Steve Cotter or how I got to meet a super athlete! :)

Meeting Steve Cotter was one of the things that happen in my life, which continue to convince me how extraordinary human beings are. I am lucky enough to have the amazing opportunity to meet people from everywhere, amazing athletes, writers, leaders, experts in their fields… And I truly believe that when you go deep enough to get to know the other person, you can always find something impressive or extraordinary! But I must say I was not prepared for this meeting!


I heard about Steve Cotter from my coach – Efo, who got his certification for kettlebell training with IKFF about 5 years ago and highly recommended the course. I had actually read almost everything about Steve, his e-book, his biography, I had listened to almost all podcasts which he participated in and I really felt like I had a lot in common with this person… After all, he had been training martial arts for more than 20 years, a kung-fu kuoshu champion, at the age of 30 decided to direct his development towards the strength and conditioning aspect of his martial arts training (something which lead him exactly towards kettlebells as a means of training strength and conditioning). Apart from everything else, he speaks Italian, he is an internationally known strength athlete, a kind of restless soul when it comes to nutrition (intermittent fasting, veganism, different cleansing programs), workouts and life as a whole – a person who does not stop searching for answers and who is always ready to head into a new direction, as long as this is what his heart dictates!

I really felt like I have a lot in common with him and couldn’t wait to finally meet him. This happened at the IKFF CKT Level 1 course (for the first time held in Bulgaria) – a certification program based on kettlebell training for strength and conditioning coaches, that Steve himself developed. Back in 2002, Mr. Cotter had studied under the so called “father of the kettlebell” Pavel Tsatsouline, whose name is widely known by anyone who is interested in kettlebell training.

All of us Bulgarians, who participated in the course in Sofia, were hugely impressed by how kind, polite and calm Steve actually is. Even during lunch time, when he was trying to get something to eat and take a breath, someone was always sitting beside him, asking him questions and advice for all sorts of things, and he did not turn down even one conversation.

This is the first time in my life I am seeing 15 strangers to gather around someone and discuss the connection between body and soul, how being aware of our own bodies and the way we move them throughout space, the methods we use, define our general health and conditioning. How the food that we eat affects how our mind functions and that we are really more than just our physical bodies… In these situations (bearing in mind that there were only 2 women taking the course), I would expect conversations to circle around who is lifting what kind of unimaginable weight, how strong they are, how many steaks they can eat in one sitting, how much they kick their asses in the gym and how many strong athletes they are working with :D Was I surprised to see that nothing like this occurred during the course! This really convinced me that people, who sincerely follow their heart and truly want to help others, teach and inspire others, have this genuine aura, that circles around them and transfers to others.

Some general details about Steve Cotter:

  • Two times national kung-fu kuoshu (the sparring part of kung-fu) champion

  • Men’s Health Magazine’s one of the “100 Fittest men ever” (right next to Bruce Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger)

  • Founder and head instructor of the IKFF (International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation)

  • Worked with the US Navy seals and the US Marine corps

  • Currently coaching athletes from various types of sports including the NFL league, basketball and baseball players

  • Father of three

16c184aa9d016237ebdb714ad47c411f ( these are 24kg kettlebells just for the record 😉 )

His overall fitness level is obviously very high, he is amazingly strong, mobile, fast and resilient, not to mention all that at the age of 47! Which athlete wouldn’t want to have these qualities? But the fact that amazes the most about him is his humility, openness, readiness to answer any given question. He did not emphasize on himself or his abilities, but was trying to help others obtain them. He did not criticize or belittle the accomplishments of other organizations in this field, he gave them credit, pinpointing that they are all working together for the same cause – to prepare adequate and knowledgeable coaches. He gave a piece of himself to anyone, with a smile and patience, even though we could tell how tired he was, especially at the end of the second day, which was actually the time when he agreed to give me an interview!

The exam, which was developed by Steve and his organization could very clearly demonstrate the skills of athletes who are strong, mobile, technically knowledgeable and resilient at the same time. It was designed to be achievable for strength and conditioning coaches, given the fact that the standards that had to be attained gave a pretty good idea of how well prepared and conditioned the coach is, and whether he can actually meet the requirements that he himself probably has towards his own athletes.

Having a pair of really crappy forearms and shoulders, which are loaded pretty much on every one of the moves that were tested on the exam, I thought that I was going to suffer a lot (given the fact that by that time, I had been practicing another style of kettlebell training, called “the hard style”, which is slightly different). However, Steve explained and demonstrated every move with such patience and details, that I managed to understand the specifics of the exercises pretty quickly and didn’t struggle a lot during the actual exam.

17097938_1143589692453077_4032646531991894343_o ( Nadia’s forearms and shoulders having a blast 😀 )

We discussed a lot of various topics with Steve, and during the course of one of our conversations, in which he talked about him becoming vegan and his experience with intermittent fasting, I thought that people would probably find all of that so interesting! And baring in mind that I am just starting my blogging journey (I would say I am in the crawling baby phase of growing up as a writer), I would probably not be able to recreate the exact sensation that we all felt while listening to him speak. At that point, I just decided to ask him if he would agree giving an interview for my new blog… And he accepted without a second thought! I did not expect that and I was so excited, I could barely sleep the night before the interview (which was the day of the exam as well), while thinking about all the questions I wanted to ask him. It’s a good thing I knew a lot already, having read almost everything there is to read about him ( doing prep work for interviews is one of the best qualities of a true interviewer – thank god I am such a HUGE fan of Tim Ferriss podcasts 😉 )

17203883_10158337899480026_166641213_n (Happy happy me)

After the end of the course and the exam, our hosts from the Activate Sport & Family gym, who were extremely kind and hospitable, allowed me to video-record the interview with Steve himself and they even let me use their filming pedestal ( since this was Nadia’s first ever live interview and she was prepared like a boss 😀 ).

I don’t intend to write too much about Steve myself, and will give you the opportunity to see and hear for yourself, and I truly believe that the topics we cover are really interesting (at least to me they were). I would appreciate it if you ignore the technical difficulties and me being generally clumsy and nervous during the interview, please try to concentrate on Steve! 😀 I thought that having two actors as parents would guarantee my acting skills by default, but it turned out it’s not as easy as I thought ( not that I am pointing fingers or anything, but my dad stopped me from applying at an Acting school!) 😀

I have divided the interview into 3 main parts, which you can see below with Bulgarian subtitles ( although if you are reading this English version you probably don’t need them, but at least I can brag about my subtitle-making skills 😀 )

It’s a good thing I have an interpreter experience in translating movies… kids moves… animation… mainly Woody the Woodpecker type of animation, where there isn’t a lot of talking going on 😀

Part 1 (10 min.), in which we talk about:

  • Kettlebells,

  • Strength and Condition training,

  • Martial arts,

  • Navy seals,

  • Fittest men in the world nomination for Men’s Health Magazine,

  • Following your passion and many more!

Part 2 (15 min.), in which we talk about:

  • Sport specific workouts

  • Bodybuilding

  • His personal life, 3 kids

  • Eating habits

  • Vegan lifestyle

  • How he became vegan

  • Intermittent fasting

  • Intermittent fasting for athletes

Part 3 (8 min.), in which we talk about:

  • Extreme ranges of motion

  • Extreme pistol squat

  • Mobility and flexibility

  • Mobility and flexibility in strength training

  • Mobility and flexibility in sports

  • Mobility for injury prevention

Here is a video of Steve doing his famous jumping pistol squat, which we talk about during the last part of the interview:

P.S.: And please ignore the KG kettlebell mark on my shoulder, I had to make sacrifices until I became comfortable with the Clean & Press movement 😀

How to activate the subtitles (cool YouTube feature):


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