Unconscious, Miko Salo's arm twitched against mine. My eyes snapped open, seconds before a cadre of former Navy SEALs stormed inside our small weight room and training area. At the head of the room sat Mark Divine in the half-lotus position, observing our class that was now several minutes into dead-man pose (yoga) and every man and woman utterly and helplessly asleep. Mark had spent the previous 45 minutes leading us through a class lecture followed by a restorative yoga session that worked every muscle, joint and ligament back into form and in preparation for what lay only moments away.
Miko (2009 CrossFit Men’s World Champion), 19 others and myself had spent the last 49 hours not only deprived of sleep. We’d spent it going through the most arduous, non-military, mental toughness-training camp on the planet.
The doors slammed open as SEALFIT instructors swarmed the room with a barrage of commands and threats to return to the Grinder, where due punishment would surely be doled-out for having been caught sleeping (see video below). We shot up like quail rattled by a pack of wolves. All of us were men except for one, Kristen Clever, the 2010 Women’s CrossFit World Champion.
We sprinted for the grinder, despite the physical pain and soreness from two days of non-stop, intense physical training… “a ten out of ten” the program’s waiver had warned.
Everyone in that room proceeded to complete and thereafter graduate as Kokoro Class 12. Kokoro is Japanese for heart, and within the context of SEALFIT it means indomitable heart or heart of a warrior. Every Kokoro graduating class prior and henceforth is considered to have displayed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, an indomitable heart and the ability to dig deep enough to overcome whatever challenge life may bestow. Whether we continue to act on that knowledge and persevere is another story.
Modeled after the Navy SEAL Hell-week experience, Kokoro takes its candidates to the bottom, where failure readily awaits to look you in the eye. The question every candidate faces is whether to return that gaze and press-on, or turn tail and run. It’s a learning experience and there is no shame in the outcome. Some are physically unable to continue while others simply decide this challenge is not for them. Regardless, should you decide to return that gaze and fight, a select-group of veteran SEAL instructors readily stand-by to guide you, but they cannot choose for you. Only you can.
This experience propelled me to continue to seek success in my life without compromise, regardless of how many times failure reared it’s ugly head.
It was not easy to be unemployed in a depressed economy the nation has not seen since the Great Depression, and living in California, one of the most hard-hit states. I trudged waist-deep through the mud of employment applications and a start-up I had barely gotten off the ground when my two co-founders and technical developers bailed. I eventually landed some work helping a friend through the early phases of product marketing and distribution for his expedition travel planning and logistics company. This, along with a passion for kettle bell training led me towards the development of the first ever Kettle Bell Sandbag. How exactly? Stay tuned for Part Two of What is the Kettle Bell Sandbag?
As always, thanks to everyone that has supported me through this project, from product development to marketing and distribution. I wish I could thank you all by name, although I know some of you have explicitly asked I do not do so. Know that your words and deeds reside close to my heart and do not go unappreciated.
Please continue to share your use and experiences with the PKB. Let us know where you’ve taken it, how you’ve used it and what plans you have in store!