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Dragon Door Interviews RKC and PCC Team Leader Angelo Gala

Angelo Gala about to perform a pull up at the PCC Workshop
Dragon Door: How did you first find kettlebells?

Angelo Gala: In 2006 when I was in college, a good friend of mine from home—he's a personal trainer—mentioned kettlebells. He said he had one and didn't know how to use it, but thought I would really like it. I loved it and started buying DVDs and figuring things out on my own from there. I'll never forget my first experience. I remember thinking that 16kg sounded really light, but the first time I tried to go through a DVD workout, I was soaked in sweat after just 10 minutes.

Dragon Door: How did you decide to become RKC certified?

Angelo Gala: I had been working in fitness for several years and wanted to make sure I was practicing and teaching everything properly. The RKC’s emphasis on ability and proficiency with the tool was an instant draw. I loved how the organization prided itself on the ability to execute and teach rather than simply answer questions covering only concept and theory.

Dragon Door: How were you training people before finding kettlebells?

Angelo Gala: Most of the time I was training someone for weight loss or general fitness. "Nothing works it like a circuit!" I mixed traditional barbell and dumbbell training with core circuits then sprinkled it all with cardiovascular intervals. Back then, I was far more accommodating about adding in assistance exercises just for aesthetic purposes. These days I prioritize training time towards what will make people move and feel better instead of just looking better.

Dragon Door: And you also have a background in yoga?

Angelo Gala: I’ve been practicing yoga since 2008. I actually stumbled into it. A month and a half after my RKC II Certification, I was in a pretty crazy motorcycle accident. Previously I had predominately been a strength and power athlete but the accident began to change the way I thought about fitness and inspired me to train in ways outside of my comfort level.

After watching an Ironman on television, endurance sports seemed like a great change of pace. Immediately I figured out I needed to balance myself out after starting all the running and biking, so I forced myself to do one yoga class a week. This was my standard for a year and I hated it. I had to keep reminding myself that it was good for me and that my flexibility and movement patterns were all improving.

It wasn't long before I started to feel "funny" after class. I started taking two classes a week, and the feeling started to last longer. Two classes a week turned into three classes and I realized that it must have been the meditation that was so powerful, not just the physical practice! I started participating more and looking into meditation workshops which is how I found my yoga mentor.


Dragon Door: Do you feel like kettlebell training fits with your yoga practice?

Angelo Gala: I think the ideas of body position, movement, and a constant awareness of breath are all very much related in both practices.

Dragon Door: Are you teaching kettlebell classes right now?

Angelo Gala: Yes, of course! I teach two classes a week. They alternate between focusing on strength or work capacity, but every class dedicates time to improving mobility and flexibility.

Dragon Door: What’s your favorite kettlebell exercise?

Angelo Gala: For me, it’s a tie between the get-up and the bent press. I absolutely fell in love with the amount of focus required for these super-technical movements. The complexity of the lifts doesn't allow me to space out. I absolutely love heavy get-ups and I like to do four or five in a row per side without setting the bell down—I call it "stacking up". Doing five super controlled get-ups a row with a 32kg kettlebell is a good challenge!

The bent press is a very beautiful, fluid maneuver—a real demonstration of body control. I was drawn to the bent press because even someone with massive strength will also need to have a significantly large range of motion to perform the lift. I like to train sets of heavy doubles and triples. I've also practiced them with a barbell, but since my left hand has been rebuilt, I lack the necessary faith in my grip strength.

Dragon Door: What will you bring to your RKC and PCC Team Leader roles?

Angelo Gala: Previously in the old RKC, it seemed like if you were really into endurance you had to keep it behind closed doors. I've been involved with endurance for so long now that I've run the full gambit of distances from 5Ks to ultra racing for a triathlon. I feel unique because I was able to maintain a high level of strength and flexibility throughout my whole endurance building process. My strength is in having and being able to share a diverse background in all aspects of fitness. I also have the ability to combine them in a way that they all compliment each other.

Dragon Door: How did you decide to go to the PCC workshop, and what were some of the most valuable moments for you at the workshop?

Angelo Gala: I ended up at the PCC after Andrew Read asked if I was planning to go! I'd heard about the workshop but wasn't too familiar with the curriculum, but once I saw all the focus on pull-up bar calisthenics, I had to go!

I've always felt comfortable doing endless pull-ups but learning to teach the muscle-up was a big sell for me. Prior to attending, I was already inconsistently ripping out some very ugly muscle-ups with a chicken wing. I knew the Kavadlo brothers and their leadership team would provide a whole different insight into learning and teaching the skills. Even though I had been playing with muscle-ups myself, just telling clients to grab the bar and pull as hard as possible isn't a solid teaching strategy. Before the PCC, I intentionally avoided teaching bar muscle-ups to my clients, but now I know how to teach them.

Dragon Door: How else will you use the PCC information with your own training and with your clients?

Angelo Gala: I was so excited that after the PCC, I was instantly able to make each and every client feel as if they were learning as much as I did. Push-ups are now fun and challenging for everyone! Single leg squat variations have become a warm-up for all levels and everyone gets on the pull-up bar no matter what.

Since the PCC, my own training has been heavily focused on front lever and back lever proficiency. Each calisthenic exercise is getting its own dedicated focus. Honestly, I was surprised by how much progress I've made in the back lever. That move came to me much sooner than I had anticipated. The front lever and its progressions on the other hand, all require an internal pep talk every time I set up for an attempt.


Arm balancing and handstands show up in my training through my personal yoga practice and general play. I am blessed with an occupation that allows me to experiment with these balances and levers on a regular basis. I might get a little more time to practice these balances than the average person but the struggle is still real. None of the levers come easy to me but the challenge of floating on one hand is always well received. I may not be super proficient yet but I greatly appreciate the journey that accompanies the challenge.

Dragon Door: What’s your next big goal?

Angelo Gala: Currently I am working on a one-and-a-half body weight barbell snatch, which is just super exciting. I really fell in love with Olympic lifting again and am working on it daily. I guess I love barbell snatching more than anything because it demands every bit of my focus. Afterwards I can feel completely drained. I'll have days where I'm only successfully hitting about 80 percent of my 1rm just because I'm too mentally unfocused. The combination of physical and mental mastery keeps me intrigued.

Dragon Door: Sounds like you equally enjoy mental and physical challenges.

Angelo Gala: Always. With kettlebells I used to say that heavy get-ups and target shooting were the two things that would focus my mind—nothing could distract me from what I was doing in those moments. Once I found meditation, I was surprised to learn that I didn't always have to physically exert myself to get that kind of focus.

Dragon Door: I was about to ask if you’d drawn any correlations between your strength and endurance training and meditation practice. It sounds like you definitely have.

Angelo Gala: They all seem to help each other. I’ve used meditation techniques during long endurance rides as well as long snatch sets. I use breath control to keep the heart rate down, or to find myself in a little different place in the moment that allows me to carry on. When I bike or run, I’m able to drop my heart rate by about 10 beats per minute just by changing my breathing pattern. A heart rate drop of 10 beats per minute is an entirely different heart rate range which has the potential to allow me to cruise a little longer when training or racing hard.

Dragon Door: What's one of the biggest insights you've had from your training?


Angelo Gala: I imagine you’re in the same boat as me [interviewer is 36 years old]. We’re not 21 years old anymore and we aren't really genetic anomalies. We’ve been using kettlebells, calisthenics and movement based training for a while. We're examples of what can be accomplished. Consistency of training with a specific focus will produce results. Instead of saying "I can't do that" we look at our potential and create goals then constantly, progressively move towards them. Anyone who embraces this will be be surprised at what they're capable of accomplishing.

Angelo Gala about to perform a pull up at the PCC Workshop
Angelo Gala can be reached via his Dragon Door instructor page: