The cushion and the kettlebell

The more I train, the healthier I feel, the more connected I become mentally and physically. This process over the last couple of years has been incremental. For the longest time I thought the bigger the plan the bigger the result. I’ve come to realise that i’s all about consistency.

Years back when I first learned about meditation, I approached sitting as some esoteric exercise in wish fulfilment. I thought that if I sat there on the cushion a light would suddenly come on and bang…well, to be fair, I had no idea what would happen after the bang but I suspected it had to be good.

Anyway, it’s not a sudden flash, it is a slow sunrise. A gentle awakening as the light creeps across the room. Conversly, the expectation for fireworks ultimately commits us to sitting in darkness in endless anticipation.

When I first came across the Kettlebell all I could think about was how heavy could I go. No real mental component, just a visceral desire to lift heavy. Once I removed my ego from the equation, or rather the kettlebell removed my ego, I realised that getting stronger was really only possible if my whole process of movement got better. For sure, grit and spit will get you so far but it will also grind you down and leave you spent. Good movement, superior movement, that is where grace and power live.

The clever approach is to treat the process like that sunrise. If you treat training as practice, cumulative, the aquisition of skill and strength over the long haul, you are building in resilience and longevity.

And here is the connection, as the mind becomes attuned to the body, you quickly become your own coach, self selecting the drills, the tempo, weight, progression, intensity. All of this suited to your current condition and a condition that changes daily requires a practice that reflects it.

Everything you do, in the physical and mental realm re-enforces that behaviour, good or bad, so it pays to invest wisely. When you sit, the very act is enough. When you swing, the very act is enough. If you can get those habits in place you will develop the qualities and strengths you need to move your practice into a whole other realm. No pyrotechnics, just natural light.

A little, often. Simple.

100 reps, 2o push ups, 10 pull ups, 20 push ups, 10 Burpees, 15 push ups, 5 pull ups, 15 push ups, 5 burpees. Done…

Next week I will be posting some introductory clips to Indian Clubs in anticipation of future Mobility Indian Club Workshop Simple Strength and the IKFF will be holding.

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About Rannoch Donald 6 Articles

Beginners Mind – Beginners Body

My name is Rannoch,(founder of Simple Strength – Beginner’s Mind, Beginner’s Body) a movement maverick with a lifetime’s interest in martial arts, movement, mindfulness, conditioning, strength, mobility and recovery which has led to a sustainable personal practice based on resiliency. I write about the things that interest me and the training and practice that reflects it. If it works for me it might just work for you. But ultimately, this is my own personal, ever evolving experiment. You need to find what works for you and share that with everyone. I am not a big fan of putting results and outcomes in the hands of others. No one can do the work for you, we all have access to the same basic tools, it’s up to each of us to get on with the process.

Science explains, Art expresses, Simple Strength attempts to create a bridge between the two. Only direct experience can show you what works.

My influences are broad and diverse, from East to West, high culture and low brow, hopefully keeping things free from dogma and kool aid. Please contribute, comment or email me on any of the above. We are all students, we are all teachers. If you have something you’d like to share on the blog just let me know.

As Scotland’s first RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor) I certified under Pavel Tsatsouline. My training took a radical turn when I had the good fortune to meet and work with Steve Cotter and Ken Balckburn from the IKFF, going to certify as an IKFF CKT Level 1 & Level 2 Fitness & Movement Dynamics and Kettlebell Teacher. Since then I have had the honour of learning some of the world’s best teachers as and coaches, including Pavel Tsatsouline, Steve Cotter, Mike Mahler, Erwan Le Corre, JC Santana, Alvaro Romano, Ken Blackburn, Mark Cheng, Jonathan Lewis and Scott Sonnon, all of whom inform my own training and practice in some way. Simple Strength and Kettlebells Scotland distills my own practices into something simple, scalable and effective to be used by anyone, young and old, men and women, athletes and amateurs alike.

It is a simple model…

Practice – Progression – Performance

Practice leads to progress, progress leads to performance. Performance is a rarefied place we visit now and again. It is the practice and subsequent progress that make performance possible. No one ever spent too much time on the basics and fundamentals, what George Leonard calls “Getting comfortable with the plateau”. Our ability to do simple things well lets us, in the words of Thomas Myers, – “adapt to the demands of our environment with ease and imagination”.

Movement, Mindfulness and Maintenance, that’s the mantra of Simple Strength.

Our workshops and community provide people with the tools and confidence to take charge of their own health and wellbeing, focussing on breath work, mobility, body-weight training, Kettlebells and a variety of challenging yet interesting tools. Simple Strength – For average people looking for exceptional results.

Simple Strength is responsible for the 100 Rep Challenge, a daily resource of training information, tips, drills and articles that encourages all of us, whatever our situation, to get a little movement in our day.

“Rannoch is a passionate fitness expert who has dedicated his life to helping people get physically and mentally fit, strong and healthy. He has explored many fitness, exercise and movement modalities to retain only the most effective and meaningful methods and approach. A top-notch coach who will skillfully and genuinely guide you in achieving your full physical and mental potential.” – Erwan Le Corre, Educator, Teacher and Founder of MovNat –

“Rannoch’s energy, passion, work ethic and community spirit shine a bright light. When you need a teacher to show you the Way of the Kettlebell, look no further ” – Steve Cotter, Director, International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation –

“Rannoch’s approach to improving movement and developing resilience is highly effective. As relevant and valuable to the sedentary man and woman as it is to those we might call “athletic”. A simple,progressive, purposeful, enjoyable, and habit forming approach: to breathe, to move, to explore, to be  mindful, to gain resilience.” – Jonathan Lewis, Director Balance Performance, Movement, Strength & Conditioning Coach –

“In this world of internet experts that have done nothing of substance it is hard to find a man making a difference in his community and in the industry.  I’m happy to have met such a man in Rannoch Donald who brings his decades of experience in martial arts, strength and conditioning, coaching, and business, to his community and to the industry with style and determination. I speak from experience when I say that he’s one of a kind and a true coach and colleague!” – JC Santana – Institute of Human Performance –

“Rannoch Donald is a consummate professional. Simple strength is a great resource for no nonsense training! I recommend it highly, Rannoch is a great trainer that knows exactly how to inspire others and bring out the best in them” – Mike Mahler, author of Live Life Aggressively! What Self-Help Gurus Should Be Telling You –

“Simple Strength pulls away from standard conventional forms of exercise to effective, inspirational training. Rannoch is a man worth listening to” – Douglas jay, Fitness/rehab supervisor –

“Rannoch phoned me within minutes of emailing him out of the blue 5 years ago. I was in a plateau with training, mobility and thought processes to reach these goals. I was looking for something different but achievable.Something I could grasp , enjoy and use whilst teaching physical eduction. I must say Rannoch provided this – and more! Now a close friend and someone who I have no hesitation in contacting for some wisdom and well placed advice. If Rannoch doesn’t know, he knows someone who does!” – David Jenkins – Director / Owner Sports Therapy Scotland Ltd –

“I went to see Rannoch to learn how to use Kettlebells as they were totally new to me. What I quickly realised was mobility was what I really needed to work on first. What you think you want to do is not always what you really need to be doing. I found this personalised approach really good for me and a refreshing change. I wish more people in the Industry were like Rannoch. Thanks for your help!” – Scott Taverner – Former All Natural Body Builder


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