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Kettlebells, Rehab and Working with the SEALs

January 18, 2011 09:32 AM

Melanie Simon discusses Kettlebell Strength Training success with rehabilitating United States Navy USN SEALS

Melanie Simon discusses Kettlebell Strength Training success with rehabilitating United States Navy USN SEALS

Melanie Simon performs rehabilitation services for the United States Navy and SEAL Teams Two, Four, Eight, and Ten—amongst other commitments.

D.D.: What decided you on coming to Pavel’s Russian Kettlebell Certification?

M.S.: An older SEAL ended up failing his fitness test. So, he saw the kettlebells that we had sitting in our clinic and wanted to use them. He asked me if I could teach him how and I couldn’t. I didn’t like that. So, we decided that we would both come to Pavel’s certification. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to attend. He had to be at a training mission elsewhere.

D.D.: So who has been using the kettlebells at your clinic?

M.S.: I’ve seen a couple of our guys use them every now and again. But they really weren’t using them correctly, now that I’ve been here and I know how to use them. We have the manuals and we bought some of the DVDs. I am much more confident now after going through this certification that I actually can perform the exercises and teach them how to use it correctly.

D.D.: What has your experience been with the kettlebells here at the cert?

M.S.: I felt like I was getting a very good workout, but I recovered very well at the end. So, my recovery time was not near as long. The workout was short, quick, simple. I left like I got an outstanding workout…probably one of the best workouts I’ve ever had in such a short amount of time. You do a 45- or 60-minute cardiovascular workout or go for a two or three-mile run, the recovery time is not as short.

D.D.: Do you see incorporating kettlebells in your own exercise regimen?

M.S.: Oh, yes! Kettlebells are going to be a part of my life now, definitely!! As I develop my skills and hone my skills, they are going to become part of my fitness enhancement program as well. I am sure my rehab patients will get more out of it, because their workout will be shorter. They’ll enjoy it a little bit more than the usual two-hour workout with me. I mean, not really very many people enjoy working out for two hours. I don’t even enjoy working out for two hours, but I do it because I have to!

D.D.: How would you rate the quality of the instruction compared to the physical training programs that you’ve gone through before?

M.S.: Oh, my goodness! The instructors here are SO positive! Even with their criticism, they are positive! So that, I think, has been the most helpful of all because I felt that although I was unsuccessful at doing one technique, they were able to tell me how I was successful on others and how to make my own successful technique better.

Just having them work with me, I noticed that they were very good at doing one-on-one when they saw someone was struggling. So, I had a lot of one-on-one from a lot of different people, not just the instructors in my group, but instructors from other groups would come over and help me with the technique.

It’s been just wonderful! I cannot say enough on how good the instruction has been; because there’s no way that I could have done this without it. There’s just no way.

D.D.: How do you feel as a woman having gone through this program? Is there anything that you think that stands out for you?

M.S.: I think that I’ll do every part of it! Every single part of it that I can do, I’ll do! Except for that Lizard Walk…I just really don’t ever see myself doing that.

D.D.: Okay, no lizard for you. [Laughter'

M.S.: No lizard for me. [Laughter' But, just getting the basics down at first, I think, will take me a month or two. Once I have that down, I look forward to trying the more difficult, advanced moves, just because I think that it’s fun! It’s hard, but it’s fun.

This will be something that I’d have all my sisters do, and it’s all sisters in my family. So, this will be something that I’d recommend to all of them—and I don’t say that about too many things. Yeah, this would be one thing that I’d encourage a lot of women to do, because it’s not hard and it works a lot better than other exercise systems.

D.D.: What about from a physical therapy viewpoint? Can you see a rehab use for kettlebell training?

M.S.: There is definitely rehab use for it! There is most definitely rehab use for it, especially on our guys who want to go back to full duty. They want to go back to a combat level and they’ve been injured. Their injury is over and they are in that, “I need to get back” level, but they are not ready.

I think that kettlebells would just be phenomenal in getting them back to that tactical combat readiness that they need to be in. That’s going to be way better than wearing a weighted vest and running on the treadmill.

We’ve got some guys now that want to leave, like tomorrow, to meet the platoons, and they can’t. They are just not ready. But, I think that the kettlebell will really help speed the recovery along a little bit more to get them more tactically combat ready, than just the rehabilitation method that they are using currently.

D.D.: What other differences in emphasis are there in your current rehab program?

M.S.: Depending on the situation, we’ll have people do single leg squats and double leg squats, but our squats are more lunge squats. So, we use a lot more quadriceps, not as much glutes, and not as much hamstring. We don’t have people going into the deep, deep squat, separating the hips in order to do that.

It’s not one of those things that we teach too often, so it’s going to be nice to be able to teach how to get into that deep squat. There are a lot of different variations of it, but from all of the variations that I’ve been taught on how to do the deep squat, this is probably the easiest to assimilate myself to.

So I was able to perform a deep squat much easier even with a kettlebell, the double kettlebells, than I ever would have prior to coming here, because my deep squat was quite a bit different.

So, it’s just a little mental tweaking in order to get my mind to say, “Okay, that’s what I would have done for this person, but to do the kettlebells, we have to do it slightly different, choose different muscle groups.”

This course has been phenomenal. I mean, absolutely phenomenal. I can definitely see kettlebells being a big part of my life!

D.D.: Excellent!

M.S.: I already called and said, “We are ordering two 12s.” Actually, we are ordering four. I’m taking two home. [Laughter' It’s just…it’s given me a lot more confidence in my own abilities which I didn’t have prior to coming here. I’m not in the greatest physical condition, but I noticed that even people who are not like “Superman fit” are able to use these and perform with them at their level.

D.D.: You could see that in the people who showed up to be victims, too.

M.S.: Well, my victim was…he was wonderful. He’d been using it, but he’d hurt his shoulder and we figured out why he’d hurt his shoulder…because he was swinging incorrectly.

He would use his arms too much. He didn’t use his hips. So, when I had him show me how he did it, I went, “Well! This is what we have to do!” So, tweaking his was a little easier because I saw what hurt him in the beginning. But, I think having a rehabilitative standpoint helps with that, because I know the mechanism of injury.

D.D.: A good combination!

M.S.: Yeah, and doing these kettlebells, I can feel where I was working. I can tell when my body wasn’t doing it correctly, because I knew what the mechanism was supposed to do, and that made using the kettlebells my first time a little easier.

I just had so much fun while I was here. As sore as I am, I had fun. [Laughter'

I learned a lot of great things. You know, Steve’s “Joint Mobility”? Oh, my goodness! It was, again, phenomenal. Just as sore as I was this morning, as soon as we finished that, I felt better. And after this morning’s qigong, I felt so much more relaxed. It was as though all the muscles said, “Oh, okay, I think we are ready to be relaxed now.”

I’ve never had that feeling before, not even with stretching and static stretching, which of course, you know us nice rehab people are very accustomed to static stretching and not more mobilization type activities. So, it was really good.

So, I learned a lot of new techniques that I’m looking forward to bringing back with me to incorporate into different programs. It’s been a wonderful weekend.