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Achieving Sustainable Health and Strength, the Blair Rockoff Way

Blair Rockoff Overhead Squat

Dragon Door: How did you first get involved with fitness and athletics?

Blair Rockoff: I was always active growing up, but never in a super competitive way. I did gymnastics, played lacrosse, and swam in high school. In college, I played a little lacrosse, tennis, and went to the gym. After college, I was still trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, so I enrolled in a six month program at a personal training school—to learn and to get back in shape. That’s also where I really started to dive into different areas of fitness like yoga, strength training, and kettlebells.

Dragon Door: When did you start your personal training business?

Blair Rockoff: I opened my gym doors on January 13, 2013—it will be four years this January. Before I opened my gym, I trained at other gyms, taught yoga at different studios and led boot camps around Chicago. Then, I decided that I was ready to set up an ideal environment and try to grow my brand as I saw fit.

Dragon Door: When did you do your RKC?

Blair Rockoff: I did my RKC in November 2015, and then I asked Katie Petersen if she thought I’d be ready for RKC-II the following year because Dan John was leading—she encouraged me to do it, so one year later I did the RKC-II.

Dragon Door: And I remember you did the PCC around the same time as your RKC-I, too!

Blair Rockoff: Yes, right before the RKC, last August. I stacked them all up! When I met John at the PCC, and he told me about the RKC, and then here I am!

Dragon Door: Wow! My next question was going to be how did you decide to do the RKC, and RKC-II.

Blair Rockoff: About 4 years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn how to use and swing kettlebells. At first I didn’t know about all the different certifications, different styles, and schools. I saw an IKFF certification coming up in three days, so I registered for it. Immediately after I received an 8-week prep program in my email, I kind of freaked out, but they said that it would be all right if I just came to the certification. So, I did the certification and really liked kettlebells. After the certification, I trained with someone for about seven months, and did a kettlebell sport competition. Afterwards, I had a falling out with that trainer, which led me to meet someone who introduced me to Hardstyle kettlebell training—that’s also when I learned that there were two styles of kettlebell training. So, I started training with people who had a Hardstyle background—I really liked it and my favorite movement was the Turkish get-up.

The people I was training with encouraged me to get the StrongFirst certification. At the time I didn’t know about the divide. But when I went to the PCC and saw the difference with the smaller size classes, the feel of the Dragon Door community, and talked to John, I decided to do the RKC. After seeing how Dragon Door did things, I wanted to go the RKC route.

Dragon Door: So, you just got your RKC-II, what's your next goal?

Blair Rockoff:
I just did the PRT kettlebell event, and the RKC-II. It's amazing what the body is capable of in a year. A year ago, I had a shoulder injury, so my RKC-I weekend was really tough to get through—mentally and physically. I didn't pass at the certification, and I was in a lot of pain. So it was great to be able to train and pass all the level two drills. I just did my first pull-up about three weeks before the RKC-II, so I was pretty nervous and excited at the same time. It still wasn’t something I could just do every day, but I got it at the RKC-II even after the previous two days of the workshop. It was amazing!

So now, after the RKC-II and the PRT, I might think about training for the Iron Maiden, or at least keep it in the back of my mind. I can already press a 24kg kettlebell, and am probably close getting a 24kg pistol, but I will need to work to get that weighted pull up. For now I will just continue to work on my weaknesses while keeping the Iron Maiden goal in mind.

Dragon Door: That sounds like a good plan! I remember seeing a picture of you from the most recent PRT doing a get-up with a 32kg kettlebell, how did you work towards that accomplishment?

Blair Rockoff: It was only the second time that I have ever done a 32kg get-up. I love the Turkish get-up because it blends together movements into a sequence just like vinyasa yoga. Once I started using the 24kg for get-ups, I kept thinking about my 32kg goal. I'd started working with the 28kg and then one day I just decided to see what it felt like to roll up with the 32kg and to see what 70lbs felt like on my arm.

Since I don’t like it when a lot of people are watching me try something for the first time, the week before the PRT competition, I just did it without anyone watching. I found that I could do it—and that the roll up is key. If you can roll up, most likely the get-up will happen. At the PRT, I was nervous because everyone was watching, so I wasn’t sure if it would happen, but it did. It’s basically half my bodyweight!
Blair Rockoff 32kg getup at the PRT

Dragon Door: Congratulations! Who do you usually train at your gym?

Blair Rockoff: I work with a variety of people—men and women between 25-60 years old. It's fun to work with moms who are just starting to try strength training for the first time—and then watch them become empowered, especially because they are usually only focused on their kids. I also love working with men and teaching them how to move correctly and optimize their movements. I feel like many people come to my gym to learn body awareness and how to move correctly, so there's a lot of that in our training. It's really important to teach people a lifelong commitment to fitness and how to evaluate what it means at the different stages of their lives. It’s not about letting go, it’s about learning how to adjust for where you are in your life.

There are so many people out there who think that they’re too out of shape to get going or are too intimidated by the concept, so they avoid the gym. I want to find these people and introduce them to fitness. It is important for people to know that they can start at any time and any place in their lives, and that it is never to late to get going!

Dragon Door: It's never too late! Do you have any new goals for your business?

Blair Rockoff: I want to continue to grow my member base, my small group classes, and my health coaching practice. In addition to the group training, I work with people on a one-to-one basis to help them with lifestyle habits and really making sure that they’re getting what they need. It’s important to help them so that they don’t get frustrated after coming to the gym and not seeing results as fast as they imagined. I work with them on nutrition, sleep, and finding balance in their lives. I also lead yoga retreats, and want to continue sharing the message that fitness is available to everyone.
Blair Rockoff and Small Group Class
Mindset is so important, and I want to get more people to focus on their lives instead of tuning it out. I think that if some of my clients were not also doing the health coaching with me, I would miss so much of what was getting in their way. I teach them how to be successful traveling, or what ever they need to work on—even if it’s just getting in more walking.

Dragon Door: What does your health coaching include? Are you working with a specific system or school of thought?

Blair Rockoff: I studied with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2010. They set me up with their system. From there I have adopted my own system based on the needs of my clients. I focus on using the method of full balance in our lives. I keep studying and learning more about myself and from other people, and that is helping me really understand how to help others learn to make a life long sustainable commitment to health. Usually in nutrition and fitness, there are very short and intense programs—workouts or detoxes that aren’t designed for success.

Personally, I think over-obsessing about health can be really harmful. It’s more sustainable to back down a little and find an 80/20 approach that really works for each person. Then you can really make it work so that it's something that is consistent and realistic. This is especially important for women. I want to help women find a place of contentment and happiness where they are not always trying to lose weight. If they don’t have to think about losing weight, then they can focus on other more important things.
Blair Rockoff Yoga Streetart

Dragon Door: Teaching maintenance is so important—especially for people who have gotten to the point where they enjoy being active.

Blair Rockoff:
It’s also important to try to pull back from the idea that fitness has to be any one specific thing. Recently, I stopped tracking all of my food and have begun to eat more mindfully and intuitively. As someone who has been yo-yo dieting for many years it is tough to trust yourself, and your intuition. But it has also given me so much freedom as I continue to work on it. Every person is totally unique and there are different ways to eat and exercise that will work better for each person—and that is what I strive to achieve with all of my clients.

Blair Rockoff Overhead Squat thumbnailBlair Rockoff, RKC-II, PCC, owns Rock Solid Health in Chicago. She can be contacted through her website, email, or Facebook