Photo: Jessica DiBiase
What is your name and age?
Melissa Swanson, 38
What are you working with/as?
I own and manage a restaurant.
Do you have a motto or any catchwords?
”Dream big, work hard, stay humble”
When did you start kettlebell training? Why and how did you start?
I started lifting in 2011 after seeing a video of Surya Voinar Fowler jerk a 20kg kettlebell. I was so inspired learning about her (as well as the other ICKB girls) journey to Master of Sport.
Maybe more interesting, why did you continue doing it?
Kettlebells are a way for me to strive for the best possible version of myself. They are excellent mirrors – if you pay attention you will see the truth of who you are play out in your sets. They challenge me to push myself, to change, to evolve constantly.
When did you start being a coach? Why did you do it?
I’m not a coach! It’s challenging enough to make time for myself these days. In a few years, I would consider mentoring the right person.
What do you think are the most important personal qualities in an athlete?
The ability to self-reflect with honesty, grit, resilience.
What do you feel about single/double bells for women?
I like both! I have trained OAJ and OALC up to 28kg, and currently working on 16 and 20kg doubles. They each pose unique challenges mentally and physically.
How do you think the future will look like for the sport (GS)? How do you think it will be for you or your athletes?
Hard to say! I am excited at the lifters emerging from Norway, Ireland, and Scotland – they do all the lifts and do them well. Here in the States, we have some very strong women doing well in 2x24kg lifts, as well as many up and coming juniors doing very well with 24kg like Miranda Robbeloth and Rylee Reeves. As women, I think the future is ours – there is no limit to what we can do with single and double bells.
Have you entered any competitions? Do you want to share your results?
Yes, I have competed many times a year every year since 2011. My best result in 24kg snatch in competition is 152. Best OAJ with 24kg: 159, OALC 24kg: 117. I have MSIC in snatch and biathlon (one arm).
What/which are or were your personal goals in training? (long-term/short-term?)
Short term goals include Master of Sport International Class in the AAKA’s new double ranking system (to be published soon). Long term goals are to increase my reps in 24kg snatch to equal and surpass that of the Russian women. I’d also like to snatch 26 and 28kg in competition.
Which discipline do you like the most and why is that?
Snatch. It is by far the most technical and sensitive of all the lifts – if any part of you is off, it will show in your set and numbers. It is a new sport at every rpm, so there is always room for growth, always something to fix/change. It’s incredibly challenging.
What do you think is the most challenging in training?
Maintaining high levels of motivation while simultaneously letting go of the desired result.
Do you have any training tips to share?
Film and study yourself, study the greats, ask a lot of questions, surround yourself with people that believe in you, learn how to hear and use feedback.
Do you have any funny anecdotes from competition or training that you would like to share?
I have a bad habit of throwing my kettlebell and swearing at it after particularly difficult sets. This makes my coach very unhappy!
Who (or what) inspires you?
I am inspired by honesty, forthrightness, and courage! People – my 10 and 8 year old boys, my husband, my mother. My friends, like teammate and former Olympian Sayaka Torra and ICKB girl Surya Voinar-Fowler, my coach Steven Khuong.
Which exercise is your favorite?
Anything with a kettlebell I love swimming, playing tennis, and hiking too.
Have you got any exercises that you hate doing, or that your athletes hates doing? Which one and why is that?
I hate running! And I hate putting the plates away after doing deadlifts, which makes me hate deadlifts! They usually come at the end of my workouts, so I am exhausted and tired of moving heavy things around.
Is there ever anything that makes you not prioritate training day?
I make training a top priority, so intentionally, very little gets in the way of training. Occasionally, a sick child or emergency at work causes me to rearrange, but I can’t think of a time I haven’t made my weekly workouts work one way or the other.
How do you eat? Do you have a special diet or a food-philosophy?
I love food. The majority of my diet is just real food – grown or raised by a local farmer, fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, homemade breads and pastas. But I have a weakness for Doritos and Diet Coke too. I don’t believe in villainizing food and am all about balance. I don’t drink alcohol but I do drink lots of coffee.
What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not ”kettlebelling”?
Spending time with my family, taking walks, cooking, baking, reading.
We thank Melissa for letting us know more about her and what she thinks of kettlebelltraining. She is a big inspiration all over the world and we wish her all the luck in reaching her future goals.
Watch the video from the Worlds Championship in Irland last year where she earnd MSIC in snatch