Per Helge Fjørtoft – personal trainer and kettlebell competitor

Born: 1980
Grew up: Fjørtoft, Haram
Place of recidence: Kristiansand, Norway

Per Helge stopped by our studio a cold winter day for the interview. He was on his way home from Christmas celebration with his family, but had some time for us on his way to Kristiansand in the southern part of Norway. Per Helge is certified NGKF / AFPT by Christian Velle, IUKL / IKSA Level 2 and a CST instructor. Today he works as a personal trainer at Elixia in Kristiansand, and is one of the few kettlebell competitors in Norway.

How were you first introduced to kettlebells?
- It was in February 2009. I have a part time job as an step-in guard at the prison, and here I met the fellow colleague Mikkjel Belbo. We are both very interested in training and it was not long before he pulled out a kettlebell from his locker and showed me my first swings and Turkish getups.

Why did you like it so much?
- I had never done anything like this before. This was not strength nor endurance training, it was a bit of everything. I was used to do strengthening exercises like deadlifts, squats, shoulder presses, chins and so on, and I like to use large parts of the body at once. Isolating exercises are not my thing. With kettlebells, I could use my versatility, it required both co-ordination, strength, explosiveness and endurance, all at once. This gave a sense of mastery and development. I also like tactical training, using so much energy you need and not burn everything you have. This is particularly important in the competitions, to distribute your capacity.

Per Helge works as a personal trainer at Elixia in Kristiansand, and of course he uses kettlebell exercises with his clients.

Are most of your clients familiar with kettlebells already?
- Some have seen me train with kettlebells here at the gym, but there are many who have not heard about kettlebells. The response is almost entirely positive, this is exciting and wholesome training.

What exercises do you use for your clients?
- We start with swings, different get-ups, renegade row, halo. Eventually, jerk and clean, snatch only for the advanced.

Per Helge is one of the few competitive gireviks in Norway. He travels to competitions abroad, and it is only 2-3 from Norway who tend to participate. Here is a clip from a competition de did in Ventspils in Latvia, July 2010.

Per Helge participated in the class 95-105 kilos, and came in second for his performance. This was his last competition at 24 kg (amateur weights).
As a comment to the video, Per Helge says:
- This was the first time I completed 10 minutes of continuous lifting, but now the technique and work capacity is so much better that I lift almost the same with 28 kilograms.

We who have been keeping an eye on your training have noticed that you’ve had a tremendous progress last six months, with continuously new personal records. What happened?
- I guess there are many pieces that fell into place at once. In May 2010 I certified in CST (Circular Strength Training – Scott Sonnon / RMAX), this gave me a better understanding of the need to compensate for the training, unload with specific exercises. In addition, I now always do Intu-Flow before training, I think this is an important factor to keep myself injury free. I have always put emphasis on the food, the importance of timing in relation to exercise and rest. I have a well structured training plan, and are now focusing mainly on the competitive exercises. I’ve actually dropped the typical strengthening exercises, except for one-legged squats. I do various sessions with light and hard days, and rest days. In addition to kettlebells, I also do clubbells, flowfit and running.

There are more and more kettlebell users who also use clubbells now, what do you feel they do for your performance?
- It’s a bit hard to tell, but I think especially grip strength, shoulder strength and stability has been improved by using clubbells.

What are your goals for 2011?
- My goal for this year is in fact to participate in both the European and the World Championships.. And possibly Ventspils Atlanta again, as the previous two years!
Regarding performance, the goal is to take the ranking for CMS (Candidate to Master of Sports) during one of my competitions this year. That is a certain number of reps in 10 minutes with both the snatch and jerk, which together are a biathlon in competition. In IUKL the ranking is with 32 kg, in WKC or EGSA it is with 28 kg.

Per Helge is very humble about his training and his achievements, but there is an iron will behind that few can stand up to.

Fitness or competition kettlebells?
- Competition, definitely. Since they have the same size and thus the same handle, you get better progress when switching from one weight to the next, there is no need to adapt the technique to a new shape. They are also very durable.

What do you think about the Kettlebell Norway website?
- This is very positive, I’m glad that someone takes the initiative to do this. I like to see what is happening in our country, and maybe we can get to know some new people, too. I also hope that Kettlebell Norway might make the kettlebell sport better known, so that there can be more of us.

Any tip to a beginner who will start training with kettlebells?
- There are many ways to use kettlebells, so I recommend getting qualified advice from a certified instructor in the beginning!

We thank Per Helge for a very nice chat, wishes him good luck and sends him out in the Norwegian winter again, on his way back home.

You can find Per Helge Fjørtoft at Elixia in Kristiansand: www.elixia.no

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