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How Ben Landry, RKC II got the BEAST Tamer and much, much more...

Ben Landry Coaching One-Arm KB Swing
Benjamin Landry training client Antonio, a professional boxer with a 25-0 record. He hired Benjamin three fights ago in early 2015 seeking better power, strength, and conditioning.
Dragon Door: How did you first get interested in kettlebells?

Benjamin Landry: I saw a couple of guys swinging them and doing windmills in a gym in 2009. It looked cool so I started using them, though it wasn’t until the summer of 2014 that I got my RKC Level 1 certification.

Dragon Door: What did you do before starting your personal training business? Have you always been interested in athletics?

Benjamin Landry: In the Navy, I was an Operations Specialist. We worked with RADAR and navigation. The other job I did in the Navy was Maritime Interdiction Operations which was a lot more physically demanding and encouraged me to stay fit. We did safety and security checks, and many times our armed boarding team would need to board vessels—many of which were non-compliant—to make sure nothing illegal was happening in International Waters. Often, we’d need to climb while wearing a lot of gear, and there was always the element of the unknown. We never knew what might happen on the ship with the ship’s crew. And in the Arabian Gulf it’s very hot and the water can be treacherous.

Dragon Door: Wow! Did you join the Navy with those paths in mind?

Benjamin Landry: I went into the Navy in 2005 with no designation and just worked my way into it based on what was available and what interested me. I was promoted five pay grades in three years, and got out after my fourth year. While I was still in the Navy I got a personal training certification from NASM in 2007 and was training people. I also coached and instructed swimming at the YMCA since 2003. In the Navy, I also needed to instruct people below my pay grade, and was involved with the physical readiness program at my command. Many of the different jobs I have had since 2003 have involved coaching.

Dragon Door: How did you decide to get your RKC in 2014?

Benjamin Landry: While my clients have always gotten results, I wanted to be the best. My clinical director, Dr. Walker Scott has more degrees than a thermometer and was already an RKC-II. I already had various credentials including the CSCS, but the doc told me I needed to learn from the organization that originally brought the kettlebell to American culture. He said that there were many details I needed to learn, but it would help me help more people, and it would make me a better coach. I took his word for it, signed up for an RKC level one, and he trained me for it. Dr. Walker Scott is a chiropractor and we work together. I own a training facility in East Lake, San Diego Strength and Wellness. He’s our clinical director upstairs at Strength and Wellness Chiropractic.

He's been a big influence and also told me about the Beast Tamer Challenge. I’ve always had really good strength, but I’m not the most mobile. Dr. Scott tried the challenge. He nailed the pistol and press with the Beast, but missed the pull-up. We decided that one of us should complete the Beast Tamer Challenge, so I started working on it. I’m press dominant and got it first, and the pull-up was a challenge, but I got that down, too. I felt like I would never get a pistol squat because my ankles weren’t very mobile. While I have a very good strength base, I also know that mobility is hugely important for wellness—it’s also my weakest point.

I realized that while I was really strong, I was also kind of stiff. I would sometimes have trouble demonstrating exercises for my clients because of my hard, heavy workouts. So, I made it my business to get that pistol squat down, so I could try and complete the Beast Tamer Challenge on at least one side. At the RKC-II, I also had no problems with strength, but met with many mobility challenges. But, Max Shank and the assistant instructors helped me improve. Now, mobility is at the forefront of my programing for the rest of the year and the beginning of the next.

The RKC inspired me at both seminars. I’ve changed the whole culture and training skillsets at my gym and my staff members because if it. We’ve sent four trainers to the RKC Level 1, and two to the PCC. We have a strong team.

Dragon Door: How long have you had your own training business?

Benjamin Landry: I was honorably discharged from the US Navy in 2009, and immediately started hunting for clients. I worked in a large corporate gym for about a month, and it was a terrible experience. What I learned—and didn’t want to accept at the time—was that sometimes the relationship with the client seems more important than the training when it comes to sales. I got away from that quickly, because it wasn't for me. I started building a private client base while working from someone else’s gym. But, because I was in business with a partner, there were difficulties that totally changed my life.

In 2011, I ended up working for a very big name in sports. I was hired as a strength and conditioning coach for Adrian Gonzales’s family. They had a huge facility. I started working with a ton of very high level athletes and youth up to college athletes. We also worked with an influx of injured people, and that's where I met Dr. Scott, who was the clinical director there at the time. His patients came out to the gym floor to practice drills and get better. We also had fat loss clients who just wanted to lose fat, gain muscle, feel better, and live better.

While I’d love to share in this interview how fluffy and easy the process was to get where I am now, the truth is this industry is really only for the people who absolutely love it. It’s so volatile. In 2012, Gonzales Sports Academy closed, so I incorporated San Diego Strength And Wellness. We’ve grown tremendously since then to about 200 clients.

Dragon Door: A gym with a clinical side seems like a powerful business model.

Benjamin Landry: It's a niche everyone wants to compete with, and that’s tough in our community because there’s a fitness studio on every corner. Every year we see studios open and close—it’s volatile and cutthroat out here, and other than your own staff you have no friends in the industry. We should encourage people to get educated, because if they do get business in, then they can get results. It’s been proven that an RKC Certification will put them a step ahead of the competition.

Unfortunately many trainers out there don’t understand, but they are good salespeople—and often their clients get injured or confused. If those trainers had gone to an RKC Level one then they would have figured so much out. Being part of the RKC has affected my business in a really big way.
Benjamin Landry Coaching Youth Athlete Goblet Squat
Benjamin Landry training his step son who loves soccer and ran his first half marathon at age 9.

Dragon Door: You completed the Beast Tamer Challenge at a recent RKC-II certification. Given the mobility challenges you mentioned earlier, how did you train to get the pistol?

Benjamin Landry: I had to drop all my heavy barbell squatting and deadlifting. Broken up over the week, I had been bench pressing 410lb, doing 610lb deadlift, and squatting 410 for five reps. I have always been heavy on the strength side, but I had to work on my mobility—which still isn't too great. At Max Shank's Five Minute Flow workshop, I was the worst guy in the room! But I like that because if I am the worst in the room, the only way is up.

With the pistol, my right side was easier, even though it was muscularly weaker—I’m more mobile in my right hip and right ankle, so I was able to use more of the leverage of my joints. So, I just worked to get rep after rep, working up to 3 sets of 3 with 24kg, then 3 sets of 2 with a 32kg kettlebell, up to 3 sets of 1 with 40kg. Finally I went from 40kg to 44kg—then about 3 weeks before the RKC-II I hit the 48kg. It was a smooth rep so I knew I had a pretty good chance of getting it.

It also took good breathing technique, bracing the core, upper body strength to hold and counterbalance with the kettlebell. Along with ankle and hip mobility, I obviously needed a solid strength base. If I hadn’t already had that kind of strength, I wouldn’t have been able to build it just a few weeks before the workshop.

Dragon Door: That's definitely not a short term prospect! What is the next goal with your training?

Benjamin Landry: Now, I’ve decided not to get back into heavy barbell work again. I want to get my body feeling better, stay lean, and get limber—even if I lose a little strength. I want to get more mobile and keep working on pistols, bent presses, windmills, and everything that challenges my mobility. I still want to add weight and reps, but I’m putting strength on maintenance while bringing mobility to the forefront of my training.

I want to be able to demonstrate these moves at the drop of a hat, like Max Shank. While I may not be able to do the drills as well as he does, I want to improve because it helps me do my job. It’s not about me, it’s about my clients. My goals right now are more about helping our clients at San Diego Strength and Wellness. Helping them preserve their wellness doesn’t always mean pursuing more weight on the bar. I want to do what's best for our client base here and when I can demo the movements better, then my energy will be better, my coaching will be better, and my body won’t hurt as much. Our clients will also respond much better, too.

Dragon Door: It’s important, because when you can demonstrate with great form, clients seem to have an easier time understanding what they need to do

Benjamin Landry: Exactly! I burned though the RKC Snatch Test in 3:14, and while I was very fast, the overhead mobility and extending my elbow on every rep presented a challenge. I had to really fight for it and they had to keep telling me to lock out my elbow. Afterwards the instructors taught me how to clean up the movement, make it more efficient, and work on the limitations. Muscular endurance wasn’t the issue, but my overhead mobility, t-spine, and shoulders were causing problems, even though I had no pain.

I had to stay very focused at the RKC-II and let all of the drills we learned during the workshop help my mobility. I went in at about 85% proficiency, and even though my ankles and t-spine were limiting factors with the bent press and the jerk, I came through it all with focus and coaching from the RKC Team.

Dragon Door: What's next for you and your business?

Benjamin Landry: We're going to keep growing and improve our web presence. Most importantly, I’m continuing to develop my staff. We are a team, and I can't do this alone, so we are big on team effort, camaraderie, and our ability to constructively talk about changes. I also want to continue to growing as a leader.

I care more about getting to know the people in our community through my client base, and fostering positive attention on our gym and highlighting our clients than advertising. When I talked with John Du Cane recently, he reminded me that the biggest factor in our business is to make our clients the hero, and to make everything about the client. We have to be selfless, we have to be coaches, and we have to really care.
Benjamin Landry Coaching Fit Pregnant Client
Benjamin Landry training Alexandra, a Mom and highly successful local realtor. We lost a lot of post baby weight together and trained prior to her pregnancy as well. She enjoys playing golf.
To make it in this industry, you must be able to look in the mirror and be critical of what you're doing. If not, then the ego will always be in the way of progress. I try very hard every day to stay humble, and it can be a challenge. I also want my staff to be humble because people—our clients—don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.

BenLandryCoachingOneArmKBSwing thumbnailBenjamin Landry, RKC-II, CSCS owns San Diego Strength and Wellness Inc. and Fresh Meal Prep Inc. in Chula Vista, California. He can be contacted by email at