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How Rolando Garcia, RKC Level II, uses kettlebells to give his clients 4 great gifts: newfound strength, enhanced functionality, speedy healing and serious weight loss

January 18, 2011 08:54 AM

Personal Trainer and martial arts instructor Rolando Garcia found Kettlebells out of frustration. As a martial artist, he had a hard time transferring anything he was doing in training back into his martial arts practice. "It is difficult to balance proper skills and athleticism," he said. "It didn't jive with function."

In 2005, he saw a mixed martial artist implement Kettlebells effectively and he decided to try it for himself. Once he implemented RKC and CK-FMS into his practice, his percentage of clients shot through the roof. He is the only RKC-trained personal trainer at the Equinox location, 54th and 2nd Ave., Manhattan, where he works. "I have to turn people away. I haven't taken a new client since January." In addition to personal training, Garcia is a full instructor in Jeet Kune Do, Savate (French kickboxing) and he has been doing Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for ten years.

The reason clients seem so happy with his newfound skills is twofold — it is because of the results they have been able to achieve and the technique he employs. The stories of success go on and on.


Rolando Garcia

"I like to work with clients in their 40s and 50s. When they come in, they have had surgeries, have injuries and, since they are older, they are fixed in their way of doing things. They are the hardest to convince. But this training not only helps to fix old injuries, it helps change a person's perspective on fitness," said Garcia.

Some clients have discovered a newfound strength:

"I worked with a woman named Carol in her mid-50s, who was only 5'7", 135 lbs, not of an athletic background. She followed RKC to a tee. She ended up being able to deadlift two 62 lb. Kettlebells in one hand and walk 50 yards," he said.

He added," A client of mine, Mike (an attorney with a packed schedule), recently pressed the 32kg Kettlebell while weighing in at only 144lbs. He pressed it easily, so easily that a bodybuilder colleague of mine had to pick up the 32kg for himself. After realizing it was much heavier than it looked, he walked over to my client, shook his hand and congratulated him. My bodybuilder colleague weighs a solid 190lbs."

Other clients came to him looking for functionality…

such as a Pilates instructor in her 20s, named Miriam, who said, "Here I am supposedly this guru of fitness and I can't even do one push up." After working with her, Rolando was able to get her to do not one, but 11 straight-legged push ups. "Her fiance was there and told me, "I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes!' The [training' helped me to pinpoint her weak spot. Despite the Pilates, her weak spot was her core, the rotational aspect of her hips. When I had her do the FMS band, I told her to keep her abs tight. I told her to remember that feeling when doing a push up. We also talked about Pavel's technique of pulling yourself all the way into the ground before bringing yourself back up."

Clients have been able to speed their healing through Kettlebells, too:

"Edrin, a man in his late 20s, tore his ACL. He did surgery, did the usual physical training, but he was worried. He was not healing the way he wanted. He worked with me on swings, Turkish getups, etc. In six to eight weeks, he was able to get back to doing snatches, swings … His own physical therapist wanted to know what I was doing with his client to make him heal so much faster, weeks earlier. The client stopped going to his physical trainer. He was so happy. So these techniques are not just about athleticism, but also can be rehabilitative."

Of course, his clients also have been able to use Kettlebells to aid in weight loss:

"I had a woman, named Susan, who dropped two dress sizes in two months. In addition to working out, I also advised her on diet. I also worked with a woman who was a former marathon runner and was trying to lose body fat. I told her that she had plateaued from running and needed to try something else. After working with me, she was able to drop 10 percent body fat. Whether people come to me to lose weight, get strong, do rehab or prepare for a Jiu-jitsu tournament, the answer is always the same … Kettlebells. They all swear by it and the results far exceed expectations."

When asked why the Kettlebell and the RKC system is so effective, Garcia answered, "First, it is in the design of the Kettlebell. The center of gravity is a half foot away from the handle, not aligned on top of you. With a dumbbell, you don't feel it all the time. When you get up to 35-40 degrees, you don't feel the pull anymore. You can curl all you want. Kettlebells, however, pull away from you all the time, it's like walking a dog. When the dog pulls away from you, it takes your whole body to control it. So whether you are doing the swing, the getup, the snatch, etc., it is forcing you to use your entire body. It really is an uncooperative piece of equipment. That is what makes it effective. Second, Pavel's RKC system is simple but efficient. When you combine the two together, it makes training easy.

Garcia started RKC in September 2007 and has worked with the "Secrets of …" series, put out by the same makers of the CK-FMS DVDs and also took their seminar in August 2008. By doing the seminar, he found that he was able to sit among RKC superstars, as he put it, and ask questions about techniques and receive detailed responses. "When I bought the DVD series. I thought, "Oh my God. This is brilliant and I signed up. A lot of my information was gleaned from the DVDs. But at the seminar, being able to compare notes with other trainers and ask questions and get advice from the top RKC professionals was something I could not have gotten sitting at home."

"Andrea Du Cane was extremely helpful with my women clients. I had one woman who was large breasted and was having low back pain when doing the snatch. She advised me to have the client drop back more and explode from the hips. It was great to get such a precise answer and be able to assimilate it so quickly. Any question you have, she is there for you. It's priceless. I would go to this seminar again if I had time."

Garcia likes to put his first-time clients through a "trial by fire" to see their level before starting to work with him. "When you work with me, you are going to get smoked, so be ready," he said. "When beginning Kettlebells, I put clients through a trial by fire. They learn the swing without putting down the Kettlebell for two minutes. They can stop, catch their breath, but cannot put it down. Three people might make it through. Women use 18-26 lbs. Men use 35 or 44 lbs. Pavel says that for every "victim,' you need to give tough love and respect. As much as I smoke them, I encourage them. I thank them for exceeding my expectations. More gyms offer spa services lately, but it's down across the board. Sales in personal training are up. My take is that this is the one area where people get to feel they accomplished something. If they put in 100 percent effort, they get thanked for it. When trainers treat clients like they are not working hard enough, they might as well be somebody's boss."

"I have clients say "I need this. My life is stressful. This is the calmest thing I have, the one time I have to focus on me.' People are laid off and they are still working with me. It is a testament to their reprioritization of life. It is taking a big role in people's life. It's not about getting a six-pack or getting into a bikini.


Rolando Garcia

When not working with clients, Garcia spends time with his wife of 10 years, and reads up on martial arts and fitness. Besides English, being Filipino, he speaks Tagalog fluently. To contact Garcia, email him at or visit his website at


1) Seek out RKC. You have to. In this environment, there are so many certificates out there. In my humble opinion, RKC has more knowledge.

2) Get all of Pavel's books and DVDs. If you do this homework, you get it at a faster rate. Pavel's work is a complete methodology; it includes Kettlebells, but is not bound to it.

3) Listen to your clients. People are looking to feel appreciated for effort, listened to for concerns, thanked when they exceed expectations. Not only are you helping them get into shape, but you may be the one person to help them feel better in every sense of the word.


1) Drink a lot of water. Hydration is key.

2) When it comes to Kettlebells, as Bruce Lee used to say, 'You have to empty your mind.' Everything you think you know is going to get blown out of the water. What you have done in the past can't get at the heart of real fitness. What you see in the media is about selling products, keeping customers in the dark. This system is about real fitness.

3) Breathe. When you are stressed, the first thing to go is your breathing. Yoga really helps with that. My wife teaches Yoga; I try to implement it into my own training.

4) Cut out soda, bad starches and processed foods.


Rolando Garcia