This past weekend myself and Samantha Murray (my partner) attended the Strongfirst SFG level 1 Kettlebell certification in Harlow Essex. For those of you that don’t already know, Strongfirst are the reason you have heard of kettlebells and probably why you are here reading this. For more information head to

I was invited by the UK Strongfirst director to work as an assistant instructor and Sam was there to go through the 3 day certification. I am happy to say she passed with flying colours despite having an injury that necessitated a trip to the hospital half way through the weekend!


sam murray SFG kettlebell instructor


The SFG level 1 kettlebell certification is the toughest and most demanding course of its kind, 30% failure rate is typical and has been higher then 50% before. Training for it can take a year or two and should be approached as if competing in an athletic event. SFG certified kettlebell trainers are the most qualified instructors available, you simply do not turn up and pass at this event, you have to talk the talk AND walk the walk.


Here are the SFG requirements to pass the weekend

Technique test – Show perfect form and technique in the following exercises

  • 10 double swing
  • 5 double clean
  • 5 double front squat
  • 5 double military press
  • 5 single bell snatch
  • 1 get up


Men use a pair of 24kg or single 24kg

Women use a pair of 12kg if under 56kg body weight or a pair of 16kg if over 56kg body weight

Strength test 

Men – 5 pull ups

Women – 15 second flexed arm hang

Conditioning test

Men – snatch a 24kg kettlebell 100 times in 5 minutes

Women – Snatch a 16kg kettlebell 100 times in 5 minutes

Written test

Candidates will be tested on their kettlebell knowledge and have to score 35 out of 50 to pass

Strongfirst is an international organisation and run their certifications all over the world, this event had 43 candidates attending of which some flew from Ireland, Greece, Canada and even Australia! The demographic is mostly personal trainers, strength coaches, physiotherapists and such, but also kettlebell enthusiasts and folk who are looking for a career change.

Candidates were split into 3 teams and each had a senior or master SFG instructor teaching. These instructors are world class and are highly respected in other areas.

Senior SFG Tommy Blom 

Master SFG David Whitley

Senior SFG Mark Toomey

Day 1 is spent practicing the swing, clean and press, its a long day which starts at 7:30am and finishes at 6pm. As well as team practice candidates will be put through 3 or 4 10-20 min workouts using heavier or lighter than snatch size kettlebells. In the case of swings, they are encouraged to swing anything up to the beast (48kg kettlebell).

The masters and seniors provide lectures on SFG strength training principles and deliver the content in an easy to understand format, there are trouble shooting sections during the day which give the candidates insight into how to correct clients and coach them into better movement patterns. The information provided is second to none and is well worth the £1000 price tag of this certification.

Day 2 the candidates learn and practice squats, get ups and snatches, again they will go through workouts to drill technique as well as their individual team practice/trouble shooting.

Day 3 is testing day, everything you have learnt so far is tested, the most dreaded test is by far the snatch test!


SFG kettlebell instructor


Sam has been training with kettlebells for over 3 years now, her strength and conditioning level is actually above the SFG requirements but that is not to say this was easy for her! 3 long days of hard training will take it out of the most conditioned athlete, and anyone reading this who has trained for some time with kettlebells knows how rough on the hands they can be!

For me it was an absolute privilege to be invited to assist at this event, I think I learnt as much as the candidates and always consider myself a student in this game. It was a great experience to coach such determined individuals and see them improve over the 3 days. Everyone came well prepared and showed tremendous courage and heart. I take my hat off to them and am glad to say that above 80% met the requirements and standards on the day.

Congratulations new SFG instructors!

Now that Bristol Kettlebell club has another SFG certified trainer on board we will be looking to add to our class schedule as soon as we can find decent venues at the right locations (get in touch if you know of somewhere).

In the kettlebell universe it all starts with the swing, once you have mastered this fat burning athlete builder, you can progress onto cleans and snatches. Technique is everything, safety and performance are key.

We consistently hear of people doing dangerous things with kettlebells and even see it in the parks around Bristol. Until you have been coached by an SFG instructor, expect sub optimal performance and results.

To celebrate Sam’s graduation she will be offering swing lessons at a very generous discount. You can get a 45 min session with her for just £15! Or buy 3 x 45 min sessions for £40.

Start your training right and get the basics mastered first.

To book please call 07800542416 or use the contact form above.