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The Psychology of Successful Training, Interview, Natalie Talbert, RKC

Natalie Talbert Kettlebell Get-up

Dragon Door: How did you get started in fitness and athletics?

Natalie Talbert: I started swimming when I was really young and started playing water polo in middle school. That led to playing Division 1 Water Polo at San Jose State. After my last year in college, I made a pretty quick transition from college athletics to CrossFit. Now, I'm a competitive CrossFitter. I’m also a CrossFit Level 1 trainer and manage the gym where I work—I’m at the gym a lot!

Dragon Door: What did you study in college?

Natalie Talbert: Psychology. I didn't really expect to be managing a gym—and I didn’t know about CrossFit—but I knew I'd always be in the fitness world. Once I made the transition to CrossFit, I knew that it would become part of my career in some way. When I started my undergraduate, I didn't necessarily think that I would be stopping my education as quickly as I did. I thought that once I got my bachelor’s, I would go on to get my masters and soon after, a PhD.

Dragon Door: It's always interesting to hear about people coming to the fitness world from fields like psychology. There are so many overlaps with habits and behavioral change.

Natalie Talbert: Yes, it's pretty awesome. I took a lot of sports psychology classes as well and had no idea that I would be able to utilize as much of it as I do now. But, since I work with clients on nutrition as well, I know that without a background in psychology I wouldn't be nearly as effective.

Dragon Door: What are some of the biggest ideas related to your psychology classes that you’re using with your clients and athletes?

Natalie Talbert: I've come in contact with a lot of habit change. Many times people are stuck or have hit a rut with their nutrition or their training. Usually, being stuck has to do with a small habit that we slowly start to change. So, we find ways that people can reach toward their goal with very miniscule changes. Then, we start to work our way up to making bigger habit changes. It's a long process, but knowing that you can't change everything all at once has been super helpful for me.

On the competitive side, self-talk has been huge. The power of what we say to ourselves as we train is so important. It’s something I've come in contact a lot with higher level athletes, and I have spent time working through it myself. When I think about my future involvement in fitness and athletics, I see myself working with athletes at this capacity. I want to find out what makes them tick, and help them hone the emotional skills and strategies to train successfully at a high level.
Natalie Talbert CrossFit Moxie Group

Dragon Door: You mentioned competing in CrossFit as well, what's been your biggest achievement so far?

Natalie Talbert: I haven't been competing in CrossFit for very long, but the transition to it from water polo wasn’t bad. I had played aquatic sports for such a long time that it really was a transition. Because I had been in the weight room a lot at State, I wasn’t bad at CrossFit. For the first couple of years, I didn’t do anything competitive, I just did the general CrossFit classes with one workout a day.

Then I had a baby. But when she was about six months old, I decided that I wanted to become a competitive CrossFitter and began training to compete. After I completed the CrossFit Open, I realized I might have a shot at making it farther than just the Open.

I joined the team at our gym. This year, we started training to try to make it to regionals as a team. There were a couple of hurdles, and CrossFit massively changed our region and the team sizes this year. But, we also just found out that our team made it to regionals! We're in the West region which is California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana—and even a part of Canada!
Natalie Talbert CrossFit Competition

Dragon Door: While you were studying at San Jose State, did you train with Chris Holder?

Natalie Talbert: I did, but he wasn't my first strength coach. I trained with Jeremy Layport who taught me how to swing kettlebells. My last year at State, Chris Holder was my strength coach. He taught me the Olympic lifts and solidified my love for kettlebells.

Dragon Door: Was that your introduction to kettlebells?

Natalie Talbert: Yes, I started at State with Layport , in a weight room heavily influenced by Chris Holder.

Dragon Door: What inspired you to earn your RKC Certification?

Natalie Talbert: I have had a huge love for kettlebells since college at San Jose State. Kettlebells were part of the culture, especially in Chris Holder's training room. I also realized the crossover kettlebells had with all sports. The RKC has been high on my priority list for a long time, and especially as I got further into my career as a coach and a manager. Now, I was finally was able to pull the trigger on it. Holder was a big part of my decision to get the certification, he has made a huge impact on my life and being able to learn directly from him again was a huge draw.
Natalie Talbert Chris Holder Paige Sousa

Dragon Door: Did you have any particular take-aways from the RKC Workshop?

Natalie Talbert: I don't think there was just one particular thing. It was more the realization that even though I'd been using kettlebells for about four years in college, I went to the RKC certification and still learned a ton of new things. Even though I felt like I already knew a lot, Chris Holder was able to put a new spin on the concepts. He was still able to teach me plenty that I didn't already know—I just adored that. It was really cool to still learn, even though I've been swinging kettlebells for so long.

Dragon Door: What do you like most about kettlebell training?

Natalie Talbert: I am a really big fan of explosion from the hips, so I also love Olympic weightlifting. I absolutely love the crossover from kettlebells to other facets of sport. Because kettlebell training is low impact, you can always swing—and you don’t really get buried from the training. Yes, you're still exerting a lot of energy, but you're not beating yourself up. I really appreciate that it's easy on the joints because I'm in a world where people tend to beat themselves down a ton.

Dragon Door: That is a big risk, especially with competitors! So, your team made it to regionals, is there anything else on the horizon?

Natalie Talbert: Since we just made regionals, I think that’s all there is in my sights for now, athletically. I’d like to see how far we can get at regionals and just take it from there. I’ve gotten a real taste of how much I truly enjoy competing, so we’ll see what comes after this season!

Currently, I’m managing Diablo CrossFit Moxie. It’s very rewarding to be a part of a stellar community like this one. My goal there is to be the best I can for my community. So, I'm sure I will be investing in more certifications soon and taking the time to further my education in that regard. But I'm super happy with where I am, and I’m enjoying the process.

NatalieTalbertKettlebellGetup150Natalie Talbert, RKC manages and trains groups and individuals at Diablo CrossFit Moxie. She can be contacted at Follow her on Instagram @natlovesyou22.