Monday, December 26, 2011

Valerie Hedlund, Path to Iron Maiden Challenge Success, Pt I

As the end of the year draws nigh, and desire for inspiration in the new one will be fast upon us, now may be a sweet moment, in the post christmas ennui and pre new years festivities to reflect on some successes of the past year. Or at least one more in particular. Let's take Valerie Hedlund's summer success with the Iron Maiden Challenge.

Valerie Hedlund (the one doing the pull up with the 24k bell, left) is the latest woman to pass the Iron Maiden Challenge (pressing, pistoling and pull-upping a 24kg kettlebell). That in itself is still a unique encough challenge to warrant attention. But Val is also pretty extraordinary on a number of other levels.  To articulate just a selective few, she runs her own fitness business, went through physio training and had the gumption to change track to become a fitness trainer instead, and, as stated, she walks the talk. This past summer, at 5'3" and 131 at the time, she passed the Iron Maiden challenge.

Despite the business acumen and considerable personal and physical accomplishments (of which the iron maiden is but one), she can also be, as you'll see, self-deprecating to the point of being reluctant to take credit for the work she's done to achieve her goals - in this case, her strength goal with the Iron Maiden. 

Like Asha Wagner (b2d interview here), Valerie's success with the challenge is an inspiration for gals in the RKC community in particular who wish to emulate her success. What's intriguing - and satisfying - are the distinct paths and practices each has taken to achieve this goal. There's more than one way to press a 24 it seems. Or pull it. Or pistol it. And there's more than one way to think about not only the task at hand, but one's self while doing it.

In order to offer some insight into this athlete's pursuit of the challenge, it seems it might be nice to understand a bit more of the story of the athlete, no? To that end, in part II, we'll look at Val's path to the Iron Maiden Challenge itself, and reflections post hoc. Here in part 1, though, Val talks about her business, her path towards becoming a trainer and where KB's fit in.

What's life like now, post focussing on the Iron Maiden (IM) Challenge?
I've been focusing on building my business here in Denver so I do what time allows.  I moved from California about 9 months ago, sold my business there, and have been starting over.  It's been challenging but rewarding at the same time.  I have been learning new things about myself and getting better at the business side of things. 
 Tell us a bit more about your training background and  business.
I have been a trainer since I graduated college in 2002.  This was something I was going to do "until I got a real job or went back to school".  About 3 years into it and about 8 Physical Therapy internships later, I realized that Personal Training IS my real job.  It's what I'm passionate about and what I love to do.  There aren't many people who can say they absolutely love what they do.  I am fortunate enough to be one of those people who truly loves working.  I suppose my business is special because I focus on the individual.  I'm not in it only to make money and I didn't start working in gyms because I love looking at myself in the mirror (we've all worked with those trainers, right?).  I love learning about the human body and teaching my clients what I learn to help make their everyday lives better.  That's why I do what I do.
I started doing kbs in 2008 and got certified in April of 2009.
Why Kettlebells? 
 It's a simple tool, doesn't take up too much space, and the workouts are efficient. They help combine strength, mobility, and cv endurance all in one workout.  My clients really love them (well, love/hate) and they see results using them.  You can't argue with that.
I hate to sound like a commercial for dragon door, but there's no better tool out there! Plus, the instructors were always so impressive to me- the depth of their knowledge and the humility even at the highest level.  I just felt like I "found my people" when I went to my first RKC/Pavel event.
Training Philosophy? 
My business is called Simple Strength & Fitness and our motto is "Train Smart. Be Strong. Live Balanced."

It's not just a motto, it's how I run my business and my own training.  I like being strong and training for strength, but I also like having more balance in my training and in my life. I think doing a couple strength cycles during the year would be a good goal- have a couple months of a specific strength focus and then a couple months to "play".
Also - who would you say are the folks you train the most - is it classes or one on one or??
I like to do both.  I started training one-on-one initially (in 2002) and never really liked classes (always thought "step" or "cardio-kickbox" when I thought of classes).  But when I found kettlebells, I found that they're really best taught in a group.  I opened a studio and offered classes and I really started to enjoy the group dynamic.  I keep the classes small though- no more than 12 in a class because I don't like people getting lost in the crowd.  I like to punish each person equally and when the class is too big, it makes it more difficult to do that.
That's cool about leaving physio for personal training?
I think so.  I grew up thinking I needed more and more schooling to get a better job.  Plus, I went into personal training thinking it was a temporary thing. Add that to living in California where personal trainers are a dime a dozen and a lot of them got into it because they "like working out", it didn't really seem like something I could call a "profession". I thought about Physical Therapy because I am interested in how the body works. Who knows, I may still go back to school for it, but a couple years back after doing multiple internships in various clinics, I realized I really enjoyed what I was doing. 
As a trainer, I'm able to take people after their insurance stops paying for physical therapy and help them get to where they really want to be.  I'm able to look at the body as a whole instead of individual parts and help the person move better.  It's such a treat to hear my clients tell me that after many years of daily discomfort, they no longer have pain after working with me. That's when I get the reassurance that I'm different from the trainer who just "likes working out".
Within this process, what was the pull towards the RKC then?
I think it goes back to wanting and craving more good information.  I decided not to go back to school for Physical Therapy, but I don't want to get stale.  I actually found kbs though the NSCA at a seminar.  I want to learn from the best and I think the RKC is very particular about who they promote to instructors and they really seek out the best in the industry.  It feels good to be a part of this group of people.


With Val's background and training philosophy in place, next time, in Part II, we'll focus on the prep for the Iron Maiden Challenge, the success, and some of the psychological challenges around that practice.

Related Links

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails