted to. Other options were to test first thing Sunday, or not test at all and just send a video within the next 6 months. I chose to test, and I got it - yay!

Sunday Day 2 we started early, 6:30am, so we could wrap up soon after noon. Mobility series all together again, then back to our cert groups. Pistols were the first part of the day. Some good regressions, progressions, cues, and a lot of time assessing baseline mobility (feet-together-knees-together squat), performing various mobility drills and reassessing. I was good from the beginning on that, so I'm not sure which of these help me but I did learn some things I might have students try. I didn't learn too much that miraculously helped my own pistol other than pushing forward a bit, not just up. I'm still kind of hit or miss on the pistol. I can do it sometimes; more reliably with 8 kg counterbalance. I did get some good training drills to continue working on it. And it's not testable at this time (it will be starting in Nov 2019), so we moved on.

We talked a bit of programming before the last section. Handstand push-up was last, and I loved that one! I was super strong on it from all my barbell overhead pressing combined with handstands. I did pick up a few great cues from Karen on how to progress as well as getting in a more solid hollow position with flared lats, and where the elbows should go in a pike position as well as the handstand push-up. There was a coaching evaluation where we coached each other on selected items while being evaluated. We ended with more Q&A and programming discussion. Got to watch some of the SFG I and II grad workouts, and talk to various people as everyone was clearing out. Always good to visit with StrongFirst family.

The course manual is super valuable and a really good quality product. For each move it has standards, drills, practice notes, and programming guidance. There are also additional sections on concepts that are taught throughout such as "ACE" or Artificial Controlling Environment, and some very well-written sections on StrongFirst Teaching Principles and Teaching Basics.

I really appreciated the "Unified Recertification" option. Since I was attending SFB, I was able to recertify the other certs at no additional cost. This process went well, and now having earned "StrongFirst Elite" with all the certs, I only have to recertify once every 3 years. Good policy and much appreciated, StrongFirst!

In summary, about the SFB -- If you really want to "master your body, master your strength" and learn how to train strength (not calisthenics) anywhere with just your bodyweight, this is the course to attend! Many people actually recommend attending this one first, as it really provides the foundation for kettlebell, barbell, and any other strength modality. The course is very consistent with Pavel's "Naked Warrior", but in attendance you will get much more than you can get from a book. It's fun, hard work (but not the kind that tears up your hands or makes you sweat), and it's very insightful and practical for your own practice, and your teaching and coaching of students.
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