Kristin Dankanich, Kettlebell Instructor, SFG II

Kristin Dankanich

Kristin Dankanich

Kettlebell Instructor, SFG II
  • Dragon Gym Martial Arts & Fitness
  • 267 South Whitford Road Exton, PA 19341
  • (610) 363-7575

Get to know a kettlebell instructor:  Kristin – RKC, SFGII

1. When did you first become interested in Kettlebell training?

I first became interested in kettlebell training in 2011. At the time, I was battling with weight gain and really ready to make a change to be more active and find something new that I enjoyed doing as my main exercise regimen. After talking with a good friend, who was equally frustrated with her body, we decided to look into starting kettlebell training. We had both heard about the positive calorie-burning workouts and I liked the idea that I’d be getting stronger and learning a technique vs. just walking mindlessly on a treadmill (how boring…).

2. Why did you decide to enroll at the Dragon Gym.

I first decided to enroll after doing some research on the internet and finding that The Dragon Gym offered kettlebell training right in my own backyard! The instructors seemed knowledgable and friendly, so I was anxious to give it a try. Steve Maze did an incredible job with my orientation and made me feel comfortable with my abilities in executing the foundation movements. I also got to watch a portion of the group kettlebell class to see what I was in for! At the time, the 20 class punch card made it an easy decision for me to commit to a bulk of classes up-front after my initial orientation. And after those 20 classes, I knew right away this was the place for me! I’ve been a member here now for 3+ years.

3. How did you get involved with teaching/becoming an instructor?

I’ve always had a natural tendency to want to teach others, and really took to Diana Volante’s teaching style and care in explaining the intricacies of each movement with her students. I talked with Diana after class one day and expressed my interest in becoming a certified kettlebell instructor. We discussed training in preparation for the HKC certification, and then for the RKC Level 1 certification. Because instruction is part of the testing for Level 1 achievement, in the months leading up to my Level 1, she gave me a few opportunities during group classes to help coach others to gain confidence in my instruction skills. After my Level 1 certification, I continued to help with group classes, regularly acting as the kettlebell version of Vanna White, demonstrating movements while Diana provided instruction. This opportunity was invaluable in helping me learn how to best communicate with both beginners and experienced kettlebell students. I progressed as an Assistant Instructor and then took over instruction of the Saturday All-levels class.

4. You’re also a certified Kettlebell Instructor. How did you train for that achievement?

I trained exclusively to pass my RKC Level 1 certification at The Dragon Gym under Diana Volante’s tutelage. I upped my class participation to 4-5 times per week, taking both the Beginner’s and Advanced kettlebell classes. It also helped having some training partners, like fellow instructor Crystal Khan, to train with outside of classes prior to our certification to make sure we were “up to snuff.” For my more recent SFG Level 2 certification, I continued with my training at The Dragon Gym 4-5 times per week and also sought the additional instruction of a Level 2 coach.

5. Tell me a little bit more about your training regimen, including cross training

I am currently training at The Dragon Gym 2-3 times per week, taking both the Beginner’s and Advanced kettlebell classes, plus teaching my Saturday All-levels class. I have recently added power yoga to my regimen, getting those sessions in 1-2 times per week as a great compliment to my kettlebell training. I also practice foam rolling, primal movement and work on development of skills like pull-ups in my own time at home or before/after classes during the week.

6. What would your advice be for someone considering Kettlebell training

I would always advise someone new to first discuss this with their doctor first, to make sure they’re cleared for this (or any type) of physical activity. Next, I’d say to seek out a certified professional for instruction, such as the great instructors at The Dragon Gym. It’s really important to make sure you’re being coached by someone who is held to a strict standard of technique and is also focused on your progress and safety at all times. Lastly, I’d say give it a try! Schedule time for yourself to make the commitment to go, even if you’ve got a hectic lifestyle such as myself. Things always come up, but if you schedule out the time for yourself like any other meeting or appointment, you’ll do it. You can also enlist a friend to try it out with you, like I did at first, if you feel you’ll want the extra support or encouragement to keep this commitment with yourself.

7. What about someone with ambitions of becoming a Kettlebell instructor?

If you’re interested in someday becoming a kettlebell instructor, definitely make this known to your current instructor(s)! After all, we’re here to help you reach your goals, and that includes instruction of the technique to other students! Work with them to help develop a training plan outside of group classes, if needed, to help you prepare for kettlebell certifications, if those interest you. You should also work with your instructor(s) to hone your technique and coaching skills for each of the successive KIWK Challenge Day levels. Learning and improvement is a continual process, so make sure you’re continuing to focus on progressing your own abilities and becoming proficient in the instruction of those skills to others.

8. What kind of benefits have you received from your kettlebell training at Dragon Gym?

I’ve had innumerable benefits from my kettlebell training at The Dragon Gym–increased strength, cardiovascular fitness, better breath control, stress management, body composition changes and healthy, sustainable weight and fat loss–but I think one of the best overall things has been an increased self awareness. I’m more aware of how I feel and how I move throughout my day, even when I’m not in the gym. Kettlebell training has even been the catalyst for me to begin other positive, healthy changes in my life, such as keeping a food journal and improving my diet. Through my kettlebell training at The Dragon Gym, I’ve also made many great friends that truly care about and support my progress, which I have never found at any other gym or facility. There have been those days where I really don’t feel like going to class, but knowing my friends will comment the next class asking where I was and if I’m ok has really proven to be a great motivator and support system for me.

9. What’s your next goal?

I have so many things I want to be able to do, so narrowing down to my next goal is always a challenge in itself! Currently, I’m focused on gaining strength to be able to military press the 20kg with more regularity for reps, working on my pull-up and push-up abilities, and developing my barbell deadlift.

10. What Fears and Reservations did you have about starting here?

I honestly do not know that I had any fears or reservations in starting my kettlebell training. At the time, I was so fed up with feeling awful about myself that I was ready for a change! And to me, I honestly never considered that the training “might not work” because I was totally invested in training with regularity and making a positive change. There was no possibility that it wouldn’t work or that I wouldn’t see the change I was after. I was also really excited about the idea of getting stronger, and I’m so glad I found kettlebell training at The Dragon Gym like I did! It has truly changed my life.