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How kettlebells helped John Rock increase his personal training income by 65% in a two-year period

January 18, 2011 09:02 AM

Kettlebells improved personal trainer John Rock’s already thriving practice. "I saw a huge jump in business and I already thought I was doing well," said the RKC II certified instructor. "I went from doing relatively well to extremely well because I was able to develop a Kettlebell niche. In a two-year period, [my income' was up about 65 percent. Not bad."

John Rock

First introduced to Kettlebells in 2004 at a Strength and Conditioning Conference, Rock, who had already had two Bachelor’s degrees and who started physical training in 2001, saw the importance of the practice right away in terms of functionality and course training.

He is surprised that other trainers are not jumping on the Kettlebell bandwagon. He seems to have tapped into a gold mine. "Most personal trainers don’t realize how effective they are. There are over 300 trainers in my organization and only one percent have investigated it. I feel those numbers are way too small," he said.

He added, "The Kettlebell has been seen on the cover of major trade magazines in my industry and written up in the press. What is it going to take to get people to adapt? It has thousands of years of training behind it. It is not just a gimmick.

"I realized that Dragon Door partnered with Pavel Tsatsouline was the best resource to learn Kettlebells. Pavel single-handedly reintroduced the Kettlebell to a population that had by and large forgotten it. It is always best to align yourself with a reputable organization for credibility."

He commented that the Kettlebell draws in people because it is new and has a buzz around it, plus people hear of the amazing results it produces; but also it has been time tested, been around for a long time. "One person, a client of someone else, came to me to do Kettlebells and had such a dramatic result that it prompted the other trainer, who was working with her, to get certified," he said.

Of Dragon Door’s Russian Kettlebell Certification process and technique, he said, "They look at it as a system and I present it that way. It’s like Yoga or Pilates. Intelligent use offers up a dramatic result. It can deliver a lot more than other tools [available in the gym'."

The difference between Kettlebells and dumbbells comes down to weight distribution. "The weight is on the outside of the handle, which means the force that the muscle is producing is happening at a different angle, [focusing on different muscle groups at the same time'."

There is also more freedom of movement, something that Rock says aids with the maintenance of joint mobility, which is important especially as we age. "People can strength train all they want, but if people lose the capacity to do what they want to do [because they don’t have joint mobility' then they are losing ability."

Kettlebells, he said, focus on the whole body. While other methods emphasize strength, this emphasizes technique. He gives the example of martial arts: "A black belt will kick the same as a new student but the black belt will do it better. The black belt may be able to split three boards and the novice may not be ready…" It all comes down to proper training.

He added that it is so important to be holistic in approach. "You have to look at the body like a race car. You need a fast engine, but you also need to make sure it can run down the track just so. Yeah, you can put in more horsepower. But if you put in more horsepower into something that is off-kilter, it is just going to get more off-kilter faster."

The training with Kettlebells changes depending if the person is a more serious athlete or just looking to stay fit. The difference, he said, comes down to reps, weight and scheduling. "With a regular client, without specific time before they are ‘needed to peak’, I am going to let things cycle on their schedule. Whereas, with an athlete, I have to think how to make sure he or she is prepared and ready. I have to make sure throughout the year that they have the appropriate amount of stress and rest at the appropriate time."

People can do Kettlebells potentially every day. According to Rock, they just need to choose wisely, keeping track of what they do daily to vary enough to allow for recovery time. "All training is upping stress and rest. Upping the stress, you have to adapt, but adapting doesn’t occur unless rest is on the backside of it. Two to three times per week is easier," he said. "To vary the routine, the client can hold one or two weights or change the tempo or vary the reps."

He finds that each of his clients has their own unique reason for staying with Kettlebells. Rock always does Kettlebells with skiing in mind because this has been his primary sport. In fact, he competed in the Olympic skiing trials in 1992 and 1994. "Some clients like to ski, some like racquetball, martial arts, golf. Some clients just want to make sure they can get off the couch when they are 78. Others say ‘just keep me healthy,’" he said. "People find that they perform better by adding the tools of Kettlebells into their workout. In tennis, you may jump farther, for example."

"I was in the ski racing academy when I was a senior in high school, I talked to the coach and asked him ‘How do I become a champ?’ He said, ‘You’ve got to do something beyond everyone else.’

"The guy who decides to do something else can become the champion. They also can become a loser because they could guess the wrong thing. But if they pick the right thing [like Kettlebells', they can be a champ. I figure it is best to step out. If I am not pushing the limits, I am not going anywhere."

Rock loves helping clients attain their best fitness successes. "I get a big kick out of it when I hear somebody say that they are now better at something or experience some sort of change. It makes me feel good. I like helping people to learn something. Plus, I have no skills in a front office job," he laughed.

"People’s bodies have riddles. I have to figure them out in order to most effectively teach a skill…One hip is tighter than the other, what do I do?"

He tells his clients to keep trying even when it gets challenging. "In order to be healthy, you have to keep showing up. There will always be roadblocks to being consistent…whether you are an average Joe or an Olympian contender. If you use the Kettlebells well, you will see results."

He tells other trainers that they need to know when to teach and when to stand back. Also, he said, "Encourage clients to have fun. Be encouraging to them. Let them know they’re working hard. Let them know that their effort is important."

Rock writes a newsletter for clients. Interested in signing on? Email him at

Visit John Rock’s RKC instructor page on

See information on the current Russian Kettlebell Challenge Certification Workshop in Denmark

See information on the current Russian Kettlebell Challenge Certification Workshop in the US