Evolution Kettlebell Groundwork Workshop- a review



This weekend, I had the honor of attending the Evolution Kettlebell Groundwork (EKG) workshop.  The workshop was held at Wolf Fitness Systems in Salinas, CA and conducted by founder/owner John Wolf, a charismatic, enthusiastic proponent of circular strength training (CST).  Prior to attending, I watched some of the movements online and researched the basic principles of CST so while the moves weren't completely foreign to me, they were still outside of my normal realm of body movement.  I strength train 2 or 3 times a week, using primarily body weight movements and practice the Ashtanga yoga primary series 2 or 3 times a week, with some second series thrown in.  I also either swim, bike, or run daily (I love being outside), so I consider myself in decent shape.  However, to say some of the movements taught were alien to me would be an understatement.  John has a very methodical approach, grooving the foundation of the movement pattern before advancing to complex variations with and without kettlebells.  The workshop was physically challenging with an emphasis on form.  He cares strongly that people understand the movements and took the time to watch everyone perform the patterns, making corrections when necessary.  I can see why people are drawn to him as a coach and teacher.

The series of movements taught in the EKG program are fun and look really cool (there is something gratifying about that, although it's obviously not the only reason one should be drawn to a particular style of programming).  It would be strongly applicable to clients participating in MMA or other martial arts.  I could see a large amount of transfer in the flexibility mixed with strength.  It would also be a good complement for yoga practitioners looking to gain strength.  I do think there is a lot to be said for working dynamic mobility and stability, rather than emphasizing static mobility and stability.  This is why I still strength train- I think it is more functional than what I can do on the yoga mat.  Interestingly, there were a handful of Crossfitters there this weekend.  I admired their openness to learning a new modality, and John had a great way of keeping the workouts challenging while emphasizing safety, which seemed to resonate with them.  Everyone appeared excited about the material and it was obvious everyone in the room was sufficiently challenged to want to gain proficiency in the EKG program.  As mentioned earlier, I was unfamiliar with many of the moves and some of them were extremely difficult for me.  I am fairly certain the 160 seconds of squat thrusts were the longest 160 seconds of my life, which means I should do them a lot (my warped personality at work.  If I can't do it, I must master it because it must be good for me).  While not all of the moves are applicable to my style of training or my clientele, I definitely took away things that can be adapted and integrated into my programming.  It has been interesting to watch my training evolve over the years.  In my ninth grade English class, my reading habits were compared to a goat's; I loved to dabble in a variety of genres and subjects.  I feel like my professional career exhibits a bit of that.  The more I learn, the more I find myself picking a little of this and a little of that to use with my clients and ultimately help them move better.  Now that graduate school is winding down, I will be attending the FMS certification and the dynamic neuromuscular stabilization certification in the fall.  Elements of EKG and CST were reminiscent of things I have seen in Gray Cook's stuff, which is heavily influenced by DNS.  I appreciated the fact that John mentioned this workshop wasn't about the "why."  It was about the movements.  The "why" would be a whole other workshop.  I love the why, but that wasn't what was I there for and, because of background, I understood the why behind the warm up, work, and cool down.  The only thing I would change (and this is simply a personal philosophy) is if I were teaching the system to someone who was hyper mobile, I would utilize stability movements in the warm up rather than mobility warm ups.  95% of us need the mobility warm ups, but once in a while you get a person who has far too much mobility and not enough stability.  These people are more challenging because they have less awareness of where their body is in space and lack the strength to keep everything "plugged in."  Kino MacGregor, a well known Ashtnaga teacher, came to yoga hyper mobile.  Every day, she worked on the strength elements of the practice i.e., holding plank, holding chatarangua, lifting her body off of the floor using the strength of her arms.  In this way, she built the stability to support her mobility.  Because the movements in the EKG system favor mobility, I would emphasize the stability aspect of each movement, not taking someone to end range until stability was gained throughout the range of motion.  Again, this isn't a problem most people have, but once in a while, you get someone who does.

Overall, the EKG certification workshop was a worthwhile, fun experience.  We are so fortunate to have someone like John in the area who is willing to share his expertise with other professionals in the community.  I would highly recommend this to others interested in learning a different, functional way of programming, especially those working with individuals participating in multi-directional sports or athletics.  Just be prepared to work and be prepared to be sore in some interesting place- all with a smile on your face.

Yours in health and wellness,
Jenn