What is your name and age?
Jessica Gorman, 34 years old.
What are you working with/as?
I’m a fitness instructor and coach at Texas Kettlebell Academy, specializing in mobility, steel clubs, bodyweight and TACFIT training, and kettlebell sport based fitness. I train as a GS athlete, am the business manager of the gym, and also a mother of two boys, and a wife.
Do you have a motto or any catchwords?
I say ‘Yay!’ a lot, way more than necessary. I say it when I really mean it, and often when I don’t. There are plenty of times when when faking a little enthusiasm is enough for me to get through the undesirable tasks, or challenging training sets.
When did you start kettlebell training? Why and how did you start?
I started training in September of 2013, 5 weeks after my second c-section, and the birth of my second son. My kung fu Sifu, and now Coach, Aaron Vyvial suggested I try it. He thought I would be good at it.
Maybe more interesting, why did you continue doing it?
The format of kettlebell training suits my temperament. I like the focus and dedication required to complete the workouts, the steady progression of each training cycle, and reward of competition. The physicality keeps me coming back: the sweat, the breathlessness, the heavy weight, the emotional intensity, and even the grit of the chalk.
Do you have a coach? What are his/her strengths?
I do have a coach, Aaron Vyvial. He is the greatest! He is exceedingly patient. He is also pretty skilled at making you feel good without blowing smoke up your arse. He is a straight shooter, but his primary focus is always building his athletes up — physically, mentally, and emotionally if needed.
What do you think are important to be like as a coach in order to get the best results from athletes?
I think you have to walk the line I discussed above; being firm with your athletes while always pushing them to improve. There must be complete trust and respect in the partnership. A good coach can teach and train without excessive words or explanations. They will lead you to an outcome, but once you’ve arrived there, it is almost as if you knew the path all along. Everything makes sense all at once, and it seems as if you were destined to be there in the first place. It is pretty much like magic… Or at least that is what a good coach can make you believe.
When did you start being a coach? Why did you do it?
I have definitely grown into my role as Assistant Coach at TXKB. It was not an abrupt choice to begin coaching athletes; I evolved over time, and have had the luck and privilege of being mentored and taught by some of the best coaches and athletes in kettlebell sport. Many of our in-house athletes started with the intention of training for fitness, rather than competition. As they progress in technique, their understanding of the mechanics deepens. For many people, the inclination to compete is a bi-product of their own athletic evolution. I want to see that process through to completion and guide our people, with my best ability, to their fullest mental and physical potential. To be honest, I have been taught by example. My coach has absolutely redefined my personal awareness of my own potency and strength — that is a gift of immeasurable value, and one that lasts a lifetime.
What kind of education do you have in coaching?
I have credentials in mobility and fitness training, as well as Kettlebell Sport certifications:
CST Level 1, Circular Strength Training, RMAX International
TACFIT Level 1, RMAX International
KetAcademy Instructor Level 1
OKC Instructor Certification, Orange Kettlebell Club
IKLF Level 1 Instructor, International Kettlebell Lifting Federation
USAKL/Bolt City Director, USA Kettlebell Lifting
IKFF Level 1, International Kettlebell & Fitness Federation
I have also had to opportunity to work with the following individuals during Master Level courses & private training sessions:
What is the most challenging thing being a coach?
People trust you with their bodies, their energy, time and intention. I want to honor their trust with my best efforts. The most challenging aspect of coaching is the worry that my athletes with be disappointed with the results of their efforts and programming. Both the athlete and the coach are invested in the cycle and the result, but not simply because of ego or the need to win. The pair is emotionally bound in their desire to make the other feel good, and be proud.
What are your own strengths as a coach?
I am calm and kind as a coach; not always in life, but definitely when I am coaching.
What do you think are the most important personal qualities in an athlete?
Dedication, or at least a willingness to do unpleasant things and go to uncomfortable places.
What are your own strengths as a lifter?
I am really good at following directions, and I like to please people. I am also very stubborn, for better or worse.
What do you feel about single/double bells for women? What do you prefer?
I like double bells a lot. I like single bells too. I think each discipline has it’s own unique challenges. I think there is a time and place for everything. Some people will gravitate toward the heavier load and symmetry of double bells and others will appreciate the pacing challenges of ranking with a single bell. To each their own, whatever floats your boat, follow your heart, and all those other nice things.
How do you think the future will look like for the sport (GS)? How do you think it will be for you?
I don’t know. I just smile and nod and mind my own business. The dust will settle soon enough.
Have you entered any competitions? Do you want to share your results?
I love competitions! I have participated in 10+ comp events in about 2.5 years. Some highlights are below:
MS with 20kg OALC, 106 reps, December 2014 (KETAcademy)
CMS with 16kg LC, 75 reps (2bells), February 2016 (KETAcademy)
CMS with 20kg OALC, 8XX reps, March 2014, (AKA/IUKL)
My competition best with 12 kg LC (2bells) is 93 reps, though I have a PR of 99 reps. I have competed in both single and double bell Biathlon with 16kg, as well as 16kg snatch. I’d love to spend some more energy training those lifts in the future.
What/which are or were your personal goals in training?
I make new goals all the time, and often scale them forward or backward. Overall, I just want to lift better and move better… smoother, cleaner, and demonstrate high-level technique/proficiency with more consistency.
Which discipline do you like the most and why is that?
I dream of snatch but feel most at home doing LC.
What do you think is the most challenging in training?
I think returning to regular life after training is difficult. There is this afterglow, and a bit of separation from the real world — or at least those who don’t train the way we do. As an athlete, or anyone who works really really hard to accomplish something, you make choices and sacrifices that most people don’t understand.
Do you have any training tips to share?
Don’t put the bells down. Ever. Mascara makes me feel tough, kind-of like war paint.
Do you have any funny anecdotes from competition or training that you would like to share?
One day, after a particularly difficult set, I lost my temper and threw my shoe out of the back door. I cried, and Coach laughed, as I hobbled across the parking lot to retrieve it.
Who (or what) inspires you?
There are many amazing athletes, and even more kind and compassionate people in our sport. However, I lift for myself, and keep my focus on my personal practice. It keeps me sane and makes me a better human.
Which exercise is your favourite?
I particularly enjoy volume training days. I am thorough and methodical by nature, so making my way through all the bells is particularly satisfying. I also enjoy deadlifts.
Have you got any exercises that you hate doing? Which one and why is that?
I hate not exercising. I like to work, and I like to sweat, and I like to feel strong.
Is there ever anything that makes you not prioritate trainingday?
I always struggle to find the appropriate balance between family time and training. Training is my job. I do enjoy it very much, but it is a non-negotiable item on my to-do list. The only thing that can sway my commitment to training is family, and their consideration or needs at that moment.
How do you eat? Do you have a special diet or a food-philosophy?
I typically eat whatever I want. Usually, and luckily, I crave lots of vegetables, fruit, complex carbs, and protein and eat healthfully. I do have a fierce sweet tooth, and am extra motivated to eat good ‘real’ food, so I can eat chocolate and dessert without guilt. I have been eating less meat lately, simple because I have been craving it less. A lot of my protein comes from eggs and egg whites.
What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not ”kettlebelling”?
I love to be outside if it is sunny, and I get really excited about going to bed early. I also really appreciate a good podcast.
We would like to thank Jessica for participating and sharing her thoughts with us. She is a great athlete for sure and I am impressed by her strengths and her mindset. We wish her the best of luck in the future.