Steve Cotter Interview : From Martial Arts to World Traveling Kettlebell Educator
I feel incredibly proud that our gym and training philosophy has reached so many people in the past few years. I owe a lot of that to a few people but I have to say I really look up to this man and his ways. Ladies and gentlemen please welcome to this page, the one and only Steve Cotter, head of the IKFF. (International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation)
1. Steve, when did you first become interested in kettlebell training?
Steve Cotter : It was 2002. I had just finished college. I had taught martial arts professionally for many years prior, but in my late 20s I realized that I was not going to make martial arts a lifelong profession. So I decided to pursue some formal education in sport science. I had just graduate with my degree in Kinesiology and after almost 4 years of full time college, my conditioning was not what it had been when I was doing martial arts full-time. So I intuitively was seeking something that allowed me to do more work in less time. The kettlebells stepped in to present that option.
2. I remember seeing Full Kontact DVDs before the IKFF. What made you decide to create a certifying organization?
Steve Cotter : Well this was in the Wild West frontier days of KB eduction in America. At that time there was only the RKC, which was good at what it provided, but was an incomplete education. Valery Fedorenko had just recently started his AKC program about a year prior. I had received many inquiries from folks around the world via email saying that if I ever decided to create my own certification, they would take it. I started IKFF because I had a way of presenting information and integrating mind and body fitness in a way that had not been done before and coupled with significant interest created from the DVDs I had already presented, the time was right.
3.What are your goals and vision for the IKFF in the next 5 years ?
Steve Cotter : IKFF is a platform. For myself personally and professionally and also for like minded, holistic-minded folks around the world to be able to coordinate and cooperate to provide clear information for anyone looking to empower themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. My goals reach far beyond fitness. IKFF is less than 5 years in the making and we will move beyond kettlebells and fitness to affect community well-being, in communities around the world. Because of the increasing levels of stress people are experiencing in our fast-paced modern world, there is a strong need for straight education about health and well-being and also for leadership. IKFF is at the forefront of this movement. Educate, Motivate and Inspire, that is what IKFF is about. This can affect all facets of a person’s life, when applied intelligently.
4.There seems to be a lot of arguments about which is the best ways to use kettlebells. Not to put you on the spot but , Do you have any input on this ?
Steve Cotter : My input is this. Words like BEST and FIRST are words of the ego. The need to be recognized, to feel special, to put oneself above others. I have no interest or use in it. To me it is simple, does it make your life better in some way? If it does, it is a good thing! Are there different levels of quality, certainly but seriously man, it is JUST a ball with a handle! It is not about how to use a kettlebell for me, it is about how to improve your life and kettlebell can contribute to that larger importance.
5.I’ve always admired your fully balanced approach to training. How much mental training do you focus on? How often do you meditate or perform qigong exercises?
Steve Cotter : Not nearly enough Joe! At one time I practiced qigong or moving meditation daily, so it is a part of me and my world view. I have slacked in that department in recent years quite honestly. However I spent a lot of time assessing and disciplining my thoughts.
6.You are a busy traveller with the IKFF. How do you keep your energy up? Any special nutrition or sleep tips you care to share?
Steve Cotter : Here is the secret, I love LIFE. I am inspired I am grateful to be alive, to be able to teach and to learn. Mind is all, body is the servant to the mind, not the other way around. So I have an intensely positive state of mind, more often than not. This keeps me in perfect health. Sounds metaphysical, but it is quite practical. I do not have great sleep habits and my nutrition is far from ideal. It waxes and wanes, but one thing I always have is a fundamental belief in my self and my self worth. To me this is the single most important factor in health and success.
7. What types of bodywork or therapy do you use ? Have you found anything interesting in your travels across the world for anti inflammation and or joint discomfort?
Steve Cotter : I sometimes will roll out trigger points with TPT balls and occasional massage and pretty regular stretching, that is about it. I heal any injuries with my mind, because I do not believe in illness. There is no such thing as sickness, there is only health. What people call illness is really just an erroneous thought pattern which creates the corresponding effects. Sure I get hurt sometimes, but I heal myself when I do. From my experience, massage, trigger point release, stretching, meditation, nutrition and use of natural medicines work well for almost everything.
Here is the thing, any doctor or healer cannot heal a person. They can only facilitate the healing. Healing comes from God if you can relate to that word. I like to use the word Life but we should not be limited by words. The point is there is a healing and life giving energy which sustains us and provides all. Conversely, one can have the perfect diet and ideal set up, but without recognition of the Cause of life, no one can be healthy. So I focus on the Cause not the effects.
All systems of healing have the same fundamental power as its Source.
8. You were recently married, how has that affected your training or business?
Steve Cotter : Fairly recently a few years ago. Well, it means I only own half of the company now, lol. Aside from that, it just gives me more focus and more happiness and more to celebrate with the love of my life. But my life work is my life work and every person has to identify his or her path and follow it. That part has not changed, I just have more support and happiness to do so now.
9.What are your current GS goals?
Steve Cotter : I can’t honestly identify a goal at this time. I have some longer term goals but I have to be realistic with my schedule and my priorities. I do not think a person can keep my schedule and achieve peak athletic development. Once I can take about 4 months off with no travel, I will achieve my MS in GS. For now I just try to catch maybe one KB meet a year as that is about all my travel schedule will allow.
10. What do you expect out of your Certified Kettlebell Teachers.?
Steve Cotter : A very solid physical foundation and basic mastery of the core lifts. As important, the ability to develop their teaching eyes and communication skills. In addition, leadership, strong and focused leadership.
11. Can you give us a short description of your current training program?
Steve Cotter : There is not a current program. It looks something like this: Thursday–fly to some location, Friday arrive, grab a nap if possible then teach a master class. Sat and Sun teach CKT. Monday fly to home if possible (either in San Diego or Italy depending upon where I am coming from). So that leaves me with Tuesday, Wed and maybe TH in which I can actually follow my own training program. Most of my training at the moment is working with the students in workshops and courses. In my own training I mostly do High Intensity intervals, focusing more on Jerk or Long Cycle and throw in some jump squats or other leg training. Keep it very basic and intense. I like to do a lot of drop sets, such as Jerks: 2x40kg, 2x36kg, 2x32kg, 2x28g, 2x24kg, 1 min on, 1 min rest. That is my preference when I only have a little bit of time to train.
12. What advice would you give to the first time exerciser looking to try kettlebells?
Steve Cotter : Air on conservatism while you are learning. If unsure, do less, because you can always do a bit more next time. Here is the way to progress with kettlebells.
Start light and build the duration. Then once you can work for a decent duration (say 3-5 min per exercise), then keep the same load but increase the speed (RPMs), e.g. start with 6-10 rpm and build up to 24+ rpm. Then once you can go fast for the entire duration, move up in load and repeat the process. That is a good recipe for sustainable progress. The last thing is to keep with the basics as the mainstay of any program.
Steve it has been an honor. I sincerely thank you from myself and SwingThis Kettlebell and Strength
Steve : Thanks to you Joe and Swing This! You guys are doing a GREAT job, and I definitely recommend you for anyone who wants no-nonsense training from a guy who really cares about your progress. You have my respect.
If you are interested in becoming an IKFF CKT check it out HERE.
Check out our other kettlebell influenced interviews HERE.