Taco Fleur is perhaps one of the most dedicated and passionate kettlebell trainers in the world. He’s written several books on kettlebell workouts and exercises that have been well-received on Amazon. In addition to the books, he’s produced dozens of videos that help both newbies like me and veterans alike in performing kettlebell moves the right way. Unlike some trainers, he is eager to assist and offer advice for anyone interested in kettlebells.
In the short time I’ve communicated with Taco, I’ve found him to be very humble and gracious. It’s a little bit amusing because I never realized it before, but he is actually the man portrayed on this website’s home page! Although I did get the photo from a free stock photo website, I thought he might be upset or angry with my usage of it. To his credit, he never even mentioned it or brought it up. Now that’s some humility!
To say I’m grateful for the opportunity to interview him would be an understatement. I’m just your average guy looking to improve himself and spread awareness about kettlebells. So without further delay, let’s get to it!
Taco Fleur Interview
Hello Ryan/readers, and thank you for interviewing me, I consider it an honor to be on your website.
I read in your biography that your experience with kettlebells goes back 15 years and that you started seriously training with them 10 years ago. In the time since, you’ve authored numerous books and produced many videos in regards to kettlebell training. What was it that sparked such a passion for this tool?
My passion for the kettlebell was truly sparked at the time I was running a gym in Brisbane Australia and kettlebells were a big part of the training we provided. As I played with them and saw some of the kettlebell trainers we employed work with them my passion just grew bigger and bigger. I then started to share that basic knowledge I was building up, however horrible it was back then, and just learned more and more through the process of analyzing, flowing, and creating. Today I still have the same passion for the kettlebell, if not more.
Most of the photos and videos of you and your kettlebell feature backdrops of beautiful landscapes and scenery. It’s a refreshing change from the typical confines of a drab and dark gym. Do you have any fond memories of a particular place or two that you’d like to share?
This is why I love the kettlebell, you can carry it—however heavy and uncomfortable it is—to places where no kettlebell has gone before and shoot amazing photos but also have a workout or just play around with it (juggle). There are really so many places I can think of, as I literally take them with us anytime we go somewhere.
Spain and Portugal have such beautiful sceneries, it’s just breathtaking. As I’m writing this my wife and I just got back from the Sierra Nevada which is probably one of my favorite places to go together with El Torcal. Sierra Nevada is so amazing as the scenery changes so much throughout the year and the place is so enormous that there is yet so much to discover. El Torcal is not as big but looks like such a magical place and I can still discover things there just by climbing and crawling into places no one goes.
As if climbing isn’t challenging enough,
Taco brings his kettlebells everywhere!
One of the objectives during our getaways is to get away from people and just relax. I need this as a lot of my time is spent behind the computer to write books, edit videos, maintain websites, answer people, write programs, etc.
Getting back to the question, yesterdays 3-day hike adventure would be in the book of fond memories as we slept in a tent next to a running stream of water and just had a great time overall with not one other human being around us. The other time would also be in the Sierra Nevada where we hiked 3 days to get to the top of the largest mountain (3,479 m) in Spain mainland and be the first to bring a yellow kettlebell to the top.
Let’s talk about that yellow kettlebell that you feature so prominently. Just from my observations, I’d say you could describe it as a companion of sorts. Is that accurate? What’s the history between you and this kettlebell? How much does it weigh?
The yellow kettlebell is definitely my best companion out of all the kettlebells, just because it’s the right weight for me on these trips, 16kg. My wife likes the 12kg which is the blue one, and on our last hike I caved in and took that one as she said I would not get any help carrying it at all if I took the 16kg, and the kettlebell can get quite heavy when you also have to carry a tent, food, water, and clothes. My kettlebells definitely mean a lot to me, I’d not leave them behind, and trust me, on several occasions the debate has come up. If it would fall down a ravine I would climb down to get it, not because of the money it cost, just because of where it’s been with me.
I recently learned that you possess many unique skills which give you an advantage over the majority of kettlebell trainers and coaches. Graphic designer, video editor, blogger, social media influencer, you’re like a one-man band when it comes to producing and promoting your brand. How do you balance all of these responsibilities and still have time for yourself and your family?
This is true, and sometimes it’s a little overbearing, but then it’s also me, I love challenges, I love learning more and more, I like variation and can’t stand doing the same thing over and over again, which is one of the reasons I’ve been able to do this for so many years. But, a big “but”, I’m working towards the brand becoming bigger than myself, it’s never been just about me, I’ve only recently been able to involve my wife more, but the whole idea has always been to get more similar thinking people involved and becoming a big part of Cavemantraining to help spread information that can actually change lives. This I must say has been the hardest part of all, most people I would approach are always very skeptical and just want to do their own thing. I don’t blame them. But still, the vision is to get to a point where Cavemantraining is not just me and a few others, but instead a huge community of people/trainers that think similar and train for life rather than aesthetics (only).
As for time for the family, my son (Benooi) recently moved back to Australia so we don’t see him. But as for my wife, our dog, and me, we make time. As our life Is very busy but still fluid, i.e. we set the times of what and when. We can go to the beach when we want, we’ll have breakfast in the morning at the beach sometimes and then work out together (which is somewhat work), or we all go on a long hike to clear the mind, which is also work as on the last hike we combined it with shooting some new course material.
One of the qualities I admire about you is your openness and candidness. Last year you wrote a piece touching on failed expectations and the reality of your current situation. Not an easy thing to share I’m sure. However, I think we both have the same philosophy that true failure is when you give up. In all actuality, your hard work has led to thousands of subscribers to your YouTube channel, a vibrant and active community in your Facebook group, and increasing sales of your books. Do you feel like you’re on the cusp of something great?
Yes, I believe in being open and sharing rather than to portray everything is picture perfect. Many years ago I had a vision and decided that I was going to make it a reality, I’ve never stopped since, and I never will, no matter what. I’m very stubborn when it comes to doing what I say. It’s one life lesson I tried to teach my son, always do what you say you will do and people won’t have any reason to mistrust you. The YouTube channel is growing and each month the growth is multiplied, the same with the kettlebell books, online kettlebell courses, and kettlebell communities, so yes, I do believe that something will give at some stage soon.
You brought something to my attention that never crossed my mind before as it pertains to kettlebell sport. That being footwear, which you’re not really a fan of! Are there really no official competitions that don’t require shoes? Seems a bit odd to me. No shoes, no shirt, no kettlebells!
As far as I’m aware there are none like that, it’s all pretty much done in the same old fashion as they were in Russia. Slowly some slightly new things are becoming popular, but it’s all slow, it’s only recently that women were allowed to compete in kettlebell sport. It’s one of the things I’d like to change as well, but at the moment my priority is making enough income to sustain the business and have something to live off as well. Get more Cavemantrainers on board as well. Once that is sorted I can devote myself to marketing some of the ideas I’ve had. A while ago I started promoting some unconventional kettlebell competitions which feature exercises and combinations that have never been used in sport, but are incredibly hard and challenging, hence, perfect to use for competition. They’re all unique combination that can be judged, i.e. they’re not just some random exercises put together just to have something new.
I think a lot of people still believe that no shirt means you want to show off your guns and body, yes, of course, even myself sometimes feel like showing off what I worked hard for. But the majority of the time it’s really all about comfort for me. Working out with a sweaty shirt (I sweat a lot) that just obstructs my movement and breathing is not my favorite way to train.
“If you ever see me train with shoes on,
it’s because I’m forced to do so” – Taco Fleur
Speaking of apparel and gear. I’d like to get your opinion on workout gloves. Yay or nay? I hardly ever see any trainers using them. However, they’ve helped me significantly in reducing blisters and callouses. Is it just a matter of technique or experience/conditioning to prevent these things? A little bit of both?
I would never recommend gloves and yes I would say that if someone is training with gloves they’re usually not working to get the technique right but just to get the reps in. Gloves can be used if you’ve made a mistake and have blisters, it’s also used before competitions to be able to train closer to comp day but not run the risk of getting blisters, but these are people that already have the technique down. With the average kettlebell workout there is definitely no need to get ripped hands, in fact, there is no need for pain at all when the technique is right. As for callouses, there will always be some callouses that will develop, that is just a given, and it needs to be maintained to prevent it from becoming too hard, crack, or rip.
What’s the kettlebell culture like over in Spain? Are many people familiar with them? In the U.S. we’re starting to see more kettlebell gyms pop up each year. However, there still isn’t much awareness and the perception to some that they are a gimmick or a fad still persists.
There isn’t much real kettlebell work here, there are kettlebells in every CrossFit gym but they are used for the same thing over and over again, and mostly taught by trainers who really have no real idea on how to work with the kettlebell. It’s very rare to see a good CrossFit gym with a good kettlebell trainer, but they do exist. As for kettlebells outside of CrossFit, they’re very rare.
Your kettlebell training group on Facebook features members of all experience levels. People are sharing their own videos, stories and accomplishments. I find it amazing that all of the comments I’ve seen are supportive and encouraging. There is no sense of superiority, elitism or negativity. Would you attribute this to the many benefits that kettlebells offer? The fitness world can be intimidating but I’ve noticed there is a wide diversity among kettlebell trainers, athletes, and enthusiasts.
There is some bitching going on in the kettlebell world and there are some really nasty people too, but the great thing is that I can kick them out. I have kicked plenty of people out because they bring nothing but negativity. They like to think it’s because I can’t handle having someone better, someone with bigger muscles, or someone faster in the group, but I think deep down they know this is not true. If you look at the groups now you’ll find some really amazing talent in there, people doing things I can only dream of. So yeah, the reason the group is so good and positive is because I moderate it together with my team and we caution people politely with good reason and try to make them understand, give them another chance, but if they keep being negative, closed-minded, and only thinking about themselves, well, then it’s bye-bye. I’ve had some well-respected kettlebell guru’s in the group but some were just pushing one thing only, i.e. nothing else was good, which doesn’t fly with me, then I had one whose only answer ever was “get a trainer” if someone asked for help, I had one who could not sensibly debate the squat versus hip hinge swing, and the list goes on. As long as they’re helping others and can debate things like a sensible adult then the group is theirs to use.
Thanks for taking the time to answer all of these questions. I’d like to reserve this last one as a spot to share anything you’d like. Whether that be advice, a new endeavor you’d like to promote, or simply a message.
That’s awesome. One endeavor I’m really excited about is the Caveman Inner Circle, it’s a group of just 50 people that have access to a private Facebook group and they get access to all Cavemantrainers for advice, assessment, but above all, they get to do one new unique kettlebell workout each week, they get all the details for it, the progressions, scaling, alternatives, and they get to ask questions. They also get access to the full uncut/raw footage of the workout we perform so they can workout as they watch it. The YouTube channel will then only get the cut down version and a bit of the info about it.
As for advice or message. I believe no one is ever too old to get fitter, ever! I believe that anyone can do anything if they really want it and set their mind to it. I believe that health and happiness start with understanding yourself (body and mind), changing yourself, always improving, and that nutrition is key to just about everything. I know that sounds hocus pocus, but I’ve been analyzing myself over the years. What you eat/drink affects your performance, it affects your mood, it can even change you drastically (think drinking too much for too long), it affects how you heal, it affects how you think. Exercise is the second key and usually the path to good nutrition, it has the same benefits as nutrition but with nutrition being the first and exercise being the second. The mind is just as important too and I believe if you get those two previous ones right the next layer you’ll unlock is the mind. You can’t unlock a cloudy mind that needs to look after an unhealthy body.