Steve "Coach Fury" Holiner, DVRT 2, RKC II, CICS and Coach Lance Turnbow, DVRT 2, HKC
My friend and mentor Gavin Van Vlack first introduced me to sandbag training about 6 months earlier. Gavin saw the fitness boner I had for kettlebells and knew that I would fall equally in love with sandbags. The man was right. I ordered a couple of bags a week later and started to intergrate sandbag movements into my training. I fell so hard for the bags that I almost went to Arizona for a L.I.F.T. Certification instead of going for my RKC. Those that know me, know that being an RKC means the world to me. The decision wasn't going to be easy. Fortunately, I got word of a L.I.F.T. certification workshop coming to NYC during my birthday weekend in 2010. It was perfect. I was able to do the RKC and then do the L.I.F.T. certification exactly one month later.
After completing my RKC, I began to focus soley on sandbag training leading to the L.I.F.T. cert. I noticed that some Five Points members were watching with some confusion and awe at what I was doing. Around the worlds, snatches and anything done within a TRX suspended lunge will draw attention. People started asking about it.
Josh Henkin is the brains and brawn behind Ulitmate Sandbag training. He's ridiculously strong, knowledgable and an overall nice guy. At the workshop, I had the opportunity to meet and train with Josh and his amazing team. I hold Josh, Troy Anderson, Cem Eren and Jim Caiafa in the highest regard. What too many people don't realize about L.I.F.T. (now D.V.R.T.) was that it was much more than a "sandbag" certification. It's about safe and effective progressions in strength training. It's about building a person up in intelligent stages and adding progression when appropriate. These concepts apply to any implement. That said, sandbags are an awesome tool to have in your toolbox.
I got certified, got back to the gym and kept training with the bags. Enough people had started to show interest that I pitched the idea of a sandbag only class to another mentor, my boss and role model, Arjan Steve Milles. His response was immediate. Get the costs and we'll make it happen. And we did. I didn't expect a huge turnout so I hedged my bets and only ordered only six bags in addition to the three that I already owned. Twenty plus people came to the first two classes. We needed more bags and I needed to rethink how I was going to program the class. This was a critical and important time for me and the program. I wanted it to be popular, but I also wanted it to be smart, controlled, effective and safe. Class size limits were put into place and the entire program was redesigned. This is when the Ulitmate Sandbag class hit it's stride. More bags were ordered. Thankfully, I was able to buy dry sand.
We found our niche within the Five Points crew. It is the type of training that just clicks with people. Interestingly enough, there is no set demographic for it. Members of all ages, genders and backgrounds became Tusken Raiders (Sandpeople - don't sue me George). There is nothing quite like the feel of shifting sand and the changing dynamic of the bag with each rep. The rotational lifting movements help eliminate weak links and have a direct positive effect on martial arts (Five Points is primarily known for Muay Thai, Kali, Judo and Jiu Jitsu).
It was a great year for sandbag training at Five Points. I had the privilege of being interviewed by Josh for his blog. I was also asked to speak at the next L.I.F.T. certification held in NY. My good friend, Coach Lance Turnbow became certified as well. We added two more classes classes in May. Lance also started an Ultimate Sandbag and kettlebell class in September, bringing our sandbag class total to 4 per week. We have a total of fourteen sandbags now (not counting my own).
As the program hits it's anniversary next week, Ultimate Sandbag training has become a staple at Five Points Academy. It is used for strength, conditioning and corrective exercises within the class and with personal training clients. The sandbag crew continues to get stronger and move better. My baby is growing up and I'm extrememly proud of it. I can't wait to watch it develop over the next year. Come on down to Five Points and take a trial class if you're interested.
I want to thank everyone at Five Points that's tried and supported the class. A special thanks goes out to the regular Ultimate Sandbag/Bags and Bells crew, Lance Turnbow and Gavin Van Vlack. Thanks to Josh Henkin and Jessica Bento for their help and support. Finally, thanks to Steve Milles for giving me the shot and his continuing support of all things Fury.
-Steve "Coach Fury" Holiner