Yeah, obviously it’s progressive, so there’s a series of steps leading to that point. Ultimately, there was the moment and it really comes down to demand. It really comes down to I was getting more and more frequent requests from different individuals. It became apparent to me that there’s an interest in my approach.
There’s an interest in students that want to learn with me, that want to be certified with me. It became apparent that it was time for me to start a certification. I cultivated the IKFF, that was the name I came up with. The concept is still going after all these years. That was officially in 2008 is when I launched IKFF.
January of 2008 I did my first IKFF certification and that was in Hong Kong, then very fast out of the gates. Step by step how it got to that point is, as I mentioned, in 2003 I went through the RKC. Pavel and I connected. He asked me to come back and be an instructor for his program, what they were calling the “senior instructor.”
It was myself and an inner circle of five other people that were the senior instructors working with Pavel to teach the courses. After a couple of years, I started seeing and hearing about the kettlebell sport.
We would hear stories on the Internet about a such-and-such Russian lifter that was able to do this insane number of reps. It was very intriguing. I wondered, “How are these guys doing this?” but there were no resources. There was no YouTube, or if there was, there certainly wasn’t kettlebell at that time on YouTube. It was very hard to come by information.
A historic point in the timeline was 2005, myself and seven other Americans. We went to Russia for the 2005 World Championships of kettlebell sport, Girevoy sport, and that was in Moscow. That was eye-opening, because there I saw the best lifters in the world in the kettlebell sport.
I realized, “Man, this this is such a high level. This is not something that I’m learning or know anything about. How do I get to that point?” It was the curiosity like, “Man, I want to get to that point.”
I couldn’t figure it out at first because it’s was like, how are these guys of my same weight, doing twice or three times the reps that I’m doing? In America at this point, I was already establishing myself as one of the strongest lifters, certainly pound for pound, and so I was already emerging as a leader. It was like a big fish in a small pond.
Then you go into the ocean and you realize, “I’m not such a big fish.” Initially, after I overcame the shock of realizing I’m not at that level, the second stage was how do I get to the level? Still there was not a lot of information.
Around probably 2006, Valery Fedorenko, when we look at the history of the modern kettlebell, you have individuals that are significant figures. Pavel will certainly being the first as far as creating the market.
Fedorenko was really the first to teach kettlebell sport. He was the first high-level World Champion that was starting to teach to the American audience. I learned quite a bit from Fedorenko at that stage.
I continued training, continued teaching, Backtracking a little bit, in 2004 I created my first DVD, because there was request for that. There was interest in that. Pavel was encouraging me to make a DVD.
I created Full KOntact Kettlebells, which essentially was combining kettlebells with some martial art concepts, different types of stances, changes of base and so on, mobility with the kettlebell, and set up.
This was in the early stages also of Internet meets fitness. There hadn’t been too many people that were actually selling fitness, or promoting fitness as their business on the Internet at that time.
I did what we saw others doing. I set up a website, a two-page shopping cart, a landing page, started taking orders. Orders kept coming in, kept coming in. Every once in a while someone ordered the DVD. They’d write, “Hey, I love your Full KOntact Kettlebells, are you ever out here, say in Boston, doing seminars?”
In 2004 I started doing seminars around the US. The DVD was really a launching pad that got my work out there and attracted individuals that wanted to train with me. That continued over a couple of years. In 2007 I started getting requests to go international.
That sort of began going to the UK, going to Spain, going to Singapore, Japan a lot of different places. The end of 2007 I got a specific request from a colleague in Hong Kong saying, “Do you offer certifications?” because in Hong Kong people want that certification.
That’s really in vogue in the fitness community at that time. I didn’t have a certification but I responded to his email, “Yes, I do.”
The need was there, so I created it and did the needful, created the FBN, the business license, all that. I set up the website. I identified who was going to be my right-hand, man, so I reached out to Ken Blackburn at that time.
He was the best person I had come across of the different RKC courses I had been through and the different seminars. He was a guy that really stood out for his combination of skill and personality. I knew at the beginning I needed kind of a second me, someone that has similar skill sets, that I can have a right-hand man. Ken got on board with me.
Immediately out of the gate, in 2008 I went to Hong Kong in January. In 2009, Ken and I did a course in Chicago. It was every month, one, two, sometimes three courses. It took off like a rocket ship. Before you know it, I was traveling around the world. Within a decade, teaching more than 60 countries and bringing kettlebells far and wide.