Lori Ronning Folland
I’m a professional musician, a pianist. At my first Forza! class, I learned how to move from my core. A simple arm movement felt more supported and integrated. At another point, when swinging a kettlebell, Gretchen guided me in finding movement of my arms that was more fluid. This integrated movement and fluidity was present later that day while I was performing a challenging piece of music. It was amazing. I experienced a wonderful ease of motion at the piano. A tension-causing restriction of movement in my arms was gone. I thoroughly enjoyed each moment. I experienced more confidence and an increased ability to focus on expressing the music.
I had the opportunity to do some spring skiing in Whistler, British Columbia this past May. I enjoy downhill skiing, but had not done much in recent years. I didn’t worry about being in shape for the skiing because I had been exercising regularly and had picked up some of Gretchen’s classes learning to swing kettlebells. I felt fit and believed one day of skiing would be nothing but fun!
The reality was a different story. Although they still have a lot of snow in the spring, the consistency is heavier and softer than what you find in cooler weather and it requires a different kind of skiing, which I found to be more laborious. This was a challenge for me.
My husband and I had taken lifts and skied over to the area we had picked from a map that appeared to have a lot of runs of the skill level we prefer to ski, relaxing intermediate blue runs. We had just arrived when we were told those runs were being closed due to avalanche risk. Now we had to ski back and the route we would need to take was more challenging than I would have chosen.
We were at the top of the mountain and because we had not skied at Whistler before, we had no idea how far it was and how long it would take to get back to the gondola. Off we went, being sure to ski in control and safely. This snow was heavy, it was a lot of work and I began to feel myself tire. When we were taking our 3rd or 4th rest stop, I looked down at the next segment and decided it was time to pray, “Dear Lord, please just get me off this mountain.” I heard an answer in my head and it was a simple phrase, “Go to your core.” Okay, I thought. I focused on my core strength and began to weave my way down. As it turned out, we were maybe one fourth of the way back when I said that prayer and the change of focus made a big difference for me. I found renewed strength and control in my skiing. After a lot of skiing, we finally arrived at the gondola. We were ready to sit and enjoy the ride down the rest of the way.
I would like to go back to Whistler and ski there again someday and when I do, I plan to be a lot stronger. I’m going to keep swinging my kettlebells, doing push-ups and working out at Forza!
Before I started taking Gretchen’s kettlebell class, I thought I was pretty fit. I biked or skied or ran every day, and had done moderately O.K. on the citizen ski racing circuit and in bike centuries. However, I kept getting easily injured, and my body felt creaky and stiff, with less and less flexibility. When I needed to bend down or kneel on the floor to pick something up, I had to think about whether my back or my joints were up to it that day. And with my 4 year old son always crashing into me and wanting to wrestle, I didn’t know how much longer I would be able to play with him the way he wanted me to.
Now after taking kettlebell for nearly a year, I feel so much stronger and more flexible, have a lot fewer workout injuries, and best of all, my son and I can wrestle and roll around on the floor as much as he wants without me getting all beat up. In addition, even though I didn’t start kettlebell for that reason, my biking and skiing has been improved a great deal from the big gains it has given me in strength and flexibility, particularly in the core strength that so many sports require. I can ride my bike for 6 or 7 or 8 hrs with very little pain, and the increased power I have in my stomach and back means my skiing technique doesn’t turn to mush at the end of a long hard race. Having good core strength is a just a great feeling, and even sitting at work I am less fatigued and sore at the end of the day.
Gretchen is a great teacher and motivator, all you need to do is show up on time, she will get you to give yourself a great workout. Gretchen’s class isn’t a one size fits all, she modifies the workout to fit the individual, it is like having your own personal trainer. And she is doing the real cutting edge stuff like Resistance Stretching, the same thing that gave Dara Torres the edge to win 3 Olympic medals at the age of 41. Another thing that is great about Gretchen’s class is the endless variety, there is some new move or exercise or something different every day. And no matter what body type or level of fitness you have, you will find that there are things you are able to do very well, and things that, let’s just say, you will need to work on.
A year ago, I started Forza classes. At that time I experienced hip flexor pain when running. I love to run so I was trying therapy exercises with a band, different shoes, different surfaces, duration, frequency…everything. At that time very little helped. Within 3 week of starting Forza classes, no hip pain ever. I returned to all my normal running routines and just added the strength and core training of Forza exercise. When summer rolled around I had a new bonus on the golf course. I could hit the ball much farther. Now I just need a Forza exercise to improve my putting.
Mark Lange, Careful Painting, Inc, Northfield, MN
I started kettlebell training in the Summer of 2009. I traveled during the following Winter and then was out of work. In the Spring of 2010 I received a project to scrape the acoustic texture from a large living room ceiling and prime and retexture the ceiling to repair water damage. I also had to work over the open stairway to the basement. I had the whole place torn up and my clients were looking forward to my completing the project by the end of the day.
About six hours into the project I started loosing steam and I seriously wondered if I would be able to complete the job as promised. Of course I had everything covered with plastic and a big mess. With 30 years of experience I knew what to do, but I came up short on strength and stamina, and I realized how much my livelihood depends on my physical fitness.
Well, I did finish the project that day, and I resolved to continue with the kettlebells at Getchen’s Forza! Studio. I feel energized after each work-out and strongly recommend Forza! to painters, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and other craftsmen and women who depend on their physical fitness to earn a living.
I joined Gretchen’s Steady Strength class in November of 2009, promptly took a hiatus for about 8 weeks, for many reasons, some being, my son’s wedding, the H1N1 virus and Christmas. I returned to the class in January of 2010. I have been a really steady participant since then. It is now May 25 2010 and again I have taken a break for a 2 week trip to the west coast.
Oh my intentions were good, I was going to do all the things that were possible during travel to keep up with my routine. Well that lasted for about 1 day. During the class time from January till May I did lose a bit of weight, gained some significant balance, stand straighter, feel generally better, so much so that I really do not want to miss a class. In and of itself, this is a big thing because I have been one to avoid exercise at all costs. I had some bad experiences as a kid and really never had the drive to overcome my attitude and move into a better lifestyle. But here is the amazing thing
I have been gone for 2 weeks, traveled on 6 different airplanes, hauled luggage through countless construction areas of airports, thrown them on and off buses and claim carousels, into rental cars and up stairs . I have slept on an air mattress on the floor in my Mom’s tiny studio apartment and sat around way more than normal, sometimes in contorted positions. Slept in a very hard bed at a friends on a mountain top in Santa Cruz. I ran on the beach with a 2 year old, chasing and kicking a ball, took a spectacular tumble in the sand when I tripped over my own feet. Chased the same ball out of the surf and never fell in, and I have to say, I made some impressive saves. You would think I would have some back pain! I don’t! I feel strong and I don’t think I have gained back very much weight. I feel in charge of my body and am able to move in a way I haven’t been able to in years. I am not arthritic nor do I have any real body issues… I consider myself normal, but the change is noticeable. I attribute this all to the fact that I have really made some significant changes in my core body strength, all thanks to Gretchen and the Steady Strength class. I am really amazed and can’t wait to get back to class. See you tomorrow Gretchen!
(post script…. I didn’t gain ANY weight… and even lost another pound. Hooray!
Jon Engum, Senior RKC Instructor
I would recommend Gretchen Falck to anyone who would like to attain their fitness goals in the safest, most effective manner. You can’t go wrong with Gretchen.