When I was 17 or 18, I watched the weightlifting competition during the Seoul Olympics with my old man (a former Olympic-style weightlifter who trained in York back in the day). As we watched a personal profile of the great olympic lifter Anatoly Khrapaty, there was a clip of he and his coach having an improptu kettlebell pressing contest, which his coach won. My dad said, "Those are kettlebells! There were some of those lying around in York. We used to dust the cobwebs off and fool around with them once in a while." Needless to say, my interest was piqued and 15 years later I bought my first kettlebell from Pavel and eventually became a certified kettlebell instructor.
Obviously, I've gotten a lot more proficient with kettlebells in the past 2 or 3 years, but it's easy to maintain a "beginner's mind" when the surrounding world kettlebell community is so well-practiced and conditioned. Yesterday, I did the "Secret Service Snatch Test" (aka, the "SSST"): 10 minutes of snatching a 53lb kettlebell as many times as you can. I managed to get 156 reps even though I was huffing and puffing at 50. Not bad, I guess, but apparently 200 is the standard of excellence with this test. 200 repetitions in 10:00 is one of my personal training goals for 2008 and I'm looking forward to the journey.
...and just for fun, here's the master, Anatoli Khrapaty, cleaning up at the 1988 Seoul Olympics: