Kettlebells with Karen Smith, Master SFG

Allison Tenney Uncategorized

I had the honor of asking my friend and fellow SFG (StrongFirst) Kettlebell instructor, Karen Smith, some questions about her fitness journey, her current training routine, how she got started with Kettlebells, and what keeps her coming back to the gym for more.

With the upcoming launch of my own Kettlebell Kickstart program on August 1, there was no other expert I trust more to learn about the benefits, how to start, and hear WHY she chooses Kettlebells over everything else!

Karen is a seasoned personal trainer and strength coach who travels the world instructing and certifying individuals of all ages and fitness levels from beginners to elite US military/Law enforcement.  Karen is currently a Master Kettlebell Instructor & Chief Bodyweight Instructor with STRONGFIRST. She was the FIRST female Master Kettlebell Instructor. Let that one sink in…

So yeah, when it comes to Kettlebells, Karen is leading the way. Let’s hear what she has to say…

1. What got you started on your fitness journey?

I have pretty much be into fitness in some form or fashion since coming out of the womb. As a kid I was in dance and gymnastics and then during school years I continued in gymnastics, did cheer from 6-12th grade and also did a little track (hurdles and sprints mostly).  After graduating I would spent time in the gym so later it just made since to transition into training since I was already spending so much time in the gym. I became a personal trainer in 1999 and the rest is history!

2. How did you find Kettlebells?

I first came across KB’s in 2004. I was working in LaJolla, CA as a trainer but was also a distributor for a Brazilian brand of Activewear and one of my clothing clients mentioned she was opening a Kettlebell gym. Of course at that time I just thought it was some new fad. I never went to try it out because I was pregnant and my daughter surprised me by arriving 5 week early.

3. What do you think are the advantages of Kettlebell training over standard weight training? Are there any?

I would say the biggest advantages are the efficiency of KB’s and the portability. You can get an amazing training session in with just one bell when needed. They do not require loads of time to get in a great session.  Plus you can get strength and conditioning all with this one simply (not easy) tool. But as you know…they do require a bit of learning curve if you want to do them properly and safely which is why we always recommend learning from a certified instructor.

4. What advice would you give to someone just starting out with Kettlebells?

Learn from a certified instructor to get the most benefit from the kettlebell. I say this because 1. safety but 2. many personal trainer who have never been to a kettlebell certification or course still seem to try to use KB’s as if they were a dumbbell. By doing so you lose a ton of the advantages of the KB.

5. What are some common misconceptions about training with a Kettlebell? Misconceptions 1. People think to just use it like a dumbell 2. That you can’t get strong with them 3. They are a fad 4. You need to “get in shape” to use them…. when really they are one of the best tools to get in shape and one of the quickest if done properly.

6. What has training taught you?

Oh wow… so many things. Patience, Dedication, Importance of Positive Mindset, How Strong I really am, and It has also increased my passion to help other in their journey.

7. How has your approach to training/fitness evolved over the years?

It has changed so much. I was a cardio junkie with the same fear as so many women for year… the BULKY Fear!! Then I found the kettlebell and Pavel’s training methodologies and my whole world changed. Now I am a strength junkie 🙂 and I get to travel the world sharing this amazing system and tool.

8. What keeps bringing you back into the gym? Why do you train?

If I am being 100% honest…I continue to train because I not only want to feel good and live a long and healthy life, but I (like so many) want to look good.

9. Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Kettlebells are now mainstream and if you still haven’t tried them you are missing out. They seriously are one of the best tools around for over all strength and conditioning. I know it may sound crazy to some but they really have changed my life.

10. Where can people find you? Social media, website… what event, certifications, or programs do you have coming up?

People can find me:
IG @_coach_karen_
FB: Coach Karen Smith
Twitter: KarenSmithMSFG
I have an Ebook Program called REFiNE that includes Kettlebell and Bodyweight Skills and a private coaching group on facebook and a few other products. I also have a few new projects in the works. 

Event and certifications..
SFG Level I kettlebell certification in Dallas Dec 7-9
SFG Kettlebell course in November in CT at Bloomfield Fit Body Boot Camp (Rachel Black’s gym)
really too many others to list here as I am in a different state/country mostly every other week. But all certs dates/locations are listed on I do have a few bodyweight certs coming up too.