"We showed the world that women are entirely capable of competing in heavy TALC"
Last weekend, history was made at the Texas Open Kettlebell Sport Championships, as it was the first time that two women competed in Long Cycle with TWO 24kg kettlebells - and lasted all 10 minutes!
Chelsey Marr (far right in video) is an up and coming Kettlebell Sport lifter, as she has only been lifting kettlebells for sport for six months. This only makes her achievements of snatching and long cycling the 24kg kettlebells even more impressive, since it takes many women (including yours truly) years to start lifting the green bell.
Here is an interview with the incredibly strong Chelsey from Texas Kettlebell Academy, who completed 21 repetitions with the 24kg bells.
What is your athletic background?
I played mostly basketball and volleyball growing up- volleyball is what stuck. I’ve been playing for the last 15 years and never really stopped. I still play in a few city leagues, usually three nights a week. It’s my first love; I don’t know that I’ll ever stop playing.
How long have you been lifting Kettlebells?
From 2011 to 2013 I was lifting hardstyle under an RKC instructor in my hometown in Northern California. I moved to Austin in 2014 and tried a couple of other kettlebell gyms without much luck. Finally, in December of 2014, I found Texas Kettlebell Academy, and the rest is history. I’m six months into sport style training under my coach, Aaron Vyvial and I’m incredibly happy with the direction it’s going and the progress I've made.
How has Kettlebell Sport impacted other areas of your life?
I found kettlebells during a really hard time in my life. I had very low self-confidence, I was in poor shape, and needed desperately to find a better way to handle life’s hurdles. The bells were my answer and they were life changing. I’m a competitive person, but I’m more competitive with myself. Pushing for that one more rep or one more minute, beating yesterday’s numbers, is something that I really enjoy. The mentality that there is always more to do, that I can always do better, is one that carries through to all aspects of my life.
Did you start with the traditional one arm lifts or jump right into doubles?
I started kettlebell sport in December of 2014 and started seriously training for the Cali Open in January of this year with snatch and two arm long cycle. Knowing this was the first event in the US where women were going to be allowed to compete in the TALC event, my coach and I decided I was going to go for it and started in with TALC training instead of OALC. I’m working on OALC now, but I definitely prefer TALC.
Did you set out with a goal to long cycle double 24's? When did you decide to do it?
My goal, first and foremost, was to make 10 minutes with the 24’s. The longest set in my program before the Texas Open Kettlebell Sport Championship was five minutes- and it was five long minutes for me. With the help of my coach, I made some technique tweaks in the two weeks leading up to the competition that definitely helped me make the full 10. I waited and waited to register because I didn’t know what I wanted to do- 20’s or 24’s. Knowing it would be one of those, I started training heavier bells about six weeks out from the competition. We decided two weeks before for certain that it was going to be 24’s.
What were your thoughts the minutes before your set, as you were about to take the platform?
Being so new to competitions, I’m still trying to find ways to calm my nerves before a set. I think about a lot of things right before I start though- what technique I really need to focus on, what pace I want to maintain, and I think about the people who have helped me get to where I’m at. This was an opportunity for us to represent the women in our sport and show that TALC is an event that we should be allowed and encouraged to compete in. So mostly, the last thought I had before I started the set was “don’t you dare put these bells down before the 10.”
As all Kettlebell Sport athletes know, making it to that 10-minute mark is all about mental toughness. Can you walk us through what you were thinking and feeling during your set, and how you were able to push all the way to the 10-minute mark?
I’ve learned a lot about the importance of mental toughness over the last five months. When I did my first snatch set with the 20kg bell a few months ago, before I knew just how much of a mental sport it is as it is physical, I got tired and put the bell down. I quickly realized that being tired isn’t an excuse to quit and since then, I can say that I almost never put the bells down in the middle of any set.
I was pretty calm for the first few minutes of my TALC set. I try to break them up time wise- so I was really only focused on the first five minutes and by three minutes in I was halfway. For me, the logic that follows that is, at five minutes, you’re only two away from seven, and at seven, how could you possibly give up?
It’s just never as easy as it sounds… At six minutes into this set, I wanted to quit. By the seventh minute, the room had gotten louder and all thoughts in my head about quitting were drowned out. There were so many people cheering for us, and so many people so excited to watch this set, that I just couldn’t put the bells down. In most sets, the people in the room cheering are just an extra boost; in this set, they were the reason I made the whole 10 minutes.
How did you feel right after your set, knowing that you just made history?
To me, one of the best feelings in the world is the one you get right after you’ve done something you didn’t think you could do. Couple that with the fact that we had just showed the world that women are entirely capable of competing in heavy TALC, and the feeling was pretty amazing.
What is your next training goal?
Short term, our Texas Kettlebell Academy competition team is going to compete at the AKA/IUKL Southwest Regionals on June 6th. I’m switching things up to 24kg one arm long cycle for this event, so I’ll be training that for the next week or so trying to get up to a 10RPM pace. Long term, however, my main focus will switch to 24kg snatch with some 24kg TALC. Before the TALC set at the Texas Open, I was content to switch to 100% snatch, but after the set, I’m more determined than ever to better those numbers.
What are your aspirations with regards to Kettlebell Sport?
Next year, I’m going to try to get a spot on team USA. It’s strange to say that, because it’s not something I ever thought seriously about until two months ago, and that was only three months after I had started the sport. But, then again, this is Texas, and everything is bigger in Texas- even the dreams.
What do you see for the future of Kettlebell Sport for the ladies?
There are some amazing, strong women in the sport right now. I would love to see even more of them lifting doubles. We’re off to a great start, and I only hope to see the momentum continue. It’s neat to see the entire kettlebell community rally around the women’s TALC events, and know that this brings exactly the kind of attention we need to get it off the ground.
What do you think we can do to promote the growth of Kettlebell Sport?
One of the biggest draws to kettlebell sport for me was the community that is associated with it. At the Texas Open, I got to meet so many people, with more kind words than I could have ever imagined. It’s this kind of attitude that draws people in. The genuine excitement when other people beat their own PRs, the overwhelming support of all the lifters on the platforms, and the teammates who stand next to you during your hardest set and count your reps to keep you on track. But, to reach out to people who maybe aren’t as involved with the sport already, social media is a great way to create more awareness too. I stumbled across TXKB on Facebook, watched some of the videos that they posted, wondered if I could ever make it 10 minutes with a kettlebell, and found myself in the gym the next month to find out. It’s been a great experience for me so far, I’m looking forward to watching it grow even more in the future.