Interview with Long Cycle phenom and 2x MSIC Andrea Lavoie

Photo by Justin Jeffries

Photo by Justin Jeffries

While Andrea has been doing Kettlebell Sport since 2011, she really made a splash in the community over the last couple years with record-setting numbers in 2x20kg Long Cycle and a World Record and MSIC rank in 2x24kg Long Cycle at the WAKSC World Championships in 2018. I've been up next to her on the platform and let me say she is a BEAST! Besides the fact that Andrea accomplished her lifting feats in the 58kg weight class (making 2x24kg over 80% of her bodyweight), she earned her MSIC in 2x24kg Long Cycle less than two years after starting to lift double bells (unheard of!). Besides being a phenomenal athlete, Andrea is also a mother of two and a part-time farmer! Read on to learn more about Andrea and her kettlebell journey. 

Where do you live? 
Sunderland, Ontario. A small town one hour north/east of Toronto.

What is your athletic background?
Growing up I loved playing sports such as volleyball, baseball and track and field. I also played rugby throughout high school and University. Most sports came naturally to me but there were none I truly excelled at.

What do you do for a living?
Before becoming a mom I was a personal trainer at GoodLife Fitness. Currently, I am raising my 2 young children and working part time on our family farm.

How did you get into Kettlebell Sport?
Jennifer Hintenberger, who was previously my rugby fitness coach in University, had opened up a kettlebell studio called Make It Happen in downtown St Catharines. I was a regular participant and instructor for the kettlebell bootcamp classes for a year and a half. In April 2011, Jennifer introduced me to Kettlebell Sport. My strength and conditioning was very good from consistently doing bootcamp classes but I needed to develop proper technique.

When was your first competition? What was the result?
I joined a team of new kettlebell sport lifters at Make It Happen. After one month of training, we travelled to Michigan to compete at the North American Outlaw Kettlebell Competition held by Ken Whetham. I did a 5 minute OALC event with the 20kg and I think I did about 35 reps.

What was it like returning to the platform post-partum?
It was tough, both times. I had taken about a year off with each pregnancy. It was frustrating and I felt like I was starting all over again. However, muscle memory is an amazing thing and each time I came back stronger.

Photo by Jennifer Hintenberger

Photo by Jennifer Hintenberger

How long did it take you to get your Master of Sport?
It took me seven months to hit MS in the OALC with a 20kg bell in November 2011. I did 117 reps (5 reps above MS) in the 65kg weight class.
A year after my daughter was born, in June 2015, I hit MSIC 24kg Long Cycle with 104 reps in the 58kg weight class.
I started training doubles in November 2016 (6 month after my son was born), and hit MS on June 2017 with 72 reps of 2x20kg Long Cycle.
In February 2018, I hit my first double bell MSIC 54 reps 2x24kg Long Cycle.

What are your thoughts on the progression from single bells to double bells for women?
Lifting double bells felt awkward at first trying to fit both bells between my short legs, but now that I’ve gotten used to it, I enjoy it a lot more. (Haha that didn’t sound dirty at all!)
I feel stronger, more balanced, and straight up bad ass lifting doubles!!

What motivates you to train?
 Staying in shape, going to competitions, and being a healthy role model for my kids. I also have a small group of kettlebell peeps I’m in contact with regularly; we motivate each other.

Kettlebell lifting is such a tough sport, physically but especially mentally. What do you do to prepare yourself mentally for a tough training or competition set?
When I know I have a tough training session in the afternoon I find myself spending most of the morning thinking about my set, visualizing it and convincing myself my body is strong and ready. Before a competition I always have a good conversation with my coach Jennifer. After so many years of working together she always knows exactly what to say to help me feel confident and mentally prepared. I also find warming up and lifting to music that makes me happy, or fires me up, puts my mind in a good place.

Photo by Matthew Belter

Photo by Matthew Belter

What is your favorite part of Kettlebell Sport? What is the biggest challenge for you?
I love setting a goal and the feeling of achieving that goal. I also love the Kettlebell Sport community and how everyone is so supportive of one another.
My biggest challenge is motivating myself to lift on days I don’t feel strong. Not having a physical team to train with and feed off of makes some days challenging.

What does a typical training day look like for you?
The first 20 minutes is spent warming up, which includes light stretching and lifting each set of bells in 2kg increments from 12kg-22kg or sometimes 24kg for 30 seconds. Then I do my programmed sets, which is usually 10 minutes total of lifting time. Next I do about 20 minutes of conditioning exercises such as weighted jump squats, burpees, and push ups. I end my training with a quick stretch/rollout. I do this 3-4x per week and usually add a 5km run once a week as well.

Do you follow any specific type of diet?
Not really, I enjoy eating all kinds of food. One thing I have every morning is a smoothie with greens, seeds, fruit and water. My coach and I have been working on my nutrition recently and I’ve been trying to cut back on dairy, gluten and sugar. I love sweets!
I would say I follow an 80/20 healthy eating lifestyle.

What’s your favorite post-training meal?
I just try to make sure I eat something like a banana or apple. My immediate post training meal is small since I have a fairly big meal before I lift. My pre-workout meal usually consists of oatmeal, eggs or salad, a coffee, and something sweet like a piece of chocolate or date ball.

Anything in particular you do to recover from training? 
Nothing in particular except ginger in my smoothies to help with inflammation, Epsom salt baths when I’m feeling really sore, and lots and lots of water! 

What advice would you give to other kettlebell lifters?
Consistency! Yes I have taken big chunks of time off training, but when I’m in a training cycle I’m consistent. Intensity isn’t always there but each and every week I’m lifting 3, mostly 4, times.

Anything else you want to share?
I have a really good support system at home. My husband loves Kettlebell Sport as much as I do even though he doesn’t lift. He’s always encouraging me. I also have family members who look after my kids when I go to competitions and train which is very helpful.

Where can people find you online / follow your kettlebell lifting journey?
On Instagram @alavoie42 , and you can find a few of my videos on YouTube.