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President and Director
As the Founder and Director of IKFF, Steve Cotter draws from an extensive and diverse background as a champion athlete and cutting-edge trainer to develop some of the most complete and exciting programs in strength and conditioning today.
Throughout his lifelong study, Steve continues to research and implement the most effective training methods in kettlebells, martial arts, qigong, strength and conditioning, athletics and human performance fields. He constantly improves his skills and abilities to benefit, teach and motivate you.
Named to Men's Health Magazine's "100 Fittest Men of All-Time", Cotter shares his years of experience as a martial artist, world-class athlete and fitness coach to design and supervise programs for those who take their training seriously. While each client is unique, a common theme always presents itself in Steve's training programs; an unyielding focus, unparalleled intensity and precise attention to detail.
Working tirelessly to share his passion for teaching as well as fitness and heatlh, Steve teaches on 6 continents and has developed qualified kettlebell fitness instructors representing over 40 nations and growing.
-Consultant to several professional sport teams, including NFL's San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers and MLB's Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics and LA Dodgers
Samantha Benzi Cotter
Vice President and International Director of Operations
Samantha Benzi Cotter is Vice-President and IKFF International Director of Operations.
She is responsible for overseeing several of the diverse facets of IKFF, including media development, educational development, public relations, product development and member services.
She also assists her husband Steve, the founder, director and head instructor of IKFF, in teaching many of the international CKT courses and provides online follow-up support to some students that weren't able to complete certification requirements at the CKT course. Students who are unable to complete CKT requirements during the course, have a 3 month grace period in which to practice, train and show the necessary improvements before resubmit the test online. Samantha assists those students who need it throughout this process.
Mrs. Benzi Cotter’s training in a wide array of specializations enables her to use her broad experience base to better serve the IKFF and Wellness communities globally.
Her training and educational background includes:
IKFF CKT Level 1 and 2
Extensive ballet and classical dance training
Professional Dog Trainer
Volunteer in animal shelters
Pedagogy and Psychology Studies
Samantha is guided by some core philosophies:
Don't let your past failures and weaknesses define you, use them to refine you.
If you believe you a have problem, it's actually your attitude that is the 'problem' and your attitude depends entirely upon you.
Samantha was "blessed" with a rarely diagnosed disorder called neurophlogosis, literally inflammation of central nervous system, a sensitization of the central nervous system that causes the brain and the bone marrow to sends strong signals of pain and inflammatory responses to different areas of the body to prevent moving in order to protect the body from further damage.
This pain was so severe at a point that she had to stay in bed for months not walking, with doctors offering only strong painkillers and anti-inflammatories ( not helpful at all since neurophlogosis is a central nervous system issue) and suggesting surgeries to her herniated disks without guaranteeing results.
The original injuries that caused the onset of the neurophlogosis where related to extensive long-distance running injures, which she ignored to the point of causing 7 herniated disks. These disc herniations were further aggravated through her work in the volunteer shelter dog rehab work she was actively involved in.
Fortunately, she found a great physiatrist after years in deep pain, MD Luigi Baratto of Italy, a leader in this field, through whose treatments is keeping the pain under control effectively now. This intense and painful experience led Samantha to research more and has taught her to listen to and respect the body more and aim for the long term, progressive and steady progress.
This insight truly is a blessing in disguise and has helped her develop into a trainer who sympathizes with the struggles of people in pain, and understands how to push her students to their healthy limits but not beyond, by focusing extreme attention on proper technique and avoiding unnecessary damage to the body.
Her personal motto is: "A good coach will push you beyond your mental boundaries, not your physical ones".
Mrs. Benzi Cotter is available to set up domestic and international events, sponsorships and media inquiries.
You can address to her any kind of IKFF related issues with contact information below:
Skype : sambenzi
Director of Kettlebell Sport
Facebook: Arsenij Zhernakov
Arsenij Zhernakov, Ph.D(Tech) is one of the most titled KB-lifters. He is a current world record holder in LC32 65kg – 68reps (2003, IGSF). Many times World and Russian national champion he is one of 12 athletes in history who achieved the highest sport rank – Honored Master of Sport of Russia (HMS) – the origin land of KB sport and recent undisputable world leader.
Arsenij Zhernakov pays great attention to science studies in areas of endurance increase and brain processes to create brand new instruments for athletes to became more strong both physically and mentally.
International Team Leader/Head Master Trainer/Director of KB Competitons
An all around fitness and martial arts training expert, Ken Blackburn is the Interntional Team Leader with the International Kettlebell & Fitness Federation. As the Team Leader and Head IKFF Master Trainer, Kens travels all over the US and internationaliy teaching IKFF workshops and the very popular The CKT (Certified Kettlebell Teacher) instructor course, as well as helping Steve to develop the international IKFF Team leadership.
His background in the martial arts has created a unique approach to training where the emphasis is on balanced conditioning while developing high levels of mobility and athleticism.
Ken is also one of the top American kettlebell competitors and is the North American Record Holder in the Chair Press. In addition to his high-level and well-round athleticism, Ken is a superb and patient coach and teacher, whose friendly and caring demeanor always puts studnets at ease, creating the relaxed, comfortable learning atmosphere that accelearate the learning and understanding so vital to the educational process.
In addition to his man other talents, Ken is the IKFF Director of Kettlebell Sport Competitions, organizing the very popular IKFF Kettlebell Sports events, which have become the most popular and most well-attended KB Sport events in North America.
“I had the fantastic opportunity to work with one of the best instructors ever, Ken Blackburn!
Coming into my first real experience with KBs I had no idea what to expect... how hard they would be or how detailed the form is... My initial thought was, this looks easy, haha, boy was I wrong! It looked easy due to the fact that Ken made it look effortless.
As I progressed through the first day of my certification I was happy to learn from Ken and have his expertise available to me.
.After the fantastic warm-up of agility, mobility and stretching movements, led by Ken, I was excited to see what else I would pick up from his coaching and direction.
Ken has an easy going personality that makes it fun to learn... Even as 'large and in charge' as he is, he comes across with an ease that anyone could learn from and feel good about themselves. Ken is very approachable and listens before he answers, which in my book is extremely important!
Even though the KBs were the reason for my attending the course, I thoroughly enjoyed the warm-up that Ken led. I wish I could do that everyday with him leading; I am sure I would have less neck and joint aches!
I highly recommend Ken as an instructor... he is one of a kind. With that said, I still can't keep the image of him in the splits with the biggest KB overhead! Now, if I could just get him to point his toes... LOL!
IFBB Fitness Olympia Champion/IFBB ProFigure
“Ken’s detailed knowledge of fitness in general, and kettlebells specifically should earn him the nickname ‘Professor’, because I consider him more knowledgeable than many of the doctorate level instructors I have known through the years. I am lucky to have someone like Ken in my 'backyard' because Michigan needs more people like him in the fitness industry.”
“My hat’s off to Ken; he is among the best physical instructors I have ever met. He keeps things so simple, is perceptive, and can highlight enough of your strengths, and weaknesses, within a single session that you will learn more in an hour with him than months of practice on your own.”
“His training tools and methods are phenomenal, which are accompanied by his respectable fitness knowledge. Through his teaching methods and role modeling I have become a better-conditioned athlete. Ken has shown me a whole new aspect of training that I never knew was possible. I highly recommend taking advantage of an opportunity to work with Ken and the kettlebells!”