I was still swimming, and it was dark. The sun had set and everyone else in my training group had finished and changed and were into their post-swim run. But, I wasn’t alone. Patiently swimming right at my side into the night, saying “you got this, girl”, was John Sarich.
Johnny was with me when I first entered triathlon as a non-swimmer, lapsed casual biker and 4-mile max runner. As a coach for Boca and then for TryFitness, he helped me to achieve my goal of finishing the Lanikai and then the Honolulu Triathlon back in 2004. And now, ten years later, through Johnny’s Fit Ohana, he is still helping me achieve my goal of improving my performance at the Ironman races I will be tackling this year.
I again see Johnny in the dark, but now it’s before the sun comes up at Magic Island. And I’m not alone this time. At 6:30am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we arrive with our kettle bells, a towel or mat to place on the grass and some hydration. We each have personal goals–to get in shape, stay in shape, or like me, to become a better athlete. Johnny props his white board up against a lamp post and we strain to see what will be involved on this day. A kettle bell workout of some kind, followed by focused attention on our abs is almost guaranteed.
John Sarich is quite a remarkable man. Professionally, he worked at Ford Canada for 33 years in Robot Automation, Production and Efficiency. He traveled throughout the US and Canada sharing his “fresh eyes” approach with local operations to help them remove redundancy and inefficient processes. Athletically, he competed in Olympic Lifting and Power Lifting in his 20’s and 30’s, winning local and international titles. As a Masters Power Lifter, he placed 2nd in the World Championships in Norway and 1st when this event was held in North Carolina. Maybe best of all, he met his bride Diane in April of 1966 and married her on July 9 of the same year. Since 1999, the two of them happily spend summers at their home in London, Ontario, Canada and winters in Honolulu, Hawaii. In both locations, he donates his time to coach folks through kettle bell workouts three mornings per week. Why? “I enjoy helping people reach their goals”, he says. Lucky us.
I started attending Johnny’s sessions in late December, after recovering from my race at Ironman Cozumel on December 1. I face muscle loss as a natural part of aging, and need to maintain and build the muscle mass I can to support my Ironman race performance. I have found that consistent kettle bell workouts, 2-3 times per week, up until about a month before a race, make a huge difference in my outcomes. I have more power and reach fatigue later and have (knock on wood multiple times) been able to avoid injury. Kettle bell workouts are great because they are short, use many muscles simultaneously and can be done virtually anywhere.
As I prepare for Ironman Brazil on May 25th, my 8th Ironman and where I hope to earn a slot to the Ironman World Championship, I have Johnny right by my side again. “You got this, girl!” he tells me as I grin and grimace and swing my kettle bell.
Tons of helpful information and video about kettle bells, workouts, nutrition and more can be found by visiting Johnny’s Fit Ohana website.