Craig Sylvester - Founder
Hello, I'm Craig Sylvester. I own Michigan Kettlbells Strength and Training Center with my wife Dawn Sylvester. I have been a Professional Firefighter / Paramedic for the past 7 years. Before that, I worked in corporate America. I decided I needed a change, which was easier to do after being laid off. So at the young age of 33, it was back to school. I became an EMT, then a Paramedic, and finally went to the Fire Academy. This, plus 2 years of college are the minimum requirements for most full time Fire Departments in Metro Detroit. These licences allowed me to fill out applications with no guarantee of ever getting a job. While I was in EMT school I worked doing landscape installations, lots of digging and tree planting. It was then that I started to realize how useless many of the machines and exercises I did in the gym were. The "gym strength" did not transfer well to the work I was doing. I started to change my training while in the Fire Academy. I did more body weight exercises, then I discovered kettlebells. I could not believe what a workout I could get in my living room with only a 35 lb kettlebell! I started to look for more "underground" and "old school" methods of training. This led me to Zach Even-Esh The Underground Strength Coach.
What I learned from Zach is this. I learned a lot about business, and a lot about strength training, but the most important thing I learned was this. Never give up. Keep on going for your dream.This was, and still is invaluable to me. If not for meeting Zach, and all of the great people I met through him, opening my own gym, would still be just a dream, that "one day" might happen. I turned my garage into an underground style gym. Complete with kettlebells, logs, homemade sand bags and sleds. If it was heavy and awkward and hopefully free, I wanted it. My wife thought I'd lost my mind, when I came home with a 5 ft tall, 600 lb tire. I was getting the best workouts that I had in years. I saw on Facebook one day that an old friend who I lost contact with was in a kettlebell competition. I thought I was the kettlebell guy, as no one I talked to knew what one was at the time. So I saw there was a competition coming up in Novi. So I entered it.....I realized there was a whole world of kettlebells that I knew nothing about.
Luckily for me, Ken Blackburn who was the competition organizer, the co-founder of the IKFF, and is one of the best kettlebell instructors in the country, lives in Fenton, MI. I contacted Ken, and became a Certified Kettlebell Teacher (CKT). I assisted Ken on multiple private CKT classes. It was an unbelievable learning experience and I am forever grateful to Ken. I knew it was time to open a gym when I realized that I was missing a very important piece...YOU! I didn't have any clients, so I put ads on Facebook and contacted everyone I knew. Then in 2010 started a summer kettlebell boot camp in a local park. After the fourth class I signed a lease. With a handful of students opened Michigan Kettlebells Strength & Training Center on Oct 1, 2010. Since then I completed a 2 day Ketttlebell sport coach certification with Ken's coach Sergey Rudnev, who is a multi World and Russian Champion. I also spent a day of body weight training with Steve Cotter, who is Ken's partner in the IKFF. I am always continuing my education through seminars, competitions, books, magazines, videos, emails, and social media. Michigan Kettlebells is not just a business, its my passion. I want everyone who comes through our doors to have an awesome experience. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope to meet and train with you soon.
Andrew "Drew" Willis - Head Coach
Andrew Willis (Drew) is a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. As a Noncommissioned Officer (NCO), part of Drew’s responsibilities was to ensure the physical readiness of Marines under his leadership. Drew developed and implemented physical training programs to help Marines pass the USMC Physical Fitness Test (PFT), developed and implemented training programs and strategies to help Marines meet the USMC Weight Standards, and developed and implemented training programs for Unit Combat Readiness and Special Operations Capabilities.
Drew’s dedication to improving human performance continued and evolved after discharging from the Marine Corps in 2009, leading him to study Health Sciences with a Concentration in Exercise Science at Oakland University. Drew is certified as a Sports Performance Coach through the USA Weightlifting organization (USAW).
Drew’s has made it his life’s work to help all who are willing to put forth the time and effort in meeting and exceeding their personal fitness goals. He uses his combined knowledge, passion, and dedication garnered in the Marine Corps and the knowledge gleaned from academic studies to produce desired results for the truly committed.
Derek Vercruysse - Coach
Derek has been instrumental in the energy levels in the classes at Michigan Kettlebells Strength & Training Center. He has been a lifelong friend and the first employee of the gym. Derek started working out with Craig before the gym opened in the original Summer bootcamps held in the local park. He realized that this type of training was the way to overall strength and endurance. He had never experienced this with any other type of workouts. He decided to start training hard for the Tough Mudder Competition held in April of 2012. He did so well, that he came out in the top 5% of that race. This qualified him to enter the World’s Toughest Mudder that was held in November, 2012. He completed 3 laps, over 30 miles of obstacles and is looking forward to training even harder for the next one.
Derek brings an enthusiasm to the classes with his strong competitive nature, and his personal knowledge of how to get your body into top shape. He will help push you past your comfort zone, and help you achieve your own goals.
Melanie Mituta - Coach
Melanie started off as a member at Michigan Kettlebells in 2012. Melanie from the start was consistent and hardworking. The two most important qualities for success. She soon was a leader in the class and inspired others on a daily basis. Melanie competed at the International Kettlebell World Championships placing 2nd and International Kettlebell Games Qualifier placing 1st. Melanie started to pursue yoga while training at Michigan Kettlebells. I remember countless times when Melanie would crush a brutal workout and would be out the door to yoga. Melanie developed a passion for fitness and I could tell that she wanted to help others out even more than she was.
I decided in early 2015 that Melanie was going to be a Coach at Michigan Kettlebells, even though we never discussed it. I called her up and told her the reasons she had to do it and she accepted. Even though I was confident she could teach all of the classes at Michigan Kettlebells, I knew we needed yoga and the members wanted yoga. No one would confuse Michigan Kettlebells with a yoga studio, so I didn't want a typical yoga class. Kettlebell Yoga was born. Melanie will take you through 25-30 minutes of yoga and then send your metabolism into Overdrive with a 10-15 minute MetCon (metabolic conditioning) and then cools you down with yoga and stretches.
Dawn Sylvester - ISSA CFT, SSN
Thank you for attending Michigan Kettlebells Strength & Training Center.
Congratulations! You have just made the right commitment to changing your body and your life, now, and for the future.
My name is Dawn Sylvester
I have certifications in Fitness Training and Sports Nutrition. I have been training women only for over 12 years, and am passionate about aging with strength. At 50 years old, I entered my first Bodybuilding show in the Figure Division and took 2 trophies. I was the oldest woman in the show out of 23 women. I did another show, but there were only 2 of us in our age class competing. She was a lifetime bodybuilder. She placed first.I decided that I wanted to compete in something more athletic and less about how you look. I then went on to Kettlebell Sport where you compete for numbers and time, and “made rank”. I am not bragging. I am trying to dispel the myth that women who lift weights, and compete will get bulky. I have been lifting weights for 25 years.
The original goal I had when I got certified in Fitness Training was to empower women with fitness, and to stop them from trying to change their bodies by dieting. I now train and counsel women and men on how imperative it is to eat for vitality, supplement when necessary and how to lose body fat. The way your body responds to training, how it feels and how it looks, has been said to be 75% nutrition, 25% training.
If you are interested in losing fat while getting stronger without cutting calories, then sign up for my blog. If you want to learn how to get a firm and strong body that carries you into a healthy future, then enter your name and e-mail to receive my newsletter. Don’t negate any of your hard work in the gym with a diet lacking proper nutrition. I am an Isagenix as well as a Sunwarrior Consultant. Optimal products for fat loss, recovery and overall health. Nutrition is paramount in achieving your goals whether you want to change your physique or compete in an endurance event. At Michigan Kettlebells Strength & Training Center we want to create the best “YOU” that you can be. Strong, fit, and confident. We will help you meet your goals.
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