Dragon Door: How did you first become interested in kettlebells?
Eric Bennett: It started when I was in the Army about three years ago. I had seen some articles about kettlebell training and loved the simplicity of it. So, one day I just went ahead and bought a kettlebell and fell in love with it. I kept reading books and watching videos. I also took the kettlebell with me whenever I went to drill with the Army. I kept it with me at the hotel that let me get a lot done.
Dragon Door: And now you recently completed both the HardstyleFit Level 1 and Level 2 online courses. What inspired you to give them a try—and then to complete both of them with the additional video technique testing?
Eric Bennett: I've been really wanting something like this because of the convenience. I don't have all the time in the world to go to live classes even though I would greatly enjoy them. So, when I saw Dragon Door post about an online course on Facebook, it was exactly what I was looking for. Because I had prior experience with my kettlebell strength coach at Maverick's Field House, I had already experienced really good coaching and training. So, when I went into the HardstyleFit courses, even though I already had a generalized idea of the movements, getting into the program really homed in on the details that made a world of difference.
When I saw that Dragon Door had that opportunity, I took it and I fell in love with it. The courses made a huge difference in my training. I love that you can come back and review the basic skills, because sometimes you can miss little things.
Dragon Door: What was your athletic background before joining the Army?
Eric Bennett: I played soccer growing up and practiced different martial arts. I also played football and did the Bigger, Faster, Stronger program which uses some of the main barbell lifts, plyometrics and stuff like that. Before the Army, I also did some volunteer firefighting for about a year. During that time, I got into unconventional training, because we did a lot of circuits with sandbag work, lifting hammers, tires, and offset load carries. Working with the firefighters introduced me to many different kinds of training.
Dragon Door: Now that you've gone through HardstyleFit Level 1 and 2 what's your next move? Are you planning to teach or lead classes, or was the training just for you?
Eric Bennett: Originally it was just for me. But, at my job I'd been talking to quite a few people about kettlebell training and they’ve been very interested. So, I have been training quite a few people—especially during our hour lunch and after work. This has created a lot of health and wellness interest at our workplace. Because of this, I’ve helped create a wellness committee—and while it mainly started with me, the project has grown a lot bigger!
Dragon Door: What kind of company do you work for?
Eric Bennett: Our company helps create animatronics, characters, and creatures that go out to various theme parks and other attractions.
Dragon Door: Sounds like you probably work with a lot of creative people! How does the wellness committee work, what does it offer, and what are its general goals?
Eric Bennett: I have been offering kettlebell classes in the committee, and I am also now starting to teach steel mace classes, we’re also adding a yoga teacher. The wellness committee isn’t restricted to just physical wellness, we have programs covering emotional and environmental topics along with safety and financial wellbeing. We’re really trying to cover a lot of ground to change and improve the culture here in our workplace.
Dragon Door: That's very impressive! It’s so great when you can bring those kinds of programs right into the workplace! How would you describe your kettlebell classes?
Eric Bennett: My kettlebell classes are built on the basics of HardstyleFit Level 1, mainly because I want to make sure everyone’s movement quality is good first. I've realized that a lot of people don't even know the difference between a hip hinge and a squat—and even confuse the two! Sometimes you almost have to help teach them some of the very basics because they just haven’t grown up knowing how to move. So, I keep it simple at first.
Dragon Door: I know it's difficult to take off the time to travel to a workshop, but after experiencing the online HardstyleFit courses, are you now considering an HKC or RKC at some point in the future?
Eric Bennett: Yes, I am planning to do an RKC, so I am starting to save up. I am also homing in on practicing the kettlebell snatch, since I really want to be prepared for the Snatch Test. I have started adding one solid day of just snatching to my training along with heavy swings throughout the week.
Dragon Door: Of all the kettlebell movements, which would you say is your favorite?
Eric Bennett: That's tough. It's a tie between the swing and the goblet squat. I like to go from swings to the goblet squats because it's really satisfying.
Dragon Door: That's interesting, not a lot of people choose the squat, but maybe they should!
Eric Bennett: It's fantastic! I just love the explosiveness of the swing, then right after that doing the nice grind movement of the squat. The combination really just hits everything.
Dragon Door: How about any of the moves from HardstyleFit Level 2?
Eric Bennett: I love the double cleans in Level 2, and the double front squats are super challenging. It's simple and straight to the point, but it takes a lot out of you. There are times where I am absolutely starving after my workout!
Dragon Door: Along with preparing for the RKC and the Snatch Test, are there any other goals in your training right now?
Eric Bennett: I think the main goal now is to get the RKC certification. Since recently being certified as a Steel Mace Instructor I also want to incorporate more steel mace training with my clients.
Dragon Door: What would you say to someone considering trying kettlebell training?
Eric Bennett: Anyone who hasn’t really gotten into kettlebell training doesn’t know what it can do for them! It has given me the most results I’ve ever had, especially athletically. When I take what I’ve learned from kettlebell training into a sport or any other kind of strength training it’s transferred and increased my results in those activities as well. Kettlebell training has taught my body full tension, and explosiveness. It's helped my shoulders. It challenges you in a real-world way with a lot of offset loads. You also learn to tense at the right moment, relax at the right moment and learning that type of timing really transfers to many sports and strength training. So, if anyone out there is on the fence about kettlebell training, I would recommend giving it a shot because they’ll definitely notice results from it!