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An Interview with Maggie Fazeli Fard, RKC Instructor, Senior Fitness Editor Experience Life Magazine

Maggie Fazeli Fard with two kettlebells

Dragon Door: How did you first become involved with fitness?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: When I was a little kid I was incredibly unathletic—just the thought of getting sweaty or dirty turned me off completely. I was also uncoordinated and didn’t have any natural athletic abilities. I was the kid who failed every presidential physical fitness test in high school—every single year. I didn't even try because I figured it wasn’t for me. Then, in college I started running and doing yoga. I was living in New York City at the time and it seemed like that’s what everyone was doing! So, I did that for a few years, joined different gyms, and tried different group fitness classes.

Then in 2011, while living in Washington DC, I started to feel burned out on running and started looking for something new. I joined a CrossFit gym and that really opened up a whole new world of exercise for me. It seems like everyone has a different opinion on CrossFit, some good and some bad, but I was very lucky to have two coaches who introduced me to weight lifting and kettlebell training. It completely changed the way I approached exercise.

I quickly developed a love of the barbell and kettlebell, and wanted to learn how to use kettlebells for more than just swings and squats. I stumbled across Dragon Door while searching for movement demos online. I never imagined at the time that I’d attend an RKC workshop and go for my certification. It was very cool to finally go for it this summer, nearly three years later.

Dragon Door: How did you train for the RKC Workshop?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: I moved to Minneapolis last fall, and that's when I first thought that the workshop might be accessible to me. I joined a strength and conditioning focused gym called the Movement Minneapolis. The coaches honed in on my interests and introduced me to kettlebell exercises I’d been afraid of, or had been unable to teach myself. Trying a Turkish get-up or kettlebell snatch for the first time on your own when all you’ve done is watch a video is not the ideal way to learn. But at the Movement, I was finally in a place where I could learn and get better.
 
Maggie Fazei Fard Kettlebell Press at RKC Workshop

I trained for the workshop mainly by practicing the techniques and playing with kettlebells. I wouldn't really call it training since I didn't really have a specific plan. I didn't specifically practice for the snatch test, but kept learning and working on the techniques. It inevitably prepared me for the tests at the workshop.

Dragon Door: When you started training with an RKC instructor, did you notice any particular results or specific changes?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: Working with someone who could do a correct demonstration and who had a full range of cues made a world of difference. Things that were intimidating became easier to understand. I quickly realized that kettlebell training was more about power and efficiency, and saw how one move could translate into the next.

Dragon Door: Were there any big surprises for you at the workshop?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: The whole weekend was a big surprise, since I am not a trainer and went as continuing education for my job. I'm the senior fitness editor at Experience Life magazine (www.experiencelife.com) and I simply wanted to learn more so I could do my job better.

At first, I was totally outside my comfort zone since I was surrounded by really experienced trainers and teachers. I was blown away by the decades of cumulative experience of all the amazing people—Andrea Du Cane and the RKCs assisting her. It was a little intimidating at first, but that went away quickly because everyone was very friendly and welcoming.

The instructors and participants came from all walks of life and as we started working together, it started to feel more like a family. I left with many new friendships and professional relationships. Often my biggest takeaway from any experience is a sense of connection and the relationships I form with others.
 
Maggie Fazeli Fard with other Participants At Chicago RKC

My weekend at the workshop really was one of the most empowering experiences I’ve ever had. Even though the workshop has a reputation for being incredibly rigorous and grueling, it’s not designed to destroy you. It tests your mental and physical strength, but it is not a beat down. I felt supported the entire time. It was obvious that the instructors wanted us to do well, to test our abilities and allow us to surprise ourselves. The entire time I was smiling—well maybe not during the snatch test, but otherwise I couldn’t help it!

Dragon Door: What was your favorite kettlebell move covered at the workshop?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: Up until the workshop weekend I hadn’t correctly performed a kettlebell clean. I loved practicing snatches, but before the workshop the clean felt clumsy. Like so many people, I would bang up my forearms—it was a mess! But at the RKC, someone gave me the right cue and it just clicked, and now I love cleans. But, my favorite is probably the get-up because it builds strength, mobility, stability, and coordination. It’s incredibly versatile—you can use it as a warm up, or add weight to make it harder. It’s a workhorse of a movement.

Dragon Door: How has what you learned at the RKC affected your own training?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: Everything I do is more efficient now. For three days, a team of people picked apart every movement—even the way we sat was critiqued and improved. It is almost impossible for me to pick one specific thing because so much changed. It was really incredible.

Dragon Door: Are you training towards a specific goal at the moment?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: In the weeks following the workshop, I trained for a 10-mile race, and now I’m training with 2015 strongman and powerlifting competitions in mind.

Dragon Door: It’s fantastic how active you are as an adult along with your career as a fitness editor, considering what you told us earlier about your childhood.

Maggie Fazeli Fard: I never would have imagined myself being here, but I think it just took finding activities that I love. I credit CrossFit with introducing me to lifting weights and training with kettlebells. Suddenly, exercise no longer felt like a chore, and I started looking forward to it! My friends and I joked that workout sessions became our new happy hour. Finding activities I enjoyed changed the way I looked at exercise. My child self never would have dreamed of working in the fitness industry, but now it seems like a natural extension of my interests.
 
Maggie Fazeli Fard Kettlebell hello

Dragon Door: Finding something you love is so critical, do you have advice for other people who maybe haven't found their favorite activity yet?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: We have a story coming up in a few months in our magazine about making fitness fun—one of our tips is to "date" different exercises. Meaning people can try different things until they find something that makes them want to move.

Being able to move well is such a blessing, so I’d recommend trying different things until you find something you like. As someone who used to hate exercise, I know there is something out there for everyone. Take one class, take ten, or do it on your own—there are so many resources and options. It took years, but now there are so many activities that I love. And while there is no one way that's the only way, you just need to find something that makes you feel good.

Dragon Door: What do you like about kettlebell training?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: I like that kettlebells can be used to train all aspects of fitness—strength, speed, mobility, stability, losing body fat, and you can work every part of your body. I also like that it’s dynamic, you are forced to move different parts of your body together. When somebody really knows how to do a kettlebell swing well, it’s beautiful and looks effortless, like they're dancing. That’s something I didn't think I could do because I'm pretty uncoordinated and look very goofy when I try to actually dance. But, there's something about kettlebell exercises that clicks and feels right to me.

Dragon Door: Are you planning to continue your kettlebell education? What's next for you?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: I’m currently enrolled in Life Time Academy’s personal training program as part of ongoing education for my job. The RKC-II would be an incredible experience, but that's a long-term goal a few years down the line for me. In general, I am always looking for opportunities to keep learning and trying new things, especially if they scare me or take me out of my comfort zone. This year I did a strongman competition and took flying trapeze classes—which are really cool but also terrifying because I am afraid of heights!

Dragon Door: Can you tell us more about your writing background?

Maggie Fazeli Fard: I have worked in journalism for 12 years now. I started in college with broadcast news internships then worked at newspapers doing breaking news, crime, politics, and science and health reporting. I joined Experience Life in October 2013.

Maggie Fazeli Fard doublekettlebellMaggie Fazeli Fard is the Senior Fitness Editor at Experience Life magazine. Learn more at ExperienceLife.com and @ExperienceLife on Twitter. Connect with Maggie via email at mfazelifard@experiencelife.com, Twitter: twitter.com/maggiefazeli and Instagram: instagram.com/maggiefazeli.
 

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