Markel Thylefors

1. Please, tell our readers something about yourself.
I’m a 41-year-old Swedish guy from Gothenburg in Sweden. Since several years, I’ve been working professionally as a social anthropologist, and traveled a lot. Now, however, I work in Sweden and also in the domain of social work.

2. What is your training background like?
I’ve been training at a moderate level for quite some time. I would say that I’ve been mostly into martial arts and assistance to that.

First organized training was when I was twelve and my mother followed the example of one of her friends and put me into karate. Judo had been around for a while, but at that time other martial arts began to spread.

I did several martial arts, and was a wing chun instructor for a while in my late teens. I also trained with weights. After military service, I tried boxing and liked the relaxation, rhythm, and finesse of that style.

Since then I’ve been moving between weights, running, and boxing, kick-boxing and no training at all. I’ve never been particularly good on any of the above sports. Except maybe distance running, where I think I actually had some kind of talent.

I will soon celebrate my second anniversary as a kettlebell lifter.


3. How did you end up training with kettlebells? What was the thing that appealed to you about them?

A friend showed me an article in a Swedish martial arts magazine. Reading the article, I did not fall in love at once with kettlebells. But, I got curious. Especially, the idea of doing ballistics like cleans and jerks appealed to me. I looked at the Internet. I became both more suspicious and even more curious.

Well, after some months I bought a first 16kg handlebell. First, I just did presses and swings. I tried one snatch, but it almost killed me. I just did a very high swing and had no idea of what to do with the bell when it reached the top.

A few months passed, and it was very good assistance to boxing which I trained then. Eventually, I understood the Turkish Get-up, and found a video explanation of the snatch. When I did my first snatches it was such a kick! I quickly began loosing interest in boxing-training after that.

I had understood that there was something called girevoy sport. The fine technique, relaxation as well as mental and strategic aspects, was in about what I liked with some martial arts. Then I found out that there were people in Finland doing girevoy sport. I got into contact with Marko Suomi. He said that they had competitions going and that I should not hesitate to give it a try. I set my mind to go to some competitions.

I also went to a girevoy sport workshop at GPP training house in Helsinki, and the IUKL level 1 instructor course in Tampere at Harjoittelu.net. Meeting Ginko live was very inspiring.

I competed in Ventspils in August 2008 ? the first Swede ever in a formal girevoy sport contest. I got humble results, but they were “real,” and big for me.


4. Are you using kettlebells for other purposes than your own training?

No, not at the time being.

I would like to establish a community, club, network, or whatever, for general kettlebell training as well as girevoy sport. For me personally, I would prefer it to be based mainly on ideal work.

It is very positive that there has been such a surge in enterprises selling kettlebells and instruction in Sweden. Yet, it is also important that the sport at large does not become too expensive. For example, I think that today it can be difficult for youth without own incomes to start with kettlebells, compared to other forms of training.


5. What are your personal goals?
Firstly, to have fun while training.

Secondly, my goal is to get an alright technique in the “three big lifts” ? jerk, long cycle clean & jerk, as well as, snatches. Then, I would also like to go ten minutes with the 24kgs ? but that’s way ahead in the future.

I also want to go to more workshops and competitions. Give me fifteen more years and, who knows, maybe I can be a serious contender in the veteran categories?


6. What is your training week like, how often do you train and what?

Generally, I train every second day. But it varies depending on how my body feels, weights used, and the intensity of sessions. For example, last year I did a great program almost everyday with 16kg bells. I am of some age, even if I can train hard I have to approach it carefully.

I always begin with warm-up of joints and tendons.

My focus in training is on performing the sport lifts. At the time being, my personal goals are set with 24s. Still, I train much, or even mostly, with lighter bells to build endurance, technique, and avoid overuse injury.

I try to do a variety day now and then ? for example, ordinary gym-training, running (should do more often), or plain walking. Some hours of garden work is good as well.


7. Is there something you’d like to say about kettlebell training? Something positive? Maybe a word of warning?
Obviously, I think that kettlebell training is very fun. Moreover, the strategic aspects make kettlebell lifting interesting ? for example, what tempo can you manage if you want to do x minutes, or y reps? How much overhead rest is optimal?

If approached step-by-step, kettlebells provide challenging training while simultaneously being quite kind to the body.


8. What would you like to say to someone who’s just starting out with kettlebells, or considering it?
Put safety first, and always think where a bell in motion will end up if something goes wrong.

Go to kettlebell seminars and courses. Go to competitions – you learn a lot there. Try to find some training partners for sharing ideas and keep motivation up. Keep a training diary.

One Response to Markel Thylefors

  1. Lisen/Bill

    Hej Markel,
    Bill är i sta’n den 13 september (åker igen den 14e) och vill ta en drink med gamla kollegor. Jag har svårt att få ihop dem med räknar med dig, min gamle vapendragare. Hör av dig! Lisen