Updated: Mar 11
Life has a way of providing the lessons we need most in unexpected ways. I learned many important lessons about how to move Kettlebell Partner Passing® (KPP) forward during the three years I lived at a monastery. While I moved to the monastery to focus on spiritual growth and development, little did I know that monastic living would fertilize the roots of KPP.
Stepping away from the fast-paced world of modern technology to transition into a monastery may sound serene, but adapting to the cadence of monastic life was more challenging than one might expect. The work schedule at the monastery was light by societal standards, as mindfulness and awareness are emphasized over productivity. It took nearly three months of unwinding and digesting my previous life before I settled into monastic living.
The ins and outs of the daily routine of a monk revolve around communal prayer four times a day, a group meditation, individual prayer and various work tasks. A monk’s ultimate aim is to pray continuously without ceasing. The work schedule is clearly secondary to the prayer schedule and the days are diced up in such a way that work is squeezed between communal prayer sessions. The bible verse (Matthew 6:33) “Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all else will be given unto thee,” is taken quite literally at the New Camaldoli Hermitage (NCH).
I had lived at the monastery nine years earlier as the monks' personal trainer and used kettlebells to turn some of them into lean, godly praying machines. They had enjoyed learning kettlebells from me, and I thought perhaps I would find someone to practice passing kettlebells with so I could continue developing KPP. However, it proved difficult to find a willing partner this time around.
The aging population of NCH, almost a decade older, were hesitant to indulge in this new style of training I had created since I last sojourned with them. The only exception was brother Gabriel, who showed ecstatic interest, as was fitting with his zealous nature. Despite his enthusiasm, I was reluctant to pass kettlebells with him since he was blind in one eye, losing sight in the other, and in his 80s. It seemed my only hope for continuing to develop KPP as a partner practice was a geriatric one-eyed monk. As brother Emmanuel, God rest his soul, loved to say, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak"... clearly this stint at the monastery would be about focusing on the "solo" aspects of KPP.
Living at the monastery with ample free time, I dove headfirst into my solo training. I discovered and refined myriad drills that strengthened all of the possible positions that can be encountered while passing with a partner. As a result, Kettlebell Solo was born. My time training at the monastery showed me that Kettlebell Solo was the way to teach people how to succeed at KPP. What made it even more valuable was that it could be practiced without a partner.
Kettlebell Partner Passing® had been in development for eight years at this point, and the barriers to entry had always been: 1) knowing how to use a kettlebell safely, and 2) having a partner to pass with. One of the most valuable lessons from my time at the monastery was that when I went back to passing with partners after spending so much time doing solo work, I was a better partner to pass with. It turns out that doing our personal or “solo” work is crucial if we want to excel at partnership. Funny, how life gives us the lessons we need when we least expect it.
Kettlebell Solo is the most effective way to build a foundation for KPP without the need for a partner to practice with. Furthermore, solo work builds confidence with a kettlebell while preparing your mind, body, and spirit to be the best possible partner you can be. My time spent cultivating a deeper sense of self-awareness at the monastery fertilized the seeds of Kettlebell Solo that were sown years earlier. Were it not for the time I spent in solitude at the monastery, Kettlebell Solo and Kettlebell Partner Passing for that matter wouldn't be where they are today.
Kettlebell Solo can be the beginning of your KPP Journey™ or it can be the destination where you build strength, stamina, and coordination without ever passing a kettlebell. Either way, Kettlebell Solo is a must on your journey to becoming the best you can be!