Inside the Dome of Strength (Athlete Journal 7)

I knew the Chicago StrongFirst Certification weekend was going to be big, but I didn’t anticipate how amazing it was going to be in real life.

I knew ahead of time that the Chicago StrongFirst Certification weekend was going to be big, but only after the experience did I understand how massive it truly was! This was a new record in kettlebell certifications, with 156 participants attempting to earn either their SFG I or SFG II certification.

As a kettlebell coach, one of the main benefits for me in attending a StrongFirst certification has always been interacting with coaches and instructors who are much more knowledgeable and experienced than me. Being on the receiving end of high-quality coaching always inspires me to take my own coaching up a notch in passion, detail, and effort. In addition, getting to meet other kettlebell enthusiasts and coaches from around the country and the rest of the world also helps reignite my excitement for this system of training that I believe in wholeheartedly.

For me personally, many of the highlights included learning or refining some of the more intricate kettlebell skills that I tend to work on less than the foundational skills. Level 2 skill requirements included the push press, jerk, windmill, and bent press, along with getting retested on all the Level 1 skills to prove that we’ve been staying sharp. And of course, doing 100 kettlebell snatches in five minutes never gets old.

But learning the skills was only a fraction of the value of the entire event. We often broke off into smaller groups with our Team Leaders to work on not just the skills themselves, but drills and progressions that allowed us to seamlessly approach each skill with ease. The bent press is not an easy movement, but by learning each step along the way and plenty of drills to get us there, everyone was finally able to perform the exercise, even those who had never tried it before. Specialized variety was another big emphasis, and we practiced exercises like single-sided bottoms up front squats to help further develop our foundational skills.

StrongFirst has been intentionally organizing their events to include the requisite elements that allow them to offer CEUs that count towards trainer credentials such as NASM and NSCA. Along with the kettlebell instruction, the weekend included some informational sessions on adding movement assessments to your client intake process, nutritional education, and some guidance in how to properly program for your clients for maximum effectiveness.

But the main highlight for me as a trainer was watching one of my students earn her SFG Level 1 certification, which we’ve been working towards for a long time. She hit all of her strength, conditioning, and technical standards on the first try and is ready to start training for Level 2!

On the last day, before our final “grad” workout, we gathered everyone together, instructors and staff included, for one massive set of swings. It’s hard to explain something like that in words, so here’s a link for the video. The swings start around 1:20.


 Brandon Hofer is a personal trainer, yoga practitioner, and kettlebell enthusiast. Currently he is preparing for the StrongFirst Level 2 Instructor Certification, and you can follow his journal here to see how he’s getting ready.