Friday, December 30, 2011


At this point last year, I was baking playsand in the oven to dry it out. I could only get about eighteen pounds in at a time.There was approximately five hundered pounds of sand to dry. It's normally no problem to find dry sand at a Home Depot or Lowes. That was not the case last December. Every bag of playsand was damp and New York City was getting a ton of snow. Drying the sand outside was not an option. It was a nightmare, but I was on a mission. I had proposed and developed the first dedicated Ulitmate Sandbag class at Five Points Academy (and anywhere else for tthat matter). I had a start date of January 9, 2011 and six brand new Ultimate Sandbags waiting to be filled. This was my baby. Labor was going to be difficult. 

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

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Here's what's going on in the world of Fury.

-I was happy to help Jano Iriarte Leon record and pass is RKC snatch test. I look forward to hearing the official pass. Nice work Comrade. 

-Within four months, Lisa has gone from some movement issues and only feeling comfortable with the plastic 10lb kettlebell (aka: the Fisher Price bell) to deadlifting the Beast for reps and swinging the 12kg with authority. Proof that if you learn to move correctly, strength will follow. 

-Adrienne is getting her pull-ups for singles, pressing double 12kgs and well on her way to a double bodyweight deadlift. 
-Virna is regaining her strength weekly and close to getting back to where we left off. If you only knew. I'm so proud of her. 

-All I can say about Andy is that he absolutely killing it. He's breaking plateaus in every category. 

-If you know Mark, you've seen the change. Thinner and stronger by the week. You want results? Follow his example. Drive and commitment.

-Eight months ago, Ben suffered a serious back injury while deadlifting. He thought he would never lift again. About three months ago, we started deadlifting with an elevated 12kg  kettlebell. He's now deadlifting 195lbs, clean & pressing the 24kg and swinging the 16kg. His back has never felt better. 

-You may have seen the video in a previous post, but I took my first crack at Beast Taming in training recently. That's a clean & press, a pistol squat and a pull-up with the 48kg kettlebell. I got through 2 sets of each. Master RKC, Brett Jones and RKC Team Leader, Andrew Read both gave me some much appreciated feedback. This is going to go down. 

-Grading is going on at Five Points this week. That can only mean that Master Cheetah will be in town. It's always great to have him around. Good luck to everyone climbing the Muay Thai ladder. I'll be going for Blue/White Monday. 

-I finally got to see Emily Bearden in the ring. She was fantastic. Win by split decision. 

-Vincent Hui had a great fight the same night. He's always fun to watch. Unfortunately, this went to the other guy. Loss by split decision. Next time. Vincent rips. 

-We have a number of fighters on the Take-On card in Queens on 12/16. This includes the debut of Michelle "Baby Tiger" Bryner. 

-The big news is that Coach Fury's Kettlebell club has a new home at Body Reserve in Park Slope. Saturdays at 8am. Four and half years ago I started lifting again when my back started hurting carrying Sadie around. It all started at Body Reserve. Nice that things have come full circle. 

Happy holidays everyone!

-Fury out!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I'm happy to announce that the CFKC will now be held at Body Reserve in Park Slope. This is the gym where the "Coach Fury" transformation started. The gym is on the corner of 5th Avenue and Union. You will also have access to the gym after class. 8am on Saturday's. Same time. Same Fury. Contact me for pricing.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I've been training for the Beast Tamer Challenge off and on since October of 2010. I hoped to nail it at the RKC II last July. I wasn't ready. A few weeks ago I met the latest Iron Maiden (1 of only 3), Valerie Hedlund at John Du Cane's Marketing Mastermind Intensive. Val's awesome and she motivated me to take another shot at it. I've done each of these moves in the past. However, they've never been remotely consistent or done in the same session (or month). I got home from the MMI and created a new training program for myself. Last night, I got that gut feeling that today was going to be the day. It was. There was very little warm-up for each move. I did everything twice. Enjoy.