As a teenager living in the north-west city of Perm, Russia, I was not very active.
One day at a wise old age of 14 I noticed that my flabby butt was beginning to creep down my leg.
I came to mom asking her what I can do about my butt. Mom has always been organized about her exercise, and at the time she was exercising at home every morning. When I asked her to help rescue me from the dreaded ‘buttleg’, both of us knew that I had no patience to do one of her morning workouts. I have tried to do them with her, I have tried doing them by myself, and I failed.
What my mom told me has changed my life forever. “Just start using the stairs instead of the elevator’ she said. (we lived on the 8th floor).
So that was what I did.
Every day coming home from school, I would turn away from the elevator and go up the stairs instead.
At first, I was very unfit. Those initial few weeks, I would start out walking the stairs but after struggling up few floors, I would take the elevator the rest of the way. I allowed myself to do that, because I knew that if the exercise was too painful, I would start dreading it and gradually quit. And I wanted it to become a normal part of my day. I wanted to become somebody who climbs stairs instead of using the elevator. And that means doing it for the rest of my life.
I knew that the results will come only after a long time. Remember, I lived in Russia before commercialization of fitness and ‘quick fix’ marketing got the hold of people’s psyche, as it has with the westerners. Back then, we knew that if you wanted to be fit, you needed to know how to play the long game.
How did I keep motivated day-to-day? Rather than focusing on tracking minute changes in the shape of my butt, I decided to focus on improving my ability to climb stairs. Every day, I would make a mental note on how far I could climb and how difficult it felt. I used and tested different methods of climbing. Sometimes, I would take two stairs at a time, sometimes I would try to walk on my toes, sometimes I would run, mostly I would just walk up while thinking of something else. The key was to turn away from the elevator at that crucial moment of choice, the rest was automatic.
Eventually, I was able to climb the entire 8 floors. Before long, I was doing that without even getting out of breath. My fitness, strength, energy and mood have improved – a really noticeable thing for a hormonal teenager.
By then, I had completely forgotten that the original purpose of my endeavor was to shape my buttocks, and when I one day noticed my tush in a mirror, I was amazed at how perky it has become.
And that was the first time I realized that a) aiming at consistency may be the key to log term success and b) that form follows function and that for me it was more motivating to focus on improving function rather than track appearance.
Since then, I have read a ton of scientific literature on these topics and have experimented endlessly.
And now, I subject EVERY aspect of my own and my clients’ kettlebell training to prioritizing consistency and function.
18 years and counting, this method has not failed me yet.
Kat Tabakova, July 2020