Sunday, December 30, 2012


I just wrapped up my last client and training session of the year. 2012 has been quite the ride. I want to thank the Five Points crew, The Fury Crew, my all-star clients and the StrongFirst, RKC and DVRT community for allowing me to learn and work with you. I wish all of you a happy healthy and strong new year. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Noah Maxwell and Will Morris both left me excited messages that my name was being dropped on the Opie and Anthony Radio show this morning. Midway through the show, Jim Norton brought up kettlebells and their guest, comedian Dave Attell, gave me some kind words. Dave's both a friend and client of mine. Very cool. 

Click the link below. The bit starts at 02:14:40. 

Be sure to check out Dave's Old Porn on Showtime Thursdays at 11pm EST.

You can listen to the Opie & Anthony on SiriusXM.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Here's a great RKC Blog post by my good friend Corey Howard. Keep an eye out next month for details on a workshop that Corey and I will be doing. Enjoy the read. -Fury
The RKC is about Strength.  Many times we’ve referred to it as a “School of Strength.”  After all, what’s better than lifting heavy stuff?   In fact many instructors have said the secret to a happy life is lifting heavy stuff overhead!  As RKC’s we sometimes base our abilities on a heavy deadlift, pull-up and overhead press.  But what do you do if you can’t physically deadlift?  What if some anatomical limitation prevents you from pressing heavy stuff overhead?  Are you left to a life of spinning classes and pretty little selectorized machines?  No!
I am one of these people.  I physically can’t deadlift, or squat heavy anymore.  I can’t press heavy things overhead on a consistent basis.  Don’t get me wrong… I’m a former competitive powerlifter, I love lifting heavy stuff!  Due to a nice case of scoliosis I physically can’t put weight on my back, or vertically load my spine, and heavy deadlifting is just not smart anymore.  Take a look at a recent X-ray of my spine:
XraySpine CoryHoward Strength Despite Limitations... by Corey Howard, RKC, CK FMS
So now what?  What do you do for a client like me?  Heck, what do I do?  I use the tools the RKC and DragonDoor has provided… CK-FMS, Swing variations, Get-ups, and Paul Wade’s Convict Conditioning book.  Let’s take a look at these-
CK-FMS - As we all learned from Brett Jones and Gray Cook, we’re only as strong as our weakest link will allow.  If we have an active straight leg raise issue, or a stability issue, it adversely affects our performance because we aren’t moving efficiently.  Brett once said that for some people the correctives become part of our daily routine, and for me that’s true.  I’m always going to have a t-spine mobility issue, and as a result I’ll always have a stability issue.   If I don’t make those correctives part of my practice sessions my low back is in pain the next day.
Swing variations - Swings are the foundation of what we do, and there are so many variations.  Typically I have two days devoted to only swings.  The first is a one arm swing interval variation day, and the other is a heavy swing day.  For example I may do 30-40 minutes of one arm swings with a 24k, then later in the week I might perform 2 hand swings with a 48k for 30-40 minutes.  One arm swings help with conditioning as well as stability issues due to the asymmetrical loading.  The heavy two hand swings are as close to heavy deadlifting as my body will allow, yet work great for building strength in a safe yet ballistic manner.
Get ups - David Whitley says get-ups are essentially the human gate pattern, and he’s right!  Get ups allow us to move safely under a load while our body fires in a X-type of pattern.  Look at the initial post to elbow move for example, we drive through our bell side glute while posting on the opposite elbow by firing that lat.  Everything moves diagonally, just like when we walk.  Get ups teach me to move under a load while still providing the much needed overhead stimulation.  Ten minutes of get ups do the trick!
Convict Conditioning - When I was powerlifting, I used to have a high and low intensity day.  Some powerlifters call it Dynamic and Max effort days.  Basically this is a day of lower weight with higher reps to essentially practice the movement, shore up weak links and build efficiency, followed with a max effort day 72 hours later with fewer reps and heavier weight, very similar to the swing methodology discussed above.  I have chosen to focus on three bodyweight strength movements; pistol, pull-up and handstand push-ups.  Since I can’t back or front squat, the pistol is a safe alternative that still allows me to safely apply a load on heavy days yet still get high rep squat variation practice in on my light days.  The pull-up is also a movement that allows me to hang a kettlebell from my foot or a belt to add a load, while practicing a horizontal version on my light days.  Finally handstand push-ups are really the only way I can press anything overhead without being crippled the next day!  All three movements are easy to modify using the different levels provided in Paul Wade’s Convict Conditioning.
CoryHoward pistolsquat Strength Despite Limitations... by Corey Howard, RKC, CK FMS
So how does this look in a program?
Day 1: 10-min of light get ups followed by light easy bodyweight strength practice
Day 2: 30-40 min of One Arm Swings
Day 3: 10 min of heavier get up practice followed by heavier low rep bodyweight strength movements
Day 4: 30-40 min of heavy swings
Being strong is an important part of life.  It’s how we survive.  No matter what physical limitation you have there are resources available and ways to work around almost anything.  The last thing anyone should ever do is sit down on a machine, choose a weight, and push out some mindless reps.  Grab a kettlebell do some get ups and swings or some bodyweight strength work.
An excuse only exists if you allow it to.

About Corey:
As the owner and founder of Results PT, Corey started the company in 2004 out of his house, with the goal of creating an energizing atmosphere that’s geared toward the client’s success.  Since 2004 his vision has grown along with the list of clients, and in 2008 he opened Sioux Falls’s first private personal training studio.  Corey has trained and helped many people lose a lot of weight, including a few people that have lost over 100lbs.  He also has experience training fitness figure competitors and pagent girls.  His clients have been featured in local and national magazine articles, appeared on television, and competed nationally.  He originally became a certified personal trainer while living in Minneapolis in 2002 and over the years has created a successful strategy and program that reaps success.  He also has experience in competitive powerlifting and loves total body kettlebell workouts that promote athleticism.  He can be reached at or 
  • 1999 Sioux Falls Augustana College graduate.  BS in Bs Admin, Soc, Psych.
  • I’ve been in a gym lifting, training, and learning about fitness since 1992.
  • After living in Mineapolis, Mn for 5 years my wife (Tricia) and I moved home to Sioux Falls, SD where I started Results Personal Training out of a spare bedroom in our house.  Over the course of time it slowly evolved into Sioux Falls’s first private training studio with 2000 sq. ft, of kettlebells, power racks, free weights, a slosh pipe, and many other fun implements.
  • Former competitive powerlifter
  • After tearing my left tricep and being forced into early retirement from powerlifting, I discovered kettlebells with some encouragement from Brad Nelson, RKC.  And in 2009 I earned my HKC.
  • In 2010 I went on and earned my RKC.
  • In 2011 I earned my CK-FMS and became the first kettlebell functional movement specialist in South Dakota.
  • In 2012 I was an assistant instructor at the RKC certification course.  South Dakota’s most Senior ranked kettlebell instructor.
  • I’ve had clients range in age from 10 to 75, who’s goal range from weight loss, pageantry, increasing a vertical leap, and just fitting into smaller jeans.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Aside from the overall excitement of Pavel Tsatsouline launching a new company, I had an immediate emotional reaction upon seeing the brand’s name StrongFirst. Initially, I didn’t realize what sparked that connection. Then I realized that the name itself, StrongFirst, took me right back to the start of my unexpected strength journey.

I’ve never been an athlete. Baseball, football and soccer never held any interest for me. I was never on, or longed to be part of, a team.  Skateboarding was my passion. I spent the better part of 25 years hucking myself down stairs, ledges, ramps, and around pools.  You could say that I defined myself by being a skateboarder and you would be right. That passion took a physical toll on me. The decades of slamming (and getting back up) left me with what Brett Jones would call mileage on the chassis. The most significant injuries required surgery on my right shoulder at the age of 34 and later PCL replacement in my left knee.

My daughter was born two years later. At this time, I had built a respected career in the world of visual effects. I still skated but had put on a lot of weight. One day, I was carrying my daughter on my shoulders and my back and shoulder started to ache. She was only 6 months old. I immediately made the decision to get stronger for my girl. I wanted to be able to pick her up, play and, of course, skate with her as she got older and bigger. I didn’t care about fat loss, cardio or mobility. Hell, I never would have considered mobility back then. My main focus, my first goal and my call to action were simple: GET STRONGER.
I started lifting in the same uneducated manner I did in college and I started to get stronger. Weight loss was a great byproduct , though having a six pack was never my goal. Strength was.
A couple of years later I discovered kettlebells as a member of Five Points Academy in New York City. I was instantly hooked. Six months later, I took the HKC with no intention of becoming an Instructor. It was a good way to improve my swing and get-up. The education bug bit me at the HKC. I signed up for my first RKC shortly after. This journey has taken me all around the country learning from and becoming friends with many of the greats. Most of which are now a part of StrongFirst. 
I’m now the father of two. If you asked either of my kids why I train, they would say, “So daddy can pick me up.”
This journey has led me to friends, family and opportunities I never would have dreamed of. The 40 year old me could kick my 20 year old self’s butt. I quit the visual effects world to help spread my love of strength and “hardstyle” full-time. It has been an honor training with my clients (all of which have become friends) and teaching what I've learned with fellow Instructors. Words cannot express how you feel when you truly see that you've had a positive impact on someone's life. Personally, I’ve gained mobility, flexibility and lost weight. However, strength was and will always be my main goal.
I am StrongFirst.
-Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner

Saturday, November 3, 2012


No excuses. I've been horrible at updating the site. That's about to change. My emphasis over the summer and fall has been more about education and less about marketing. I've gone to many workshops as both a participant and often as an Assistant Instructor. Quite simply, I'm not the same trainer I was before. I've been fortunate often to learn from and work with many of the greats in the strength game. Folks like Brett Jones, Marty Gallagher, Jeff O'Connor, Kirk Karwoski, Phil Scarito, Gray Cook, Andrea DuCane, Geoff Neupert, David Whitley, John Heinz, Andrea U-Shi Chang, Zar Horton, Dustin Rippetoe and the Dragon Door mastermind himself, John DuCane to name a few. If knowledge is power, then I've hit several PRs this year.

Expect reports, tips, updates and videos in the weeks to come. 

First and foremost, my clients have been killing it!

-Fury out. 

Monday, July 23, 2012


Here's a great interview with my friend and mentor, Gavin Van Vlack. He's the man that first introduced me to sandbag training. He's also been a big supporter of mine and for that I will be eternally grateful. Not to mention that Burn and Absolution kick ass. 

Here's a great read:

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Here's a circuit I programmed for fellow Five Points Coach, Lance Turnbow and myself. It's a simple five round circuit that hit the whole body. It's simple, fast and effective.

5x Ultimate Sandbag Cleans
5x Ultimate Squats
10x TRX Suspended Push-ups
Double Kettlebell Loaded Carries (varying the press arm).

:30 Jump rope between rounds. 

We finished it off with 2x5 in the Ab Wheel. 

Try it out and enjoy. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


As I approach 40, I find myself able to do things I was never able to do before. That's one of the addictive qualities and main benefits of strength training. I found an awesome piece of gym equipment while at the playground with my kids. It's only fair that I got to have some fun too! Get strong, have fun and show your kids that anything is possible (regardless of age). 

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


To be honest, I was never a huge fan of the bent press. It can feel very awkward and I've never been able to go heavy with it. Not one to run from a weakness, I've recently added them into my training once a week. All of the thoracic spine and shoulder mobility drills I've been doing over time have made the bent press much easier than when I first learned it. The BP is no longer awkward and now I'm starting to go heavy. After two weeks, I hit a PR with the 40kg/88lb kettlebell. 

Friday, June 29, 2012


My buddy Corey Howard, RKC, CK-FMS asked me to write a blog for his site. It was the perfect opportunity to write about one of the most important and underappreciated aspects of pressing overhead. Check it out here: The Hidden Secret To Pressing Heavy

Thursday, February 23, 2012


It pays to have smart friends with a sense of a humor. In my previous life, I produced visual effects for commercials and the occasional film scene or music video. I also helped run a couple of VFX companies. I had the privilege of meeting many great, bright and extremely creative people during my tenure in the VFX world. Last night, there was a reunion for former employees of one these shops. The reunion was organized by MegaMind, Todd Brous, President and CEO of Untwist Technology and the creator of the Hudzee hard drive storage case. Todd, and his Todd Squad, are responsible for creating, implementing and maintaining the infrastructure for many of New York's finest and most technologically advanced visual effects companies. He's also ventured into outdoor jumbo screen LED displays. 

For the location of the reunion, Todd got us space in Bar Basque on 6th Ave and 28th Street in New York City. Todd had previously set up one of his giant LED screens outside of the restaurant where diners, hotel guests and people on the street can watch movies, sports, etc. 

The screen as viewed from Ave. of the Americas and 28th St.

As part of the reunion, Todd offered everyone the opportunity to have their VFX and design reels play to the public on the jumbo screen. I joked on Facebook, "All I have is my YouTube channel: coachfurysc. You can loop me lifting stuff all night. \m/ \m/."

And with that, I walked into the bar, turned around and saw this on the jumbotron... 

Pressing the Beast for the people of NYC. 

It was me mid-press with the 48kg while training for the RKC Beast Tamer Challenge. The whole thing was both fantastic and completely ridiculous. Is this the biggest public advertisement for kettlebells? Not sure, but it was awesome. 

Fury view from the bar. 

I was glad that I had originally taken the time to add titles and a URL to the training clip. The video played at least a dozen times (one time as the commercial break during the basketball game). My wise ass comment had inadvertently brought Coach Fury, the Beast Tamer Challenge and kettlebells to the masses of NYC. Easily, hundreds if not thousands of people saw a portion of that clip throughout the evening.

I had a great time catching up with everyone at the reunion. While I don't miss the industry, I do miss the people (though I now train a lot of them). 

Special thanks to Todd Brous, the QM Ghost crew, and the Untwist/Hudzee squad. 

Click the links below to learn more about Todd, Untwist Technologies and HudZee.

-Fury out

Monday, February 13, 2012


Let's be honest, pull-ups are a pain in the ass. It takes an extreme level of patience and commitment to get strong at performing pull-ups. They are also an excellent exercise and one of the key tests of strength that almost everyone wishes they could do more reps of, or any at all. Pull-ups are also one of the few exercises that many people just assume they can't or won't ever be able to perform. Unfortunately, many people seem to write pull-ups off entirely. I've found that women seem to be particularly intimidated by them. I'm a believer that anyone can train for anything regardless of gender. That said, I thought women would prefer to hear about pull-ups from one of their own. 

Enter Valerie Hedlund, the Iron Maiden. Last year, Valerie became one of only three women to complete the RKC Iron Maiden Challenge. The Challenge consists of a 24kg/53lb kettebell clean and press, a 24kg pistol squat and a pull-up with the 24kg on a belt around your waist. Guess which most will claim as the hardest part?

Valerie's an inspirational person on many levels. I guarantee that we'll see more women becoming Iron Maidens after seeing Valerie's success. Though we touch upon it, the focus of this interview is not the Iron Maiden Challenge or heavy weighted pull-ups. It's about women doing pull-ups. My hope is that Valerie will inspire some women (and men) to stop fearing and start training for pull-ups. 

When and how did you start training for pull-ups?
I actually started when I was a kid. I was a little tomboy and I was always trying to keep up with my really athletic older brother. I was probably around 10 years old when I first started doing pull-ups.

As a woman, what was your initial reaction to the idea of doing pull-up? Were you reluctant? 
I always thought it was cool to be able to do a pull-up and I never wanted to let that slide. As a woman, it's kind of weird, but I'm afraid it will somehow just "go away". Like if I don't practice it, my body will forget how. There's probably some truth to that, so I practice them once a week or every couple of weeks. 

Now, I NEVER wanted to do pull-ups with weight. When I'm training, I usually try to remember the reason for the exercise/routine I'm doing. Until I heard about the Iron Maiden Challenge, there never seemed like a good reason to strap weight to my waist and do a pull-up. I was reluctant because it seemed like a very "male" thing to do and honestly, I was worried about getting "big". I know as a female strength professional, it's not ok to say or even think that, but I did. I am a product of my environment, and after living in California for 8 years, I started to see myself as the "big girl" at 5'3" and 129-lbs.  I've always had muscle and have learned in my 32 years to accept my body as it is, but I did not want to get any "bigger" when I had to stand next to 90% of the women in Southern California who are the definition of long and lean.

What type of training progressions did you use?
I did a lot of "Greasing the Groove", a la Pavel.  I did a couple clean, fluid reps every hour or two during the day, twice a week. I increased the weight as I thought I could and decreased when I was getting tired. Some days were better than others, but that's how training goes sometimes. Six weeks before, I did a peaking program and focused on gaining a ton of strength in my pull-up.

How long did it take to start seeing progress?
Truly not long at all. Maybe a month and a half of Greasing the Groove. I didn't test my max for that long. Just trusted the process and tried to mentally get away from the goal a little. Simply focus on the work I was doing at the moment, and trust that my form was getting better and my strength was increasing. I could tell that the pull-up with the 12kg & 16kg were getting easier.

What place do they take in your normal training?
When not training for something like the Iron Maiden, I'll probably put pull-ups in one routine every week or every 2 weeks.

When did the Iron Maiden Challenge become a goal?
I think it was at my RKC in April of 2009. During the press portion of the weekend, I pressed the 24kg kettlebell for the first time and someone suggested I train for the Iron Maiden. I had to read my manual to figure out what that meant, but when I saw what it was, I thought that maybe I'd try it. I had a lot of friends push me to do it- Gabby Eborall, RKC, a great friend, was probably my biggest supporter. She and I went through the RKC together and she told everyone who would listen that I pressed the 24kg. A couple months after the RKC, she and I took a trip to San Diego to visit fellow RKCs Franz and Yoana of Revolution Fitness and Gabby told them. They were both really sweet and encouraged me to really start training for it, and so I started working on the pistol. At that point, I was still skeptical about the pull-up with weight. Once I had the pistol and the press, I decided to start training for the pull-up too.

Why do you think more women haven’t passed the challenge?
That's a really good question. I think we're all pretty competitive and we don't even want to attempt at an RKC event without being completely confident we can do it. I was that way anyway. I trained to do them all with the 28kg so that the 24kg would feel easy. I didn't want there to be any question in my mind on the day of the challenge. I can only really speak for myself, but it was really intimidating. When I was training, I thought there was only one Iron Maiden- Asha Wagner. When only one person has completed the challenge in 10 years, it doesn't seem doable. That's why I'm hoping that more women will train for it now. It's NOT impossible and if I, at 5'3" and 131lb can do it, then more women can too. (Yes, I gained a whopping 2-lbs training for the Iron Maiden.)

Any words of encouragement for women that are intimidated by pull-ups?
Don't be! Pull-ups are fun and cool and every other woman in the gym will envy you if you can do them. =) Seriously though, if not for that, do it for yourself. For whatever reason, a lot of women aren't able to do pull-ups. If you can't right now, and you train for it, just think about what an accomplishment it will be when you are finally able to do one pull-up! Then don't stop there- get to 5 and then 10 and more! Your clothes may fit different when you build muscle- it's because fat can be stuffed into a shirt or into jeans. Muscle doesn't get squished into jeans.

What key words of training advice can you give a woman that's ready to step up to the bar?
Pull-ups are a total body exercise. Just like Push-ups, and Squats, and Lunges, and Swings, and Deadlifts.... I digress, but hopefully you get the point- if you do most exercises mindfully, they will be total body exercises. Pull-ups are not for your arms or your back, they're for your entire body. So keep that in mind when you're practicing. Here are a couple quick tips:

1- Get away from the sissy "pull-up helper machine". It's truly anything BUT a pull-up helper. It teaches you to only use your arms and back and negates everything from your chest down. 

2- Get a superband or travel band and put it around the pull-up bar. Put your feet in the band and allow it to help you up. Be sure to use your entire body to stabalize. My friend Mike Robertson, RKC has a great video to help demonstrate the assisted pullup. Betsy Collie, RKC Team Leader also has a great video on youtube. Betsy is a great example of long, lean, and super-strong. 

3- Pull yourself up by "driving your elbows into your sides". I think a lot of people pull with their hands, and that activates the bicep more. You do need to grip, and you do need help with your biceps, but your biceps "like" to help, i.e. we're accustomed to working our biceps. Focusing on driving your elbows down and into your sides will help engage your lats.

4- Don't think about just getting your chin over the bar. Throw yourself toward the ceiling. Corny, but it's kind of a "reach for the starts and you might touch a cloud" kind of thing...

5-  I'd suggest that every time you see a pull-up bar, go for a couple reps.  If you can't perform a pull-up yet, jump/hoist yourself up to the top position, pulling your elbows into your sides, and perform 3 negatives: hold yourself above the bar for a couple seconds and then as slowly as you can (I usually try to count to ten), bring your body to the bottom position, hanging with arms straight and shoulders still pulled into your body (shoulders away from ears).

Any final words?
Thank you, Steve, for asking me to write this. I get a lot of questions about pull-ups and it was good to finally get some of them on paper. For the women out there, don't be afraid to be strong! Strong does not mean big. Strong means using your body's potential. Strong is empowering. Strong means not getting osteoporosis when you're older because you were afraid to lift weights in your 20s and 30s. Strong means confident. Strong means your body is burning calories all of the time, trying to maintain the muscle. And I've heard that "skinny-fat" is no longer fashionable: "Strong is the New Sexy" and "Strong is the New Skinny" have been thrown around a lot in the media recently, so get on board now! 

Thanks Val! Ok ladies (and gentlemen), it's time to crush the bar and start making it happen. 

About Valerie: Valerie is the owner of Simple Strength & Fitness. Currently based in Centennial, Colorado, she serves the greater Denver area as a fitness, kettlebell, and strength coach. She offers a variety of services to include kettlebell classes, one-on-one training, and small group training. 

Her certifications include:
  • BS Health & Exercise Science - Wake Forest University
  • CSCS – Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA)
  • RKC – Russian Kettlebell Challenge Certification
  • FMS – Functional Movement Screen Certified
  • Iron Maiden – August 2011
For more information please visit her website

Saturday, January 28, 2012


For the first time, Five Points Academy will be hosting the Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC) on Saturday May 5th. The TSC consists of three events: Deadlift (3 attempts at a max lift), pull-ups for reps and the kettlebell snatch for max reps in 5 minutes. There are a total of 6 diffferent classes to choose from. A percentage of the combined pounds/reps will determine your score. Full rules are here: Sign-up begins Monday, January 30th. Registration is open to all Five Points members and Coach Fury's Kettlebell Club. There is a $20 registration fee that includes a limited edition t-shirt, special coaching with Coach Fury and access to a private facebook group forum for questions and training info. This is not about competition with anyone other than yourself. We are all, coaches included, using the TSC as an opportunity to better ourselves. Everyone will have an initial assessment on the three moves at the beginning of training that will allow us to see how far everyone's progressed by the end. You will be expected to train on your own. The initial response has been great. Steve Milles and I look forward to seeing many PRs being set by the crew.

-Fury out

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Coach Fury's Kettlebell kicked off 2012 big at Body Reserve with our largest class yet. The group is a perfect mix of OG club members, their buddies, my friends and clients (that have become friends), people that have found me through Google, Dragon Door or this site. Members are bringing their wives and girlfriends. Now, thanks to Body Reserve, we're also getting gym members checking it out. It's a solid group of individuals and I couldn't be happier. Come and check it out. Let's get Brooklyn swinging.