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Former US Marine, Will Williams, Launches Career as Personal Trainer… With Russian Kettlebells

January 18, 2011 09:37 AM

Former US Marine, Will Williams discusses his personal trainer career With Russian Kettlebell Strength Training
Former US Marine, Will Williams, Launched a Career as a Personal Trainer With Russian Kettlebell Strength Training
Will Williams, Personal Trainer discusses his career with Russian Kettlebell Strength Training.

Dragon Door: Will, what is your athletic background?

Will Williams: Because of my size, I was heavily recruited by all of the football and most of the sports coaches in high school, but I didn't play. I was just too lazy at that age. I ended up playing lacrosse and a lot of street hockey, and just messing around for my final two years of high school. After that, I was in a really bad car wreck, and I was on the couch for six to eight months. That was after I had enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. So there was a year-long period where there was zero activity.

I gained so much weight that the only way I could actually ship to boot camp was to drop close to 35 pounds in a span of only three months. I went to what they call "pulley runs". Before you go to recruit training, you are a pulley with a Marine Corps recruiter and your pool of people. So that meant runs every Thursday night, pull-ups and push-ups, and a lot of other basic stuff.

Once I was actually in the fleet Marine Corps, I realized how much I loved working out. Every Marine Corps base is equipped with a pretty high-tech gym, full of a bunch of stuff that you don't need, but also a lot of stuff that you do.

I ended up playing football for a season in 2000 for the 1st Marine Regiment in Camp Pendleton, California. Actually, it was then that Pavel started appearing out of nowhere in Muscle Media Magazine.

D.D.: So that's how you got started.

W.W.: Yes. It was basically applying his principles and helping my buddies out with floor lifts as well and simple things like, never do cardio before a lift. Or keep your shoulders down when you do your pull-ups so you'll be able to do a bunch more for the PFT. Stuff like that. I ended up getting a kettlebell as a Christmas gift from a client, because I had spoke so many times of Pavel and all of his theories. I always made sure that my client knew where I was getting these ideas from. So getting a kettlebell for Christmas was great, because I had never set aside the funds to do it before. That was 2003.

D.D.: So, were you still in the Marines?

W.W.: No. I got out in 2002.

D.D.: Then you started as a personal trainer?

W.W.: Actually, I was kind of charged by my sergeant with being a physical trainer for some of the younger marines. He said, "You know what? I want you to take these kids on remedial P.T., which is obviously after you do your morning P.T. Take these kids out, help them out, show them how to do stuff, get them to lose weight and teach them how to eat." He had heard one way or another that I was inspired to be a personal trainer in the civilian sector anyway. So that was how I got my feet wet.

Immediately after an honorable EAS in 2002, I got certified through the ISSA. Then I started working out of gyms wherever I was, and I happened to be in Atlanta at the time. I was applying as much of Pavel's theories as I could. I had great success with a lot of people, because the people I was working with were capable of a lot of things that they probably never thought they were before. They were really starting to outshine the other people in gym too, which was especially cool!

Then, once I brought the kettlebells to the Philadelphia area, not full-steam Maxwell Philadelphia, but into the suburbs, it kind of shot off. It was great.

D.D.: So what was your experience with kettlebells before coming to the certification?

W.W.: I was very, very lucky. One of my closest buddies came here to the RKC last summer. His name is Craig Sjostrom, and he's the tall, lanky fellow that I was with at the convention. That's why the cert is so special, because a lot of the little nuances that they teach here were filtered down to me by Craig. What he was taking to his clients he was kind enough to show me, so I could show my clients. They've all been really supportive, because I've done a lot of kettlebell traveling in the last two months. I've missed a lot of sessions over the weekends…

D.D.: But it's worth it!

W.W.: It certainly is worth it. It's great. Literally everyone that I train kettlebells with, they love it. I haven't had a single complaint, except for some people who have been injured so badly that they are just afraid. They have an intrinsic fear of opening their bodies up to any kind of overhead work, which seems remotely dangerous, I guess.

"It's a hybridization of the strength and the cardio at the same time, which is what initially turns people on and traps them…"

But I'd say 75% of the people that I train who ever even held a kettlebell are full-on converts. They'll go to and they have their own kettlebells and everything. It's great. It's kind of cultish, actually. It's really cool.

D.D.: Excellent! What do you think it is about kettlebells that make them different from regular weight training?

W.W.: The simplest way I can put it (and I don't want to take anything away from the almighty bell) is that it's a hybridization of the strength and the cardio at the same time, which is what initially turns people on and traps them in. Because most women, they feel like they have to sweat when they work out. Otherwise it's worthless.

Everyone in America wants to be smaller. No one's happy with the body that they are in right now. Doing kettlebells, they always leave feeling that they've accomplished something, whether it was just learning a new exercise or brushing up on some older stuff. The thing is, when people see me in passing working with a client, they see these big, swinging, arcing movements and it freaks them out. But as fast as they can learn it, it surprises them and gives them a sense of confidence, too.

I tell my clients, and this is the plain truth, that if they can do kettlebell swings and Turkish getups, they can go up to any piece of equipment in the gym or any barbell or dumbbell and anything they want to do will be completely self-explanatory. And that's great. So if they do chose to get away from the bell for a day or two or for a month or two for any reason at all, anything else that they do is improved. Even home life, yard work, gardening and stuff like that.

Why, generally, women train harder
with kettlebells than men…

D.D.: What kind of people are you training?

W.W.: I train mostly women?mothers?anywhere between 18 and 40. The very few men that I train are 45 to 55 years old. I train just one young gentleman.

D.D.: Any thoughts about why you train the people you do?

W.W.: Women seem to be more willing to submit to the idea of personal training. It has been my experience that most guys feel weak after working with a trainer. They don't want to admit to themselves that they need help because they can't do it on their own. With girls, they say, "Hey, I need a personal trainer. This is probably the best way to do what I need to do." Some guys have a hard time taking instruction from other men. If you don't have a commanding presence with these guys, they just sit around and joke, whereas women…

D.D.: Get right down to it.

W.W.: They get right to it and they are willing to work a lot harder as well, within the workout and away from it.

D.D.: And why older guys rather than younger ones?

W.W.: Probably the wisdom that comes with breaking that fear barrier.

D.D.: Time's running out. They better get on it.

W.W.: They better get on it and they see that it can do them good. I've talked about injury prevention and how the simplest thing will make a difference. Like Andrea Du Cane will say, "Just suck in your shoulder." The miracles that that can create! It helps those guys. Also, a lot of these guys have beat-up shoulders or have hurt their backs and they are just more open. In most cases they've been working out close to 25 or 30 years, or maybe as little as five, but it's something that they want to try. Whereas, young guys will grab a dumbbell and get as close to the mirror as they can and just curl away. Unfortunately, that's the way it is.

People come in for their lunchtime workouts?
30 minutes of kettlebells. They love it. They eat it up…

D.D.: Yeah. Are you working out of a gym or a class?

W.W.: Yes, I'm working out of a gym that is smack-dab in the middle of a corporate center, so we're surrounded by thousands and thousands of people who just sit at a desk all day. People come in for their lunchtime workouts?30 minutes of kettlebells. They love it. They eat it up.

D.D.: So do you have good group classes?

W.W.: I do. I teach a Tuesday-night boot camp, which is a lot of Naked Warrior stuff, a lot of Pistols, Deck Squats…all that really cool stuff. Russian Pump. Then I teach a Thursday-evening kettlebell class in the spinning studio. I'm actually dropping days of the week at the gym as the summer goes on, so my friend Craig and I can run classes outdoors, which he had a lot of success with last year.

D.D.: So, two classes a week now in the gym and then privates, also?

W.W.: Privates, usually 10 to 12 hour-long sessions a day, and some half hours. For the most part, it's one-on-one. The group classes that I teach are probably 75% filled by the people I work with one-on-one during the week.

Will Williams, Personal Trainer Launched his career with Russian Kettlebell Strength Training.

D.D.: Do you have any preference between private lessons and group classes?

W.W.: I love the group atmosphere. Anyone who touches a kettlebell regularly is like-minded with the rest of us, and it's good to get a bunch of crazy people like that together. I have two people on one kettlebell. Getting two people on one bell is great, to critique each other and get vocal about it. Two on one KB is one thing that I'm really into, because some people just refuse to set aside the money for a kettlebell right away. For me, it took a year to break down and buy some.

However, the one-on-one sessions are great and sometimes more appropriate for certain people.

D.D.: How's it been for you at the cert?

W.W.: Wonderful. I spoke with the girls that I came with about this last night. It seems like I was lucky enough to learn a lot of little nuances as well as the drills, but it's the enabling exercises like the Box Squat that I really think I'm going to take away from here. It's the little things. Because there are exercises that I try to teach three or four dozen different ways and for some people it just hasn't stuck. A lot of the things that I've seen here are going to make more sense to them. It seems like it's going to benefit my clients just as much as it has me. Workouts are fun, too.

D.D.: Great. Excellent. Any last thoughts?

W.W.: I am just very happy to be here and very much looking forward to the Level Two Certification in June.

Will Williams is an RKC, Combat Applications Specialist teaching kettlebells in the Philadelphia area. He can be reached at