McAfee Secure sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams
Share Print

You have not viewed any products recently.




Dragon Door Interviews PCC and RKC Instructor, Malin Kirjonen

Malin Kirjonen Performing a Kettlebell Get-Up
Photo by Johanna Tjäder
Dragon Door: How did you get started in fitness?

Malin Kirjonen: It all started in high school while I was studying media and information technology (IT). I liked my studies, but was also looking for something more. At 15, I started taking fitness kickboxing classes and discovered that I really liked it. A year later, a nearby gym was looking for fitness boxing instructors, so of course I signed up. They ended up hiring me even though I was only 16 and didn’t have much experience in teaching or leadership. At my first session, I was amazed at how a group of 30 people would follow every single movement I did. I loved leading the group, and ended up documenting the experience for a large school project on leadership. Around the same time, I started to work out with weight machines and free weights with my best friend, a personal trainer.

Unfortunately that same year I broke two vertebrae in my spine in a snowboarding accident. Since I was only 16, I recovered pretty quickly after spending a lot of time rehabilitating the injury. But since then, I’d experienced pain in my back nearly every day, and have felt some other issues related to it during the last five years.

After graduating from high school in Sweden, I traveled alone to the USA—which was a first big step outside my comfort zone. Soon I was inspired to make plans to travel through Europe, live in Australia, learn how to speak a third language, and become a personal trainer with an elite-sport background. Just 5 years later I’ve been able to do all those things with some unexpected surprises.

Dragon Door: At a dinner after the PCC, you mentioned training in Australia where you became a professional boxer. What can you tell us about that?

Malin Kirjonen Boxing Title News Clipping from Australia

Malin Kirjonen: When I came back from living in the USA for a year—and from another year in Spain, I stayed in Sweden for a short while before I decided to study fitness and health in Australia. While in Australia, a friend invited to a boxing class she was taking. At the time, I didn’t know that the trainer, Bobby, was a professional boxing coach. After our first training session he told me that I had "good hands" and the potential to make it in the ring. At first, it seemed too good to be true. But I decided to try the strict training and living—with no distractions, no boys, no friends, while only eating, sleeping and training—while far away from my family!

After a year, I really had learned the "secrets" of how to get to the top in boxing, but it was also the toughest time of my life. Having the right mind-set was required during this tough training. Within that same year, I was competing in fights with the biggest names in Australian women’s boxing. By the time I went home to Sweden, I was ranked as the number one Australian female boxer by the professional world rankings, and had won the Australian amateur welterweight belt after only 6 fights. Some people might think this accomplishment wouldn’t be worth all the mental pain and extreme effort, but the experience was priceless for me—even though it took nearly two years for me to feel "balanced" again.

Malin Kirjonen Boxing in the Ring
Now, I have found my true sport with calisthenics and kettlebell training. These practices make me strong, balanced, and super fit. It’s hard to believe, but I am much stronger and more explosive today than I was while boxing in Australia. The open-mindedness of the RKC and PCC training also lets me play with the movements, be creative and look at my training as more of an adventure. My current training is a lot of fun and I love to share that type of energy and inspiration with my clients. It never gets boring and we are always working to progress in our skills.

Sweden PCC Workshop Malin Kirjonen Bridge with two people standing on her
Dragon Door: How did you find out about kettlebells, the RKC and PCC?

Malin Kirjonen: I started with RKC style kettlebell training about two years ago. Just by chance, I saw an ad for a kettlebell workshop at Fredrik Högström's gym, Kettlebell Center. I love training with kettlebells because I always feel like I am making progress. Plus it's fun and feels really good for my back. When I first started with kettlebells, I couldn’t do squats at all because of my back injury—I could barely even do half squats at first. I had very little movement in my lower back, my upper back was rounding a lot, my spine was unbalanced, and I had a lot of movement issues.

Now, after regularly training with kettlebells, bodyweight exercises, and going to physical therapy, my back is getting stronger and more mobile. I can really feel the total connection in my body again. At Kettlebell Center, I took one step at a time, added yoga and learned to move in a very slow and controlled way—which led to the ability to do more and more.

The RKC instructor workshop really opened my eyes, and I have been able to help my clients get even better results than before. I like how this style of training is very much about body control—a skill I have loved for a very long time. Fredrik inspired me to become so much better. I also learned so many different ways to teach—and how to help people regain control of their bodies. I was amazed and inspired by the first workshop and have been training with Fredrik ever since—even after the RKC instructor course. I love to be inspired and to inspire.

Malin Kirjonen Deep Bridge From ForearmsDragon Door: Many people struggle to stay motivated with their training, what drives you?

Marlin Kirjonen: I personally need training that allows me to be creative and see progress without getting completely exhausted every time I train—even though I love to train hard. My biggest motivation to keep training is that I want the ability to do anything in life. In my perspective, you can accomplish the most impossible things you dream of if you let yourself continue to dream while keeping your eyes and arms open for new possibilities. I am a dreamer, but also an accomplisher. I still don't know what I will do when I "grow up", but I want to be able to manage anything and inspire people to follow their own dreams!

As a small kid, I played in the forest, climbed trees, and often pretended I was a hero rescuing my friends. I loved to stay up late and watch scary movies with my Dad and go on the big adult roller coasters at amusement parks. And as a kid, I'd always chose the wildest horse to ride when in a jump competition. My Dad inspired me to dream and work hard to get where I wanted. He told me great stories of his life and how his parents fought through and fled the Winterwar in Finland and Russia. He always said, "Nothing comes for free." As a ten year old, I was inspired to see and do everything in life so I would have stories to tell my own children one day. That mind-set has kept me motivated, and allowed me to experience amazing things so far.

Malin Kirjonen One Arm HandstandDragon Door: What are your favorite moves from the PCC?

Malin Kirjonen: The one-hand handstand, the clutch flag, and human flag—which I’d never tried before the PCC. I really want to do a muscle-up, but am not quite there yet. I love technical exercises and have only just started my journey in calisthenics. It has been a real thrill to find Fredrik's kettlebell gym, the RKC and PCC. These methods of training are perfect matches for how I like to work.

Dragon Door: Who do you usually train?

Malin Kirjonen: Many of the clients who hire me walk with pain from bad habits or old injuries. Some have been almost scared to exercise—even though they've healed and went through physical therapy. Most of my clients want to learn more about strength training and appreciate learning about good movement patterns. It means the world to see my clients overcome their fears, develop strength within themselves, and perform movements they previously couldn’t imagine themselves doing.

Dragon Door: What inspired you to create the Kirjo challenge on your website?

Malin Kirjonen: I love challenges—even though I don’t really care about competing. But, I want the ability to do any challenge I choose. When creating these challenges, I hope to inspire other people to follow through with their own ideas. Recently I’ve been watching slackline videos, and practicing it at the gym. Soon I’d like to create a challenge related to slacklining.

Dragon Door: What’s your next goal?

Malin Kirjonen: The future has everything to give, and I look forward to experiencing every day along with more education, traveling, meeting amazing people, and seeing new places. I am going to work more on the amazing technical movements, but in general my dreams are still too big to be realized very soon. I think it is important to have both big and small dreams, because just like the chain of motion in our bodies which propels us forward, our dreams do the very same thing.

Malin Kirjonen Running in Sweden
Photo by Fredrik Telléus
My boxing coach always said to me, "Life is all about choices". That helps me remember that I am just an ordinary girl, working hard to achieve great life experiences, even though I like to take some chances and risks to get what I want. Very recently I found out that I'll soon be on my way to a new country, and a new adventure—Cape Town, South Africa!

MalinKirjonenGetUp thumbnailMalin Kirjonen is an RKC Instructor, PCC Instructor, personal trainer, massage therapist and group fitness instructor. Her website is and she can be reached by email at: