Sunday, November 28, 2010

Re - Spect - Walk

Woke up to an amazing Barcelona morning with the sun glittering in the kettlebell dew.
Enrique at Barcelona Eskrima Group had ok'd me to demonstrate some kettlebells at todays class som I tied up one 20 in my old Karate belt and swung it over my right shoulder and picked up one 12 kg with my left and started walking. This would prove to be the main theme of the day: walking. First to the tube, than from the tube to the gym, than back again to the tube and to the apartement. Rest and eat a little and then walk to the beach with the 20. To put a spice on things I discovered that the 12 acctually was a 16. All in all I walked somewhere in the vicinity of 4 K.
At Eskrima practice we did some swings and get-ups. It's a great feeling when people get the swing almost immediatley! Hope to see the guys down at the beach soon.

Playa Barceloneta 2010-11-27

Friday, November 26, 2010

Not all workouts are pretty

It's not easy to maintain the Kettlebell-Barbie look through the last set of presses during hard day of kettlebell muscle program.

Circus = Porn (+ other stuff)

Yesterday we went to the circus. It was set in a tent and it had a director but the director didn't have a top hat and there were no animals. In other words: not classical circus but "contemporary" circus.
I am certainly no connoiseur but I have seen a few shows of this kind. One thing always strikes me:
Circus = Porn and Contemporary Circus = Arty Porn.
Classical circus consists of a variety of constellations performing tricks accompanied by music that either is just there to fill a void or to emphasize the tricks. There is no story that tries to bind the tricks together. Rather it is obvious that you come to this kind of circus to experience the tricks and perhaps eat some popcorn. It is perhaps not art but it is honest. The equivalent in porn is the highlight reel: "200 girls in 90 min, slam bam thank you mam, if-I-wanted-to-se-a-movie-I-would-have-rented-Schindler's List". The purpose is simple and single. It is more a tool than something else.
Contemporary Circus however is a different story. Contemporary circus "tells a story". It has a unifying theme other than just presenting a ton of awesome tricks.
Yesterday this unifying theme was the Fibonacci sequence (yes, it's always something like that).
So rather than just "TADA!" it is "mmblablaTADA!blammmblablaTADA!!TADA!!!" This might of course seem commendable, to not just do some tricks but to incorporate them into a larger context. The problem however is that this context, this story always plays second fiddle. Nobody really wants to tell a story or really wants to listen to one. The story is subordinate to the tricks and hence becomes uninteresting. The car breaks down and I need help. The plumber comes to fix the pipes, the pizza boy to deliver the pizza, the pool guy, the housemaid...etc. Feel the fast forward finger itching? Mental disorder, Fibonacci numbers or the car breaking down at a remote location are all just bad excuses for showing us what we really want: 30 minutes of having our breaths taken away. Otherwise we might just go to the theatre.

Ok. Enough ranting (well, not really. I will just shift my focus).
Before we went to the circus yesterday I started working on a post elaborating on a theme that has become somewhat of a soundtrack of this blog: What training should or could be.
Let me try to present a definition of fitness: To develop all aspects of the human body's ability for movement.
What I generally miss in definitions of fitness:
1. Asymmetric and off-balance work
2. Fine motor skills
3. Improvisation

1. I have touched on this before so I will just go through it briefly. Using the body asymmetrically and/or when not being in balance is something that is done in all sports and all the time in everyday life. It needs to be practised!
2. In sport specific training fine motor skills often play a major role. Think about the extremely fine tuned movements of a race car driver, a pool player or a table tennis player for example. They are never trained as such though. Fine tuning the nervous system in this way should be as much a part of fitness as being able to put a weight over your head (not that putting a substantial weight over your head does not include a fine tuning of the nervous system, it is a different kind though).
It struck me while watching the circus yesterday that the kind of fitness these people display are the closest someone comes to the way I'm thinking about fitness these days. Doing one arm handstands, walking a slackline while playing the violin, climbing a pole, somersaulting from a rope trapeze, etc. It is really a display of the kind of versatility that I am talking about. Not CrossFit but CircusFit (Ok, maybe some more cardio wouldn't hurt. Or what do you think Oscar?)
But that brings us to my third point because this is one thing that I miss even at the circus:
3. Improvisation.
Life is NOT an endless highway of repetition. If your life is I suggest you give it some thought.
Repetition is a major part of life though. It is only through repetition that we learn. But what is the point of learning if we just keep on repeating? Don't stay caught behind the bars of 21-15-9 forever, break out of 15:15, (20/10)*8 and 5/5. These wings are not wings to fly but merely vans to beat the air. Improvisation is - as all musicians know - something that needs to be practised. So once in a while, after you have mastered a skill, set it free and play with it. It will reward you.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stretch routine

Jon: Live blogging from Annas stretch!

They gathered themselves together... fight with KettlebellCatalunya under he night skies of Barcelona with the Mediterranean at their feet.

You can't bring us down!

Obviously Youtube, a.k.a. "Big Brother", have a problem with the combo Iron and Rock in some parts of the world. But there ain't no stoppin' a flood. So here it is again from a different source:
Kettlebell Flood.

Kettlebell Flood 2 from youmakelovingfun on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No rest for the wicked

For the ones who didn't do their kettlebellwork during the day remains only doing it at night.

Kettlebell Flood

Tada! Here it is. The world premiere of our new action packed mega block buster movie. Think "contemporary Riefenstahl a la mid 90s Jerry Bruckheimer production". Think "mindblowing special effects, breathtaking scenery and super cool one-liners". Get ready for the ride of a liftime, for a motion picture that will define a generation and change the world. Get ready for Iron. Get ready for THE KETTLEBELL FLOOD (a Bergqvist/Celsing production. All rights (except for the music which Youtube found out very quickly) reserved).

Squatting in style

These days, all I want to wear when I train is this beautiful blue pyjamas that I found the other week. But since Jon has banned me from wearing it in public it can only be admired exclusively here at You make loving fun.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Out of the blue and into the black - Nerd alert

Before we start I would like to issue a warning: This post is EXTREMELY nerdy. It cointains a serious discussion about the differences between different so called "Kettlebells". Readers discretion is advised.

Nobody likes a soft present. It's always socks or something else that you "need". Hard presents are always better. Obviously it's the same with weight. The only good present that is light is money and even that is of course better if it's heavy. So what could be a better present than 380 kgs of solid cast iron? It is of course a rethorical question.
After carrying the babies four stairs and out to the terrace (it is documented) it was time to put them to work. But first a little meet-and-greet. Most of us had met before. Some more casually, others....well others were a sweet reunion between old friends. Snatching the 24 again, pressing double 24s, trying to press the 32 (didn't work, maybe tomorrow), and of course deadlifting the 56. First one and than two. I haven't lifted that much weight since I left Sweden. No problemo!
'Nuff socialising though. We have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep.
The first time doing Kettlebell Muscle with the new bells and it felt different. For me it was heavier. Especially in the press. I guess it has something to do with the mechanics of a smaller vs. a larger bell (or are the GS-bells just lighter?) Keeping them in the rack position doing front squats are much easier though since they "sink in" deeper because of their size.
It is a bit early to draw any long lasting conslusions about the differences, especially since I have a little bit of a cold and a sore throat today wich probably affected my performance yesterday, but in general they just feel heavier. Not only when you lift them but also when you look at them and to the touch. I guess it is a psychological difference. Something black and slightly rough looks heavier than something violet with a shiny handle. It is also the fact that the GS-bells weight less than they look, i.e. that they all have the same size. Picking up the 12 kg is almost like picking up a baloon.
I'm looking forward to taking the Eleiko bells to the park or to the beach and try out some juggling.

The family jewels

For all of you who have been wondering what the deal is with the Eleiko logo:
Today your agonizing curiosity will finally come to and end, you will seize to wake up in the middle of the night between soaking wet sheets and scream our names and your soul shall find peace as from today.

The swedish company Eleiko who is producing the worlds best weightlifting equipment and is sole supplier of WL equipment to 2012 London Olympic Games have deicided to sponsor us in our conquest of Barcelona and we're happier than a girl over her first pony and prouder than a banker over his brand new porsche.

Yesterday a premature Santa disfuised as a lorrydriver dropped off the biggest parcel I've ever seen outside our front door. A rough wodden box labeled Eleiko filled with 380 kilos of sweet swedish steel had arrived, and it had our name on it.

Stay tuned for the flood drill film. A documentation of when we were carrying the bells the four floors to our flat. Children first (2 x 8 kgs) and the beasts, no the überbeasts (2 x 56 kgs) last.

Meanwhile, have a listen to Billy Idol - Pumping on Steel.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Come rain or come shine....Come shine!!

The beautiful Lia doing TGU training hardstyle with a
water bottle instead of a shoe - true hard core!
Said and done. Rx'd or whatever you prefere to call it. Saturdays are class at the beach whatever the weather Gods may say. And today the Gods listened. At 4 o'clock the Barcelona skies were blue and the air was fresh. New and old students. All dedicated and awesome.
Teaching is truly a fantastic experience. We have quite a long walk to the beach from our apartement - 30 minutes or so with one kettlebell each - and everytime we walk down there we seem to have a small argument on what we are going to do today but everytime we get there it's just smooth sailing. I suppose the both of us just love to do this. To dedicate ourselves to someone else's movements, health, physique. For me it is a quick fix for my personal idiocyncrasies and small mindedness. On the way home I'm always filled with pride over what my student has accomplished and packed with stories about their conquests. The way home is always great!

Awesome Max and Joshua playing around after killing
their first hardstyle workout

Tomorrow are handstand lessons with Oskar on the beach. If he teaches me to do the handstand I will promise him my firstborn.

Kettlebell beauty

It's just this simple. Do kettlebells and look great! Strength and beauty in perfect harmony.

It rains in Barcelona too

Eskrima practice was cancelled today so I had planned to go to the park and record a kettlebell juggling 101 film but since this is what our terrace is looking like today I'm staying indoors watching comedy (Lyoto Machida training with Steven Segal) and listening to an old re-discovered classic on Spotify: Queensrÿches Operation: mindcrime.
We have a class at 4 o'clock at the beach so I hope that it at least stops raining. It really does not matter though. We'll be there anyway - come rain or come shine.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friends in Europe

Our friends and fellow RKCs from the cerification in May are doing well for themselves.

Alexey, the Big Bad Russian Bear is now running Red Star Kettlebell in Paris and is arranging a HKC-seminar there next year. Also, his youtube channel is a treasury of odd kettlebellclips. Have a look!

Markus (to the right) who is a professional parkourist is now also one of the guys behind CrossfitBern. We're trying to persuade him to come and visit us here in Barca. Before the summer he said he would and promised to teach us some wallruns. Do you think it can be done in a weekend?

Monika has always been doing extremely well and is extremely experienced in the field of fitness. She was travelling the world selling spinningcycles before I could walk goddamit. Her blog is a great read and it seems like she is opening her own gym in Gothenburg in December. Monika is great and is the training partner of my dreams. After my husband that is.

For six days you shall labour and do all your work

So yesterday was rest day. (Well, if you disregard the two hours of ballet in the morning. Uhu, I know, I know. Ballet is NOT resting! I should know, just wrote a fuc*ing post on it the other day. But come on, cut me some slack here. Rome wasn't built in a day and even the sun has it's spots. Slowly but surely right?) And I was trying to do the things that I normally neglect when I'm running between classes, unpacking sweaty gear, packing clean ones, eating cottage cheese und so weiter. Like doing the laundry, read a book and scan my inbox for unreplied emails. But I got stuck in front of the lappie.

While importing some pics to the computer I found this pic of me and Lu Nagata from the her workshop during poleart.

Lu is a fantastic poledancer/dancer/performance artist and her workshop was the best poleworkshop I've been to. The tricks she taught us was things that I had never seen before and we had so much fun. If there's one studio in the world I'd like to visit it's hers. Have a look at her website and if you're to Tokyo, that's the place to go.

The second picture is from my visit to NYPD (New York Poledancing) in september. Here with instructor Bonnie who, during the warmup, had us do perhaps 500 situp variations. I could hardly stand up for tha class after that. Ha ha. The studio is, as you can see, absolutely amazing. When I was there we were dancing with skyscrapers in thunderstorm outside the studiowindow. When in NYC. Do visit. And if you meet Anna, the instructor and co-founder of USPDF, say hello from me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy

I'm not very good at resting. I do schedule my weeks with rest days. But as the day of no training comes I always get the urge to try just a feeew handstands, practice some l-sits or work on something that juuust came into my mind. Unfortunately my lack of discipline when it comes to laying low has already taken it's toll. The minor injuries and drawbacks I've had the past years are perhaps not unusual for someone with my workload, but I still consider them to be too many for a young girl like me and as I'm getting older it's probably not going to get better unless I learn to take it easy. However, I think I'm actually slowly learning to recognize the signs my body is sending me and when it's time to slow down.

A few days ago I was walking down the street feeling like a panther waiting for it's pray. I felt so strong, fast and explosive that my fingers were tingling. It felt as if all my senses were sharpened and I felt like sprinting down the narrow lane, dodging mopeds and garbagebags, at the speed of jaguar.

I didn't. Not only because I didn't want to scare our neighbours but because I'm starting to learn that when I get that feeling, that's when it's time to rest. Not to start working on your deadlift PR. I'm slowly realizing that when I keep pushing at that point, that's when my body is starting to break. It takes discipline to hold oneself back and it's not easy, for sure. But I think the Anna in 20 or even 10 years time will thank me for my maturity and wise actions. Ha ha.

There's a circus in town!

Wednesday means class at Playa Barceloneta. After an astonishing autumn Barcelona showed herself from her more cranky side. Chilly and with rain in the air the boardwalk was calmer than usual and we both suspected that we would have to do a session for ourselves. But no. Instead we are blessed by the northern Gods with Oscar and Sofia. Oscar is a circus performer and Sofia a dancer and well.....what can you say? It's honestly not much of a challenge to teach people like that. They are motivated, knows what the hip is and what it means to have a straight back.
The more I teach the more I think that perhaps the most important thing that you can teach people is not how to do a swing, a squat, or a handstand. These skills are just tools for making other people as well as yourself learn about their/your own body. Teaching kettlebells we try to give people the tools to know and take care of their own house so to speak. Or as Kelly Starrett puts it "Every human being should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves."
Training should be a bit like learning a new language: you can learn a few phrases here and there but to master it you have to know the basics. The more you learn however, the easier it gets.
Both Oscar and Sofia however are obviously multi lingual. After spending half an hour or so on the swing making it look nice and tidy we went on to the goblet squat, games standard push-ups, one arm and H2H swings and touched on the press. Very rapid progress indeed! Everything was finished off with a short workout and all of a sudden we had a couple of new friends in Barcelona. Hopefully in the future Oscar can teach us some handstand skills. Sort of loosing faith on that one lately. He obviously knows what he's doing though.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Barceloneta - Late saturday afternoon in November


My beautiful wife showing off her strength with bottoms-up presses

Anything containing the words "idiot", "moron" or "useless"

Today was the first day of trying to learn a new Eskrima system. Not that I know the old one (Warriors Eskrima) by now but when Enrique asked if I wanted to come to a new group an practice Balintawak the answer was a resounding "YES". To explain it very shortly the difference between the two seems to be that Warriors are more like fencing and Balintawak more like boxing with a stick. The movements in Balintawak are very basic end resemble boxing a lot. The most notable resemblance perhaps being the use of hip rotation.
"Quite similar to boxing. Very good. Then it should not pose much of a problem for our ageing hero", you might thing now. "After all, boxing might not be his foremost talent but at least he has tried it before on many occations and are well aquainted with its movements."
Well the trainig session went on somewhat like this:
Take a step, with your left leg.....your other have to lift your, the other BACK!.....while still holding on to the stick......with you hand......your left hand......your other left hand....punch and rotate.....rotate.....not bend, rotate..etc, etc.
Good thing Enrique is a kind and patient teacher. I hope I have not discouraged him from teaching ever again but we will see in two weeks.

What it should look like

What I really looked like (reenactment)
Maybe this ballet thing is not such a good idea after all. I mean since I'm hardly able to punch a whole in the air with a stick. Or maybe, as the guy who thinks that the glass is half full would say: Since I'm hardly able to punch a hole in the air with a stick and makes it seem like I miracle that I haved learned both to write my name AND to tie my shoe laces, it might be a brilliant idea for me to take ballet classes. I might actually get better at......well, something.
Anyway. Despite my uselesness I always have a great time at Eskrima practice and I will get better - Insha'Allah. On saturday it's regular practice again.
We also started on week four of kettlebell muscle today. It should have been yesterday but both of us very kind of tired from our sunday house warming party so we postponed it. Week four is when the amount of sets doesen't increase anymore. Instead the rest period between sets decrease. A weekend of partying and not eating very well took its toll and made the presses really heavy today. I had to push press from set four I belive. It is obvious that I have to get back on my "minimum one fuet a day"-diet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fare forward, voyagers.

Just watched the Pacquiao vs. Margarito fight. Whatcha gonna say? The guy is faster and more accurate than anyone else. I mean speed is one thing but balance and precision together with speed....well obviously it outsmarts size. At least in this case.
Really looking forward to GSP vs. Koscheck. Brain vs. ...... well, I don't know.
Anyway we had a good few days. Been doing KB-muscle and maybe really getting to reap the benefits now. Really tired though. Have had my first week in spanish class and even though it is not physical training it sort of gets to you.
There's not too much to say about my own training right now except that I promised - on my life (being drunk) - to start taking ballet classes from Annas ballet teacher. It's going very well for our students though. We have had quite a few new students since we started teaching at the beach and they are all excellent! It's a very different feel here compared to Sweden. People are not as "cool". They are generally a lot more interested an open minded. If me and Anna go down to the beach and start playing with the bells people get curious and after a while we are teaching them the basics of the deadlift, the swing etc. Some are better than other however. The other day we stopped to chat with a guy in the back alley just in front of our apartement. As Anna showed him the swing with the 12, the 11 year old little rascal and his equally rascallous younger sister started playing with my 16. After watching Anna display the swing they both executed more or less flawless swings themselves, without instruction and with something like half or a third of their, ah!
When I was about 11 years old and watched Fame on TV I felt "I really would like to do that, but I'm too old. It's too late." Since that it has been a feeling that had been with me. Not so strong that it has completely paralyzed me but it has always been there. I have never liked it though. In seventh grade our swedish teacher told the class the no one of us vould ever write like Strindberg. I guess that was sort of a safe bet for her but it immediatly put a red blanket in front me. Of course she was right but I were not never comfortable writing "not as good as Strindberg".
However...passing 30 years by far the feeling of things being "too late" has wained. Probably because it really is too late but also because that "too late" has been redefined. The question now beeing: "Too late for what?"
We all know Mozart wrote his first classical piece at the age of four and that Eistein formulated then great theory of whatever when he was X years old. I am not Einstein or Mozart. I am not Nureyev, Coen, Ali, Strindberg, Hendrix or any of the other greats. Why should that bother me?
Being too late is always a measurment that dependens on the deeds of others. In my own life it is always possible to be right on time or perhaps even a little ahead of schedule.
I have four weeks left on my (absolute)-beginners class in spanish. After that I just might try a little ballet. After all I have wanted to do it since whenever. Until then I will try to get much stronger, a lot better at beating people with a stick and hopefully be able to say more than one word at the time in spanish.
And to finish: Gongrats to Numi for winning the swedish crossfit championships! You were truly made for this.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


We are finally back on the internet and I just got back home from todays ballet class. Ballet, boxing, crossfit and kettlebells, naturally, have their similarities in the strive for perfect movement. Still, ballet is so different. It might be the most understated type of activity I've ever practiced.

Of course ballet has it's share of grand gestures and glam but what differentiates it from most other physical endeavours is that in ballet God is really, truly, profoundly in the details.
When you snatch a weight, throw a punch or swing a bell there's always some room for personal preferences and technique. Your feet can be more or less apart, the width of your grip can vary and if your shoulders aren't quite were they should be it's not the end of the world. If you box for instance, surely there will be a lot of technique drills but the primary focus will always be on the final movement. The punch, the jab or the press and the squat if you're lifting weights. And your deadlift still counts as a deadlift even if your back was slightly curved on the way up.

So where am I going with this?

In ballet the big movements are secondary. What really matters are the barely visible internal tensions: head high, shoulders down, arms slightly curved but not really curved, fingers not straight but not relaxed, ribcage in and down but torso up, buttocks tucked under but back straight, hips turned out, knees turned out, legs straightened, heel forward but toes back. And it's all these little details that make ballet ballet. Without this, a jetée is not a jetée, it's just a kick.

It is a if someone assembled all the akward movements there are and created a dogm for how to make them look natural but at the same time execute them in the most difficult manner possible. That means that even standing in first position, not moving a 1/16 of an inch is going to make you brake a sweat. You work like a bull to look like a sparrow.

Although the drills we did today are, seemingly, rather simple and not grand at all sweat was dripping from my nose and we're all shaking from exhaustion as we're leaving class. All from a few tendues, arabesques and rond de jambes (google them) at the bar.

Imagine if one had that kind of precision in a crossfit class. Guess you'd have a heart attack after your first set of push-ups. Anyway. Found this picture in an old but still valid book on beginners ballet technique. Enjoy. Tomorrow is contemporary with another set of principles altogether.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pull-up bar premiere

I'm aiming at doing three chins every time I walk through our front door. Grease the groove as they call it.

And also, the pole is in place now, pics to come soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Still offline - thank you for waiting

Home ain't home without a chins bar. Since yesterday our flat is officially a home. Now go to spotify and listen to 'home sweet home' by mötley crue.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Temporarily out of order

We have moved to our beautiful new flat and are currently without internet connection. Be patient, we'll be back on the web in no-time! Not to worry though, meanwhile we're doing Spetznast-pullups at the beach and kettlebell-muscle on the terrace. If you're in Barcelona on the 14th of November and would like to come to our housewarming party, send us an email! Especially our Iraqi reader!