Meet Chris Doenlen

10403893_1565115893702618_2957440648257884852_oWhat is your name and age?
Chris Doenlen, 28

What are you working with/as?
Nutritionist / Coach / Financial Controller for a small publishing company

Do you have a motto or any catchwords?
”All Day” and ”Not Dead – Can’t Quit”

When did you start kettlebell training? Why and how did you start?
I started training with kettlebells as cross-training for cycling when I moved to Washington, DC and couldn’t ride in the winter. My good friend, Ed Coughlin, pointed me in the direction of the International Kettlebell & Fitness Federation (IKFF) and Orange Kettlebell Club (OKC) and I read and watched everything I could find about kettlebell training. Of course this led me to finding Kettlebell Sport videos on YouTube and I instantly fell in love with the concept – a perfect marriage of endurance training and weight lifting.

I remember doing my first 10 minute Biathlon sets in my small apartment – barefoot, beltless, and completely clueless, but still managed 77 jerks and 200 snatches with some cast-iron 16kg kettlebells.

Maybe more interesting, why did you continue doing it?
During a CKT in Hoboken, New Jersey, Ken Blackburn encouraged me to compete for the first time in November 2011. I had so much fun planning my training cycle! After only three months of training, I did 88 jerks and 136 snatches with 24kg, which was CMS ranking at the time.

I was never an athlete growing up, and so the quick success gave me a huge boost of confidence and momentum to continue training and setting bigger goals.

When did you start being a coach? Why did you do it?
My good friend, Nancy, asked me to teach her how to use kettlebells and we started training in my apartment. Of course we gravitated towards the sport lifts and I eventually talked her into competing. I found out how much I loved teaching and how gratifying it can be to push others to help meet their goals. I only coach a handful of athletes right now, but it allows me to give them the attention they deserve.

What kind of education do you have in coaching?
None – everything I’ve learned has been through research and working with coaches myself.

As a coach, what is important to be like in order to get the best results from your athletes?
I don’t think it’s necessary to have very high results as an athlete, but it is important to understand the challenges of training and competing – both physically and emotionally. Great athletes don’t necessarily make great coaches – and vice versa. Patience, attention to detail, and excellent communication skills are all paramount to successful coaching.

12356905_880327358752282_3506080742304871256_o (1)What do you think are the most important personal qualities in an athlet?
Grit and obsessive attention to detail!

What is the most challenging thing being a coach?
Managing technical aspects of lifting via online coaching is very difficult and this is mostly due to the inability to provide real-time feedback to the athlete.

What are your own strenghts as a coach?
I really enjoy planning the training cycle ever since I started competing. It works really well with my personality as I am very detail oriented. It’s like solving a puzzle or making a map – finding new ways to build progressions based off the athlete’s individual needs, managing all of the different variables, etc.

I also try to instill the same ”never surrender” mentality that I’ve developed over the years. I try to lead by example.

What do you feel about single/double bells for women? What do you prefer as a coach?
I definitely prefer double bell events for women in traditional Kettlebell Sport events. Personally, I don’t have much interest in coaching for single-bell events.

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 remember when I started lifting, my only resources were a few general fitness training manuals and YouTube – there weren’t really many coaches in my area and there were really only a few big competitions each year. Now, there are so many great sport-specific training resources, excellent coaches, and opportunities to compete year-round in the US.
That means that new lifters will progress faster and faster. The benchmarks keep rising and athletes will continue to set new records and exceed what we think is possible.

Also, something we’ve been seeing more and more lately is strong athletes competing in jerk, snatch, and long cycle. This is reflected in WAKSC’s and OKC’s formatting of the 2017 world championships next year, where each lift has it’s own day and the absolute champion will be determined by their results over all three disciplines. I think the days of the specialist are ending and lifters will be required to be well-rounded in all events.

IMG_0620Have you entered any competitions? Do you want to share your results?
These are my personal bests, a mix of in-training and competition:

Jerk: 32kg – 76 / 24kg – 142

Snatch: 32kg – 138 / 24kg – 235

Biathlon: 32kg – 144 pts / 24kg – 243

Long Cycle: 32kg – 49 / 24kg – 90

These are all in the 78kg weight division

What/which are or were your personal goals in training? (long-term/short-term?)
My current goals are to be able to do 100 jerks with 32kg; 150 snatch with 32kg; and 60 reps in long cycle. Also 100 reps in 24kg long cycle.

What/which are your goals for your athletes? (long-term/short-term?)
Longevity is my priority with my athletes. I want them to lift as long as they want, and for their careers not to be cut short by injury or mental/emotional burn out. I think this is done by carefully managing external life stressors (work, relationships, family, etc) and being dynamic with the training plan. You have to know when to push and know when to dial things back.

12309697_1691042144443325_7360203099987126257_oWhich discipline do you like the most and why is that?
I tend to drift in and out of all three – after another year of hard biathlon training, I’m about to switch over to long cycle for a little bit. The grass is always greener….
But I imagine I’ll be training all three lifts in preparation for next year’s WAKSC world championships.

What do you think is the most challenging in training?
Just the daily grind of an athlete’s life. Work doesn’t stop at the gym – you still have to be mindful about recovery and make sure you’re eating enough of the right things, getting enough sleep, working on any weaknesses or imbalances, managing external stress. This all can be much more difficult if there isn’t an upcoming competition on the schedule.

Do you have any training tips to share?
Never put the bells down before your time is up. No matter what. It’s a bad habit that will carry over to competition.

Who (or what) inspires you?
Of course I’m inspired by all of the great lifters – legends and rising stars alike – and there are way too many to name, so I won’t. But true inspiration has to come from within.
For me, lifting is a form of self-expression and self-actualization.

Which exercise is your favourite?
Outside of kettlebell lifting, I love training with barbells – squats and deadlifts are my favorite. But I also really enjoy running, cycling, and surfing.

Photo Credit - NAZOHave you got any exercises that you hate doing, or that your athletes hates doing? Which one and why is that?
I’m kind of a masochist and so I don’t really hate any exercises. I don’t give any training to my athletes that I haven’t experienced myself. And if they hate something, they haven’t really told me yet. But they do let me know how hard leg training is!

Is there ever anything that makes you not prioritate trainingday?
No – training is almost always the part of the day I look forward to the most. I feel more at home at the gym than I do at home.

How do you eat? Do you have a special diet or a food-philosophy?
There are no good or bad foods – only food. I don’t restrict anything, but instead try to look at food in terms of it’s nutritional and caloric value. Most who know me are well aware of my sweet tooth and fondness for peanut butter. And those who really know me see that the overwhelming majority of my meals are comprised of nutrient dense whole foods.
But sometimes ice cream.

What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not ”kettlebelling” or coaching?
I really love being outdoors, whether it’s hiking, spending time at the beach, or both. I recently moved to California and I absolutely love it: mountains, coast, desert, forest – this state has it all.
When I’m stuck inside, I watch a lot of movies and stand-up, read, and write.

We would like to thank Chris for taking part of this and sharing his thoughts with us. He is a great athlete and we wish him the best of luck in the future!

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