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Dragon Door Interviews Master RKC Keira Newton

February 13, 2013 10:27 AM

Dragon Door:  Earlier, you mentioned your husband also trains with kettlebells, did he introduce them to you?
Keira Newton:  My husband had learned about kettlebells from somebody who was self-taught and thought they knew what to do, even if that wasn't the case.  But, my husband was really into it.  I thought what he was doing was really bizarre and looked weird—I even used to tease him about it!  

And then I had a baby.  Before having my baby, I had time to do a lot of hiking and outdoor activities.  After having a baby, I needed to get my strength back and lose some weight at the same time.  My husband taught me what he knew about kettlebells, and I really liked it.  I thought it was really cool, and felt like it was something I could do every day—until I ended up getting very bad tendonitis in both elbows.

I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, so I went to train with Zar Horton in Albuquerque.  He quickly saw that my technique with cleans was very wrong, and corrected it.   Once I was able to learn the right techniques for all the basic exercises, I actually began to get results even faster.  Of course I also became really enthusiastic about kettlebell training at that point.  

I ended up training with kettlebells a lot because I needed to do something active.  Kettlebell training also fit into my busy schedule—including taking care of a small baby.  And, kettlebells allowed me to train alone safely at home or wherever.  Eventually, I decided to continue training and learning more for my own personal growth.   So, I prepared for the RKC workshop and continued to travel to Albuquerque every couple of months to make sure that my form was okay.  I prepared for the RKC by mostly training with a single heavy kettlebell, which wasn't the best thing to do.  But, the experience helped me when I began to help others prepare for their RKC workshops—I knew what NOT to do!

Dragon Door: When did you attend your first RKC workshop?

Keira Newton: In February of 2008.

Dragon Door: Since you originally went to the RKC for your own training, how did you decide to start training others?

Keira Newton: When I got back after the RKC workshop, I was so enthusiastic about kettlebells, that people wanted to know more.  Particularly, my friends who were new moms really wanted to know what I had been doing to get back in shape.  After having children, most moms can't go to the gym for two hours or go on a three-hour hike—they have limited free time and are usually exhausted!  

So, I showed my friends how to do it, they loved it and then told their friends.  Soon, I was teaching a group of women in the park—and my husband, Mark, was walking around watching all the children!  From there, the group continued to grow.  We were featured in the local paper several times which really brought in a lot more people.  We eventually grew to about 30 people training at the park about 4 years ago.  Soon, it started getting a little bit cumbersome, so I opened a very small studio instead.

Dragon Door: What do you like most about teaching kettlebells?

Keira Newton: I love it when I can help someone find their inner athlete.  I also love to help people become able to do things which they thought weren't possible to do before.  I’m sure we’ve all experienced this as coaches—a client will approach and say, "I’ve never felt strong before," or "I never felt like I could do something like this," or "I didn’t know it was possible."  And it could be anything—a handstand or a clean and jerk.  This seems to happen a lot when I can teach someone in such a way that they're actually capable of doing a given lead-up exercise or drill.   

Before now, I never considered myself an athlete in any way.  I did gymnastics when I was young, but I didn't feel the way that I do now.  I feel stronger, fitter, and faster than ever before.  It’s great to go to the doctor and have them marvel at my low resting heart rate, or the results of my blood work.  It's exciting to see their responses, because it supports my feelings of almost reversing my age with kettlebell training.   

Dragon Door: With your new leadership position as Master RKC, what are some of the unique qualities you'll be bringing to the organization?

Keira Newton: One of the reasons that I wanted to stay with Dragon Door is because I felt that there is a lot of opportunity for growth within the RKC system.  I would like to see more emphasis on mobility and stability when dealing with fitness and strength.  Also, I think it's very important for people to progress from their individual fitness levels and limitations.  It's good for everyone to understand their own individual limitations, and how to work forward from them.  Of course I always still push my clients and students, but in a safe, smart way within their ability.  This approach works well in our studio where the majority of members are women looking for an efficient way to build strength, and endurance.

Dragon Door: Do you usually train your clients in groups or individually?

Keira Newton: I train groups of people.  The main emphasis of our classes is on kettlebell training and mobility.  We use the bells to build strength/conditioning and mobility drills—from Pavel’s Super Joints, Fast and Loose—to regain range of motion.  Then, we combine kettlebells and mobility to put "strength in motion."  This video is an example of one our combinations:

Dragon Door:  Earlier you mentioned moms and women training with you, could you elaborate on who your typical client is, and why they come to train with you at your gym?

Keira Newton: My typical client is a 50ish woman who wants to lose weight, and actually want to get strong!  They are usually bored with what they have been doing, or are not doing anything physically active at all.

Dragon Door:  What do you think is the most effective kettlebell exercise for your clients?

Keira Newton: In terms of people who want to get fit, lose weight, and increase endurance, I would have to choose the swing.  It's a fast effective way to get strong and lose fat.

Dragon Door: When a new client from the general population wants to start leading a healthier lifestyle by training with you, what eventual goals do you have for them in terms of strength, stability, and mobility?  

Keira Newton: First, I would like them to be pain free.  I would like them to be able to get down on the floor and get back up fairly easily—that’s very important.  As we get older, it's also crucial to maintain or improve balance and strength to avoid falls.   At the very least, I want my clients to have enough strength to move around gracefully while being able to lift everyday and heavy items without fear.  Specific strength goals will depend on the personal goals of individual clients, which of course will be different from  person to person.  In terms of mobility, I would like to see everyone have good mobility within their thoracic spine, and for their shoulders to be level enough to press, snatch, windmill, squat, and swing kettlebells safely.  Because the majority of the population sits down too much, I see a lot of problems with thoracic spine, shoulder, and hip mobility.  So we work on strength, mobility, and stability because people will get hurt if they try some of these lifts without these qualities.  

Dragon Door: Sounds like a very safe and realistic approach!  Since you've instructed and lead many teams at RKC Workshops, what do you enjoy most about your involvement?

Keira Newton: I love the camaraderie and team spirit. The excitement is always high at an RKC event, it's fun to be involved, and help people cross the finish line.

Owns and runs dkb Fitness
Santa Fe, NM
Phone: (505) 501-0180