SFG Level 1 Certification. What doesn't kill you...

Earning my certification didn't go as planned...


Months and months of preparation come down to just one day...Well, just a short moment of one day.  July 29th is was.  Test day.

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Test day is what most SFG1 candidates dread or love. This is the time when your SFG level 1 skills get evaluated by the leaders.  These folks have spent two days already watching you, instructing you, revising your form, learning your strengths, learning your weaknesses, preparing you for the day of testing.  

SFG1 certification spans over three grueling days of practicing skills and several serious workouts.  By the end of each day, I was physically spent.  I was empty, had no gas left in the tank.  But each morning, I headed back to the gym, better informed than the day before.  Although by body was dead tired, I gave 110% of myself because I had been training for this certification.  For months.  I told myself that I was not going to be weeded out.  No sir. 


 Training Turkish Get Ups

Training Turkish Get Ups


I had an awesome training parter, and a huge support group behind me.  I had trainers that I was working with for months, and at the certification, I met some amazing people.  I cultivated new relationships and established life long friends!  No matter how smelly or dirty we got, we still gave high fives and hugs when we did well.   The certification weekend was the commonality that bonded us, and we were humbled in each other's company.


We were always so busy that there was little time to check phones, answer texts, and the like.  Which was fine, because anyone who would want to talk would KNOW what we were up to this weekend, and why we couldn't respond immediately.  Of course, if there was an emergency, we wouldn't know about it until our break...or the end of the day...

So you can imagine my anxiety level when I read the text from my husband at the end of the second day...


"Hon, I need Sean's medical card.  We're in the emergency room".

Holy sh!t.


My son had broken his leg while playing football with friends.   I high-tailed it from the gym to the emergency room to meet my son and husband.  

And you probably can gather that the emergency room was packed with other patients with other emergencies.  After several doctors' and nurses' assessments, and an ambulance ride to another children's hospital an hour away, I didn't arrive back home until after midnight.  Any my poor son and husband were still at the hospital until 7AM the next morning.  

Conflict plagued me.  How can I go to the last day, test day, of this certification while my son lay in the hospital with a broken leg...and my husband exhausted from the experience?  


After careful consideration, and although I had no sleep, I knew that I had to go finish what I started.  Both my husband and son were resting for the duration of that day, so rather than stay home and watch them sleep, I decided to go.  I was going to "crush it" for my son.


The day started like every other one...We worked out, practiced skills, worked out some more.  The lack of sleep was trumped by the pumping adrenaline.  

The skills test was first, double swings, presses, cleans, snatches and Turkish Get ups.  I passed these skills with no problem!  I could taste that certificate!  All I had left to do was THE HARDEST PART...the snatch test.  

The snatch test is 100 snatches with your "test" sized bell (16K for me) in under 5 minutes.  You cannot drop the bell or you'll get disqualified, and they won't count an ugly snatch.

 I had done it several times in my training, but on test day, it was different.  Folks are watching, counting, critiquing.  Friends are quietly rooting for you.  It's a crazy experience. 

The folks at the certification knew what happened the night before, and they were so kind to let me be in the first group to perform the snatch test, so I could leave right after.  

They called my name to approach the 16K bell, and then I became plagued with self doubt.  I wasn't ready...I wasn't ready...nope...not ready.  

But...here we go!  I used my strategy:  snatching 10 on my right side, then 10 on my left side and resting until the top of the next minute.  

 Snatch test at TSC 10.17

Snatch test at TSC 10.17

I was on my last set of ten.  I had already completed 90 snatches, and I had 45 seconds left to complete ten more. I knew I had to finish strong, but I was exhausted!  I began my last 10 snatches.  And at snatch 99, with 20 seconds left, I lost control of the kettlebell, and dropped it.  Ninety nine snatches, 20 seconds left, and I was disqualified.  


After months and months of training, I couldn't seal the deal.  I left with a participation certificate, but not a certified SFG1.  

I felt terrible, but not as terrible as I'm sure my son and husband felt at home.  I couldn't complete it for them, and I didn't complete it for me.  I was wrecked. 

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The SGF1 certification requirements are rigorous, but they do make allowances for folks like me, who don't pass a section of the test day skills or snatch test, to send in a video within a certain time frame of you completing the tested item.  If the video is adequate, you can earn your certification this way. 

I'm so grateful for this allowance, because it meant that it was not over for me.  I had another chance to complete the snatch test, like I had so many times before.  I had to add five more snatches to my hundred, to allow for any ugly snatches (tee hee!) that wouldn't count.

But who knew that self doubt was going to creep back into my head?  I felt so defeated, so sorry for myself.  For three days I was in a funk...I was not myself.  My family noticed it, too.  I was so "woe is me".  It was selfish, I know.  I didn't have the broken leg...I wasn't confined a bed for the rest of my summer.  Who was I to be sad and upset?  Very bad mom moments that I can admit.  

On the morning of the third day after the certification weekend, my husband told me he was sick and tired of my mopey self, he told me to get to my upstairs gym and complete that effing snatch test. 


So I went up the the home gym on the third floor of my house, warmed up to my favorite music, cranked up Prince's "Baby I'm a Star" and got ready to snatch.  

 snatch # 105

snatch # 105

And in 4 minutes and 50 seconds, I completed one hundred and five snatches.  I felt great, and sent the video to my instructor immediately.  

Within  one hour, he had viewed my video, passed me, and made it official.  I had passed the SFG1 requirements, and had earned my certification.  

Did it happen the way I had hoped?  NO.  But did it happen?  YES. 

Don't ever give up on what you want, and what you have worked so hard for.  

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Christine McCallum