Open Letter to Valery Fedorenko
Update 2019: Valery has contacted me personally, apologized and said the people responsible for the debacle no longer work for him. He offered to send a case of VF wrist bands to take down the post, which I declined.
Dear Valery Fedorenko,
I’m writing this letter to you in the hope that you take the information and improve your service to others. Before continuing I will need to clear something up, because I know it will be thrown in my face, yes I run online kettlebell courses myself, no this letter is not to discredit a competitor, I don’t even look at your company as a competitor as you’re in the business of Kettlebell Sport, I’m not, and never will be.
Second, let me be clear that I respect your achievement in the kettlebell sport world, there is no doubt that you know your stuff, this is the reason I paid you big bucks, to learn from you. I’m very disappointed in the material you have provided, but I’ll get into detail on that later. Your program is advertised as:
Kettlebell Professional – A thorough grounding in Kettlebell Lifting, far surpassing anything else offered in the kettlebell industry.
Our highly interactive study program includes video seminars, live tutorials, written and video submissions and plenty of 1:1 input from assessors and Valery Fedorenko.
“The candidates will each have scheduled contact with WKC® Assessors and Valery Fedorenko himself”
Let me define Study and Program so there is no confusion there.
Study = the devotion of time and attention to gaining knowledge of an academic subject, especially by means of books.
Program = a set of related measures or activities with a particular long-term aim.
To study, one needs study material, all I ever received from your company is a PDF called ProfessionalManual1.1-1.6v2.pdf which is 13 pages short. Most of it is fluff, promotional photos, introduction, and short instructions for the course, but no detailed exercise explanation.
On page five it gets interesting because it tells me that I need to understand the six points of racking, the double dip, and why two arm swings are not in the program.
- Till this day I have not been provided the information as to why the 2 arm swing is not in the program, I understand why it’s not, but if you’re going to expect me to know something, you would think you’d cover it in your material.
- You’re offering me something that is going to surpass anything else offered in the kettlebell industry, but what? You’ve only provided me six point of racking in 58 words. I’ve written a free article that covers more information about racking than these 58 words, how is that going to surpass anything else offered in the kettlebell industry?
- You cover nothing on the double dip, nothing, but again that and the six point of racking is what I’m supposed to understand.
Page seven out of thirteen, I see something interesting “Focus on Swing”, thanks, that’s great stuff. Lets focus on swing with the 11 points on the swing you provide in a total of just over 100 words, only telling me ‘sort of’ what to do, not why to do it. I’ve written one thousands words on just the foundation of the conventional kettlebell training swing, the hip hinge, how can you, the company that has sold me something that is going to surpass anything else offered in the kettlebell industry, cover something so important in 11 dot points with just over 100 words?
Page seven, what does this even mean as one of the coaching cues for the swing? “Hook grip introduced”, I know what a hook grip is, as again, I have written an 30+ page ebook on grips. Yes I’m taking the opportunity to push my free ebook out, because you failed to cover it in an expensive PROFESSIONAL course other than with “Hook grip introduced”.
Page seven, there is a safety tip, it’s about 30 words and mentions starting with light weight, well thanks, especially since none of you have asked me about any injuries, ever! I know I might sound like I’m trying to promote my online course and just talking shit, but that’s not the case, I’m just very disillusioned by the lack of quality in the course that I thought would turn me into a kettlebell professional. Aah yes, what I was going to say was, I have a whole page and section with countless of questions about injuries for my students, it’s not that hard to do, it’s common sense, it’s the first thing you do before you even ask someone to pick up a kettlebell isn’t it?
The rest of the document covers the lifts which I’m supposed to film and provide (in the correct order and not one second longer than 60 seconds per lift, god forbid) each lift has a whole 20 to 40 words to help me learn that what is going to turn me into a kettlebell professional. The jerk has a whole 33 words describing this easy movement (sarcasm).
Great thing is though, the document comes with a video, which if I’m lucky I can get access to, because someone decides to put a password on it, then take it away and give it back again. But when I do have access I’m glad I got great analytical skills, because that’s what you’ve sold me, a do it yourself course, consisting of: watch this video, analyse it, and then film yourself doing exactly the same thing, not one inch off. It could have been a great video if it provided information, yes demonstration is great, but to study —study, not analyse— one needs information.
But wait, there is also this: video seminars, live tutorials and plenty of 1:1 input from assessors and Valery Fedorenko. The few emails (1:1 input) I did get aren’t much different than the professional PDF I got, couple of words. But I completely understand that your whole concept is not to teach, not to provide information, but to upsell one on one time with your trainers. Not a problem if you sold the course like that, but you didn’t.
The live tutorial was also a shock, when I got the PDF I was shocked, I laughed, I laughed hard, I mean how can a 13 page PDF provide all the information on some of the most complicated lifts in kettlebell lifting, right? But then I saw the word tutorial, I was like “yeah, this is going to be good, I get to see my assessor via Skype and she will explain everything to me that I was expecting when I paid the big bucks for this course. I mean, the definition of tutorial is “a period of tuition given by a university or college tutor to an individual or very small group.”. But like everything else, the tutorial was another big disappointment, again, it wasn’t for learning, because that’s what the upsell of one on one time is for.
It doesn’t stop with the quality of your material, your staff is lacking people and communication skills, well, I should say the one staff member I dealt with, as I only dealt with Mandy. Not sure how Mandy is in real life, could be a great person, who knows, I don’t, as I only got see the stone cold German side of her. Any Skype call was extremely unpleasant (confirmed by multiple people listening in), and my initial contact with her gave me the feeling that she had checked me out —she said she did— and saw that I already did stuff with kettlebells, that all gave me the feeling that she thought I would be acting like I know it all, but that’s the complete opposite, I was there to learn, I was ready to receive information, I was ready to be moulded into a kettlebell professional and enter the world of kettlebell sport. I never act like I know it all, no matter who you are, I believe there is always something to learn, especially from a world champion.
Besides the attitude, there was never a follow up, mostly a “surprised to hear from you after that long!”, like a “are you still here, quit already”. You know what, if you don’t hear from someone who enrolled in your course for a while, guess what you do? I bet you have already guessed what I’m going to say. You’re right, you follow up with them, you ask them if there is anything I can do to help, is everything ok? Not once! If you did, you would have learned about the difficulties we went through living in Vietnam, then Thailand and finally moving to Spain where I had to move three times as well, you would have learned about the neck injury I sustained during a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu match, you would have learned how that injury moved to my lower back and how I was unable to move at all for more than two weeks, you would have learned how that injury still affects me with some of the work we do on the videos.
Lets also talk about this amazing gadget you forced me to buy for another $200, the fixometer, if you require me to buy something, you should notify me before paying for the course, not after, if you require me to buy something, you should be able to tell me what the hell it’s for and how to work it. Ms Mandy kindly (or rather not very kindly) directed me to the company website (which does not work, nor has info) for information on this high tech gadget, so I’m stuck with a gadget that has not been explained to me what it’s for, when we’ll be using it, how I can use it, and neither does anyone want to tell me.
She was very annoyed with the fact our internet connection was super slow (I was in Vietnam, a shark bit the international cable) and super rude when asking for a telephone number to call directly rather than skype, sure, I can understand the reason not wanting to give out a personal telephone number, but I asked for “a telephone number”, either way, what about a company telephone number, or just decline politely?
Couple of other examples where I believe your services can improve:
1. I knew nothing about Kettlebell Sport when starting this course, absolutely nothing, but it was assumed I did. Don’t assume. The material is lacking anything about GS, I still don’t know if I signed up for a kettlebell training or kettlebell sport course, since you were a world champion GS I assumed it was a kb sport course… but don’t rely on assumptions.
2. I knew nothing about the fixometer, but again it was assumed I did, when asked for information I was directed to the manufacturers website. I don’t even know what it does, well, I have some idea now, but it was like pulling teeth to get information. I was directed to your website, which I went to and then pointed out that the links did not work, did not get a reply to that.
3. I had questions initially, but was told to ask you directly, questions I thought would be very important to get an answer to before just doing as told. I had questions like, why is your upper back so rounded on the back swing, I was just mimicking this eventually, without knowing the ‘why’. Till this day I never got to speak to you, or able to ask you questions since someone was enable to pass them on.
I’m actually very surprised that no one else has come forward about your course material, I really am, but then again, I think some people might be intimidated, who knows. Not me.
No I’m not angry because you have failed me on almost everything I submitted via video, I expected that, that is exactly how it should work, and is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to learn, to do so I need to know what I did wrong and how I can improve, this is where your company has failed again.
I am a bit upset about how I get a 3 month notice, mind you, only after I made contact, not vice versa, and submit my video within a couple of weeks of getting notice, then it was clear I was almost there, almost had analysed your video enough times to understand what you were doing and what I needed to do, hell, I even downloaded videos of you doing the exercises, and then played them next to my video performing the same exercises, we were in sync, it was great! I’ll be posting that later. Anyways, so I submit these videos which I know would be accepted, because we were in sync remember, then I get this email back
“Many thanks for your email. I was however rather surprised to hear from you as you are no longer on my books. According to my records, in August of this year you were given three months in which to complete your course and that expired 18 November. I cannot require Valery (or any other member of the team here) to view submissions by students no longer on our books.
If you wish to re-enrol in order to complete the course you will need to email email@example.com. Otherwise I wish you every success in your future lifting.”
Isn’t that lovely, you took me off the books without any notice again and you’re trying to sell me the same amazing course again.
What I think you failed to realize is that after submitting my videos within given time-frame I got this email from another one of your staff members (seemed like an ok guy btw)
“I recommend not submitting more until YOU are fairly sure you are accomplishing the goal of that section, then we will see what VF and your assessor say about it.”
so he basically said, don’t submit before you’re damn sure, and I did. Enough on that.
Again, let me stress that I have nothing but respect for your achievements, there is no way I can do it better, or even come close in my lifetime, you’re awesome at lifting, but you very clearly miss the skills to teach online.
I really wanted to learn from you, I thought you were a cool guy (might still turn out to be), what a shame.
Please note that I have spoken to your staff about my concerns, I had clearly told her that we could just settle without a fuzz, no worries about all the time I wasted, all good, just provide a refund. I also gave 48 hours for a reply, I have actually given an extra day because that’s how I am, but no reply, no nothing. That leaves me only with this letter, I had no choice.
If anyone wants to talk, you know where I can be reached. In fact, lets see how long it will take before you do contact me. I give you a week, and then I’ll prepare all this for the right consumer organisation in the US.