Ksenia in San Francisco
Imagine this surprise: Ksenia wanted to come to San Francisco to “vacation, maybe seminar, maybe not.” We were excited by the ambiguity and content to just go with the flow— no plans for sport camps, public seminars, or private lessons.
All of our experiences with “Ksenia Dedukhina, Master of Sport World Class” and “Ksenia Dedukhina, Absolute World Kettlebell Champion” up until now had been deeply connected to Kettlebell Sport. We spent time with her at a kettlebell camp in Greece, a world championship in NYC, a world championship in Chicago, and international GS competitions in Russia over the past 7 years. We learned valuable lessons by seeing her forge her way up the ranks–on YouTube initially and then several amazing times in person; yet we didn’t have a true opportunity to relax outside of this sporting context.
Since then online videos and international travel have also introduced us to the rest of the greatest Russian kettlebell athletes— particularly the female pioneers central to the dynamic success of Kettlebell Sport all over the world. Through the lens of the 24kg standard set by the Russian federation, two of these women, Anastasia Zolotareva and Ksenia, made history again by becoming the first female Honored Masters of Sport in kettlebell lifting, the equivalent to induction into the Hall of Fame of Sports in the US. “200 is ok, good. My father is very happy,” Ksenia said when describing the monumental achievement.
VACATION IN THE BAY
The woman who stepped off the plane at SFO is not the same Ksenia we knew at 19 years young. Today she is 25, happily married, earning a second degree in exercise science after agroengineering, and stands proudly on her own terms. Her quiet confidence has skyrocketed and so has her English, which immediately eased the long distance connection. Ksenia traveled here alone, ready for exploration and celebration. “I am so happy to be here too, it is my dream to come to San Francisco,” she shared on the ride home.
The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Marina and Crissy Field were some of the first stops. Beauty, health, fashion, and affluence against a spectacular backdrop of gorgeous SF landscape = The Bay wrapped-up in a hella pretty bow. “It is interesting,” Ksenia commented while munching on a cheesecake slice from Susie’s. Yes, perfect word, we agree. A spontaneous pit-stop at Lululemon with the latest version of hipster retail culture was a stark contrast to active wear sold to women in Chelyabinsk according to Ksenia.
Afterwards we drove down Lombard Street (for real). Ghiradelli Square then Fisherman’s Wharf rounded off the trip back to the East Bay.
Her first visit to the Ice Chamber was full of anticipation—all around. We had no training plans and there was no schedule, but having Ksenia in the gym everyday elevated the energy. “Training in the morning – it is ok?” Ksenia asked. Um, hell yes. It was effortless to integrate into the natural energy of the Ice Chamber in the mornings. Everyone stuck to their own training plans, classes went on as usual; we shared our space with her in whatever way she needed.
New parents Sarah and Selby, IC’ers fluent in Russian, took Ksenia on a tour of the East Bay which ended with a sushi dinner, one of her favorites.
Two days later, they graciously took her along with Steve to Chinatown, Coit Tower, Ocean Beach, and an authentic Russian Cafe in the inner Richmond where Ksenia was delighted to order Steve’s food: Borsch and Piroshki.
Ksenia hit all the major landmarks in record time due to our uncanny good luck finding places to park. She seemed to have a secret HMS VIP parking pass because it’s just not normal in San Francisco.
Did we mention Sarah and Selby also helped translate Ksenia’s in-house clinic on Saturday, too?
They gave Ksenia the best of their time, spirit, and friendship.
For a different American fitness experience, we wanted to take her to KTX, but it hasn’t reached California yet, so we took her to the other massive cycling trend popularized by Kelly Ripa, the Kardashians, and David Beckham instead.
If you haven’t tried it, imagine dancing in a nightclub—except on a stationary bike. “It is good to try different exercises for fun. I like this very much,” Ksenia remarked sprightly afterwards, “In Russia, training is so serious.” Later, she joked, “chalking a kettlebell is a little bit harder than soul cycle, I think.” Ksenia proved that not only can she rock the bell, she can rock a disco on a bike that goes nowhere.
There is no better way to get a feel for the diversity of our neighborhood than a trip to any nail salon for the first time. Bay Area comedy aside, Vivian and Kevin gave Ksenia the royal treatment as soon as they learned she was a professional athlete here to visit. “You don’t look like a weightlifter,” Kevin observed.
Kevin tried to set a new PR for Ksenia by removing her old shellac within ten minutes. Nope. He resorted to showing off his gold-plated cuff ring to impress her. “People say I am the ‘Master of Ombre Glitter,” he bragged. Ksenia agreed.
A night out at a club was the final turning point in the trip. It started with fresh organic grapefruit juice and Tito’s gluten-free handmade vodka from Austin, Texas (Mea, Lisa, and Joyce’s hometown juice).
The greyhounds in the bar on wheels over the Bay Bridge largely contributed to the photo below. (Of course we had a designated driver!)
Sayaka, her husband Nate, our brother Dado, and his girlfriend Kelly, planned the adventure for us per Ksenia’s request for electronic music. The night included an array of diverse characters from Silicon Valley high-tech nerds to SF hipsters to proud LGBTs to East Bay homegrown folk. Dancing to great music. Check. Hearing live singing paired with a cool live DJ. Check. Post-party french fries and donuts at 2AM. Check and check. Ksenia’s face on stage in the photo below tells the story better than words.
On a kettlebell-related note, Ksenia’s endurance really emerged the following day when she led a 5-hour Snatch clinic to a group of ICKB athletes, enthusiasts and dabblers.
The seminar included everything one would expect – Ksenia’s personal journey with the sport, lessons on Snatch fundamentals and common mistakes; tips for creating a collaborative coach-student relationship and an assessment of each participant’s technique.
Everyone was treated to a 10 min 20kg snatch demo with Melissa and Ksenia side-by-side, a rare occurrence to see in such an intimate setting. The video below is a humble salute to both of them.
Beyond all the special memories of the past week which are easy to capture in photos and highlights like the one you just read or saw on Instagram, we are grateful to have gotten to know Ksenia behind the world records and renowned accomplishments. She is someone who leads with self-assurance, graciousness and an openness to new people, places, and experiences. The trip was a culmination of friendship and community which is perhaps what has advanced the sport of kettlebell more than anything in the US.