Procession Caterpillars – Friend Or Foe?

Caterpillars remind me of my garden, eating the plantation, small, harmless, maybe even cute but annoying to the plant life with no risk to me, children or my pets. Ask me about procession caterpillars and I will give you a completely different answer. Friend or foe?

Foe would not even begin to describe these characters, they are the enemy and should be avoided at all costs. Enemy probably sounds too strong a description for a little hairy caterpillar but trust me, don’t make a judgement because of its size or because you have always liked them.

Found across Europe, especially in Mediterranean countries where the temperatures are generally warmer, officially titled Thaumatopoea Pitycampa or the caterpillar of the pine tree. They are considered a threat to the trees, dangerous to animals and to people can cause a very strong allergic reaction caused by the hairs found on their backs.

Traditionally, the nests are found in the pine trees and their home is usually positioned on the sunny side of the tree and can often be spotted from a distance where the pine needles have turned brown.

On closer inspection, white candy floss woven on the branches and delicate silk bags can be seen decorating the trees. These are the nests of the procession caterpillar, protecting them as they grow and keeping them warm.

To feed, they leave the safety of their home at night and walk along the branches to demolish and feast on the pine tree, venturing further afield once they depleted the supplies. They are greedy and destructive and are active in the winter months, often feeding in zero temperatures before returning to the nest to rest and digest their feed in the warmer, sunlight hours.

In March when they are fully grown they commence the next stage of their journey, leaving the safety of the nest and tree in search of a burial site.

Why are they named procession caterpillars? When they start to move, they look as though they are marching, like an army in a line, head to tail determined to find a suitable pupation site in the soil. They may travel long distances from the host tree before they bury themselves, spending the warmer months buried as a pupa. In August, the moth emerges from its cocoon, mates and lays its eggs in a pine tree and the cycle commences all over again.

We have lived in Spain for several years now and we have a lovely pet dog named Angel, who is a West Highland Terrier, who loves to pretend to hunt and explore the woods amongst the pine trees. We have never experienced any problems and for the majority of the year it is a safe and pleasant place to walk. During the first quarter of the year, January through to April we do have to be vigilant and we prefer to find other areas to walk.

The beginning of the year is the most dangerous time for exposure to the caterpillars, although the nests are formed before then. Due to the weather being warmer, whether climate change is to blame or not I do not know, but I have seen the caterpillars in the woods feeding and away from their nests in early December, although unusual.

True to her breed, Angel is always sniffing in bushes and tracking a smell through the undergrowth and it is this behaviour that causes her the greatest threat. Along the back of the insects are fine, irritating hairs that if inhaled, licked or indeed eaten the caterpillar can cause her great pain. Dogs, cats and foxes are among the animals at most risk to these insects, attracted to them because of their colour and some say their odour.

If the hairs come into contact with the animals lips or tongue, the area will swell very quickly and cause a large amount of pain and we need to ensure this does not asphyxiate them. If the caterpillar has been eaten then the symptoms are more severe with vomiting, a fever and blood present in the urine. If you suspect your animal has come into contact with the caterpillars you must take them to the vet immediately, the faster the treatment can be administered the better.

The hairs on the caterpillar are released into the air and do not have to be attached to inflict injury. Beware, poking the insect with a stick or treading on them will only release the hairs into the environment and you will become more susceptible to inhalation. Even if the caterpillar is dead the hairs remain dangerous.

Disposing of the nests during the winter months should be left to the professionals, although spraying the nests with hairspray to ensure the hairs do not disperse into the air, covering with a plastic bag and cutting the branch down is the usual treatment before setting the nest on fire. Protective clothing including goggles must be worn, so leave it to the experts. A procession of caterpillars are usually set alight after dousing them with lighter fluid, again to prevent the hairs from circulating.

Please note, I do not advocate this procedure as the trees and woodland are often dry and desiccated and this poses a real threat to forest and bush fires.

Please keep your pets safe, do not panic about the caterpillars, learning to live with them, being careful and aware helps to prevent any problems or encounters with the insects. They are not around all year, it is only for a short period of time that you need to be vigilant. Remember, if you think your pets have come into contact with them or indeed yourself seek veterinary and medical assistance immediately. Photographs of the caterpillars can be found on my website.



Source by Kerry Joyce

7 Pros and 7 Cons of Audiobooks

I just finished my first audiobook. And it was an experience worth sharing:

I had been reading reviews and blog posts and tweets about Seth Godin’s newest book, Linchpin. Went to a couple of bookshops on my way to work/home; it wasn’t available. So I went to Amazon.com to order one. I was at Amazon after a long time, and was surprised to see the options available: Kindle (ebook download), hardcover, paperback, audio CD and audio download. Audio download looked like the fastest option so I checked it out. It took me to Audible.com – an Amazon company, where an audio download was being offered for just USD7.49 with a new membership! I signed up, paid the money, downloaded the book, and started listening to it right away! The benefits:

1. It’s fast. I was listening to the book after just a few clicks in few minutes.

2. It’s cheap. Book versions were USD13-25.

3. It’s convenient. I copied the file to my iPhone to listen during my commute to and from work.

4. It’s safe. A copy each on my computer, iPhone and backup is likely to last (damage-free) as long as I wish.

5. It takes no space. So less clutter. No worries about whether to keep, sell off, recycle or give-away.

6. It’s environment-friendly. No paper, ink, chemicals.

7. It’s comfortable. For someone who spends a lot of time in front of computers or books, this is a good break for the eyes. You can listen while standing, walking or lying down.

And the disadvantages:

1. You need technology – computer, Internet access, applications like iTunes, and power supply

2. You need a handheld device to maximize the use of audiobooks – iPhone, iPod or any other MP3 player

3. You need a credit card for online purchase

4. You can’t share. I love giving away my books to someone who might enjoy/benefit. Most audiobooks can’t be shared on multiple computers/accounts.

5. You can’t refer as easily. I like to go back to particular passages in my favorite books for inspiration/information/sharing. In audiobooks, you can fast-forward to chapters but it’s difficult to go to the exact passage you are looking for.

6. You can lose it easily – unless you have a good backup system.

7. You become anti-social. Your chances of interesting conversations with strangers greatly diminish if you go around with headphones in your ears.

On balance, I think it depends on your lifestyle, circumstances and even the kind of book you want to read. Please take a few minutes to share your views through comments: Have you tried an audiobook? If not, will you? What other pros and cons can you think of?



Source by Mush A Panjwani

5 Tips to Lose Weight and Look Great

1. Know your goal

Ask yourself first why you want to lose weight. Is it because you want to fit in that little black dress again or did your doctor advise you to do so? Both these circumstances require your time to check on some but the latter one should make you really serious in committing to a driven lifestyle. This journey will be fruitful but you have to develop your mindset into losing weight and feeling great.

2. Visualize

Now that your mind is ready to practice effective, you should have an inspiration. What kind of body would you like to achieve? Visualizing the body that you desire is very helpful not only in losing weight but also in achieving your other goals in life. Search the internet for that dream body or cut out a picture from a magazine and place it somewhere you will always see. Following plus a mind that is set on a goal would really make your weight loss journey go a long way!

3. Clean up your diet

If you have done the first two tips, then this third will be an easy feat for you. Since your mind is already set to being disciplined and goal-oriented towards, it is now time for you to train yourself to eat healthier. Exercise won’t do much if you still splurge on oily and fatty food every day of your life. Keep your plate enjoined grilled, steamed, or boiled. Try to prepare your own dose of healthy food so you won’t only depend on the friendly fast-food chain nearby.

4. Load up on fiber

One when it comes to food is to have a low-fat, high-fiber diet. Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of fiber so be sure to have least 25% daily intake in your diet. It does not have a fat-burning ingredient but it has lower calories and eating it will make you feel fuller and less hungry. This delicious should also be practiced with plenty of water intake. Also, keep in mind that most fiber comes from the skin of the fruit or vegetable, so better think twice before undressing that apple or potato.

5. Keep on moving

Wherever you may be, you have no excuse for not exercising. Exercising is one of the most-avoided but is also one of the most important. It aids your weight loss journey and also gives you leaner muscles to make you and stronger. Take 30 minutes daily dedicated to physical activity. It may be jogging, brisk walking, dancing, or as simple as walking up and down the stairs! What’s important is you keep your on point regularly.



Source by Thelma Okoro

Discover How to Become Rich, Famous & Successful With a Modeling Career

The road to becoming rich, famous and successful in modeling is not for everyone though. In the old days you had to be extra extra skinny in order to become a rich and famous model. Today however there are far more modeling avenues that entice many looks and body types.

You may have looked at a fashion magazine and have a pretty good idea of what modeling is. To get a good look into the requirements of modeling you may want to catch an episode of Americas Next Top Model. Most of the models on the tv show are high fashion models, but you may be wanting to get into another type of modeling like plus size industry. Modeling is everywhere we go and look. Only you know what kind of model you could be but be truthful with you self.

Before you jump into pursuing a modeling career you need to make sure your are doing it for the right reasons. If not you will misguide yourself and will not make it to where you want. If you think modeling is a good way to jump start your singing or acting career you best think about it again. People with this attitude rarely make it very far in modeling. All the top modeling professionals frown upon people like this everyday. To become rich, famous and successful in a modeling career you will need to have dedication and passion.

If you are male you will need to step outside of your shell to succeed. You see more female models than you do male models. Do not let this get you down by thinking you have to display big muscles. Modeling has went through many changes since the early days. Over time new genres, styles and looks have been added with even more on the way. You just might have that new style consumers are trying to find. You just never know in our ever changing world.

To be successful in a career of modeling you will need a high level of self confidence and ambition. No matter if you are female, male or what your body type is. When you enter into modeling you will have to work extra hard to be be transformed into a popular well known face. Be careful not to get ties up with an agency that does not treat or handle their clients honestly and respectfully. Every good agency will not need you to give them money. They will earn money once you land your first modeling gig.

When you find open calls make sure you go and do not talk yourself into not going no matter what you are thinking. Just do it. You see an open call is just as good as open houses where interested models are invited to be interviewed. You need to dress in clothing that will exhibit your body type and features. You will also want to pick an outfit out that is fashionable. This is your chance to prove yourself to the representatives of the agency. You will not stand out to them if you just wear your normal everyday clothes. To become famous you have to act like your famous in order to become rich, famous and successful in modeling.



Source by Dennis J. Cole

Interpreters of Maladies – Sensuous Symbols

Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize and received literary fame for her series of short stories. There are several symbols in one of her short stories, Interpreter of Maladies. The major symbols are: the strawberry necklace around Mrs. Das’ neck, which rested between her breasts, the naked intimate statutes at the temple which she admired, and the paper with Mr. Kapasi’s address, which blew out of her pocket book and into the wind.

The short story, Interpreters of Maladies, focuses on an Indian-American couple, Mr. and Mrs. Das, who are on vacation in India with their three children. They are chauffeured by an Indian taxi driver who developed an immediate affection for Mrs. Das. His imagination focused on comparing Mrs. Das with his wife in a sensual manner.

The strawberry necklace around Mrs. Das’s neck, which rested between her breasts serves as a symbol of her sensuousness. Mr. Kapasi’s infatuation for Mrs. Das started at this point. He found her irresistible. The strawberry resting between her breasts on the tightly fitted undershirt styled blouse, reminded Mr. Kapasi of the ripeness of her breasts as a symbol of her femininity. He watched her through the rear view mirror. This allowed him to daydream of an irresistible relationship with Mrs. Das, one he never had with his wife.

The naked statutes at the Sun Temple were symbols of intimacy to Mr. Kapasi and Mrs. Das. Mr. Kapasi watched her reactions to the naked statutes and their love making positions. He was pleased that she stopped every three or four paces and stared at the carved lovers and topless females. He also gazed at the topless figures as his mind wandered on Mrs. Das with intensity while he subsequently gazed with affection upon her profile. This led to his continued daydreaming about her. He saw her in a more sexually appealing way than his wife.

The slip of scrap paper with Mr. Kapasi’s name and address which was in Mrs. Das’s pocketbook signified a connection between them. He even daydreamed about having future contacts with her. However, when she revealed to him her secret of infidelity regarding her son Bobby’s birth, it changed their relationship from positive to negative. She was not pleased by his reaction, walked away, and went in search of her husband and children. When they re-entered the taxi, the paper with the address blew out of Mrs. Das’s pocketbook and into the wind. The only person who noticed the paper as it blew away was Mr. Kapasi. This served as a symbol of loss infatuation to Mr. Kapasi. The event signified the ending of their relationship.

This short story by Jhumpa is authentic, original, and enjoyable to read. I like this story because it is closely related to reality. It touched on events that could possibly occur on a daily basis between individuals in various settings. The symbols in the story provided enrichment to the text and enhanced its interpretation. It is a great story which should be read by individuals interested in understanding various cultural myths and symbolism.

© Joseph S. Spence, Sr. All Rights Reserved



Source by Joseph Spence, Sr.

Thanksgiving is a Great Family Holiday

Pre-boomers were taught the first Thanksgivings was a day of gratitude expressed by the early settlers nearly 400 years ago in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The pilgrims thanked God for delivering them to the new world where they could live free of religious persecution, for surviving the first year, and for the harvest to sustain them in the winter months ahead. We also learned they shared their food with the local Native Americans.

This national holiday has become a secular celebration of parades, football games, and overeating with the next day marking the official start of the Christmas shopping season, overshadowing its true roots. However, most pre-boomers have seen and remember Norman Rockwell’s series of Thanksgiving paintings which appeared in “The Saturday Evening Post” during the war years of the 1940s. The warm feelings we get when exposed to those   magazine  covers remains with us to this day.

The Thanksgivings of my childhood remain vivid in my mind. As a young child it was the Gimbel’s Parade in downtown Philadelphia. Later the football games took up the morning. Then it was home from college for the long weekend. And later it was the quick train rides from Manhattan to get there in time for the mid-afternoon dinner. Then, many years past before the family got together again. The kids had grown and the first grandchild had arrived before my parents finally moved to the West Coast, after years of prodding. So they were able to enjoy the day each year with all of us and we with them before they passed on a few years back. For this I am most grateful.

I have fond memories of Thanksgivings past and am fortunate to have family close by, so we can enjoy this day together each year. In fact, recently the family took a cruise over the holiday: grandparents, adult children and their spouses as well as the grandkids. It was different and lots of fun, but I missed the “home cooking.”

No matter were you are or who you’re with this Thanksgiving, try to recall those magical days gone by when you woke to the alluring aroma of the turkey roasting in the oven. Be quiet and you can almost here your mom and maybe grandma and your aunts talking as they worked for hours to prepare this family feast. And, even though you were shooed out of the kitchen, you managed to catch a glimpse of the vast array of food to be served and knew this day would be good.

Of course, we ate leftovers for days to come: turkey platters, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey ala king, turkey hash and turkey croquettes. Nobody ate turkey burgers back then or we would have had them too. Even though we grew tired of a week of turkey, everyone looked forward to having another feast at Christmas. Thankfully this meal was at another family member’s home, so we were spared the endless days of leftovers.

This Thanksgiving it’s appropriate to reminisce about those who helped make this holiday a bounty of delicious food for us to enjoy year-after-year, and be thankful for all the other things they did to make our childhood days worth remembering.



Source by Don Potter

Smartphone Tips for Winter Survival

Smartphones are essential in today’s world as they add up to the digital lifestyle of a consumer. For this very reason, it is essential to keep it up and running. However often due to weather extremities and sudden drop in temperature, your Smartphone might give you troubles. No matter which Smartphone you are using iPhone, Samsung, Nokia, Sony or any other these are sensitive to weather changes and surrounding environment. Now that the winters have set in with its chill and the snowfall, it is more likely to cause damage to your device.

Given here are a few tips that will help you protect your precious Smartphone during this cold season:

Why is chilly weather harmful for your Smartphone?

You might still not be aware about the most technical aspects of your Smartphone. Often manufacturers specify the optimum temperature range for a given gadget in technical specs. For example, if you are using an iPhone 5S then the ideal temperature range for this phone would be-4° to 113° Fahrenheit. This temperature would be at the time when it is not in use and powered down. When your iPhone is powered on then the range of temperature is narrow, Apple gives a suggestion of maintaining 32° Fahrenheit. If you are using some other brand then the temperature range can be -4° Fahrenheit.

Another thing that you ought to remember is that when batteries that are lithium-ion based are affected by sudden temperature changes. This often has an adverse effect upon the battery performance. During the cold seasons the battery drains faster.

Surviving Cold Weather

We all carry touch sensitive phones that require proper care during the winter season. Even though you try hard still when you are out in the cold weather you cannot access your touch screen. Even opting for special gloves is not going to prevent your device from damage. For those who are still using woolen gloves will not be able to access their device. Think about protecting your device as why your device should be left out in cold to bear that temperature drop, it is a device with delicate components that are sensitive to environmental changes.

The best option here seems to be the Stylus. This comes handy for performing better functions as well as typing when you are out in the cold if you so need to do it.

Quick Tips

After knowing exactly why your Smartphone is behaving erratically during this chilly season you need to check upon some quick tips that will help you pull through the winters:

• Avoid leaving your phone out in the cold or in a chill zone. For example, leaving your phone out in the parked car during winter season is not a good idea. It is advisable to carry your phone in your jacket pocket and close to your body so that your body heat can keep your Smartphone warm.

• If you need to leave your phone behind then it is better to switch it off rather than leaving it on sleep mode. This way not only will you save on battery power but also the performance of your phone will be multiplied.

• Always purchase cases for your Smartphone that are manufactured by the equipment maker. For example if you are purchasing an iPhone then it is better to purchase cases from Apple instead of going in for some local company. Good cases help in regulating the temperature of your phone and this is why it is advised to purchase from OEMs only.

• Carrying extra battery for your phone is yet another good option especially when you are travelling in cold environment or places where it snows a lot.

All the above given tips are simple and easy but worth keeping in mind when you next travel to a cold country or face winters. Your Smartphone will perform better and the battery will last longer if you keep it protected from weather extremities.



Source by Jennifer M Shields

8 Worst Job Interview Screw – Ups to Avoid

A senior level operations manager was interviewing for a job where he would have responsibility for over fifty retail outlets. During the course of the second interview, the candidate becomes relaxed, as he discusses the day-to-day duties, which includes personally making deposits for some of the units, if he should he be hired. To Illustrate his responsibility over protecting cash profits, the job candidate pulls out a hunting knife from a sheath that was hidden under his shirt, and quickly slashes the knife through the air, for effect. He explains he carries that knife only in case of emergencies. As you might imagine, the fellow didn’t get the job.

I have personally seen job candidates pull knives in job interviews, but also, I’ve seen them drop their pants – oh yes, it happened – to show a scar on the upper thigh; one lady daringly exposed a breast during a job interview, to prove she was not lactating, as there was a question about how she might handle daycare for her newborn child; and in one amazing instance, a cross-dressing pharmacist arrives at his second job interview attired in female clothing, and using the feminine version of his name.

In my opinion, these are examples of job interview screw-ups. Too often, job candidates regard their personal behavior at home or at leisure activity as appropriate for the workplace. Too often, they are wrong. And when those misunderstandings of appropriateness collide with the often strict, conservative environments that most employers seek as standards in their hiring process, guess who it is that gets left out? Of course, it’s the job candidates.

Below is a list of the sort of unappreciated behaviors that job interviewers prefer not to see in a job interview. Check the list to see if you may be one of the job seekers perpetrating such activities that may slow or even derail your employment.

SMOKING CIGARETTES – many people still feel the need to ‘light up’ to help settle their nerves prior to a job interview. The smell lingers on clothes, on breath, and hair, and as a consequence carries right into the job interview.

POOR EYE CONTACT – failing to offer confident, inquisitive eye contact with the job interviewer suggests you may not be truthful, or that you are hiding something. Don’t look down at the floor when a question is asked.

POOR POSTURE – half-sitting in a chair, slouching, leaning to far up or back or to the side of a chair suggests to some interviewers that you don’t really want to be there. Sit up straight and pay attention to the person taking.

CELL PHONES – have ended too many job interviews, in my opinion. Some job candidates actually take calls during a job interview. Sure, they apologize to the interviewer, but so what! Of course they say the call is important – but, more important than the job you seek? Same for text messaging, which many college grad job candidates assume is a regular part of the business day, so take or check text messages during a job interview; best to just stay home and take those calls and messages.

FATIGUE – job search is a full time job for most, so many job candidates arrive to a interview weary from a busy schedule. Don’t do it. I’ve had applicants escorted out of job interviews when they began resting their head upon their hands, or leaning tired-like in their chairs, or yawning consistently during an exchange of questions.

POOR PREPARATION – has derailed more job interviews than I care to ponder. Anticipate what topics will be discussed, and prepare answers in advance. Or just stay home.

FAKE FRIENDLINESS – is not the same as good manners and politeness. Don’t ‘play up’ to the interviewer trying to befriend them in the short time you have during a job interview. They read through those strategies very quickly. Remain professional.

GUM CHEWING – or sucking on candy, soft drinks, or any sort of food or mouth occupied activity distracts the job interviewer from your skills and experience.

There are many other distractions that can interfere with the smooth success that your next job interview may achieve. Don’t make things harder on yourself by introducing negative elements. Organize your interview strategies in advance. Practice how you describe your skills and experience to a job interviewer. Consider these observations, and you may find the job you seek with less effort and heartache than you might expect.



Source by Mark Baber

Finding the Right Racquetball For That Ultimate Playing Experience

Racquetball is a popular sport and hobby played by people of all ages and genders. Unlike other racquet sports like tennis and badminton, racquetball has less strict rules, making it very fun for long hours of playing. The key to enjoying racquetball is to the find the best racquet. Below is a quick racquetball racquet buying guide to help you find the best racquet.

Kinds of racquets

Any racquetball racquet buying guide will automatically advise you to find the right kind of racquet for you. There are four kinds of racquets for playing racquetball. These are:

Fiberglass racquetball racquet – Its inlay is made entirely of fiberglass with a graphite shell. It normally has an average head size of 107 square inches and is also 22 inches long. Fiberglass racquets are ideal for beginners and young players because they are extremely lightweight.

Graphite racquetball racquet – Made from carbon and tungsten, this comes in either stiff or super stiff with high power capabilities, making it great for experts and those with enough experience playing the sport.

Wood racquetball racquet – This type of racquet is not literally made of wood, but rather a combination of graphite and wood, making it great for absorbing shocks, to ensure that the player has a clean grip even when firing strong shots.

Aluminum racquetball racquet – Made from high quality aluminum that is rust-resistant. This cost cheaper than a titanium racquet.

Picking the right racquet

When looking for a racquetball racquet buying guide, be sure to pick the right kind of racquet, make sure to identify your level of knowledge when it comes to playing the sport. If you are beginner, go for the fiberglass racquet because it is lighter and you won’t have trouble swinging it. For beginners, it is also best to pick a racquet that has a teardrop shape because it allows you to swing it easily.

Also, check for the racquet’s string tension and make sure that the tension is kept within the recommended standards.



Source by Ilse Hagen

Kettlebell Training – An Interview With Steve Cotter

CO Hi Steve and thanks for agreeing to take part in this interview.

SC It’s my pleasure.

CO Could you start by telling me a bit about yourself and your sporting background?

SC Ok, my name is Steve & I’m a Capricorn, and I have an interesting life! I have a family, three children, and I live in San Diego, California. I’ve been involved in physical training for pretty much my whole life. I was athletic as a child and when I was 12 years old I moved to California from the East coast, and I became involved in traditional martial arts training, Chinese martial arts, and that became really the focus of my life from the age of 12 until the age of about 26. I was teaching professionally, many different people, youth programmes, tai chi programmes, older people, martial arts to adults, and that was really all day every day for a period of many years. After I’d been involved in the arts for 7 or 8 years I started get involved in the full contact and eventually full contact fighting competitions in the States, and had good success, myself and the school I was with. We went to national competitions and I personally won two U.S national titles in full contact kung fu fighting, the sport Kuoshu, which is a type of sport that’s like fighting in a ring without ropes. There was a movie years ago by Jean-Claude Van Dame called Bloodsport and they sort of were depicting this traditional sport which they call Lei tai fighting; lei tai is a platform. So that was my primary sporting background as far as formal training was concerned, mainly in martial arts and also the full contact fighting component of that. My martial arts training also included a lot of meditation and Qigong which is a deep breathing component. In addition I did some of the Chinese medicine, bone setting, massage, and things like that. I also learnt the use of certain herbal tinctures and liniments.

CO Cool. That sounds like an incredible foundation. So how did you get into kettlebell training?

SC Well, in 1996 I went from teaching martial arts full time to having a change of heart and deciding that wasn’t what I was going to do for the rest of my life, I didn’t want that to be my business and profession any longer; I had seen that sometimes people would change when they became involved in the business and would lose love for the art and I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I decided I wanted to continue to teach martial arts out of passion but make my money in a different way. So I became interested at that point in going to college full time, so to answer your question about kettlebells, after I’d been a full time college student for about three years I noticed that my conditioning was starting to deteriorate and I went from being a world class athlete who was training all day every day to being a person carrying a backpack who really wasn’t training very much at all, and I didn’t like the changes my body was making. So I was really wanting to get back to very elite type of conditioning but I no longer had the time or the inclination to train all day every day, and I also didn’t have my involvement with the martial art community so I really was kind of on my own and I was looking for ways to increase my fitness to a very high level but be able to do it in much less time. It dawned on me that I had to learn to accomplish the same amount of work, or a lot of work, in much less time and be smarter about how I used my time. There’s a saying that when the student Is ready the teacher will appear and so you could say that the kettlebell appeared, as a way to teach me how to use my time more efficiently and achieve a high level of fitness.

I came across kettlebells in a martial art catalogue and they intrigued me as they talked about using the body as a whole unit and how is was complimentary to martial artists and military athletics, so inherently it made a lot of sense to me. I was a little prohibited at first because I didn’t have any money so the kettlebells were too expensive for me, but after having investigated them for a few months I finally decided that I had a chance to try them and once I’d tried it once I was hooked and came up with the money to buy some kettlebells. I began training myself with them using Pavel’s (Tsatsouline) first kettlebell DVD back in 2002 and that was the beginning. I then started integrating kettlebells with personal training that I was starting to do professionally and had great results; I was really getting back into a much higher level of fitness again, I loved the way it felt and the dynamic expression and it just went from there.

CO Excellent. And what do you consider to be unique about kettlebell training?

SC There are a couple of main things. For one thing, the more traditional training protocols tend to segregate the different energy systems, so typically the formula would be that people would do their resistance training two or three days a week and then they would do their cardiovascular and cardio-respiratory fitness training, aerobics, separately, and still even flexibility they would have to separately, so these types of things take up a lot of time. So one of the unique things about kettlebells is that it really combines these facets into one protocol so you can work resistance training, cardio-respiratory fitness and range of motion therapy all at one time with one tool and even with one movement or just a few movements.

CO Ok. So I recently attended your certification course in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was brilliant by the way!; what led you create the IKFF and who is it for?

SC I’ve always loved teaching. I was able to be in teaching since I was 15, that was when I started teaching martial arts professionally, so I had the opportunity to teach many different people of all different backgrounds, and I loved just being in front of groups and directing them. My passion was in the whole physical culture, so I did have experience in teaching for many years before I came to kettlebells. After getting involved with kettlebells for a few years I developed some DVDs and then later on I was approached by a martial art DVD manufacturer who was interested in developing a comprehensive kettlebell DVD called the Encyclopaedia of Kettlebell Lifting, and once I did that my visibility started to increase and I was starting to become more well known, and I was able to sell my DVD in various markets internationally. So as a result of that I was getting various enquiries via email from folks who were asking if I would be offering my own certification, and also giving good feedback on the teaching approach that I offered on the DVDs. So that was what first planted the seed that there was genuine interest in it. However, it took me several years to finally come up with the IKFF. The reason I finally came up with the IKFF, and I want to quite frank about the certification process, is that there are a lot of various certifications in all industries and fitness is no different, and a lot of times I see certifications simply as ways of charging people more money for the same thing and by calling it a certification they are able to charge more money than than would if they didn’t call it a certification. So I resisted creating a certification initially because of that, because I didn’t feel that that was a reason to do something. I have no aversion to money but I do have an aversion to taking advantage of people and for a long time I didn’t see the need for it because I was already teaching and already offering workshops. However the enquiries persisted and as time went on I observed that the existing kettlebell certifications courses were lacking in the area of member support, that it really seemed to exist for the people that were running the show, for their benefit, but for the fitness professionals who were paying their money to attend the course, they were still on their own and weren’t really getting the support necessary to develop their own professional interests. So that was one of the primary reasons for starting the IKFF, I wanted it to be member centred and member based, not just about myself and my success but really to be able to help individuals to build their own professional career doing something that they loved, and trying to develop a federation that could support their growth in that regard. The other reason is simply that I recognised there was more and more interest for kettlebell certification and I felt that I could do a better job than those that were already doing it, so I felt that since people were going to get certified anyway I might as well be offering certification because I felt that I had their long term interests in mind as well as doing a very good job teaching them.

The reason I came up with the name for the International Kettlebell Fitness Federation was that I wanted it to be international, it’s a global effort and I think that the world has changed; we’re no longer limited to our local marketplace and the internet has really made that possible. The K, standing for kettlebell, obviously is a major component of the programme that we have; F being for fitness and kettlebells obviously being a component of that, and the final F for Federation, which really means that it’s focused on the membership itself. The IKFF was designed to not just be able to be a high quality kettlebell instructor training programme but also a comprehensive programme which expresses my complete experience and what I view as a holistic approach to training my body spirit, via kettlebells, and other protocols; Qigong and martial arts, joint mobility and flexibility, as well as body control via bodyweight conditioning. So these are what I call the five pillars, the five facets of fitness and well-being, and they are really what the IKFF is all about.

CO Sure. One of the things that really fascinated me when I attended your course was the quite significant difference between the ‘hard style’ of kettlebell training that I learnt during my original certification here in the UK, and the competition style that you taught. What would you say are the main reasons for using one over the other?

SC Firstly I view myself as a teacher, so it is my obligation to be willing to improve when I have new information and sometimes we have to be willing to throw away old information if it doesn’t serve us, or if we find something that works better. So when it comes to kettlebells there’s this sort of interpretation that there’s different styles, and really that is more of a marketing driven division. In reality if there’s such a thing as a style it has more to do with individual body types. By that I mean if someone is short and stocky they have different levers than someone who is tall and thin. So you’ll see stylistic differences in the way that they move their body, and in the way that is the most efficient path for that person to use. But the idea that there are different styles of kettlebell lifting is really, in my opinion, something that has been created in America as something that is a way to differentiate the business model. The reason I believe that is kettlebell lifting in itself is quite simple, it’s very natural, and once someone learns the basic techniques it’s not difficult to learn; the difficulty is in the amount of effort required to achieve a higher level. So I refute the idea that there is such a thing as a hard style and a competition style, but that’s the impression that’s given out. The hard style was something that was created by Pavel and the RKC, who borrowed the language from martial arts. In martial arts there is a division between what they call hard style and soft style, so we can use the same analogy to answer your question. The hard style is differentiated in the way that the focus is on the tendency for there to be a lot of rigidity, a great amount of effort in the movements. Traditionally, hard style in the martial arts, such as hard style karate, the movements are very rigid and tense; that’s not the same in all instances, there are very fluid stylists as well, but by classification hard style has a general characteristic of relying heavily on maximal force production. In martial arts what is called the soft styles are those which tend to be more fluid, inner based, and focused more on the redirection of forces rather than overpowering someone. The terminology would be to use the attackers force against them. So, using that comparison we can say that hard style kettlebell lifting strives to maximise the force in every rep, and what people refer to as the competition style, the idea is to minimise the force in every rep simply because the goal is maximal reps. And if you’re going for endurance the more tension you carry in your body the more fatigue you’re going to illicit and you’re not going to be able to last as long. So that’s the definition of terms, but in reality, the way we really differentiate is by skill level and not by style. If you get the best ten lifters in the world you’re going to see ten slightly different body styles, every move is not going to be the same, even though they all have an extremely high of ability. So the question really is what manner of movement do I want to use that is going to give me the greatest effects and results? With kettlebells we’re talking about fitness and volume, what method will enable me to have the greatest volume and therefore the greatest conditioning effect?

CO Right, so in terms of people who are training purely for fat loss, not for competition, would you say that the more fluid method of lifting would still be most effective?

SC I think that the answer to that is similar to having two cars at a race track, a Ferrari and a Toyota, which one’s going to win? The answer is quite obvious. The method that is going to illicit the greatest fat loss and the greatest level of conditioning is that which is going to allow the greatest volume. So, what is going to allow the greatest volume is the method that is going to enable you to go for the longest, do the most reps, and work for the longest period of time. That is going to be, using the earlier terminology, the competition style. I don’t try to reinvent the wheel so instead of me trying to sell my approach, I look at the best lifters in the world and see what their approach is and how they get to these high levels, and anyone that pursues sport at a high level is going to realise very quickly that if you’re using rigidity in your movement you’re going to fatigue very quickly and you’re not going to get very good results. To use a martial arts analogy, just as you don’t want to bring a knife to a gun fight, you don’t use 100lbs of force when 10lbs of force will do the job.

CO That makes sense. Another thing that I know there is a lot of debate about is squat depth and what is safe. In the strength and conditioning world the opinion tends to be that changing the position of the lumbar spine during the squat, particularly under load, isn’t a good thing in terms of the shearing forces it places on the vertebrae, whereas during the IKFF course we worked a number of squat variations through full range of motion and into what one would call a deep squat. What are your thoughts on that?

SC I would say that to be fair it wouldn’t just be the strength and conditioning community that would advocate that, it would also be the medical community as well, but you have to look at the physics and you have to look at the stressors on the spine, the mechanics. I think the real concern is going to be that when the spine is under load and the curvature changes at the bottom, the lumbar is going to tend to curve under, and that curvature, especially when you’re under a fair amount of load, is going to put shearing forces on the lumbar spine. So there’s a couple of components here. The first is where the weight is situated. There’s a huge difference between if someone’s just using their bodyweight versus where say they have a maximal load on a barbell on their shoulders. The other point is where the load is actually placed. If the load is in front of you, as in the front squat, it’s going to be very different to if it’s behind you, say in a barbell back squat. Then there is the range of motion and the overall flexibility of the lifter. A well trained lifter can do a full range of motion squat with a heavy load and not injure the spine because they have the flexibility in the hips to create space and allow the forces to dissipate. A very stiff person has no business putting a heavy weight on their back and squatting it full range of motion. With kettlebells we typically will do the overhead squat or the front squat, not on the back, so it’s usually not a super heavy load anyway. So with the weight in front of you you have an offset counter of balance, a mass in front of you, so that serves as a counter weight and enables you to sit back further and deeper. So to summarise this on the position of the spine, we have what’s appropriate for athletic performance and dealing with massive amounts of resistance, and then we have what we need for general daily function. If we look at the body and natural function there’s a definite need, from the time of ancestry, where the ability to go to a full squat was really crucial. For example, for someone who’s going to work in the fields they don’t have chairs and in any non-industrialised nation you’ll see workers moving into the full squat even into their old age, and if you look at children they’ll naturally do a full squat. And if anyone’s been to Asia, you have to move into a full squat to go the bathroom even, so the ability to be able to do a full squat with the bodyweight is really a fundamental movement.

CO Cool. Steve you mentioned earlier about Qigong and this was something you took us through after the first day of the course. Can you tell me a bit more about it and why you consider it to be so important as part of training?

SC Yes. Qigong, if we try to define the terms, can be difficult as Chinese language uses pictograph, whereas we use words, so we’re trying to change a picture into a word which isn’t exactly possible, so we can only estimate what the meaning would be. The only way to really describe the meaning is through a picture, but Qi will quite often be translated as breath, or energy, and neither of those are exact. A more precise explanation of Qi would be that there is an intrinsic force that exists that is most closely associated with the breath. Gong Is a terms referring to any ability or any skill, so we would say that Qigong is a system of breathing skill or energy mastery, and there is a very rich tradition behind it. The most famous method of Qigong internationally is Tai Chi, which has its origin as a martial art but is also a system of Qigong. Some of the key characteristics of Qigong are that it combines deep breathing with very relaxed posture, and there’s a mindfulness, a deep meditative presence in all of the movements. So another way of saying Qigong is that it’s a form of moving meditation.

Why it is important after training, it’s really important in general for everyone because we have our physical body, and then we have what you could call your energetic body. This is not to sound mystical or metaphysical but we have forces within our body that are not the flesh or the bone; in the west the Russians talk about the term bioelectricity and maybe that might be closely associated to what the Chinese call Qi. It’s this idea that energy radiates in, through, and around our body and all life forms. So through exercise and fitness we can condition our muscles and we can train our nervous system, and we can make our bones more dense through resistance training, but through just physical exercise alone we cannot actually train the energy. So Qigong is a method to train the quality of our energy and not just our physical body. In Chinese they talk about yin and yang to symbolise balance and so in life we have have to have balance between hard and soft, so the idea for health and well being and overall longevity is that we need to balance the vigorous nature of physical training with the recuperative and rejuvenate aspect of the deep breathing and Qigong meditative movements. The last point I’d like to make about this has to do with biology and the fact that we all age, and the reason why I include Qigong with my system of training and even with the kettlebells is that any exercise system that is based purely on physicality is inherently incomplete. This is because of the fact that we can’t sustain the hardcore aggressiveness indefinitely, we reach a physical peak, and every person will get to a time where the body ages to the point where they’re no longer going to be as fast, or be able to jump as high, and if your whole system is based on running faster, jumping higher, hitting harder, lifting heavier, lifting more, you can certainly do it when you’re 20 and 30 but maybe not when your 40, or maybe when you’re 40 but not when you’re 60, 70, 80. That’s not to say you can’t do the physical training but you have to balance it, so Qigong is something that anyone can do throughout their whole life, you can’t overtrain with it and you can’t do hard physical training all the time, so we need Qigong to really restore the body and it’s something we can use even into our elderly years.

CO Great. I think it’s fair to say that you are one of the world’s most highly regarded and inspiring trainers. What do you mostly attribute your personal success to?

SC That’s a really good question. Firstly there’s no replacement for going very in-depth into the subject matter; we can’t fake expertise and there’s definitely a prevalent marketing approach, particularly on the internet, to do with fitness, where people market themselves as experts, where in reality just because someone says they’re an expert and promotes themselves as an expert doesn’t actually give them expertise, so the first thing in success in anything is that we have to have not only familiarity but we have to have studied deeply the subject matter at hand. As a general philosophical thing, success has certain universal attributes and I believe, from what I’ve seen and experienced, if you study successful people who are willing to share their road to success, their secrets if you will, you’ll see many parallels and universal congruents among them, regardless of their field of expertise. So for me, fundamentally it’s an internal component, the expertise comes from the study and the knowledge base, the practical understanding, and part of becoming an expert is becoming a teacher. When I became a teacher it was initially for selfish reasons because I wanted to become a better student. And by teaching you get asked questions so you really have to study deeper. The techniques and the training and the knowledge, that’s what I’d call the external or the outer element of success. The internal component has everything to do with our mindset and our approach. One thing I like to say is attitude is altitude, and that is really the truth with success. Success is an attitude, an acceptance of being willing to be successful and to live our dreams and fulfill our purpose, and that begins with clarity. We have to know exactly what we want to achieve before we have any chance of achieving it.

There are many people that are sort of wandering, talking about what they want and look to others and say this person’s lucky or that person’s lucky because they have that wealth or that girl or they have that life, and they’re successful and I’m not, and they don’t see the inner workings of that, they just see the trappings of it. But really the first step is for an individual to really look inside themselves and ask themselves certain questions, and that’s what I call clarity. You have to have a clear idea of a) what you want to do and accomplish, it doesn’t matter how big or small; it just matters how meaningful it is. It could be something as simple as someone wanting a healthy life surrounded by friends and loved ones, which is a tremendous success in its own right, then it can be all the way to the level of someone who wants to be the president of America or wants to be the best in the world at something. There’s all different manifestations of what it means to be successful, but in my experience it begins with clarity. I believe another important component is the idea of creativity. We’re all creative and life is creative, a creation. And within every creation there is a creative process. If you take the most beautiful sculpture, before it was a sculpture it was just a block of wood, someone has to have the idea to turn that blank block into a beautiful chair or table, or a blank canvas into a beautiful painting. So success is the fruit, but the labour is what bears the fruit, the internal work and identifying what you really are and what you want to do. As the saying goes, the only thing to fear is fear itself. When we think of success we become successful. It begins within. We always hear about competition but this is a mindset we need to get out of. There is of course an element of competition in business and in sport; however to me competition is really something we have with ourselves, we are competing with what we are now because we want to become better. People focus so much on what the guy down the street or some other trainer or colleague is doing that they’re focusing their energy on that versus keeping it on an internal ‘what can I do right now?’ All we can control is ourselves, that’s the only tangible thing that we can really keep control of, and that’s where success really begins, the way we use our mind. What people actually refer to as success is the results of success, but success itself has nothing to with results, it has everything to do with the driving force which is behind the results, which is the mindset.

CO That is very true. Thanks Steve. Can you just finish off by telling everyone how they can find out more about the IKFF and upcoming courses?

SC Absolutely. Well first of all there is the IKFF website, which is our primary website and gives all the information about the courses. In addition we have quite a large group on Facebook so people are welcome to join that and we post information there, and we also have a really growing network of really high calibre physical teachers in every continent now, with the exception of Antarctica, for the moment! Here in the UK I suggest people go to your website as well to find information about kettlebells and the IKFF.

CO Perfect. Steve thank you very much for taking part in this interview and I wish you and the IKFF all the best for the future.

SC You’re welcome!



Source by Charlotte Ord