Today I am happy to present an article and reflection by an incredible american Kettlebell lifter, Mr. Juan Pellot.
Juan and I share several similarities in our love for kettlebell promotion and coaching, and on top of that, we are both fathers of young children that mean the world to us.
That being said, here is a little insight from one great coach, who has been taught from other great coaches in the USA about the sacrifices and feeling of competing on the kettlebell sport platform. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Juan Pellot
Everyone has had those moments before a competition when a loved one gives you words of
You’ll always hear “go get ‘em”, “don’t give up”, or “you can do it”.
While it’s great to feel support from friends and colleagues, nothing set me in the right direction like what
someone told me a few days before my last competition on March 29:
“Last minute, think about your kids. There’s power being a dad.” Ken Blackburn my coach, a
man who I greatly respect, said these words to me.
Now let me back up a bit before I start ranting about being a happy father.
When I said competition, I wasn’t referring to running a race or fighting in a tournament. These
are also tests of mental fortitude. But I am a Girevik, a kettlebell sport athlete.
I stand on a platform for 10 minutes and put myself through the most mind blowing self-induced suffering
I’ve ever encountered.
In the long cycle, my event of choice, one must repetitiously clean and jerk 2 kettlebells (men) or
1 kettlebell (women) for a maximum of 10 minutes without setting the bells down onto the floor.
The feeling of the bell’s weight against your chest is grueling. Even the most skilled lifter must
keep focus and fall back to all the skills acquired in preparing for this set.
Even though you’re repeatedly hoisting heavy weight over your head, and exhaustion sets in, the hardest part is the
mental struggle, finding the will and serenity needed to keep your composure while performing.
The Flight or Fight response can take over, threatening with tension and an increase in the stress
An elevated heart rate and faster energy expenditure through unneeded tension guarantees you won’t have a good result in competition.
The ability to relax and stay calm through all this is crucial.
But how do you do this when you’re under so much pressure?
“Unendurable pain brings its own end with it. Chronic pain is always endurable: the intelligence
maintains serenity by cutting itself off from the body, the mind remains undiminished.
And the parts that pain affects- let them speak for themselves, if they can.”
-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“Sometimes you’ve just gotta smile through the pain.”
It’s hard to imagine cracking a smile under such conditions. But if you truly think about it,
something powerful must come to mind to make you smile while suffering. Their has to be
something that holds so much weight in your life that it helps you detach from the pain your body
experiences. Something that helps you endure.
I didn’t realize what my “mental anchor” was until September of 2013 when I competed at the AKA/ USA Nationals
in my hometown of New York City.
I discovered that I drew great strength from being a father.
While I was lifting I had the support of all of my friends and family at the competition, which got
me seriously pumped to get going. But at about 7 minutes in, dread gripped me from all the pain,
and I didn’t think I would make it.
Then I heard a little voice say “daddy up!”
I looked past the judge into the crowd and there in my pregnant wife’s arms was my little girl Luna.
She was only 16 months old but I could see her pumping her hands up and hear her yelling at me.
That did it.
I couldn’t help but smile.
That little girl drowned out a crowd and became my oasis.
I made it through my set, achieved Rank 1 in the 24kg long cycle, and became a member of the
first official USA Kettlebell Team to compete at the IUKL World Championships in Tyumen, Russia.
Since that day my kids have been my driving force.
In Russia I took first place in my weight division. Before competing I spent 15 minutes watching
videos of my daughter saying “alligator”, “daddy”, and blowing kisses into the camera to me.
That gold medal I won, I gave to her.
Afterwards I competed at the last AKA/IKSFA event of the
year and took first place and set a PR of 69reps with 24kg bells. My wife, daughter, and unborn
little man were there. And my little girl again yelled “daddy up!”
For this last competition it was the first time I’d competed with 28kgs.
I was aiming for 57 reps,
which would give me the title of CMS (Candidate for Master of Sport).
I was twice blessed as I had in my two kids in my arms the morning of competition.
I honored them in the batch of new shirts I printed for my team and iron family “Kettlebell Athletics”.
I made it a point to have both of my children’s names on my sleeves.
Luna guards my right side and Lucas my left.
My cubs also have their own team shirts because you don’t get much cuter than babies and kettlebells.
I didn’t make my goal, but I still won first place, and the coefficient.
All of my lifters took medals home.
I’m currently preparing myself and 14 of my lifters to fight for spots on the US National Team on
August 23rd. This time the AKA Nationals is being held in my native Brooklyn.
You can bet my babies will be there.
Not all of my teammates are parents, but we all have a tether that we can depend on in times of
suffering to pull us out of the hole.
Everyone has those moments where “I can’t do this” starts echoing within.
It could be the loss of a loved one, final exams, or your first marathon.
As much suffering as you’re put through, there is still something deeply rooted in your being that will
remind you that it’s all worth enduring.
I love Winston Churchill’s quote: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”.
My power is drawn from the love I bear my children. They’re an endless well of motivation and
strength for me. Everyone’s got someone or something they can tap into.
One of my most gifted lifters recalls good times with her late father and how proud she knows he’d be of her.
That gets her through the fatigue, torn calluses, and mental exhaustion of a 10-minute snatch set.
Whatever you’re endeavor find strength in the bonds you share.
Be they close friends, family, or an honest love for what you’re doing.
Let it be the fuel in your gas tank to help plow through your obstacles.
I’ve been blessed with a great father, the opportunity to be one myself, and the gift of having
some amazing dads influence my growth and motivation.
Thank you to my old man.
And thank you to my wife for being my armor.
My name is Juan Pellot. I am a Girevik, and a coach.
But more than anything, I am a father.
This a beautiful account of the feeling of having children as your driving force in athletics no matter what sport you do. Thanks Juan. Joe Daniels
Director of Kettlebell Sport, Head coach, NSCA-CPT