I open my eyes while, bathed in sweat, I slowly regain my breath control.
I’m lying on the artificial grass contemplating the high dome of the StrongFirst Level I Certification venue in Vicenza, Italy. I tell myself, smiling, “I can’t scratch my nose without feeling pain, but it’s worth it.”
I’m an SFG Level I Cert attendee and I’m thinking with pleasure on the tremendous amount of basics, drills, and tips this course is giving me. At the end of second day, I’m physically exhausted, but at the same time loaded like a spring. I feel what is around me more strongly, and my gaze is so focused that it could pierce a wall.
I do everything possible to stop looking like an exhausted Vitruvian man and I stand up. Our short break is ending, and the StongFirst staff call us to attention: “Go, guys! We’ll make you strong!”
That’s all I ask.
I had left home three days earlier with everything I needed for my SFG experience: a backpack full of training clothes, chalk, things for protecting my hands and taking care of calluses, a foam roller, books, and a prudent self-confidence that can result from eight months of intense physical and mental preparation. From the moment I registered for the Cert, a deep change began, the extent of which I didn’t realize until I actually achieved the goal I set for myself.
The SFG Experience Begins With Registration
In the beginning, the challenge I faced seemed almost impossible. The volume and intensity of my training were quite limited, slightly higher than an average athlete. Therefore, a part of my brain catalogued my signing up for the Certification as “a huge mistake.” However, a strong desire to prove myself prevailed, and pressing “send” on the registration form triggered an immediate need to adopt a series of good habits that would lead me to the goal I had just created.
As a physical therapist, I already knew the basics of human movement, and I understood the necessity of that dose of common sense that should accompany every strength training plan. But at the same time, I was conscious that I had to more deeply study the kettlebell and its use if I wanted to succeed at the Certification. So, I absorbed the precious contents of Simple & Sinister and Return of the Kettlebell, and carefully observed Pavel’s and other strength training coaches’ videos and articles.
Based on what I learned, I gradually intensified the frequency and intensity of my sessions, balanced my activity and rest, and followed a controlled and balanced diet with increasing discipline. Little by little, I sharpened the fundamental movements of the swing, get-up, clean, military press, squat, and snatch, even if they were still far from full maturity. Because of this, when I read the course motto— “Just the basics, drilled to perfection”—I knew this Certification was exactly what I was looking for.
We Are All StrongFirst
I believe it’s not possible to build something lasting without a solid foundation beneath. Likewise, I couldn’t hope to train and rehabilitate my physical therapy patients without having precisely in mind the hip-hinge, the care for posture, and the proper muscle activation.
During the SFG Level I Certification, I redefined these concepts for myself, but there was also much more. Patient and highly experienced Team Leaders accompanied me and other students in learning the huge amount of information provided for us. They set right our failures with rigor and rejoiced in our significant improvements. These were three intense days, where lessons, practice, and rest alternated at a very high pace but—and I mean it—I wouldn’t change a thing of the event.
Attending the SFG Level I was worth every drop of sweat, every moment of discouragement, every ounce of victory, every second of concentration, and every tear of emotion.
If I look back, I picture my achievement of this goal as a race to cross a distant ditch: initially you walk, then you accelerate to running at top speed, and finally you take a strong leap supported all of your preparatory training and by all the Certification staff—and you land, happy, over the obstacle.
Beyond the technical aspects of strength training and the proper execution of basic movements, through this Certification, I gained more confidence in myself. Having given my all as I did that weekend, I am now more that sure that I am able to face every challenge that may arise for me: having a discussion with my boss, giving a lecture in front of a large audience, persevering through long work and study sessions—I can deal with everything!
I will simply use the same patience, determination, and strength that distinguishes fighters.
Because from now on I’m a fighter.
Because from now on I’m StrongFirst.