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From 397 lbs to RKC Dynamo, Interview with Carolyn Taylor Harris

RKC With Carolyn Get-Up
Dragon Door: You recently earned your RKC with Dan John, but it sounds like it was quite the journey! How did you get started?

Carolyn Taylor Harris: Since moving to Colorado eight years ago, I've gone through a lot. My lifestyle changed, I started eating differently—and eating less. In Colorado, I was just naturally more active with walking, and hiking. And since it is so dry out here, I started drinking a lot more water. Just from these changes I lost a significant amount of weight.

Dragon Door: How did you get into kettlebells?

Carolyn Taylor Harris: One of the friends I met out in Colorado, Tyler Sonaty, noticed that I’d lost some weight and asked me if I wanted to take the next step. At the time, I didn’t really respond. Then I saw how a mutual friend was getting great body composition results, so I decided to reach out to him. We started training together twice a week. He really helped me find a greater understanding of nutrition—and how it’s not always a pleasurable thing, it’s refueling for a workout or life in general.
Carolyn Taylor Harris Before

If it were not for Tyler, I would not be who—or where—I am today. I’ve completely reevaluated myself mentally, physically, and spiritually. He’s become one of my best friends, and we continue to work out together. He's the reason I got into RKC, and we’ve even discussed maybe going to an RKC Level 2 certification together.

Tyler had always been into kettlebells and kettlebell sport, but about three years ago, he became very interested in RKC HardStyle. Because of his results, and the results his students were getting, he added them to my program. Kettlebells made sense to me right away, and I loved the results. I also loved the fact that I could do a 25-minute workout and feel like I’ve done a half marathon. It’s a full body strength and cardiovascular workout.

Dragon Door: How did you go from a student of kettlebell training to training for the RKC? Are you teaching now?

Carolyn Double KettlebellsCarolyn Taylor Harris: I will be teaching in the next month or two. Right now, I am gaining experience and applying what I learned at the RKC by training Ty twice a week for a month. Soon, I hope to lead some of the morning classes at Ty’s gym.

Because of my own physical transformation, kettlebell training is something want to share with everyone. I firmly believe that many of society’s issues can be alleviated or prevented with proper exercise and nutrition. I feel like I'm living proof. At my heaviest, I weighed 397 pounds and felt how that affected my mind and body. I don't want other people to go through that experience. I know what it's like to feel inadequate within my body, mind, and capabilities. So, I want to help people connect the dots and make their lives better the way Ty did for me.

Right now, I am also in school for integrative health. I want to be able to share the holistic mental and nutritional approach along with the strength and conditioning from kettlebell training. In this fast-paced world, I want people to know how simple a healthy lifestyle can be. Most people don’t have an hour and ten minutes three to four times a week. But, kettlebell training three to four days week for 30 minutes plus stretching will give results and a powerful workout.

Because of my history, lifestyle change, and transformation, many people in my life have asked me about what I’m doing. They want me to teach them how to do it and since I don’t want to give them misinformation, I feel like it’s very important that I educate myself.

Dragon Door: Along your way, did you find a favorite kettlebell exercise?

Carolyn Taylor Harris: It changes, but right now I’d say it’s the Turkish get-up. I firmly believe that they really got me ready for my certification. Even though I did a lot of swings, I also needed the strength to do 100 snatches in 5 minutes. Ty had me doing five-minute getups on each side without stopping twice a week for about two months. After that, I noticed a significant difference in the way I could hold a kettlebell above my head. I could also hold it for a lot longer as I progressively practiced it more and more and more. Get-ups are so much more of a full body workout in my opinion.
Carolyn Taylor Harris Get-Up

I started doing the five-minute get-ups with a 16kg kettlebell, and by the time of the RKC I'd moved up to using an 18kg for five minutes on each side. For the RKC Snatch Test, my weight class uses the 16kg, so training with the 18kg and having that extra 5lbs on top really helped me. It made the 16kg feel not so heavy.

Dragon Door: How did you feel about the RKC Snatch Test?

Carolyn Taylor Harris: My adrenaline kicked in and I was just like ooo! But, Tyler gave me that foundation, and taught me what I needed to focus on in my training to pass the test. At the test, it wasn’t even so much about the snatches, because I had the form down. Ty taught me what I needed to do with get-ups to really help me get every rep in the five-minute test.

Dragon Door: It's so important to train with a great coach! At the RKC workshop, were there any particular cues or lessons that especially stood out for you?

Carolyn Taylor Harris: The power of tension is really crucial—I think it’s the key to it all. There's so much strength that comes from tension. At the end of the tension, the mental and physical benefits from the relaxation of the body are just beyond the imagination.

I really appreciated how much Dan John talked about the tension and relaxation in the points he brought up. I think that tension is probably the most important tool when it comes to kettlebell training. I even achieved a personal best in a press by concentrating on the tension of my body!
RKC Colorado with Dan John Group Photo

Dragon Door: So, you've earned your RKC, you’re planning to lead classes and are working towards an Integrative Health degree... Sounds like you’re working on a new career as well!

Carolyn Taylor Harris: Ultimately, I'd like to help people and guide them to a better life and lifestyle. Once I’m in the groove of teaching kettlebells and have a little more time outside of school I plan to get certified as a personal trainer. It's a gradual process and getting my RKC was the first step. I want to educate people and to continue to educate myself.

Dragon Door: Since you’ve successfully changed your lifestyle and improved your health, do you have any advice for people who wish to do the same?

Carolyn Taylor Harris: I think it's really important to remember that not every day will be glory. I've dealt with some bad days in the gym and nutritionally. But, it’s important to remember that no matter what, keep working towards something positive that makes you feel better about yourself and that you want to share with everyone.

RKC With Carolyn Get-UpThe rough days are just part of the process. After an off day at the gym, with nutrition, or just in life, you can come back stronger the next day. With determination and willpower, you can make sure to do better the next day. Some people don't have that—and I used to be that person, which is how I got to be 400 pounds. I’d given up. But, when a circumstance or someone "flips that switch" for you it's such a powerful change!

Dragon Door: Kind of curious, in terms of "flipping the switch," how would you help someone bridge that mental gap?

Carolyn Taylor Harris: That's something I've been thinking about. I think I flipped that switch because of a lot of little things. Ty really focused on little goals, positive reinforcement, and keeping it very simple from the beginning. At first, most of my work was calisthenics or working with a TRX. When we focused on the nutrition, I lost water weight quickly. I could see the results and the benefits of the work I was doing.

I learned the hard way, but ultimately, I think the small triumphs made the difference. Ty told me, "I knew you were going to go really far when you would do simple things and get so excited about them. I knew you had the determination, appreciation, and gratitude not only for me, but for yourself."

I also think it's really important to remind yourself that you're human. The littlest things like doing a full range push-up from the ground are big. Some people might take something like that for granted because they've been able to do it their whole lives. But, I had to build up a lot of strength and mobility to get to that point. I think that's what makes me go even harder on other goals.

I used to be the person who wouldn't get on the floor because I was embarrassed about how I would have to get back up. Now, that's second nature. I'll sit on the floor or the ground before I'll sit on the couch. It's such a great feeling and it's hard to understand if you haven't been in those same shoes. But you can still celebrate these kinds of victories with someone when you’ve experienced any little triumphs as a human being.

RKCWithCarolynGetUpThumbnailCarolyn Taylor Harris, RKC will begin leading classes at Kompund Training Center for Mile High Athletics in May. Contact her at Follow her on Instagram: organichoneycrisp.