Meet Per Helge Fjørtoft

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What is your name and age?
My name is Per Helge Fjørtoft, I am 35 years old.

What are you working with/as?
I am working in a kindergarden as an assistant, with kids from 3-5 years. And I combine that with some online coaching and teaching kettlebell courses and workshops.

Do you have a motto or any catchwords?
“Expect the best, be prepared for the worst, fuck what other people think and do your own thing.” –Unknown quote-

When did you start kettlebell training? Why and how did you start?
I started kettlebell training in early 2009. A friend of mine, Mikkjel Belbo, he asked me if I wanted to try. I had only read about it, and thought it seemed like a smart and simple kind of training. I tried it only two times and then ordered my first kettlebell. I just did it alone in a gym experimenting with different exercises from youtube. And of course did some of the things my friend showed me. Swings, cleans, snatches and getups mostly.

Maybe more interesting, why did you continue doing it?
After some months lifting on my own I decided to search for more knowledge and I got to know Christian Velle in Oslo, who had a Level 1 course that year. Christian had a lot of experience and had been competing a few years. That’s really when it started. At the time I did not know it was a sport. But he told me all about it, and he said I had some talent!
That made a difference to me, I had never been good at any sport before, so I started to lift more competition lifts (jerk and snatch) to see if and how I could grow as an athlete in this strange sport. But mostly for fun at that time.
After a month or so Vasily Ginko (which Christian knew) came to Norway for another course. I got an invite and participated in it! Ginko was very kind, so athletic and strong. He invited me to Ventspils Atlants later that year. That’s when I started my competition career. And I understood quickly that this was something I wanted to try for a longer period of time..
Not with any specific goals, just for my own part and maybe to test myself in amateur competitions if possible.
The period from 2009 to 2016 has been an amazing journey for me! I am grateful!

When did you start being a coach? Why did you do it?
I think around 2011-2012! I just wanted to help develop the sport and other athletes. It was a very lonely time my first years in the sport (in many ways I actually like it like that).

What kind of education do you have in coaching?
I have been a personal trainer since 2005, and have got many different certifications. Tacfit, Movnat, CST to name a few.
And I have RGSI Girevoy Sport Level 3, IKSA Girevoy Sport Level 3, NGKF Level 1 (did it 3 times) and MKS Level 1 (did it 2 times).

As a coach, what is important to be like in order to get the best results from your athletes?
You have to listen to what they want, first of all!! And do a proper screening of the athlete, to find their strong and weak skills. What to focus on and how to move forward in a smart and healthy way.
I am very strict in how we progress from weight to weight, and I have a specific philosophy about how we work from day to day, with longer sets, shorter sets and assistant training like mobility and cardio.
Health and joy is important, aswell as focus on quality trainings and take small steps at a time. I don’t want my athletes to either focus on bodyweight categories, competitors or lifting as heavy as possible. For me as a coach I just want them to move forward and develop as athletes and persons.
Mental and physical power and endurance works together.

What do you think are the most important personal qualities in an athlete?
Dedication and patience.

What is the most challenging thing being a coach?
To coach athletes online in other countries is challenging! And of course the programming when the level is getting higher is sometimes difficult.

What are your own strenghts as a coach?
I think my abilities to see the different needs of the athletes.

What do you feel about single/double bells for women? What do you prefer as a coach?
I don’t work with single bell athletes anymore (except snatch only for women). So the answer is double bells. It’s the future.

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?
I am actuallt not sure. It’s impossible to say. There are many conservative people with a lot of power, so I am not sure if this will move towards being an olympic or for that matter, recognized sport.
But I am sure the athletes will stick together and stay friends for the future. I just hope that more young athletes (Scandinavians in particular) will start doing this sport. And I hope that more men in Northern Europe can lift 32 kg in big competitions with great numbers and performances.

Have you entered any competitions? Do you want to share your results? 
I have entered a lot of competitions since I started. I can share some of them, I don’t care about writing them all ;) My first 2.5 years of competing I actually did biathlon. I switched to LC in early 2012.
Here are some of my numbers:

  • Ventspils Atlants 2009 – Biathlon 24 kg: jerk 34 reps, snatch 98 reps.
  • Ventspils Atlants 2011 – Biathlon 32 kg: jerk 61 reps, snatch 103 reps (Silver medal).
  • IUKL European Championships 2011 – Biathlon 32 kg: jerk 51 reps, snatch 97 reps (4th place).
  • Best training result 2011 – Biathlon 32 kg: jerk 83 reps, snatch 127 reps.
  • IGSF World Championships 2012 – Long cycle 32 kg: 60 reps (4th place).
  • Ventspils Atlants 2012 – Biathlon 24 kg: jerk 130 reps, snatch 194 reps (Gold medal).
  • Best training result 2013 – Long cycle 32 kg: 72 reps.
  • Best training result 2013 – Long cycle 28 kg: 92 reps.
  • IGSF World Championships 2014 – Long cycle 32 kg: 55 reps (silver medal).
  • Best training result 2014 – Long cycle 32 kg: 75 reps.
  • Cup of Scandinavia 2015 – Long cycle 32 kg: 64 reps (gold medal).
  • Norwegian Champion 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015.
  • Unofficial Scandinavian record holder in LC 32 kg: 72 reps (Norwegian Championships 2014).

What/which are your goals for your athletes? (long-term/short-term?)
Short term is to take technical steps forward each month and enjoying the process.
Long term is better overall health & fitness, aswell as pushing better numbers on their main competition lift!

Which discipline do you like the most and why is that?
For me LC is the best. It’s an overall full body movement with the perfect combination of power and endurance!!

What do you think is the most challenging in training?
For me the most challenging part is to get enough sleep, stretching and food. Training is no problem. If I have a program, I always manage to do it. My priority this year is more volume on low intensity cardio.

Do you have any training tips to share?
Have patience, don’t train too often with heavy weights, practice is at least as important as working out.
Fix your technique and make 80-90 reps before you move on to the next weight! Don’t compare yourself to others.

Do you have any funny anecdotes from competition or training that you would like to share?
One time in Sweden on a training camp my old coach Arseniij Zhernakov said to me, when I did a long clean-set:
”You have the worst clean I have ever seen, really!!” I smiled on the outside, and cried on the inside :).
I know now that this is an ancient russian way of trying to teach a Viking to do better. Luckily I got better, thanks to him. Arsenij deserves credit for that, he pushed me from 60 to 75 reps!!

Who (or what) inspires you?
Nils Martin Lundgren for being the greatest kettlebell fighter I know!
Rickard Garbell for never giving up.
Vasily Ginko for being my first mentor.
Arsenij Zhernakov for pushing me from 60-75 reps!
Ivan Denisov for helping me lift effective.
I also get inspiration from my family, my girlfriend, my students and friends. For encouraging and believing.

Which exercise is your favourite?
LC is overall the best one, for me.
But for fun and fitness I enjoy getups, heavy swings and burpees. Its difficult to choose just one.

Have you got any exercises that you hate doing, or that your athletes hates doing? Which one and why is that?
At the moment I hate heavy longer sets on jerk. Or snatch with gloves.
I think my students hate jumpsquats at high reps.

Is there ever anything that makes you not prioritate trainingday?
If something special happens to friends or family. Or if I have some kind of pain. I don’t do trainings that I don’t think does any good for me.

How do you eat? Do you have a special diet or a food-philosophy?
Before I experimented with both intermittent fast and paleo diet. But now I don’t have a specific philosophy any more.. I just try to eat enough food overall and keep it simple and nutritious. I love whole milk and kefir. And I try to drink a green vegetable smoothie and eat a couple of fruits each day. That is my magic formula, each person need their own special “diet”. The one diet that they like and keep healthy on.

What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not ”kettlebelling” or coaching?
Spend time with Helene (girlfriend), listen to music and play on my Cajon. I also like to watch tv series, read books, philosophize and laugh about everything and nothing.

Click here to watch a video of him doing a 10′ long cykle.

We give a big thank you to Per Helge for wanting to share this with us. He is a great coach and athlete that we will surely see more of. We congratulate him for getting fantastic results at Valhalla Easter Sprint, 10 minutes 2×32kg long cycle and wish him the best of luck in the future aswell.

 

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