Since 2014, I have had the honor and privilege of being the CEO of StrongFirst, Inc. Over these past three years, I’ve focused on doing my part to help StrongFirst achieve its mission of pursuing, practicing, and promoting strength.
My kettlebell journey started in 2005. A Navy SEAL teammate of mine, John Faas, who would later become one of my best friends, was in the corner of our gym doing strange exercises with an even stranger device—he was doing snatches with a 24kg kettlebell. Being a fan of fitness, I had to ask, “What are you doing? Doesn’t that hurt?”
John took the time to explain to me what he was doing and why it was beneficial. After work that day, I spent the rest of the evening researching this “new” discovery. It ended with me ordering a 16kg kettlebell and Pavel’s book “The Russian Kettlebell Challenge.”
In the past, I’ve written about what happened next. The summary: the kettlebell and Pavel’s hard style system completely changed my approach to strength and conditioning. I moved better both with and without body armor. I was more resilient. My strength improved. All of this happened with less of a time commitment and without the need of training in the gym. It was and still is life changing.
Fast forward to 2014. After several conversations with Pavel, I was officially hired as the CEO of StrongFirst. I had to pinch myself. What an opportunity—my dream job! The kettlebell had changed my life. Pavel’s system had made me a better Navy SEAL. Now I had a chance to give back to a community that had meant so much to me.
Along the way, I’ve learned a lot.
The People Are the Strength of StrongFirst
Our system is amazing. As it says on our website: “We teach men and women to reach high levels of strength. Quickly, safely, and without interfering with their duty, job, or sport.” This system is based on principles, not guesses. We use time-tested tools and we achieve real results for ourselves and for those we teach.
As great as our system is, it is the people at StrongFirst who set us apart. Quite simply, they are the best Strength Professionals in the industry. From the newest instructors to our Master SFGs, I am always impressed.
Over the past three years, I’ve had a chance to work with many people in the StrongFirst community. One of the biggest perks has been the ability to travel to StrongFirst events all over the United States and even to other countries. Many people say that the events are life changing, and I couldn’t agree more. Of course, the material being taught is an integral part of the experience. But the experience wouldn’t be what it is without the willing students and amazing instructors—the people.
While serving in the military, I learned that people were more important than strategy or planning. If you had good people, you could get a lot done with very little planning. If you had an awesome plan and the wrong people, things just didn’t work out. If you had both good people and a good plan, it was magic.
I’ve spoken about the importance of individuals, teams, and leaders at length. I won’t go into detail now. Suffice it to say, StrongFirst has great individuals, awesome teams, and amazing leaders.
Like the military, it is not the leaders back at base (HQ) who matter the most. It is the leaders on the battlefield, at our events (SFG Leadership), who are most important. They lead from the front. They lead by example. In our case, they lead our Courses, our Certifications, and our efforts in various countries around the world.
It is the people I will miss the most.
Thank You, StrongFirst
Very few people ever have the opportunity to get a dream job. I’ve been blessed enough to have a few. I was a Navy SEAL. I owned a gun range. I worked for StrongFirst.
Now, I have the honor and privilege of working for the NRA (National Rifle Association) as their Director of Education and Training—another dream job. Like StrongFirst, this job will have it challenges. Instead of pursuing, practicing, and promoting strength, I will now get to help shape firearms training in the country that I love.
StrongFirst is not just an organization. It is a community, a brotherhood and sisterhood of Strength. I am leaving the organization. I will always be a part of the community. My own pursuit, practice, and promotion of strength will continue regardless of where I work.
I would like to thank everyone in our community. It has been an honor and privilege to work with and learn from all of you. I’ve enjoyed meeting people at our events, working with our Headquarters Team, working alongside our SFG Leadership, and most of all, working for Pavel.
As Brett Jones said at our recent SFG Leadership Meeting, “I am because we are.” I am what I am today because of my experiences at StrongFirst and I will forever be grateful.
Strength. Honor. Team.
Eric, thank you for your strong leadership and hard work at StrongFirst! Best of luck, brother. —Pavel Tsatsouline, CEO, StrongFirst, Inc.