Featured Coach: Andrea DuCane, Part 1 – The Ageless Body

It’s never too late to get started. RKC Master Andrea DuCane talks about the anti-aging effects of kettlebell training and how her system approaches strength training in a healthy way.

You’ve heard the story before. “I wasn’t athletic as a child,” it starts. Well, did you ever hear the version where not only was she not athletic, but the kickball captains fought NOT to have her on their team?

This was the life of Andrea DuCane as a child.

“You take Andrea!”

“No, you take Andrea!”

If you saw Andrea today this would mystify you. With over twenty years of experience in aerobics, weight training, classical ballet, jazz dance, Argentinian tango, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and kettlebells, Andrea is a true athlete and brings a unique breadth of knowledge to her coaching.

But it all began in high school, when she stumbled across the dancers on her way to theater class:

When I got to high school, I was more into arts than I was into sports. I was in theater and I saw these dancers with their leg warmers and they’d be in the bathrooms, stretching out and warming up. I looked at them and I was like, “Wow, what is this?” It started to appeal to me on a certain level. I happened to live near a very, very Russian ballet school. I decided when I think I was a senior in high school, that I would take a ballet class. I was just two months shy of my eighteenth birthday. I talked my sister and a girlfriend into doing it. The first class happened to be – this is the story of my life – taught by a Russian guest teacher. She couldn’t speak English. The class was mixed from company members down to beginners. It was our first class ever. It was a beginner class, but everyone wanted to take the class so it was packed. I didn’t even know what first or fifth position was. The Russian teacher came around with a stick and slapped me a little bit, trying to say something in Russian. I tried to follow along. I just remember that I just fell in love with it.

From there, Andrea studied dance for years and later when she met her husband, John, she discovered the world of martial arts. Somewhere along the line she began studying Pilates and met Pavel Tsatsouline.

Brett Jones and I are the two original RKC masters. Ten years ago this February will be our ten year anniversary. I met Pavel a number of years before that when my husband, John, and I met him at an open university class and he was teaching a flexibility workshop. I thought I knew everything about flexibility, but he came from the east end of Russian technique, so it was very interesting. John asked him to be an author. So we started publishing books and introduced the kettlebells and haven’t looked back.

Throughout her career, whatever Andrea has taught or coached, perfection and technique is always her focus.

I think that is the foundation for where I approach all my movement. I’m not one of those, “I’ve got to work up a sweat.” It’s always, “How can I move better? How can I make this rep better? How can I be perfect with it?” I’ve always believed that working towards good form equals results. If you don’t focus on technique you won’t have the results you’re looking for.

Andrea encounters many athletes who have spent a lifetime training hard and playing hard, without good technique and without a foundation of strength and conditioning.

Sports is not the same as being athletic or fit. Those are different skills. Unfortunately our society has combined them, but a sport is a sport and it’s not necessarily a form of fitness or a way to get you fit. It can be another tool, but it is, in my opinion, necessarily a separate goal.

When Andrea first became involved in the RKC, she took on the task of opening up the system to women. Despite its law enforcement and military background, she saw it as a vital tool to busy moms.

I totally got how a housewife who is home, who’s got maybe twenty minutes while the children are down for a nap, she doesn’t want to go to a gym. She wants something effective, and what a great tool. The mobility it requires is fantastic. That was my first goal.

These days Andrea sees another need and through her latest book and DVD projects, The Ageless Body and The Kettlebell Boomer, she is striving to fill this niche as well.

As I’ve gotten older and work with a lot of clients in their 50s, 60s, and early 70s, and even 30 or 20 year olds who come to me either very deconditioned or having injured themselves…I decided to focus on something I saw a need for. That is that I thought kettlebells are a perfect tool for resilience and health when done correctly. It’s also an incredible fitness tool for endurance and strength. But you can actually use them to make people better balanced and strong. I wanted to address a whole population. Initially because the kettlebells attracted military, law-enforcement , firefighters and really hardcore athletes, I really felt that there was a whole niche that was not being addressed and a whole population of people who could really benefit from the use of this with our other techniques, which would be mobility and flexibility.

Andrea’s Ageless Body System and workshop take this three pronged approach to fitness – strength, mobility, and flexibility. She believes her system is the best way for formerly active people to reawaken their inner athlete and for older people who are just starting to ease their way into an active life.

I truly believe to be healthy you need a balance of all three of those. If you don’t, if you focus too into just the strength, eventually you are going to get jacked up. If you are one of those loosey-gooosey’s that just go to the yoga classes – they don’t need more flexibility; they need stability and strength to keep the integrity of their joints.

Andrea’s featured workouts here on Breaking Muscle address these points, as does her book and DVD. She also includes modifications and suggestions for scaling the exercises and workouts so that anyone can start getting fit at any age.

My feeling is, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to start. A beginner will probably notice more dramatic results than someone who’s been exercising kind of “half-assed” for a while, if you will. They’re going to have dramatic results. We’re talking every part of the body, your mood, and your ability to sleep. It’s going to balance out your hormones. It’s going to get your cortisol balanced out.

And this is why her system is the “Ageless Body.” Being healthy is not just a matter of exercise. It is a combination of strength, mobility, flexibility, food, sleep, and so much more. And if we can keep our bodies young and healthy, we can keep our brains young and healthy, too.

When you’re exercising you’re creating all the hormones, you’re getting all the blood to flow. That’s going to import more nutrients to the brain and the body and you’re going to be overall healthier. So you get a double whammy. You can sit there and work your brain by playing chess; you can also problem solve by doing some sort of complicated movement pattern. You’re getting a brain workout and a body workout at the same time. Learning dance or martial arts or a complicated movement pattern like a kettlebell swing or press is very beneficial. I think it’s crucial. You have to keep yourself going on all those levels as you get older to age healthily. I just don’t believe that we want to have this slow decline so you end up in a wheelchair and sit there a vegetable.

Read part two of our interview with Andrea:

Andrea Ducane, Part 2 – Always a Student

To follow Andrea’s workouts here on Breaking Muscle follow this link:

Strength & Conditioning Workouts from Andrea DuCane

Additional Resources:

Andrea DuCane’s Kettlebell Fitness