Health & Fitness Tips from Australia's Personal Training Professionals
Kettlebell Training

Kettlebell Training

Dan Henderson

“The industry is the greatest but you will need support and nurturing to really excel.”

Dan’s key focus is on changing people’s lives. With the rapid growth in popularity of kettlebells in recent years, Dan decided to start a second business called ‘The Australian Institute of Kettlebells’. This company’s aim is to train others so they can master this equipment themselves and become an instructor in kettlebells.

Originally invented in Russia, kettlebells are cast-iron or steel weights, which provide users with a much different workout to other free weights. They are used for cardiovascular training, but they can not only help you lose fat, but also improve your strength and flexibility.

Dan’s business has also expanded into other functional training modalities too, including powerbags and battling ropes. He is now the owner of two very successful fitness companies.

Dan’s first business, Coastal Bodies, provides premium personal training with highly skilled staff. Unlike a gym, you have the choice of location, including two indoor studios as well as fitness training in the beautiful outdoors. With outdoor training, you’ll not only get your necessary dose of Vitamin D, but you’ll feel happier, more motivated and you’ll see results much faster as the outdoors can be more demanding.

1 What did you study and how has your career path evolved?

I studied a BA in Sports and Exercise Management at UTS in 2001, with my Honours in Human Movement. I then decided to undertake the SIS30313 Certificate III in Fitness and the SIS40210 Certificate IV in Fitness whilst I was working full time.

With these skills, I moved into a sports management career path, where I was an account executive for a sportswear company, working with accounts such as NRL teams, Rebel Sports and Amart. I worked there for two and a half years, but I was also doing personal training in my spare time and I realised that this is what I was really passionate about.

In 2008, I opened a personal training studio, Coastal Bodies. It has since expanded twice and is located on the beautiful Coogee coastline. We have seven trainers and service well over 100 clients. Our trainers are experienced in exercise physiology, exercise science or physiotherapy.

In 2009, I also established an education company for fitness professionals that specialises in kettlebell training, called Australian Institute of Kettlebells. This company has evolved to offer courses in mobility, rehabilitation, battling ropes, barbells, suspension training and powerbags. We have over 20 presenters, and in 2014 we offered more than 200 courses in four countries.

I split my time between the two companies and am primarily involved in operations. However, I still do some hands-on-work, including training and presenting.

2 What are the biggest challenges you have faced in the fitness industry and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced is establishing amazing teams. This allows the business to grow, however the process involves meticulous recruitment, constant training and personal empowerment. We have gone to great lengths to get people with the right attitude.

Qualifications are important, but character and attitude are even more so; however, we look for both. We also invest a lot of resources into training and development as well as getting our team to buy into our mission and purpose. Along the way, we haven’t always got the process right, but more times than not, we have.

Another big challenge is creating an incredible experience from start to finish. When part of the process breaks down, this can affect the experience of our clients. We feel that all the little things, like welcome and birthday cards, certificates, etcetera. are all vital to the experience and so we strive to excel in these areas too.

3 Tell us about your history with kettlebell training and what inspired you to start the Australian Institute of Kettlebells.

I started to personally use kettlebells in 2006 in my own training and I was intrigued by the skill and coordination you needed to perform the movements. I loved the dynamic nature and the challenge that arose.

However, it was my search for training resources that made me aware that there was a lack of quality education around the kettlebells. My business partner and I wrote our first training course over a period of 12 months and that course has now had over a thousand people complete it.

The business has really evolved from there as we kept seeing holes in the industry when it came to quality education around certain tools and concepts. We now have nine accredited courses in total.

4 What is the secret to building a personal training brand and setting yourself apart from the rest?

The secret is delivering an incredible experience that generates terrific results for the client. You can’t worry about competitors because this takes the focus away from your client and team. Aim to constantly deliver immense value and create a culture where everyone seeks to help each other.

5 What are the top three characteristics you look for when hiring a fitness professional?

1. Passion - Does this person live and breathe fitness and wellness?

2. Honesty - I need to trust this person as they are representing my brand. Are they honest and do they embody integrity?

3. Aspiration - Where does this fitness professional want to be in one, three and five years and how I can help them get there? They need to want to improve and constantly better themselves.

6 What advice would you offer students who are looking to enter the fitness industry?

Be honest with yourself. Are you prepared to work long hours, be up early, have times where making money is tough and be energetic when you are feeling down? This is what you will encounter and if you honestly don’t think you can do it then you are best considering other options.

My other advice would be to find good people and a mentor to surround yourself with. The industry is the greatest but you will need support and nurturing to really excel.

Are you interested in getting into the fitness industry? Hear more real life stories from industry professionals here.

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