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Cut the hate, spread the love




Beginners, they are everyone's favorite punching bag. Beginners with online videos, they are an even bigger, and softer targets for the trigger happy critics out there. New kid on the block puts up a video on Youtube of him doing his first ever set of barbell squats, and bam, you have people leaving comments like "dude, your form sucks", "that was a pathetic set", "you are setup for an injury", etc, etc.  Oh, its so much fun being a critic.

Needless to say that this type of criticism deters many who are starting out to share their progress with others online, or in some cases they end up discontinuing the activity itself. And when someone's comments makes a person quit something, then it is definitely not constructive criticism. To give you an idea of negative and positive criticism, here is an example from a recent Youtube video where a person shared his first ever set of double kettlebell jerks with 16 kgs. Please note that the lifter had trained the jerks for just 3 days prior to this video, and did a 10 minute set with such little practice. Here is how a negative comment went:

"Also, not a single of these reps ever "Fixates" -meaning you never achieve full controlled overhead extension -every rep would be a No Count in any reputable competition."

Cool, so someone who is trying something for the first time, now needs to compare himself with pros who have been doing this for more than a decade. And by the way, this particular lifter's "fixation" gets better as the set goes on. Look, anyone who has done kettlebells, knows very well how heavy those 16 kgs feel during a 10 minute set when you try them the first time. Anyways, here is how a positive comment for the same video by another viewer:

"Hey man good work! I love to see a beginner that just brings fresh effort into the game! There is always to be a lot of haters out there. But I love what you are doing, just keep working at everything will become better. In time get a coach! Its the best thing you can do. Check out my videos, look at how horrible I used to be and how much better I am now :) good luck!"

You can clearly see what difference a few words of positive encouragement make, and make your effort seem so much worthwhile. By the way, I would like to take a second to mention that this particular video was brought to my attention via a Facebook share by big John Wild Buckley. Big John himself is one of those modest and humble guys who has done a lot to encourage and guide many lifters to get better at kettlebell lifting, and forms an amazing team with his partner Jason Dolby at the orangekettlebellclub.

And incase you feel that the bigger the expert, the greater the criticism, then let me tell you that is nowhere near the truth. You will be hard pressed to find big time experts going around saying negative things about someone's performance, even though they can see many areas which can be improved. Most experts will always first appreciate an honest and hard effort, and then point out if anything needs to be worked on. Here is an example of what top kettlebell coach, Steve Cotter had to say to the participants of the Kolkata Kettlebell Meet on the IKFF India Facebook page:

"In the beginning days, there is not enough teachers and coaches. Of course there are so many technical deficiencies. However, the starting point is always the effort and desire to learn and improve. For that reason and purpose, I can only congratulate all the participants for stepping forward and doing their best in a brand new challenge. It will improve on each following occasion, but this was a start!"

Since this was the first time that a kettlebell contest was being held in India, we certainly did not have world champions lifting on the stage. Someone like Steve Cotter could have easily pointed out many things and negatively criticized the lifters. Instead Steve chose to write a word of appreciation for the effort made by the lifters, and focus on increasing their motivation levels to better themselves. Now imagine if some actual expert wrote "you guys are a disgrace to the sport, do not ever set a foot again on a lifting platform"!

Now, I am not saying that if someone sucks then tell them only good things, and avoid trying to help them by ignoring their flaws. But do keep in mind that we all have flaws, and we had many more when we began. Its a process of continuous hard work and consistently educating ourselves that helps us to get better. Expecting unrealistic things like being able to match the pros in 6 weeks is a big recipe for disaster. After all, even the pros had a "first time" or a "first day" doing what they are so good at today.

Thus the pros or the people who have done all the hard work to go from beginner to stars, understand what it feels like for someone starting out. Its the online armchair critics who love to go around watching video's of others and looking for opportunities to leave behind their hateful and rude comments. These critics more often than not do have a single video of themselves doing any exercise. Infact I have actually seen videos of pros, sometimes creating a world record, where these armchair critics have mentioned how the pro was not doing it right. Yeah right, as if someone who deadlifts 800 pounds or more, needs to learn how to lift from someone who does not even have a video of himself deadlifting 400 pounds.

Of course, if someone is doing something dangerous, like rounding their back excessively during squats, deadlifts, etc then its fair to point it out to the lifter for their wellbeing. But again, there is a nice way of saying it, and not making the lifter feel like he/she is a moron. However, do keep in mind that a difference of opinion does not necessarily mean that the other person is wrong. For eg once I had a person from an alternate style of kettlebell lifting warn me that the Girevoy style of swinging is bad for the lower back. He stated it as if it is a very well known fact rather than just his own opinion. My reply to him? Nothing! That's it, just a simple no reply policy. I mean this guy who thought that he knows kettlebells so well, should have been aware that there are thousands of people in Russia who have been swinging in the Girevoy style for decades and still do it today in their 50's and beyond. If what he said was true then they should have all been hospitalized by now.

Anyways, no matter what, there will always be people on the net who will go about saying nasty comments about others, and will continue to make newcomers their favorite soft target. And if you become one of the targets, then just ignore the hateful comments and keep trying to get better. There will also be people out there who will appreciate your efforts and praise you. And if you are persistent in improving yourself, then with time you will get more positive words than negative. Be sure to keep this in mind when you observe someone with lesser experience than you, because you too were once in their shoes. Keep it positive, hating does no one any good.


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