Breakthrough Spotlight – Nick Cochiolo

Our Breakthrough Spotlight Member for March is Nick Cochiolo!  Nick just completed the StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor Certification, and is excited to share his strength and knowledge with others. We are lucky to have Nick adding support to our Breakthrough coaching team!

BREAKTHROUGH:  Thank for being our spotlight member for March, Nick!  I wanted to chat with you since you just had this huge accomplishment in completing the StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor Certification!

NICK: Yes! The SFG was a lot of fun! I think I started training with kettlebells in late 2009, so it’s been ten years leading up to the SFG. And it was still probably the three hardest days working out that I have ever had.  But it was absolutely amazing. So much information in just a really short period of time, so you are just bombarded with all of this cool new stuff.  I had a great time!

BREAKTHROUGH:  Good! Was there something that made you feel like, okay, now is the time for me to do this?

NICK: It has been a goal that I wanted to achieve.  I just turned 50 years old.  At 50, I am probably in better shape than I was when I was 25.  I mean, it is all because of Strong First, kettlebells, and the training I’ve done with you guys. That’s made all the difference.  It was a personal goal.  It’s that achievement.  It’s like I want to prove that at 50, I can still do the things I did when I was at 25.

BREAKTHROUGH:  But smarter, maybe –  ha, ha!

NICK: Ha, ha – yeah smarter.  Strength is a skill.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Yes! And now that you’ve reached this personal goal, there is also that aspect that now you have got knowledge that you can help share with other people…

NICK:  Yeah, with my job and with my sport, they are both very physically demanding.  And to get better, you need to be able to share that information with other people.  That is the only way to get real feedback on the skill you have achieved –  is through your training and working with other people.  That is where you are really going to show your gains and ability.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Exactly. You continue to learn by teaching.

NICK:  Yeah, not just in “I can now pick up 5 pounds more than I could a month ago.”  It’s watching other people you that have worked with be able to pick up 5 pounds more than they could a month ago. All of that is really rewarding. And that is really my goal – just to get better. Getting better by watching and training and helping everyone else.


BREAKTHROUGH:  That is awesome!  What drew you to this StrongFirst style of kettlebell training in the first place?

NICK:  So, my brother Mark, he is the real American hero.  He is a Navy Seal; he’s been in every armed conflict the United States has been in since 1986.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Oh my gosh!

NICK:  He is a couple years older than me, so Mark has retired from actively going out and shooting at people, to just training new Navy Seals.   So, I think it was maybe 15 -16 years ago?  It was quite a while ago when Pavel came to the U.S. to train American special forces. My brother Mark first learned directly through Pavel with the RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge), which was prior to StrongFirst. He was able to incorporate that in his American Special Forces training for the US Navy.


NICK:  For as long as I was growing up, my brother Mark has always been that guy that wants to show you how to kill somebody or something… “better stab him this way”… that kind of thing. So, whenever he says, “Hey, Nick, I want to show you something”, I think, “No thanks, it’s cool man”… because this is going to hurt! And he had been trying to get me to do this thing called kettlebells for a long time. And it wasn’t until my wife’s cousin started training with kettlebells with you guys and told us about it… And I was really interested in NOT learning from my brother and learning from somebody else!


NICK:  So that was my first attraction to you guys and working with kettlebells.

BREAKTHROUGH:  That is really funny!  Sometimes you have to hear something from another source.

NICK:  Yeah, you know, Mark is just a little too gung-ho for me. I am in no way, shape, or form Mr. Special Forces, you know, work-until-you-die or whatever it is- kind of credo.  No, that is not me at all.  But the way you guys have presented this style of training has been great.  It has been really life changing in the last ten years.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Yes, we really try to make strength training and the StrongFirst methods accessible not just to athletes and military personnel, but to everyone!  So, tell me what kind of life changes you’ve noticed?

NICK:  Well, I went from recovering from a pretty terrible disease that really wiped me out physically, to being more physically fit, like I said, than I have ever been. I am a steady-cam operator as a job. That is really physically demanding.  I have to carry this 100 pound rig and chase a rock star around on stage for several hours. And that is not really easy to do. You don’t see a lot of old guys doing my job.

BREAKTHROUGH:  It is a marathon! An endurance event!

NICK:  It is! A power endurance event for two and a half hours!  But because of this training I can still do my job.

BREAKTHROUGH:  That’s amazing! This is one of the things I always talk about with people. It comes up every single time I do one of these interviews.  The training we do in the gym should help us with the things we have to do outside the gym.

NICK:  Definitely, definitely! As far as real strength… real everyday tactical strength that you can use, and adapt it to whatever you are doing, this is it!  No machine is going to give that to you.

BREAKTHROUGH:  For sure! Absolutely.  So, we always like to know people’s why?  You have shared a little bit already, but do you want to expand on that?


NICK: Well, you know, I’m really scared of being that bent-over old man that can’t walk.  At 50 years old, I want to be that 80 year old man who still goes jogging and can drive and do all of the things that we take for granted.  That scares me.  I see the bent over old guy walking down the street and I don’t want to be him. That and my sport.  I do a full contact martial art and I fight with a lot of guys half my age and I can still kick the crap out of them.  That is another motivation.  I want to still kick the crap out of 25-year old’s when I am 60.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Ha, ha. You want to be that kind of old man! I see what’s up!

NICK:  Yeah, that old man. Plus, I still like to eat cheeseburgers so I gotta be able to pick up something heavy.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Ha! Well, I definitely think that as we get older, it is easier if you are in better shape. It just is.

NICK:  Absolutely. My recovery time is a more compromised at 50. But that is the only thing that I find. It just takes me a little longer than when I was at 25. But I am still stronger. I can still run longer.  I can still hit harder. And do whatever it is- longer.  I think I am doing great at 50.

BREAKTHROUGH:  I would say so! You just passed one of the hardest courses in the fitness industry to pass at any age!  So, yes, you are doing great!

NICK:  Seriously, it took the ten years of training and the real prep that you guys gave me to pass that test. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

BREAKTHROUGH:  It is challenging for sure, but very rewarding. Just to immerse yourself in an environment like that for a period of time. You’ll get a lot out of that.

NICK:  Right. And getting a coach’s eye and learning that coach’s eye; even turning it inward toward your own technique is amazing. Just a huge leap over the weekend that I went.  From what I went in with, to what I came out with.  The amount of knowledge and the immediate application to my skill was a huge jump. Just a huge jump!  I mean, it sounds stupid, but I came out 10% stronger in three days! It is absolutely amazing. It was a trip.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Of course! And now you want to share it with other people!

NICK: Absolutely. And now I want to do level two and I want body weight training and I want to get barbell certified.  It just makes you just want to get more.

BREAKTHROUGH:  That is what life should be about.  The curiosity to keep learning.  That also keeps you young!

NICK: Yes, definitely.  Just wanting to get better.  I am never going to be the Mr. Olympia powerlifter. That is not my body type. Those are not my goals, but I am still going to be a strong old man.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Ha. Ha! You know it! I really appreciate you sharing with us. Thanks so much, Nick.

NICK:  Happy to help!

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