(life besides sports, what it’s like to be not only a sportsman, but also a coach and competition organizer)
WO: How did you motivate yourself to maintain this habit of exercising?
MŁ: Actually, in my case I have had this habit from childhood. As I mentioned earlier, I started training in combat sports when I was ten years old. From that time the idea that you need to exercise regularly became a habit, it became the natural way of things. If you want to achieve any success in sports, or probably in anything, you need to exercise, practice regularly. Regular exercise becomes a routine, a habit you cannot do without.
WO: Can we practice kettlebell lifting or any other type of kettlebell training without a coach?
MŁ: I think this would be very, very challenging.
WO: Lots of people find your way to you – some with experience, and others who just want to begin kettlebell training, they’d never done it before. In your opinion what’s the best motivation to learn this habit of exercising? Obviously, after some time we may be rewarded for our efforts, but if you get a lot of negative feedback along the way you may be demotivated.
MŁ: Making mistakes is a normal element of the process of learning. If someone comes to the gym for the first time they can’t expect too much from themselves. I always emphasize that it’s a slow process, and that all learning involves making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes – I never met anyone who was perfect from the very beginning. So growth means months, sometimes years, of building the right habits, of correcting what you do. Then, based on this, we succeed – or not.
WO: How do you motivate people? Do you praise them, or emphasize what is done wrong? Or maybe both? How do people react?
MŁ: Criticism isn’t easy for the person who is learning. I try to interchange the good and poor feedback – I explain what was correct and what was incorrect, I explain how it then all comes together as a whole. I explain the consequences – what will happen when you do something wrong, what undesired effect this may have in six months’ time, or a year from now. When you do something correctly I tell you what the benefits of this will be.
WO: What is your biggest success as a coach?
MŁ: Some people I’ve trained have won the championship of Poland, have stood on the podium in Poland and even in Europe and the world. But first and foremost they overcame their weaknesses.
WO: You have classes with very different people. Was there someone who surprised you with their technique, or with what kettlebell training did for them? Did anyone come up to you and say: “thanks to my kettlebell training I was able to do this or that”? Maybe someone got something more from this than just a fit body and some wellbeing?
MŁ: Yes – I won’t be humble and will tell you that this happens almost every day.
WO: What do people say? What have you given them?
MŁ: Thanks to sports and my workouts people have achieved better effects at work, learned how to be persistent in trying to get what they are seeking, they’ve learned about consequences and the fact that you have to be methodical in what you do. But my biggest success as a coach is that the work I do, so being a personal and group coach, gives both me and my trainees a lot of satisfaction. Those are the biggest rewards for me.
WO: What other goals do you have? What would you like to achieve in sports in the next ten years?
MŁ: As a sportsman I’d like to stay in good shape and organize some competitions, develop this sport, be a good coach, and be successful in this area. I’d like the same for myself as a competitor, naturally, but at the moment this is no longer my priority.
WO: As a player you have your sports discipline, and as a coach you have your experience. How do you use your experiences as a player in your role as a coach, and vice versa? I once heard from someone that when they teach a group they actually learn the most from them. Do you find this happens to you, too? How do you merge the two very different functions and roles?
MŁ: As a coach I try to pass on my experience in the first place – experience of being a sportsman myself. I know what it feels like to be at the beginning of a competition, to be laden down by kettlebells and fight for enduring, lasting for that given time. I use mental training myself so I try to pass on to others what and how they should be thinking, what should guide them, how to relax, what to take note of. These are details, but they are very important.
WO: Have you ever heard something from someone you were coaching that made you train differently, that was inspiring in some way? Maybe just a casual remark, or some information like “good idea, but I would do this in a different way”. Have you had that experience?
MŁ: Yes, that happens all the time. I listen to the people I train very carefully. Sometimes their comments are very valuable.
WO: I wanted to ask what you bring to family life from your sports life. Are there skills you acquired in sports and kettlebell training that helped? If so, do you use them in your everyday life, even subconsciously?
MŁ: Yes, of course.
WO: And the most important?
MŁ: Being methodical, well-motivated, and persistent in what I do.
WO: Sometimes a sports career can be very short. What does a sportsperson have to give of himself in a business setting, or in life once his sports career is over? Apart from being persistent are there are any exceptional qualities that come naturally to you, and you find you’re surprised that others don’t have them?
MŁ: Usually I am an optimist in what I do. This is a quality I rarely find in others, while it’s natural to me. In sports I always saw myself in first place on the podium, this feeling has accompanied me all my life. I think the same thing goes for organizing work and events – I want to be the best and I work hard to get there.
WO: At the moment you are preparing for the November World Championships, but this time not as a competitor, but as an organizer. Is it hard to promote kettlebell training in Poland?
MŁ: Yes, it’s hard. It’s a sport that is not very well known, not well promoted, and therefore not very interesting to the average sports fan.
WO: Right – tell me honestly, do you not get bored with kettlebells? Because when I look at the competitions I have the feeling that the same moves are performed over and over again. So I wonder – how can people like kettlebell training?
MŁ: People can love kettlebells! It’s constant work of the body, full throttle. That’s why I don’t think the option of being bored even exists. Every time you pick up a kettlebell you strive to be a little better than the previous time – have one more repetition, last one second longer. It’s hard work, constant striving for the goal we have set for ourselves.
WO: Maciek, thank you for your time. It was a pleasure talking to someone with such a passion for what he does.
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