Be willing to learn, see your strength increase – Margaret’s Spotlight

January 30th 2016 –

“You either move forward or you move back with every rep and I’m trying to move forward with every rep.”


Friday February 12 from 6pm-7:30pm

For our next martial arts seminar, Coach Caleb will be joined by Breakthrough member and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt Jeremy Espiritu! Jeremy will be teaching how BJJ can be used for practical self defense purposes, and how it blends perfectly with our signature Breakthrough Boxing principals!

This event is open to members AND non-members! And just in time for Valentine’s Day, we invite you to share the love with a friend. The cost for the seminar is $20 BUT if you bring a friend, two can train for the price of one! To reserve your spot contact us today at!

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Breakthrough Spotlight – Margaret Sanborn


Our Breakthrough spotlight for February is Margaret Sanborn! Margaret inspires all of us at Breakthrough with not only her physical strength, but her ability to take on any challenge that comes her way. She did us all proud by passing the StrongFirst Kettlebell Certification last November!!

Breakthrough: We are here with Margaret this morning and we’re a little overdue on catching up after the SFG. We’ve heard some of her experience doing that but we wanted to be able to share it with all of the Breakthrough family. So maybe you can just share a little about what your training was like leading up to it.

Margaret: Yeah, well we went through a couple different phases of just general strength and then working on the conditioning and skills that I was going to be tested on.

Breakthrough: So focusing on the big six skills, the get up, swing, clean, press and squat, and snatch. And you were looking super strong before you left, we had no doubt that you would pass with flying colors! I think for you the conditioning element was the one you were most concerned with?

Margaret: Yeah, I definitely struggled with conditioning, you know, my body likes to go for strength rather than endurance so we worked a lot on the conditioning to get through 3 very long, very intense days at the certification.

Breakthrough: Yeah, and so I remember thinking before you left that “ok if anything is going to be a challenge it’s going to be that,” but the way you were looking right before you left, I had no doubt that it was going to be fine. So then during the course, what was your experience? What kind of things went the best… what kind of challenges did you face?

Margaret: I think the biggest challenge for me was having squats and presses on the same day in the training because those are two lifts that I struggle with and to have them both together was intense. Also just going and going and going, when you’re used to one hour training blocks, a full day from 8-4, it really is intense, forces you to push yourself past where you thought you could go.

Breakthrough: Yeah, so it’s a lot of mental toughness as well.

Margaret: Yes, absolutely. Even just getting up the second day and going back after the first day of just complete exhaustion – haha.

Breakthrough: Yeah it’s hard! So then what was the highlight for you? What felt the best?

Margaret: You know, the highlight for me was meeting with the coaches on my team and then at the end of the certification, the compliment that I got, they were very impressed with how prepared I was and that I came knowing the lifts and could refine them over the course of the weekend. Before I even found out if I had passed, just the satisfaction of having done that weekend and survived it – and learned! You know, the amount that I learned in that weekend was incredible.

Breakthrough: Yeah, it’s definitely a tough three days, it’s a lot of tough physical work, but it’s also a lot of education and taking in a lot of things even though they are lifts that you’ve done for years. And figuring out how to now teach them to others takes it to a whole new level.

Margaret: Exactly, and it also reinforced the idea that you’re never done learning, it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been doing it, doesn’t matter if you’re certified, doesn’t matter if you’re teaching courses or teaching other people, there is always something that someone else can teach you. I think that was probably the biggest thing that I learned, is every single person there still sees themselves as a student, doesn’t matter if they’re the one teaching the certification, they still see themselves as someone that can learn from others.

Breakthrough: Yeah that’s a really important thing, to approach each training session with a mindset of learning. I know also you were a super big inspiration to Nick, your husband, because he saw what you were accomplishing in the gym and was like “I’ve got to get in there and get some more training done…” So then he started coming doing Semi-Private training twice a week! And we’ve had a couple of our other members watching you from time to time and saying “oh well I was watching Margaret and I noticed when she does swings, she does this…” and so you know it’s been definitely great to have that strong energy in here, representing all the Strongfirst principles. What did Nick have to say after you returned from SFG? Was he vocal about his appreciation?

Margaret: Uhm, you know, he was more confident than I was that I was going to pass, I think I was the least confident person to think that I was going to pass!

Breakthrough: Oh no!

Margaret: But no, it was just because I didn’t want to take it for granted. I knew it was going to be a challenge so I was going into it with a mindset of “I’m going to do what I need to do but not take anything for granted.” But he was very vocal more in that “of course you’re gonna pass, of course you’re gonna pass.”

Breakthrough: Well we knew that like ok, the snatch test for example, we saw a week before at the TSC, we weren’t even focusing on deadlifting for this whole training session because we knew that “ok she’s got SFG coming up, we’re not going to try to get her to PR in the deadlift,” but you still did, with what 280? Which is awesome, and for the snatches I mean you only have to do for SFG 100 in 5 minutes, but you did how many? 111? So we knew the snatch test would be no problem.

Margaret: Which actually was perfect to have a week ahead of time, because the snatch test is basically the last thing you do at the certification, and so going into it completely exhausted from the weekend but knowing that I had some time and extra reps in the bag from the week before, gave me some extra confidence going in to say “there’s no reason I can’t do 100 in 5 minutes today, I did 111 in 5 minutes a week ago.”

Breakthrough: Yeah exactly! You knew you had it. So now you’ve had some training cycles after this experience, if anything it seems like you’ve taken things up another notch. Have you found that it’s changed your training since this experience, that you approach training differently?

Margaret: I’m really reinforcing that there’s always somewhere else to go, that you’re never done and just really trying to keep that in the back of my mind in every training session that every rep counts, you know? You either learn something or you don’t, you either move forward or you move back with every rep and I’m trying to move forward with every rep.

Breakthrough: And it seems like your enjoyment of your training session has gone up too. You get a lot out of it because you’re making yourself better every time. Do you feel that that’s how you approach it?

Margaret: Yeah I mean it’s very satisfying to finish every training session feeling like I’m a little better than I was the last time. It’s nice to have that really solid grounding to fall back on with every rep, because even though it’s a new challenge it’s still pulling from the same principles, and knowing those principles better gives me more to fall back on with every new thing that I learn.

Breakthrough: What about other aspects of your life that have been positively impacted by your training? Are you starting to see that as well?

Margaret: I’m really excited with a lot of my friends who are also a little inspired to try out kettlebells. I’ve been working with a couple friends to get them more physical in their lives and get them training with the principles that I know work, and that they’ve seen work for me. That’s been really nice, I never thought that I’d be that person, I’ve never been that person in my life so it’s exciting to have that change.

Breakthrough: That’s really cool. So teaching and sharing it with others, you learn a lot when you teach too. That’s the other thing, when you get the chance to share what you know, it’s one thing to put it into practice yourself, but to share it with someone else is it’s own reward.

Margaret: And I think that’s another reason that what you were saying about seeing my training advance another step, is that you learn so much by teaching, so by working with new people and seeing the challenges that they’re facing and seeing the way their bodies are moving, reinforces even more for me the principles that I need to be thinking of every time I’m training.

Breakthrough: Well it shows, because you’ve accomplished amazing things since SFG. You’re about to crank out 40 minutes of VO2 max conditioning, snatching kettlebells. She’s not one to rest on her laurels, and say “ok well I did SFG so now I’m fine.” You came back and you were like “I’m going to keep tackling the thing that’s the hardest thing for me,” which is this conditioning stuff, so you’ve been working up to doing the 40 minute VO2 max snatch protocol. Looking strong too!

Margaret: Haha and I just finished 38 minutes of that today!

Breakthrough: And you sound good! Not too out of breath! That’s awesome. Well we look forward to even more amazing things, we will check back in in a future Breakthrough Spotlight to revel in your future victories. Thanks Margaret!

Margaret: Thank you guys!


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