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Former Canadian Police Officer Tricia Dong, RKC Talks About Lighting Up Vancouver… Kettlebell-Style

January 18, 2011 09:30 AM

Tricia Dong, RKC, Kettlebell Strength Training Instructor
Tricia Dong, RKC, Kettlebell Workouts, Police Strength Training Specialist

Tricia Dong: My background is in policing. I spent four years as a Police Officer at Vancouver BC Police Department. It was a great job, but it was very restrictive in where I could see myself going for the rest of my life and career.

So, I quit about five years ago and I went back to school to pursue my first passion, which was journalism. I worked as a journalist for a couple of different places, including our National Broadcaster CBC then switched sides to become a Communications Consultant.

Eventually, I started volunteering as a running instructor at a local YWCA. It was the same program that I had taken eight years prior to prepare me to get into the police department. So, I jumped at the chance.

When the current instructor retired, I took over the program. The people that came for help in improving their fitness levels for the police department, really liked the way that I presented things. So, they were asking me to do more outside of that program.

So I went back to school again and got some more certifications and started up my company, which is Code5Fitness. “Code 5” is actually police radio code for air time when you need priority because there is a possibly armed and dangerous suspect. It’s a very high volatile situation, hostage taking, and things like that. So it means, “Be ready.”

My clients needed to always be ready because fitness isn’t something they need to train for to pass the exam. They needed to be able to prepare for ANY encounter at ANY time for the rest of their career.

My tag line is, “Be fit for duty.” There’s a double meaning there.

My clients enjoyed the way that I was teaching because it was very much back to old school stuff, military tech calisthenics. I didn’t use any fancy gadgets or machines. They really liked that, because I made it fun for them.

Then it just took off for the more general fitness population that wanted to have a more challenging and real hard core, hard-ass work out. They know that I push them quite hard, but with what we call “tough love Code 5 style.” They know that I want them to succeed at their goals. If their goal is to become a police officer, I am going to give them my undivided attention in getting them there safely and uninjured, but I don’t expect anything less than one hundred percent of their effort.

If people aren’t physically able to reach a certain level yet, I’m fine with that as long as they give me all of their effort. Slackers and whiners…they fall off by the wayside. I don’t spend time with those kinds of people.

So, I’ve kind of segmented myself in the market. My clients know that they get 100% of me if I get 100% of them.

How kettlebells came in, I was interviewed in a local paper about my company and how it was associated with a volunteer position that I do at Odd Squad Productions, which is another story. But lots of people were reading this article and this one fellow called me up and said, “There’s something that I train with that I think you should take a look at. It would probably be a really good fit.” His name was Jerome O’Charchin, who is an RKC living in Surrey. He was also a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer.

So, I had him come and do a demonstration, sort of a workshop “Intro to Kettlebells” and what are kettlebells, because I hadn’t even heard of them.

He was showing all of these things and I thought, “That’s pretty cool.” I didn’t have the time or the effort to just get them all, because I didn’t know anything about training with them. My clients really liked it. So, I thought, “Okay, well I better look more into this.”

In September, I attended a Ryan Lee Bootcamp in Connecticut. An amazing experience! The best trainers in the world were presenting. The most motivated trainers were attending. One of the presenters I met there was Steve Cotter, your Senior RKC and he became a mentor for me.

I saw that a lot of the trainers I met at Lee’s Bootcamp were using kettlebells and I thought, “Wow! We’ve got to do more kettlebells in Canada…at least in Vancouver!” So, I talked to Jerry. I said, “You’ve got to do something. I’m psyched up! I’m like, ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!’

Now that I’m here and I’ll come back with the RKC designation, I’ll be able to properly market and get the word out there, do proper press releases and media kits and really promote kettlebells and the way of training with them.

Tricia Dong, RKC, Kettlebell Strength Training Instructor

In fact, you don’t have to sell kettlebells. They sell themselves. As soon as you get someone to come to a class, they are hooked. It’s amazing. The results are quick and fast and devastating!

Oh, it’s great! One of my clients, he came into my program a size 38 waist and he’s a 34 now. He’s gone from extra large clothing to like he’s wearing small stuff now. He’s just so happy! He’s just really happy.

Kettlebells are going to be a great tool for me to make a niche in the market and ground break/change the face of training in Vancouver. Now, I’ll start with my small little corner of the world, but what I really want to do is to change the way that people think about training in Vancouver because we are very much a Yoga town. There’s nothing wrong with yoga, but it’s just fanatical and I think that kettlebells offer a good balance for that flexibility with the strength portion and the power.

It’s more back to basics. That’s what I’m finding my clients that are regular kettlebell users like about it. It’s back to basics. It’s honest to goodness training. There are no tricks. There are no gimmicks and you see results.

In the real world, you are not going to chase a guy around a Smith machine or a treadmill. You need to get off the machines and get into functional fitness where you are standing and you need to ground yourself and you need to use your core strength and stability. It’s NOT about sitting in a machine and pressing as hard as you can, because that’s not going to do anything except if you are sitting down and pressing against somebody. That’s not real life. Real life is: you’ve got to chase somebody; you got attacked; and you have to control them, arrest them, escort them and still have enough energy to write your report,” which can be very time consuming.

Kettlebells teach you to really internalize your power and bring it out when you need to.

Kettlebells give you that endurance. It gives you the stamina. It gives you the strength and it gets you off that sort of complacency of relying on machines, relying on a certain “in-the-box” mentality of training.

I can’t tell you how much my friends love it. They’ve seen such a difference in their strength.

So, where I am hoping to go is to get people more into kettlebells or even body strength training…as opposed to using machines.

I’m a member of the Vancouver Judo Club and all of the senior instructors just love kettlebells. They think it’s so functional. They are creating their own drills that are Judo specific and I just thought, “Wow! This is great!”

That’s just a small little corner, so what I want to do is to get it out there to all the registered personal trainers, fitness leaders, weight trainers, gyms, facilities, retail outlets: “kettlebells are here and you don’t know what they are right now, but I am an RKC, and I will show you!”

The RKC certification has exceeded my expectations. Because I knew it was going to be tough. I’ve done my research and I would expect nothing less, because if it was any easier then everybody would do it.

But it makes you mentally tough, too, because you put the pressure on yourself to perform well because you don’t care if I crap out. I’m here to learn, but I mean like, there’s nothing in it for you if I just decide I just want to be here for interest’s sake. But to be an instructor, you have to maintain and show that you have that level of ability to instruct or to perform as well.

As I’m going through my snatch test, I think about what I tell my clients. As I was practicing my snatch test last week at the gym they are all watching me, cheering me on and all they see is a reflection that I say to them which is, “How bad do you want it?”

I’ll be yelling, “How bad do you want it?”

They are all coming from desk jobs or nine-to-five jobs and it’s like, “You know? You can go back to that desk job any time. Policing may not be for you. It’s okay to quit now. It just depends on how bad you want it, right?” So, they just sort of realize, “It’s not for me,” and walk away or, “I’ll dig in and just go a little bit harder.” So, that’s the philosophy that I have is the, “How bad do I want it?”

And me? I want it bad!

What I’ve learned a lot about the people that are tops in the field is that they always love to learn more.

I just take a look at these people here who are the instructors and how awesome they are in sharing. I just want to be, “Okay, these are excellent remarks. I’ll take that back with me and I’ll share it with my clients, because there’s just no room in the world for an ungrateful attitude.”

Tricia Dong, RKC teaches kettlebells in Vancouver, BC Canada. Her email address is Her website is