Colleen Conlon is a true role model for grief to healing and rebirth. An eating disorder survivor, she owes much of what has helped her overcome adversity to learning the “hardstyle” kettlebell technique. Now it is her mission to support other women in overcoming their challenges and feel strong and fierce through this discipline. Colleen’s book is titled Kettleball Catalyst: The exercise guide for women to build strength, lean muscle, and self-confidence to overcome limiting beliefs, and her fitness advice has been featured in the New York Post, Women’s Health, and Cosmopolitan. Colleen has also been a featured trainer on virtual platforms. In 2021, Colleen set the Guinness world record for Heaviest Weight lifted in 1 hour, and later that same year, she beat her record!
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:
- What led to Colleen’s eating disorder and how she overcame it.
- Colleen did not search out the kettlebell; how the kettlebell found Colleen.
- The adversity and trauma that learning the “hardstyle” kettlebell technique helped Colleen to overcome.
- Colleen’s time with Guinness and how that experience taught her that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS COLLEEN:
- How did the kettlebells allow you to prioritize training to be strong vs. skinny?
- How does lifting kettlebells help women to “Find Your Fierce?”
- What is the connection between the chakras and kettlebells?
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Colleen Conlon: An Eating Disorder Survivor Who Became A Guinness World Record Holder With A Mission To Help Women Overcome Their Own Challenges By Feeling Strong And Learning To “Find Your Fierce!”
I am delighted to have this opportunity to introduce you to Virtual Kettlebell Coach, Guinness World Record holder, author, and entrepreneur, Colleen Conlon, who will be speaking to us from Gold Canyon, Arizona. Colleen is a true role model for grief, healing, and rebirth. An eating disorder survivor, she owes much of what has helped her overcome adversity in her life, to learning the hardstyle kettlebell technique. It is now her mission to support other women in overcoming their own challenges and feeling strong and fierce through the same discipline.
She specializes in helping women build strength and ignite their spark to find their fierce, as she does all of this through kettlebells. Her background is in yoga, indoor cycling, and three-dimensional functional strength training. She has been a fitness professional in New York City at top gyms in roles such as personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and project manager. Her fitness advice has been featured in the New York Post, Women’s Health, and Cosmopolitan. Plus she has been a featured trainer on virtual platforms.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Colleen pivoted her whole business online. In her first year as a virtual kettlebell coach, she taught over 100 students to safely use kettlebells. In 2021, she set the Guinness World Record for the heaviest weight lifted in one hour, and later that same year, she beat her own record. I’m looking forward to talking with Colleen about how she overcame an eating disorder by prioritizing being strong over being skinny, setting them and beating her own Guinness World Record, and helping women to find their fierce. Her book titled Kettlebell Catalyst: The Exercise Guide for Women to Build Strength, Lean Muscle, and Self-Confidence to Overcome Limiting Beliefs and more, for what is surely going to be an inspiring and moving interview.
Colleen, you are speaking my language. Welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to get to spend this time speaking to you and being a person anybody can connect to who feels connected by my story.
Tell us about your childhood. Explain what led to your eating disorder and share how you overcame it, which is not easy.
I grew up in a conservative Catholic household. That will come up throughout different parts of this story. When I was growing up, I was a happy-go-lucky kid. My family moved thirteen times before I went away to college. When I was in the third grade, my teacher called me out because she thought I was a witch, like abracadabra. I was taken to see the school psychologist.
Were you in a Catholic school?
No, this was a public school. I was psychoanalyzed for a number of months. I missed out on the fundamental principles of reading comprehension. It was made clear that I was not a witch. My teacher later retired. That was a moment where I felt like I was a little bit different.
Why did they think you were a witch? I need to hear this. That happened to be in this world now with many of us who are spiritually more aware. There are good witches too.
This has nothing to do with anything we are going to talk about, but I do believe I am a witch, which is something I never thought would come out of my mouth, given my Catholic upbringing. I believe in that stuff, and there is good that can come from it. It comes down to who is the one spitting out information and trying to make you think something is good or not good.
In the sixth grade, my best friend took me into the bathroom one day. She told me that everybody would like me better if I was skinny. She pulled out a toothbrush to teach me how to make myself throw up. My confidence went from sky-high to below the ground. I went from being social to private. I felt like people were no longer going to accept me unless I got as small as I possibly could. That was my mission for nearly a decade. I used to wake up before school to work out. My parents would compliment me on my discipline, meanwhile, I was not eating.
Didn’t they notice you weren’t eating or did they not know you were throwing it up?
A number of years later, I ended up confronting my parents like, “Did you guys know I was doing this?” I assumed their response was going to be, “I had no idea.” Me being a twelve-year-old, I was secretive. I can keep the secret from my parents. It was obvious what I was doing. They told me, “No, we knew the whole time.” It made me sad that they knew and didn’t do anything about it. I found out, years later, that both of my parents are also eating disorder survivors.
I’m sure there are some guilt and shame they deal with that. I’m never going to get a full story. It makes me feel a little bit more understanding as to maybe why they struggled with trying to intervene.
I wake up before school and burn 1,000 calories. I would eat popcorn at school. I would bring microwavable popcorn to be full during the day. I would come home, go rogue in the kitchen, and throw everything up. Life was miserable. I thought, “In order to be liked, I had to be small.” The biggest lesson I learned from the whole experience was life isn’t about getting other people to like you. Life is about getting you to learn to like yourself.
As our audience knows, I went through this spiritual awakening. When they pulled me out of the car, the message was, “Be loving and kind to everyone.” That meant me too. That was one of the lessons that I also learned about self-love. You say you didn’t search out the kettlebell that it found you. Let’s hear how you overcame your eating disorder and how you found the kettlebell and the kettlebell technique, which sounds like it saved you in a lot of ways.
It could have been a barbell or other form of strength training, but I happened to walk into an interview for a kettlebell studio. That is the modality that found me. It is important for you to know that I struggled with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia from 12 into my early 20s. When I was 17, I had 4 abdominal surgeries. I had 3 of my 4 abdominal surgeries within a month and a half of each other. I remember coming out of the third surgery thinking, “Who would ever love somebody like me? I’m disgusting.” I had so much hate for myself. It is sad because it all came from this one comment from this one girl that stayed with me for such a long time.
Talk about a toxic friendship. Were the abdominal surgeries due to your eating disorder?
Everybody asks that. It would make more sense if they were, but no, they have nothing to do with it. I had my appendix taken out. They removed an ovarian cyst. I had an abscess. They kept removing one of my ovaries and fallopian tubes.
It kept saying to you, “I’m imperfect.”
At this point, I have gone away to college. I went to school for musical theater, which is a whole other field where you are criticized for every little thing you do. Nothing is objective. Everything is subjective. I’m like, “Am I skinny enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I singing high enough? Can I dance well enough?” I feel like there was so much toxicity I had to deal with from all of these subjective avenues that were really challenging.
The beautiful thing about the kettlebell is that it is not subjective. You can do the lift or you can’t do the lift. You either know the technique or you don’t know the technique. There is nothing subjective about it. That is one of the reasons I gravitated to it because it was the first time I had something like that in my life. It made me feel like, “I know if I’m doing well and not doing well.” I can figure out tangible steps in order to make myself do well.
I walked into this kettlebell studio one day. At this point, I have decided I’m not going to pursue musical theater. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. My boyfriend at that time, who is now my husband, was like, “You are into working out. Why don’t you get a job at a gym? You could teach some cycling classes.”
I go down that avenue. I get to the point where I’m teaching 30 classes a day. I feel like I’m going to die. My body hurts. I pivot into personal training. I realize that is not something I feel passionate about at that time. I decide, “Maybe I can manage some trainers.” That is how I found myself at this kettlebell studio. I go into the interview. The guy is interviewing me. For anybody who is well versed in the Hardstyle world, he has certifications in RKC Levels 1 and 2, as well as StrongFirst Levels 1 and 2. He knows that world. He knows the right questions to ask me. For some reason, he let me get away with coming to manage the studio where I had no business managing.
I remember one day, one of the trainers couldn’t teach this small group training session so I step in to teach. Another trainer comes up to me and is like, “Colleen, I know you have no idea what you are doing. Either let me help you or I’m going to tell Mike you don’t know what you are doing. I don’t know if you are going to stay here any longer.” For some reason, I let that comment impact me as well. I don’t think this trainer talking to the guy who hired me would have gotten me fired for lying in an interview. I decided to take him up on it. He started training me and teaching me how to do these skills.
The Hardstyle kettlebell technique is a specific type of kettlebell training where we are focused on lifting relatively heavy weights quickly and with a lot of power. Anybody can pick up a kettlebell and start swinging it around and use it like a dumbbell, but there are specific skills and weights based on age, weight, and gender that you should be able to execute these exercises at.
What do they do for you? I have taken personal training and yoga. What are the benefits to the body of this kettlebell technique?
It is strength training. It helps with bone density and posture. It is great for cardiovascular training. It can help strengthen your core. That is a crazy thing. After all of these abdominal surgeries I had, I didn’t have any sensation in my lower abdominals for about eight years. Once I started training with the kettlebells, I started to get the sensation back in my low abdominals. For me, that was big. There are a lot of benefits in terms of strength training. With the kettlebell, there is this cardiovascular component, which is something you don’t get unless you are mixing modalities or training styles.
Cardio strengthens your heart and helps with the circulation of blood pressure.
There are a lot of benefits to training with the kettlebell, not to mention the fact that it doesn’t take up a lot of space. You can do it anywhere. You can do it inside or outside. You have to learn how to utilize that tool if you are going to go into that world. This studio I was at was the world where it was easy to tell if somebody knew what they were doing or if they didn’t to somebody who understands that world.
I remember the first time I picked up a kettlebell, I was like, “How hard can this be?” I have a video recording of the first time I swung a kettlebell. Looking back on it, it makes me cringe because I didn’t realize how much technique went into performing it. If you are going to go to a fine restaurant, the way they prepare the food and the temperature on the pan needs to be specific. Whatever they put in the pan, butter or oil, is specific for each dish. The amount of time it has to sizzle and cook is specific. It is the same thing with the kettlebell. Anybody can cook a meal, but to cook a meal well, that is what it is to train hard style with the kettlebell.
How did this working out with the kettlebell help you to overcome some of the adversity and trauma? Did you start to feel accomplished by it? What did it do? When the guy criticized you for once, you turned around and said, “Okay.” This was a positive thing that happened as opposed to what that girl said to you, which was a negative thing that happened. How did that help you to start to change your mindset?
The thing with kettlebells and Hardstyle is it looks easy. It is anything but easy to learn how to do these skills well. I was listening to an interview with Reese Witherspoon. She was talking about how she was cast in Walk The Line. She was like, “This is the most challenging role. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I wanted to quit but decided not to quit and I ended up winning my Oscar for that role.”
She talks about, “When we are put into a challenging situation, and we want to give up, we decide not to and we stay the course, that is what gives us confidence.” That is what happened to me with the kettlebell. It was hard. I would get videos put in my face of, “We need to fix X, Y, and Z.” I decided I wasn’t going to give up because I wanted to work at this place. Those were the stakes. It is either you learn how to do this, or you got to get out. In staying the course and being able to achieve the skills I did at that time, it increased my confidence. It allowed me to start believing in myself and start being open to accepting somebody’s help.
What’s your relationship with this fellow now? Is he still a kettlebell instructor?
We talk here and there. He is in a slightly different world within fitness and fighting specifically. We are always going to have a little special something.
He opened you to this world that saved you.
At that time, the kettlebell skills, I didn’t care about them because I didn’t understand how challenging they were. He was teaching me how to do these things by myself. I didn’t see if it was hard for other people or if it was hard for me. One day, he was like, “Colleen, go do a pull-up.” I was like, “Why?” He was like, “To see if you can do it now.” I was like, “I have never been able to do this. Are you sure?” He was like, “Yes, get up on the bar.” I was able to do a pull-up for the first time.
For me, that was something at that time where I was like, “Once, I couldn’t do this, and now I can. Why is this?” He was like, “You have been training with the kettlebells. You have a lot of strength in your lots right now. You have more grip strength. Your core is stronger. You should be able to do this stuff at this point.” That was a mind-blowing moment for me.
I ended up signing up for a Progressive Calisthenic Certification. I remember feeling silly when I showed up because it was 30 to 40 guys and me. The instructors are teaching single-arm pushups, handstands, and pistol squats. I’m like, “I can’t do this. Why am I here?” One of the guys who was leading was sweet. He was able to cue me into doing a tuck flag. For anybody who is reading, who is like, “What is that?” I want you to imagine somebody hanging from a bar as if they were going to do a pull-up. They are hanging vertically. Being able to do a flag means you are hanging from a bar, but you are hanging horizontally. That made me feel like I was made of magic.
It has been all of those little moments where I have seen, like, “Look at what your body can do now.” That allowed me to believe I can. It doesn’t stop with the physical, but it is all of those physical wins I had along the way that started to give me the confidence to believe that I can in other fields. When the pandemic hit, I was furloughed. I decided I was going to try and create a virtual kettlebell business. I called my dad up on the phone one day and I was like, “I found this business coach. I’m going to do this course. It is $5,000.” He was like, “Why would you spend $5,000 on a course? You are going to lose your money, and you need your money now.” I did this course because I believed I could.
You did it anyway. You listened to your voice instead of your father’s.
I listened to my voice. I did everything this coach said to do the same way I had done with my kettlebell coach. Three months later, I made $24,000. It was the best decision of my life because that has allowed me to help many women since the pandemic happened with the kettlebell.
I’m more impressed with the fact your kettlebell work is amazing. Your inner transformation and you are more positive the way you speak to yourself now.
Words create rules. When you are talking negatively to yourself, second-guessing yourself, or being mean, it doesn’t help. The words that you are using are going to impact how you see yourself. The way you see yourself is going to be how you show up. At one point, somebody told me, “Don’t dress for the job you have. Dress for the job you want.” I remember flipping that. I was like, “Don’t speak to yourself the way you necessarily feel right now. Speak to yourself in that queen version you want to get to.” Eventually, it all starts to come together, but it starts with those words and the mindset.
I would also submit that if you have blockages to those messages, like with what you did, find the modality to help you start to heal those blockages so you can walk your talk. Now that you are filled with more self-confidence, and you are beginning to believe in yourself, what kind of amazing thing is to decide you’re going to go for the Guinness Book of World Records? What you learned about, because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to. Tell us that whole incredible story from your life.
Because of the pandemic, I had more time where I didn’t have to run around the city. I was no longer a gym gypsy. I’m creating this virtual life for myself. I have a lot more time to take my training seriously. I was talking to my coach one day. It is a different coach at this point. I started working with a woman because it is important for women who want to feel strong to see other women who are strong. This coach’s name is Annie. I love her so much. She means so much to me. Annie told me, “Once you start watching other women do big things, you are going to be able to do big things, but you need to see it is possible in order to believe that you can do it too.” We were training, and I was like, “Annie, I need to do something big”. I was not an athlete growing up. I was asthmatic.
On top of an eating disorder, you were also asthmatic?
I still am. When I moved to Arizona, my allergies were crazy here. I was put in the hospital after a week because I couldn’t breathe.
I’m going back far, but I had a brother who was asthmatic as a child. I grew up in New Jersey. I was 5 or 5 and a half. In those days, with an asthmatic attack, they would send him to the hospital for an adrenaline shot. It was hard. They said, “If you want to save this little guy, you have to move to Arizona or Florida.” I chose Florida. Here you are in Arizona and you are saying your allergies are bothering you.
They are terrible. There is an injection I get every X amount of months. At this point, it is a steroid injection, which has helped tremendously. Moving to Arizona was not good for my lungs. I’m working with Annie at this point. I’m like, “Annie, I never had an athletic moment growing up. I finally feel like I am an athlete. I’m finding this athletic version of myself later in life. I want to do something about it. I want to prove to myself I can get uncomfortable, push myself, find a limit, and go past it.
I also want to prove to the people I coach that if I can do this, they can do this too. I want to be the example.” We decided we were going to find her record because Annie happens to have multiple world records. She was the perfect person to coach me because she knew what it was going to feel like to have to push to the point I was going to need to push.
Was she in Arizona, or was she still in New York?
Annie was in New York. Everything we have been doing was virtual. We start training, and we decide I’m going to do Turkish get-ups because that is one of my favorite exercises, and it hasn’t been done before.
What is that?
The Turkish get-up is when you start lying flat on your back with a kettlebell above your head. You have to stand up and lie back down. There are seven specific steps that you have to do to stand up and lie back down. In the midst of that, you have to press it up with one hand, which was without getting too ahead of myself.
If my teacher didn’t call me a witch, I would have only done my world record one time because the week before I did it the first time, I saw in the fine print that I had to press it up with one hand. When you learn how to do a Turkish get-up Hardstyle, you use two hands to bring it up and down. Since I didn’t read that fine print going into my first attempt, I was not prepared. I couldn’t press up that one weight with one hand.
Annie flies out from New York to be in Arizona with me. I feel like such a dummy. I’m like, “Annie, I’m sorry. I don’t know how I misread this.” She was like, “It is okay. You are going to do the best you can. You are going to set this. If you want, afterward, we will talk about figuring out a game plan for you to beat it, but now, we are here. You are going to do the best you can.” That was nice to hear. I remember at first being like, “This woman flew out across the country to be with me. I’m going to let her down, but instead, she gave me grace.” That was something that meant a lot to me at that moment.
I do my first pass. It is Annie, me and my husband in a little room with a bunch of cameras on me because you have to film everything for Guinness or it doesn’t count. We sent it off, and about two weeks later, I got it back saying, “You have this record.” I didn’t want to tell anybody about it because it felt like it hadn’t happened yet. I haven’t done my best yet. I’m like, “I’m going to do this again.” It is about five months in between.
I started getting a feeling that there was somebody else who was going to do this. It is just a feeling. Nobody has said anything. I do a lot of snooping on social media, but I didn’t see anybody doing any of this stuff. I was like, “I don’t know where this feeling is coming from.” A week before my second attempt, I saw another woman who had at least 1, if not 2 decades, on me, a woman who had close to 20, if not 30, pounds of muscle on me. She says she is going to get a Guinness World Record.
I remember feeling upset at first. I call up Annie, and I’m like, “Jackie is going to go for this. Why am I even doing this at this point?” Annie reminded me, “You are doing this for you and your people. You are not Jackie. She has an athletic background that she has. You have the background that you have. You need to do this for you.”
I did it for me. I go in, and for some reason, the kettlebell felt heavy that day. Annie flew back out from New York. She brought her husband. It is Annie, her husband, and my husband. Her husband happens to be that wonderful man who is at the Progressive Calisthenic Certification who got me into that flag for the first time. I have so much support and love right around me. I’m getting ready to do it. The amount of negative thoughts that were coming at me in my head that day was unlike anything else. I felt like there was something that was trying to knock me down, which is not something I experience a lot at this point in my life.
We strategized for me to get six one-minute breaks throughout the hour. My record is in the most weight-lifted, the Turkish get up in an hour. I ended up doing 188 reps within an hour. Regardless of knowing anything about kettlebells, imagine standing up and lying down 188 times within an hour. That is three times a minute I’m standing up and lying down.
At the 40th minute, I start freaking out. I’m in one of my last breaks. I start screaming out loud, “Yes, I can.” As much as I wanted to hear it in my head, I couldn’t hear it in my head. I needed to hear the words out loud so that they would be reinforced in my body. That is something that I bring up with my clients a lot. Sometimes we have a lot of self-doubt or we can’t hear the good stuff in our heads. Either you want to write it out in front of you so you can read the positivity, or you need to speak it into existence to hear the positivity. After I started yelling out loud, I finished it. I ended up getting more reps than I expected. I got to finish that day by breaking my world record. I got to hang onto it for about two months before Jackie came in and beat it.
When Jackie beat it, I ended up getting a bunch of people reaching out to me. They said things like, “When will you get your title back?” One woman reached out and was like, “I see Jackie beat your record, and now I plan to beat Jackie’s. Do you have any tips?” I was like, “Do I need to do this the third time?” It crossed my mind. I was like, “Maybe I should do this like the third time is a charm.” I looked down at my forearms because my forearms had taken a beating that whole year. They were all bruised up because of the pressure that the bells were hanging on me for so much time.
I looked down at my forearms, and I remember thinking to myself, “If I wanted to beat this, I could train and do this, but I don’t want to.” That is the lesson of just because I can, it doesn’t mean I have to. I didn’t need to make my life about getting a title back. This whole thing was about proving to myself what I could do, finding the ceiling, shattering it, and showing my clients that you can become the most athletic version of yourself at any age. I did that and I’m so proud of that.
Your life didn’t have to revolve around whatever these other people were doing. You did this for yourself. You overcame limiting beliefs in yourself, and you started to trust yourself. How does this work for women who are working with you when it comes to their work life and personal relationships? Does it transfer over to your mindset and how you can do things? If a woman is in a troubling personal relationship, how does what you learned help her to find a fierce and better way to handle those situations in her life?
You learned these skills, and there are going to be a lot of times where you are like, “I don’t know if I want to keep moving forward. This stuff is hard.” A lot of the reasons I find that the women I work with stick with me are because I meet them where they are at. I know when to push and pull back. I know when to play with masculine energy and feminine energy. That is something I feel is a gift I have. It helps me to help a lot of people.
Once you do that and see, “I can do these things with the kettlebell,” it makes me believe that I can do other things in life that might seem scary or big. Scary is the big thing that comes to mind. I had this one woman who got started with me, and her whole life changed. She was working as a bartender. She had a new baby and was in an abusive relationship. She started training with the kettlebells. She found the courage to leave this man, become a full-time personal trainer and create the life she wanted for herself and her daughter. That is incredible. I had women who are rape survivors find the kettlebell.
The cool thing about the kettlebell is you have to be present. I’m not knocking Peloton, but if I’m on a Peloton machine, I can zone out. When it comes to the kettlebell, you can’t zone out because if you do, you are going to get hurt. You have to be mindful of what it is to use the proper breathing to create tension in the right spots in your body to know the pathway at which you need to send the bell. That is something I have noticed in my female clients that helps to bring them back to themselves after feeling their body has abandoned them.
Do you feel this sets you apart from other kettlebell coaches because you won’t connect what you do to play out in other parts of their lives?
There are plenty of other coaches out there who happen to do the same thing, but it comes down to the fact that everybody has a different style and vibe. I think about New York City. How many coffee shops are in New York City? There are Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. There are plenty of incredible coaches out there. I have a specific taste. Some people love it. For other people, it is not for them. These women who want to find their fierce find me, and I helped them find it.
I haven’t spoken about this too much, but something was incredible for me after my second world record. I found extra courage in myself. When I was in high school, the summer I graduated, I remember sneaking off to a party with a friend to meet a college guy, and I drank too much. I woke up in his bed with my pants off the next day. I was scared to ask him what had happened. I have no recollection of what happened. All I know is I blacked out.
After my world record, the next week, I messaged him. I hadn’t talked to him in ten years. I asked him what had happened that night. He claims that he blacked out too. He doesn’t remember. I don’t know that I necessarily need to know what happened that night, but the fact that I felt strong enough to ask felt like a growth moment for me. That is something these women find. You can do scary things, and you can be okay. Anything in life, there is always going to be some element of fear. That is what holds a lot of people back. When you realize the only thing to fear is fear itself, you are more willing to take it on.
It sounds like by finding your fierce, you found your voice. You help other women to find their voices through this. I know you wrote your book, Kettlebell Catalyst, which is an exercise guide for women to build strength, lean muscle, and self-confidence. You also talk about the connection between the chakras and the kettlebells. Tell us all about your book and that connection because many of the people reading this blog are spiritual. They understand the energy centers with the chakras.
The book in and of itself is a great tool for anybody who is interested in learning what the Hardstyle kettlebell technique is. There is a bunch of tutorials. I break down the big six exercises that are staples within this type of training. Throughout the entirety of the book are the stories of the women I have had the privilege of coaching. You get firsthand stories from them as to what life looked like before the kettlebell and what it has looked like up until the book got published. It is inspiring.
I can’t say all women, but I would feel confident saying 85% of women have been in a group fitness class before. It is all of those women who have found the dark side of the Hardstyle kettlebell technique and have impacted them in such a positive way. You get the tutorials from me in the book. You learn all about the 101 breakdowns of Hardstyle. You get to hear these stories. One of my clients, who has turned into a dear friend, is a psychologist, and she does a whole chapter on how kettlebells can help you overcome trauma. A lot of the women are open in the book, talking about moments that have been extremely traumatic, be it due to sexual or other physical acts.
Is there a generic reason or way you can encapsulate how the kettlebell helps a person overcome trauma?
It is the awareness of learning how to be present in your body, especially if you are somebody who has experienced the feeling of disassociating from your body. Awareness is a big component because if you are not aware and present in your body, you can get hurt. The kettlebell is not forgiving.
How does it relate to the chakras?
We know we have all these chakras in our bodies, 7 or 9, or some people believe there are many. These chakras are energy spindles. I believe, for some people, given whatever experiences they have gone through in life, some of the chakras will shut off. The cool thing about kettlebells is repetition. Something I have noticed, specifically in the sacral chakra, is when we are doing an exercise like a swing, a deadlift, a snatch, or a clean, where it looks like thrusting, you are thrusting your hips, it is helping to reignite that energetic spindle.
There is a male coach who has told me that they had these experiences where they would have a client swing the kettlebell. They would break down and cry because they felt this energetic shift in their body. They open up by saying, “I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor of a sexual assault that happened several years ago.”
That is something that I think is special and unique to this type of training that not a lot of people have been able to figure out yet. It is something I want to bring more awareness to. When we are lighting up these different energies throughout our body with the kettlebell, it is not just getting us stronger and in more shape. It is helping us to reconnect to ourselves. The more somebody can learn how to connect to themselves, the more healing they can bring.
It helps to release the trauma. What is the age range of the women you are training?
I have mid-20-year-olds up into their late 60s.
You are even getting us Baby Boomers. If someone wants to find out more about your kettlebell coaching, where do they go? They can buy your book and you probably have an online presence, right?
The best place to reach out to me is going to be on Instagram. My handle is @IamColleenConlon. You can also reach out to me if you go to my website.
When it comes to healing, Colleen, you say there is a time to be strong and give yourself grace. Would you like to talk about that?
Because I’m on your show and this is more of a spiritual place, I associate strength and grace with masculine and feminine energy. There is a time to be more logical, critical, and specific. Keep your head down like get the work done. There is also a time to flow, be creative, and feel the things you are feeling. That’s something that everybody should know is good for them. In society, especially here in the US, we think like, “I got to work.” There is no time to feel and play. We need strength and grace. We need masculine and feminine energy in order to find some semblance of balance.
It sounds like you are saying, “You need to make time to nurture yourself.” What is your tip for finding joy in life?
Have your dance party be outlandish that it makes you blush.
Any particular dancing?
Whatever feels good.
By yourself or with a whole bunch of people?
It can be fun to do with a whole bunch of people. If you are somebody who doesn’t have that group with you all the time, be wild in your office, like I will probably do after this call. That is all you need.
Colleen, you are an amazingly positive role model for grief to healing, rebirth, and creating a space in the world to build women up and believe they are limitless, and for helping women find their fierce to empower them to change the narrative in their lives. That is important. I want to thank you from my heart for this inspiring and moving interview. Here is a loving reminder, everyone. Make sure to follow us and like us on social @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. From my heart, I want to thank you, Colleen, as I like to say, to be continued, many blessings, and bye for now.
- Colleen’s Book: Kettlebell Catalyst: The Exercise Guide for Women to Build Strength, Lean Muscle, and Self-Confidence to Overcome Limiting Beliefs
- Visit Colleen’s Website
- Follow Colleen on Instagram @IamColleenConlon