NOTICE: Several commenters have brought to my attention the false claim of Michael Skogg saying he was a Navy Seal. This was unknown to me at the time of posting this interview. For the sake of transparency, I encourage visitors to do their own research on this matter.
Having recently completed all 4 levels of the Skogg System, I was amazed at the effectiveness and design of the program. What started off as simple kettlebell workouts evolved into a challenge that tested my body and mind. While the exercises were easy to follow, the endurance required to progress took all the energy I could muster. Fortunately for me, the tips, encouragement, and motivation from instructor Michael Skogg helped me across the finish line.
There’s a definite increase in muscle mass (specifically my arms) in which I’ve noticed. My wife has also commented on this change too. The Skogg System’s slogan of “You, Only Stronger” wasn’t just a marketing gimmick. In fact, I still distinctly remember how difficult it was for me to power through level 2 in the beginning. Now, when I’m doing the various level 4 workouts, the midway point (level 2) is when I START to feel the burn as they say.
I could go on and on about my time with Skogg System but I’ve already done so in my review! Instead, I wanted to learn more about the background and history of Michael Skogg as it relates to his kettlebell training. So I reached out to him and requested an interview. He was gracious enough to give me some of his time and answer questions about his program as well as some stories about previous clients. I learned several new things about him that I think you’ll find pretty interesting!
Michael Skogg Interview
In your biography, it’s stated that you were introduced to kettlebells while attending the Highland Games in Scotland. How long ago was that and can you share a little bit about that experience?
33 years ago I lived in Scotland next door to a giant of a man I referred to as Big Mac. He was the Highland Games competitor, I was the nosy neighbor. Watching him train unconventionally was a real curiosity to me and Kettlebell swinging, snatching and throwing was part of his program. Before I knew it I was in a love affair with kettlebells that is going strong today at 51.
The Skogg System has been out for many years now and is still getting rave reviews. What is it about this program that really separates it from other kettlebell workout programs?
Good question! If I could give you my opinion… the instruction is clear and concise. The on-screen graphics and three different views make this a beautifully produced DVD and it’s a killer workout!
With dozens of kettlebell exercises to choose from the Skogg System features just 6. What factored into the decision to incorporate only those 6 exercises and those ones in particular?
I refer to the 6 as foundational exercises. The order in which they’re taught is a mindful process that creates a progression where every move picks up where the other leaves off. First and the most important is the Swing; which is where you learn to drive with your hips….not your quads. The last is the Snatch; the most graceful, technical and defining exercise with a kettlebell. 2 through 5? Good exercises with a great outcome.
What I really liked about your program is just how well it scales. There is a consensus that the average man should begin training with a 35 lb. kettlebell. I find that to be very unrealistic, especially for guys who are out of shape and have no weightlifting experience. The Skogg System recommends beginners start with an 18 lb. kettlebell for men and 9 lbs. for women. Is it accurate to assume that virtually anyone can do these workouts to reach their fitness goals?
I believe my system is as close to a one size fits all program that you can find. Our fans range from 8 – 80 and that’s no exaggeration. At Skogg Gym in Portland Oregon, there are many members over the age 60 and under the age 30. It’s a broad spectrum of ability levels in one class at one time and the outcome is the same. Pleasure. Progress and Success.
I was amazed at the production quality of the Skogg System DVDs. There are numerous visual aids, timers, and panning camera angles. I found your interaction with the viewer to be fantastic. A little bit of support, encouragement, tips, advice, and personal stories are shared. It really helped me to stay motivated through the later levels of the program. Is that something you had to work on or does it just come naturally?
Haha! I didn’t see this question before I expounded earlier and I have to be honest with you, it came quite naturally. I enjoy public speaking and to me being in front of a camera is the same thing. I’ve put out 10 exercise DVDs and recorded over 70 workouts (with more to come) for my streaming site Virtual Skogg.
I’ve read that you helped Daniel Baldwin lose weight with kettlebell training. What’s it like working with a celebrity and are there any other notable people that you’ve helped that you’d care to share?
Daniel and I developed a close relationship that took us through victories and defeats. Ultimately I would call Daniel a brother and a good friend. I’ve worked with quite a few celebrities and well-known athletes over my lifetime and reached one conclusion from every one of them. They’re just like me. Same challenges. Same desires.
Here’s a fun fact, the Skogg Gym was located next door to the Grimm production lot, which had a good number of cast and crew working out with me including the star (David Giuntolli) and co-star (Russell Hornsby).
Something else notable is the Strength and Conditioning Coach tour I was a frequent part of over several years. I certified and trained both professional and collegiate coaches. My program is used in over 20 NCAA division 1 schools, including Penn State, Wake Forest, and the University of Hawaii (word! I love Hawaii) Here’s another fun one that popped in my head…Dan Johnson, the Olympic gold decathlete, was a frequent attendee of my conference workouts.
The benefits of kettlebell workouts that are primarily discussed are building strength and burning calories. However, I’ve read some incredible stories about how exercising with kettlebells have helped individuals rehab from devastating injuries. Are there any clients of yours that stick out as far as making such a recovery?
Yes. I’m a Neuromuscular Therapist. My program was created with a corrective exercise base that will find your weaknesses, exploit them and correct them in short order. Many, many members have joined with injury-prone backs, have developed strong bodies with excellent balance and posture and achieved personal goals.
I have a 74-year-old who rehabbed his double knee replacement with me and my program. I’ve had numerous knee surgeries and a hip replacement from years of playing hard and rehabbed myself to a high-performance level to this day.
One of my favorite styles of kettlebell workouts is the flow. I thought this was a recent trend within the past 2-3 years, but the Skogg System pre-dates that by nearly a decade with its own take on the flow in disc #4. Is that style something you created or were inspired by someone else?
That is my creation. In fact, I can look at quite a bit out there on kettlebell and know it’s origin is me. I love that. Though I’m not touted as the creator(???) I feel confident that whoever is using said creation is going to experience success. That’s very satisfying!
I see that you have a new book coming out soon, The Skogg Sixty-Day Challenge. Can you tell us a little bit about what to expect in the book?
This book is something that Sue, my business partner, and I created over the past 12 years and run twice a year in the gym. The 60-day challenge is a sustainable exercise and nutrition plan that gives you the “why” behind the “what”.
The book will be just like the “live” program…. without the need to be live. You read the book, follow the road map and in 60 days you’ll have made a transformation that your friends and family will envy and like I previously stated….it’s sustainable.
Michael, I really appreciate your time today. I’d like to open up this last question to talk about or promote anything you want. Whether that’s advice, a new product, or something else.
Thank you Ryan. I’m sorry it took so long to complete this questionnaire, I’m too busy and I need an assistant! If there’s one thing I can leave you with it’s this…EVERYONE deserves a second chance. You may have blown it today but tomorrow is coming with the opportunity to make it right.
Don’t get caught in a downtrend and think “Fuck it, I’m stuck without hope.” You are not stuck. You get a second chance. In fact, you get a lifetime of second chances as long as you take them. I work with the Wounded Warrior Project extensively which reminds me of this on the daily. If you need help or guidance…email me. I will help you.