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An Interview with Jen Kalmes, RKC and PCC Instructor

RKC Instructor Jen Kalmes Performs a Windmill

Dragon Door: At a recent PCC workshop, you mentioned your previous career as an aesthetician. How did you transition to fitness?

Jen Kalmes: I have always loved working out and being very active—not always sports, but running, rollerblading, and activities to keep fit. At around 2010, I ran a half-marathon and injured myself with a stress fracture. Soon, I started looking for something different and ways to train smarter—which is what led me to kettlebells. Kettlebells took much less time than running and gave me awesome results.

I was an aesthetician for 15 years and while I had always loved fitness and liked the idea of being a personal trainer, I didn’t want to be one of those you see walking around gyms with a clipboard!

After finding kettlebells and training with them myself, I realized how much I absolutely loved it and wanted to get RKC Certified. Because I was working with a lot of women at the salon, and had many clients who had known me for years, they noticed my body changing and asked me what I was doing. I was never really overweight, but my body changed a lot because of the kettlebell training.

Soon, people were asking to train with me, so I started training people in the basement of my house, and I would also go to their homes. But I was mainly trying it out, and training friends. After becoming RKC certified, I started training more and more people on my days off from the salon. Then I had the opportunity to move into a space a year ago here in Eagan. It’s all been a great opportunity for me.

Dragon Door: Other than the physique changes you mentioned, what else did you notice when you started training with kettlebells?

Jen Kalmes: In my career as an aesthetician, I noticed big changes—it’s a very physical job with standing 8-10 hours a day doing massages, facials, and waxing. I noticed a huge reduction in neck and back pain, I was able to stand so much straighter, and carried myself better. At home I could carry in a 40lb bag of water softener salt without having to ask my husband to do it for me.

There was a big overall change in how I was feeling—I no longer had joint pain from all the running, and I feel fitter now in my 40s than when I was just running and using weight machines at the gym.

Dragon Door: How did you decide to attend the PCC workshop?

Jen Kalmes: I saw many other trainers who are friends on Facebook—Beth Andrews was a big inspiration for me, along with some of the other instructors who did the RKC with me two years ago—who posted pictures from the PCC Workshops. I have always been interested in bridging, headstands, and handstands. I played around with them on my own, but knew that I really needed more instruction on the moves. I thought it was amazing how much could be done with just the body, and seeing my peers doing it really inspired me to try it too.
 
Jen Kalmes Pull-Up at the PCC Workshop

Dragon Door: You did a great job at the workshop, I remember seeing you achieve a few PRs including a very big step towards a muscle-up!

Jen Kalmes: Yes, I did a jumping muscle-up, and was able to get the headstand I wasn’t able to achieve on my own. At the PCC I was able to do it! I was glad to be able to do the workshop at all since I had been very sick for most of the month of March and hadn’t been able to train very much. I had been really worried that I wouldn’t be able to perform or if I’d be able to go to the PCC Workshop at all!

Instead of forcing myself to train while I was still getting well, I made sure to be healthy and rested instead. It was a great experience and there were so many take-aways! I am already playing around with most of the cues and am getting ready to start up a calisthenics class in June after I get more practice with the moves I want to focus on with my clients.

Dragon Door: Even though the PCC is still very new, we’ve noticed that more men attend than women. Why do you think the Progressive Calisthenics workshop is helpful for women?

Jen Kalmes: Whether or not something like a human flag interests you or is one of your goals, everyone can benefit from strengthening their mind-body connection and learning to create total body tension. Like kettlebell training, these concepts carry over to everything, and it’s so freeing being able to train just with your own body. With all the regressions we learned, there’s so much you can do leading up to the big movements like pull-ups and muscle-ups. It’s not scary at all. The Kavadlo brothers and Adrienne do an excellent job of creating an environment where you feel comfortable trying new things outside of your comfort zone—there’s no intimidation!

More and more, I’m finding that my clients want to do pull-ups. And it’s so important—with kettlebells and bodyweight exercise—that we can help people start at any fitness level. The regressions in the PCC and RKC can help a fitness instructor take their career to another level. Being able to offer your clients something new, or a break from the kettlebells can allow you to continue growing your business. It’s great to offer something that complements the kettlebell training.

The PCC also really helped me work on my weak points like bridging—that was super uncomfortable for me, but I am getting better at it and am already able to move better because of it.

Dragon Door: What was your most important take-away from the PCC Workshop?

Jen Kalmes: That anything is possible! I never dreamed that I would be able to do a clutch flag, and the first time I saw the human flag years ago, I didn’t think it was real! But I was able to do it! The biggest lesson is that you can do anything you want to do—if you will practice it.
 
Jen Kalmes performs a clutch flag

Right now I’ve picked 3-4 things that I am going to teach my students, but I need to practice and get good at them first! The body can do anything if we are willing to put in the time and practice with the right attitude.

Dragon Door: How do you plan to use the PCC info with your classes?

Jen Kalmes: I want to break down the bridging, headstands, handstands, and single leg movements like pistols and skater squats. I want to get people of all fitness levels comfortable on the bar—hanging at the bottom, and spending time at the top.

I have a great group of women at my 5:45AM class who are go-getters and ready to try anything. We’ll start with the basics of the things they’re most interested in—bridging, handstands, headstands, and pull-ups. We are going to work on a few core things and progress weekly.

Dragon Door: What’s next in your fitness career?

Jen Kalmes: My RKC Recertification is coming up in June, and I also want to train for the RKC-II. Right now I have so much going on with my studio and small group classes that I want to focus on kettlebells and what I have learned at the PCC. I want to really incorporate that information into my classes, improve my own training, and continue helping my clients move better and feel better about themselves.

Dragon Door: What distinguishes you as a trainer?

Jen Kalmes: Something I always pride myself on—and clients have complemented me on—is that I am very personable. My previous career working in a salon for 15 years with a lot of women prepared me for working one on one in personal training and leading small group classes. I understand how to really build personal rapport with clients.

I feel like I've built a little community here with the ladies and the few fellas who work out with us too. They really look forward to the training, and there’s accountability with the groups too.

I spend a lot of time putting together my weekly classes and run through their programs practicing them myself first. I never ask my clients to do anything I would not or have not done myself. I also spend a lot of time playing around with creative class formats to keep it interesting and fun.

I am really engaged with my clients during the session—I don’t just watch them do something incorrectly, I step in there and cue! I make sure my clients feel comfortable starting at their current fitness level—and if they want to be here and work hard, they know that they’ll reach their goals.

Jen Kalmes kettlebell get-upDragon Door: What do you like most about the RKC and PCC?

Jen Kalmes: I love both, but after doing the RKC almost two years ago, I loved that it was very black and white. I knew the PCC was going to be more workshop-like with an emphasis of going with the flow and trying out moves, while still being very challenging.

I think the RKC and PCC complement each other very well because there aren't as many rules in the PCC. I don’t think that the RKC has gotten any easier, but it is more female-friendly now especially since they added in the 14kg kettlebell—that’s a very big deal for many of us.

Dragon Door: Agreed!

Jen Kalmes: It was a natural progression for me to transition from aesthetics to fitness. Kettlebells slowly took over as my full time career. I was fortunate to have so many very good relationships with clients from the salon who followed me, and sought me out for training. I love it and am very passionate about it—I love to help anyone who is willing to try it. Many of my clients have said that the training we do really is life-changing.

Just this morning, a client told me how she used to always need her boyfriend to help her move heavy things in the garden—but yesterday she decided to try and found that she could lift things herself! Stuff like that improves quality of life and it’s awesome.

I am so happy for Dragon Door—you guys have done great things and continue to provide great information and instructors. The workshops are always a great experience—great and life-changing. I really enjoyed working with the other participants at the PCC—it was so different. I’m also excited about learning new things at the RKC Recertification and continue to improve my own skills.

JenKalmesWindmill thumbnailJen Kalmes, owns and trains at Crossroads Kettle Strength Studio in Eagan, MN. Her website is kettlestrength.com and she can be contacted at Kettlestrength@gmail.com or phone (651) 399-7396
 

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