Fun With Kettlebells, Clifton Harski, Dr. BG, and Big Meat

I’d been looking forward to this for a while. Things just came together. A couple of weeks ago, the way cool Clifton Harski got in touch, offered to come over and school me, I offered a BBQ in return, and as luck would have it, Dr. BG (Grace) (link removed) is back from China for a time. She and I had lunch last week at The Left Bank at Santana Row (huîtres, steak tartare, steak frites) and it was the most natural thing in the world to invite her to come along.

Clifton Harski
Clifton Harski — about 225#?

What kinda dude is Clifton? He’s international. He lived all over the world all his young life, owing to his father’s occupation. From 20-30 or so, I travelled the world, lived a total of 7 years abroad. When I talk with Clifton, it’s as though there are a thousand things that need not be addressed—because we’re both dudes who get that we live on a whole planet, and the country and culture of where we were born is a separate thing.

Perhaps that’s why my Frenchman friend, Erwan Le Corre, tapped Clifton to be the very first guy to take MovNat out of the cloister and into the mainstream with 1-day courses all over America.

Clifton also has the perfect demeanor of a trainer—as does Erwan and Vic. Here’s a list of what he taught me to do, kettlebell wise, yesterday. Google or YouTube each exercise and chances are, you’ll find out how to do each one.

  • Bottom up rack walk
  • Farmer carry
  • Suitcase deadlift
  • Single leg deadlift
  • Goblet squats
  • Single side front squat
  • Reverse lunge
  • Turkish get up (the Holy Grail)
  • RKC swings
  • Windmill
  • Standing press
  • Halo
  • Rows
  • Floor press

We did all of those. Not like full exercises in reps, multiple sets, but typically some number of reps for each. In terms of the weight, I have a 26lb, 35, and 44. Clifton says I  might want to get a 53 to finish out the set. Initially I was using the heavier bells and in some cases like the farmer carry, the 35 and 44 together. As things progressed and I got a bit fatigued, we went to lighter ones to focus on proper form (and especially for overhead work like windmills).

About 2/3 of the way through, here’s me.

Turkish Get Up? That was totally effed, man.

Here’s some random pics of the whole affair. Clifton has a knee injury. 500 pound DL. He’ll recover. Surgery on Monday.

“Ok, what are you going to do now?”
Beatice gets in on it. Why? Just wait.
Art – Single leg DL with the 35 & 44 bells
Reverse Lunge – A variation on the Goblet Squats I’d been doing
The 180 degree marvel of kettlebells

I don’t do it justice, because a blog or a video clip never can.

…Clifton got here between 1:30 and 2. Dr BG…Grace? about 3pm or so. We had hours of talking, fun, a fire in the backyard.

Clifton Grace
Clifton & Grace

I took that pic with my iPhone, intending to post it to the FTA page. But I guess it went to my small personal thingy, close friends and family only. I asked the question, ‘who are these people in my backyard?’

My longtime real-space friend, Allesadro (a PhD physical chemist from Italy), replied:

I don’t know but he’s smoking hot!

Robert, another close real-space friend asks:

Uhhh, do we get a clue?

Ale rejoinders.

Here’s your clue: hot!

I delighted in texting that to Clifton.

We had dinner, too. Grace hit Whole Foods on the way over. 2 Porterhouse, 4 NY Strips.

Meat – 2 porterhouse, 4 NY strips form Whole Foods

I eventually got around to grilling it, doing a dijon vinaigrette, and a pound of browned butter, poured over the steaks.

2 Guys, 2 Women. What’s in store?

Not too much for me…

Oh, Clifton…

Clifton ate huge, I ate big, and the grills ate far more than average.

Clifton, starting on a fat NY after finishing off the whole porterhouse (and potato)

In the end, after all that, here’s what was left, and we sent Clifton away with (he promised to eat it all bare handed and I reminded him of being barefoot, too).

Not bad for 2 guys and gals

It was a marvelous time. Wish I had pics of the hours after, around the fire, primal wise. There’s just something about sitting around a fire.

I wanted to show you this to encourage you. paleo and Primal is easily big enough to hook up with people, do this sort of thing, enjoy it and/or publish it too, to encourage others.

I think that if you haven’t, yet, you will be amazed at the ease with which you can come to appreciate other people in profound ways. You may notice that the level of conversation is high.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Jscott on July 14, 2012 at 20:28

    Beautiful. So many ways beautiful. I am now off to a cabin in the woods. I take this with.

  2. Pauline on July 15, 2012 at 04:30

    Love this kind of photo journalism. We get a real sense of a good time. Those last moments round the fire the imagination soars. Heat on bodies, faces glowing, satisfaction all round. Here in the UK we were sipping real ale and listening to live music. Old time 60s rockers. Everyone stomping and rolling. Real ale flowing £1 for a third of a pint so you can taste as many as you like. Standing for two hours in that crowd everyone rocking and singing along. Made you feel whatever the state of things music makes you wanna dance with somebody. What fun!

  3. Richard Nikoley on July 15, 2012 at 08:29

    So I took down the stupid comment(s) regarding the (p-word) weight of the kettlebells. Clifton gave of his time and energy to _instruct_ myself, Beatrice & Grace (though she wasn’t able to get here early enough to participate). This, in spite of a knee injury, a brace, and crutches (surgery on Monday). He doesn’t deserve to have that crap up there.

    I added a blurb in the post about the weights (26, 35, 44). Many of the moves we did were with the 44 and a few, even with a 44 and 35 together, like farmer carries, DLs, front squats and such. Things such as Turkish getup and windmills, which I’d never done before (and which we did toward the end, after a lot of exercise & fatigue) are heavy on proper form, dictating the prudence of a lower weight like the 26 or 35.

    It’s stupid, really, to even have to explain this.

    • marie on July 15, 2012 at 09:43

      It’s another beautiful post Richard, I love this kind of journalism too.
      Inspiring and somehow reassuring at the same time.
      I’m not well at the moment and looking forward so much to getting back to natural movement that I just soaked up those pics and descriptions.
      Sorry you had to bear some nonsense, but glad you killed it early so it doesn’t spoil things for the rest of us :)

  4. Pauline on July 15, 2012 at 09:42

    God those steaks look mouthwateringly good!

  5. Grace (Dr.BG) on July 15, 2012 at 15:50

    What a wonderful evening! Thank you for you and Queen Bea’s epic hospitality and indulgent generosity!!!! I would’ve stayed the whole night… ;) (if I didn’t go river rafting or risk my future getting laid *hahahhh*)

    Can I rave AGAIN over the salad??! It was so AMAZING.

    You guys looked shwintastic with the kb’s — I’m sorry I missed the fun!! But I loved catching up and hearing about Clifton’s new adventures (lots of bad *ssedness), his amazing mom who studied ballet, the travels that you mentioned (Egypt, Hungary, etc) and his favorite TV shows… I loved our discussion about Breaking Bad, my favorite show that I never watch. Why do we have love affairs with the antiheros?? The anti-establishment brilliance? The conflicted desires?

    GOOD TIMES. My hair still smells of the fire you and Bea got blazing!

  6. clif on July 15, 2012 at 17:33

    Ah, I didn’t see any negative comments, however…..there is ALWAYS negative comments from uninformed people. And commenting on stills which are happening in the middle of doing things for the first time is silly. I had a great time showing you some KB stuff, talking, and seeing Grace again. And my knee brace has a hint of fire smell on it!

    • Richard Nikoley on July 15, 2012 at 17:36

      “And my knee brace has a hint of fire smell on it!”

      Always a good thing, I think.

      • clif on July 15, 2012 at 17:41

        definitely a good thing. makes me want to camp.

      • Richard Nikoley on July 15, 2012 at 17:48

        The cool thing about camping is that after three nightly campfires, the fire smell on clothing becomes the norm.

        That’s why I just wear the same clothes the entire trip. :)

  7. Grace (Dr.BG) on July 15, 2012 at 21:30

    Man. I’m still drooling! Haaa Haaa

    So the browned butter reduction is the secret to life, eh, Richard??! I’d have to agree that IT was so spectacular on perfectly grilled RED MEAT RED MEAT RED MEAT.

    Clif, You’re the bionic boy with 17-yr old bones!! I hope your knee surgery goes well with fantastic success and smooth recovery…

    • Richard Nikoley on July 15, 2012 at 21:53

      Actually, the browned butter has been a recent inspiration, I used to do only red wine reductions. The browned butter is best with filets, spooned on each individual one on the plate for a Ruth’s Chris sort of experience.

    • clif on July 17, 2012 at 21:05

      surgery went well. ended up only being cartilage pieces floating around, and some trimming on some rough flaky spots. although the pain meds they shoot you full of wear off after about 30 hours…now my leg is sucky!

      • Grace (Dr.BG) on July 18, 2012 at 09:03

        Bone doesn’t like being re-arranged. I mean nothing does, no? In particular bone. Hang in there! It must be so difficult to restrain your energetic self (around sandbag, kb, or whatever). Your complete recovery will be in my thoughts and prayers. I have a surgery coming up too (jaw) and will take some of the excellent tips we discussed!!! Thanxxx!!

  8. Lily on July 16, 2012 at 06:33

    Love kettlebells! No where as advanced as you guys. I’m happy to sling my 12kg (and use the 26 for DL and swings only — so far).

  9. Coming Full Circle | Free The Animal on July 28, 2012 at 13:44

    […] What about the gym and the cold therapy? I tend to go to the gym spontaneously, when I feel I need to get that workout; but when I do, I mean it. I generally do 2 types of sessions, now: (1) DL and leg presses, both heavy, but also light enough to do 2-3 sets in a 6-8 rep range. (2) standing presses, bench or chest presses, and weighted chin-ups or pull-ups. That's about it. Other than than, it's play in the backyard with kettlebells. […]

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