Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review of Scott Sonnon's Kettlebell Foundation DVD's

Scott Sonnon is known on the world wide web as the Flowcoach. His health first fitness philosophy is rather unique during this time of quick fixes and cosmetic approaches to fitness. Most modern people seem to spend their time developing their public "fitness" persona's by developing an ideal set of pecs or tightening the buns in an attempt to look good in the public eye. In my opinion Scott has always been a bit of a maverick by placing the emphasis on deeper aspects of fitness than just what looks good. He has successfully managed to bring ancient concepts of fitness into modern culture through his development of the Clubbell, the Circular Strength Training (CST) system, Prasara Yoga, his unique take on ancient Russian martial arts and various other innovative and integrative methods.

I was lucky enough to discover Scott's work via Facebook (yes, social networking does have value sometimes) and chose to start off with his magnum opus known as the Intu-flow system. Intu-flow on the surface is about creating full mobility throughout all the joints of the human body but at a deeper level encourages all of us to reclaim our full potential as human beings. The subtext of Intu-flow is all about learning to flow along with all the challenges life throws at us without responding from a place of fear and uncertainty.

I recently got a copy of Scott's Kettlebell Foundation DVD set. Kettlebells are of course currently one of the "cool" tools in the fitness industry. Unfortunately a lot of absolute fluff is being taught in modern gyms about Kettlebell exercises. Just do a search on Youtube and you are bound to find some really...ummm...silly examples of people using kettlebells as if they are the same as any form of modern gym equipment. If you really want to do bicep curls please use a dumbbell - they were designed for that.

Scott's take one Kettlebells is firmly rooted in the original Russian methods. In Western culture strength is often gauged by one's ability to lift a heavy weight once. Naturally a lot of individuals in Western culture will approach any heavy object from this vantage point which leads to people getting excited about their ability to lift a 40kg or 48kg Kettlebell above their heads once. Scott understands that Kettlebells were designed not so much for max strength but for the development of work capacity or strength-endurance, an often neglected aspect of modern fitness programs. Typical gym protocols require one to do 8 - 12 repetitions of a movement whereas the bells were designed to do upwards of a 100 reps per set. Imagine for one moment doing 100 repetitions of Kettlebell jerks with 2 X 32kg bells during a set that lasts a full ten minutes. That is enough to make a grown man cry. Scott understands this approach to fitness, strength and endurance fully.

The Kettlebell Foundation DVD set consists of three DVD's that will allow any aspiring Kettlebell athlete to not only learn proper technique but also essential (and often neglected) methods for keeping the body healthy and mobile for a very long time. In DVD one Scott covers essential breathing methods (derived from Yoga and Russian martial arts) that not only prepares the lifter for hard work but also allows him or her to recover faster and survive the intensity of long term work with Kettlebells. I tried the breathing methods and can honestly say that they make a major difference during my training sets. During my Kettlebell session last night I experienced more endurance and work capacity than I have for a while.

DVD 1 continues with teaching the technical aspects of the major Kettlebell lifts. Scott's attention to detail is quite astonishing and he clearly is an expert when it comes to human movement potential. Even though I am a certified Kettlebell teacher some of the material he shared gave me some food for thought. Scott clearly has a very alert eye and the ability to dissect the minutiae of human movement like few others.

What really blew me away though is Scott's ability to analyze the impact of exercises on the body and to design a holistic protocol that will stop the body from becoming too much of a specialist in one form of movement. Years ago when I was a student of psychology I learned the following concept: The body adapts itself to its task in the world. Scott understands this concept fully and provides ways of keeping the body "unfrozen" rather than allowing it to become so comfortable with one way of being that all other ways of being become inaccessible. In the Kettlebell DVD set he provides a thorough joint mobility warm-up (based broadly on Intu-flow) and a series of compensatory cool-down movements that allow the Kettlebell athlete to remain flexible, mobile and alive rather than becoming locked into a few very specific patterns of movements.

Some of the warm-up moves and compensatory movements are relatively obvious for those who have spent any amount of time under the bells but Scott also shares some techniques that comes from a place of pure genius - or perhaps just way more perceptive abilities than most of us have. I've had many AHAAA moments while watching and working with the Kettlebell Foundation DVD's. All of it makes perfect sense not only on an intellectual level but very much on a visceral level.

If you really want to have a simple and streamlined protocol that will bring all round fitness and, more importantly, a lack of constriction, I would HIGHLY recommend that you invest in the Kettlebell Foundation Set. I will definitely be using these methods and concepts for quite some time. If you want to take your fitness, health and movement potential to another level please visit

1 comment:

bongoman said...

Thanks Johan for the informative review.

I've just purchased the DVD set based on the YouTube clips I've seen of Sonnon - I'm very impressed by his approach not just to kettlebells but to fitness and movement in general.