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Mike Davidov and the perfect practice of kettlebells, interview

Mike Davidov Double Kettlebell Press

Dragon Door: How did you get into kettlebells?

Mike Davidov: When I was first trying to educate myself about fitness, I started seeing them a lot in videos. I was trying to find something new, because like many people I was constantly struggling to stay consistent with my training. After seeing a Steve Cotter video I bought a really crappy kettlebell from Sports Authority. It was the worst kettlebell ever, and I must have been really interested in learning to stick with it! After watching more videos, I started doing some very loose interpretations of swings, cleans, and presses.

I wasn’t getting the details right, but I knew that there was a lot more to learn. That’s what intrigued me and kept me involved. Up to that point everything else I’d tried had no learning curve, and didn't stimulate my brain at all. As someone with a creative background, I needed that challenge along with the fitness aspect. I didn’t want to just sit down at a machine and push and pull—I couldn’t make that a lifestyle. Having to learn and dive deeper into the movements has kept me consistent with kettlebells—it’s awesome!

Dragon Door: In the course of doing these interviews for about six years, I’ve noticed that musicians really seem to understand the importance of practice and bring that to their kettlebell training. It's interesting to hear that the learning curve of kettlebell training attracted you to it.

Mike Davidov: As soon as I started thinking of it as a practice, and not as a workout it was so much more appealing. It became a healthy obsession and replaced a few unhealthy ones!

Dragon Door: What was your previous career, and are you a full time trainer now?

Mike Davidov: I was a chef and making my living as a musician by teaching lessons, doing studio work, playing with bands, and touring with bands. I was also working in a bar to supplement my income. Since I needed to have other jobs anyway, it helped me realize I could take my fitness to a more professional level. After I made that leap, my life got a lot healthier much more fulfilling. I loved teaching music so I think becoming a fitness instructor was a natural next step. I loved soaking up knowledge about fitness, athleticism, and movement in general—I needed to tell someone about it and my friends were sick of hearing it! I hit the ground running since I already had my teaching chops and didn’t look back.

Dragon Door: And you recently earned your RKC and RKC-II?

Mike Davidov: Yes, I'm very proud of that, some of my crowning achievements so far!

Dragon Door: How did you originally decide to go for your RKC certification?

Mike Davidov: After reading all the books—including the early Pavel books and anything else I could get my hands on from the other RKC instructors. Then, I wanted to learn from them in person. At that point, I only knew one other person into kettlebells and he was RKC certified. He encouraged me to do it. I was also at the point where I had been teaching for a few years and needed some new inspiration. I've also gotten close to Katie Petersen and Rob Miller—they are my two favorite deadlifting buddies now. Anytime they do a group community workout event, I'm there. Studying with the RKC really solidified that for me and my students. It has more substance and more longevity.
Mike Davidov Windmill
Dragon Door: What do you think makes a good teacher?

Mike Davidov: It’s not just knowing the information, and living the information—there are plenty of great athletes who know a lot but don't have the ability to connect with people in a meaningful way. I think it’s important to understand personalities, learning styles, and be able to see what your student pays attention to. I think a good teacher should also have many different approaches at their disposal at all times, and the ability to fluidly switch between them while building trust and rapport. A great teacher understands where the student is coming from, and can entice people into their world. I'm still learning how to become a good teacher, and am looking forward to learning the next steps.

Dragon Door: So now that you're RKC and RKC-II certified, what's your next big goal?

Mike Davidov: I'm never short of goals. I've been studying a lot of the PCC movements and have read many of the Convict Conditioning and Kavadlo brothers books. I’ve been walking on my hands a lot and trying to get my bodyweight movements up to the next level. Thanks to Dragon Door, I have been reading a lot of great stuff from Marty Gallagher, and really getting in touch with old school types of training that I previously missed. Now my goal is to find an outlet for reaching younger athletes so I can teach them some of the fundamentals of training. I also want to study with Max Shank. I really like his philosophy, his approach, and the way he teaches.

Dragon Door: What's your favorite kettlebell movement to teach?

Mike Davidov: It used to be the get-up, but now I really like to teach the clean. In fact I even like to teach it before I teach the swing. I feel like it’s a simpler, condensed movement than the swing, but it still opens up the awareness of hinging, the rack position, and bracing at the top with the kettlebell. When you catch the kettlebell, it almost forces you to brace and become a pillar of strength. As you hug the kettlebell into your ribcage, it engages the entire body and teaches total body tension. Once I feel like I've got people hooked, then we can take more time with the more intricate movements like the swing, the snatch, and the windmill.

Dragon Door: With your background as a chef, have you brought nutrition into your training?

Mike Davidov: That’s another goal! I want to get a sports nutrition certification so I can put together meal plans for clients and teach the entire concept with buying, preparing, and storing fresh food and ingredients. I recently left a big box gym and built a little studio in my home. It's nice to have the kitchen right there and I’ve been able to show some of my clients how to cook simple, healthy and tasty meals. I advocate a simple training style, so I want to take the nutrition side and simplify it too. When I can help people with their training and nutrition, I feel like they will have the best success.

Dragon Door: How did you decide to become an independent trainer and train out of your home?

Mike Davidov: I've always thought about having my own business and running every aspect of it my way. I appreciate how X-Sport gave me my first start and trusted me—it paid off for both of us. Their business-driven approach has allowed a lot of trainers to see a lot of clients and hone their skills. It was a great experience to soak up that much information in such a short amount of time. But, I felt like I needed to start building on my own business.

Dragon Door: Are you still a performing musician?

Mike Davidov: Yes, I still have the same group of guys that I started playing music with my freshman year of high school back in 1995. They're an amazing bunch, and we know each other so well that music is like a second language for us. I am still playing in the studio on occasion, and my engineer friends always recommend me when a band needs a bass player.

Dragon Door: Did you participate in the Kettle PRT again this year?

Mike Davidov: Yes, now that I've learned a lot about different areas of fitness I think it’s important to explore and test my skills. So I like to get outside my comfort zone and compete. It’s humbling to test your skills and find out how much work you still need to do. Kettle PRT is a great thing—I like to see other people’s grit and determination in real time, it’s inspiring. When I’m training, I'll stop a set when I feel like I've had enough, but in a competition, I will go a little further and push myself more than in a regular training session. Then, I will draw on those experiences when I’m back in my training. The training propels the events, and the events propel the training. It's a beautiful cycle and something I advocate to my students, too.

Dragon Door: What's next for you and your training?

Mike Davidov: I’ve starting to write, make videos, and get my thoughts out there. I feel that it’s so important to contribute to the ever-growing well of information now that I feel like I have something to say. Social media is not a favorite pastime for me, so I’m going to need to push myself a bit, but nothing worthwhile comes easy.
Mike Davidov Recording Podcast

Dragon Door: You recently started a podcast with Senior RKC Robert Miller, what was the inspiration to begin this ambitious project?

Mike Davidov: A few of my clients that pointed out that some of my emphatic rants about quality movement and related subjects could be useful for people in search of inspiration. I know how to record and edit audio fairly well, and years of performing in bands gave me a solid feel for carving out a radio personality. But, the biggest piece of the puzzle was when Rob agreed to partner with me on the project. His 15+ years in the fitness business and great personality earned him a long list of contacts which includes some of the best coaches and trainers in the world. We’ve been developing a sense of how to convey our thoughts in an interesting way and how to shape meaningful conversations with our guests. Our podcast is called Strong Arguments and I hope everyone can check it out on iTunes or Stitcher. Start with our very first interview with the great Dan John, he’s just brimming with inspiration.

Mike Davidov Double Kettlebell Press thumbnailMike Davidov, RKC-II can be contacted through his website at: (where you can also find the Strong Arguments podcast) or follow him on Facebook: