December 08, 2019
We reached out to Scott Viala of Viala Training in Kelowna, BC to ask him some interesting and important questions about his background in fitness, his current steel mace & kettlebell training, and much more.
He made a video answering all of the questions and it’s definitely a must-watch. We hope you find his answers as captivating as we did. He gives some incredible insight into his own training methods, like how he incorporates the mace into his regimen, why he trains barefoot, and his diet which contains a whole lot of elk. He also talks about his personal training approach, and if you’ve seen him on Instagram, you know he has an outstanding client roster.
So, if you are a personal trainer or an unconventional fitness enthusiast who wants to see an impressive steel mace and kettlebell specialist’s course of action, definitely pay attention.
For those who prefer reading and just want to scroll through, we’ve transcribed the entire Q&A below.
1. Could you tell us about how you got involved in Steel Mace Training? (Time: 0:15 - 1:50)
2. How do you incorporate steel mace into your training? How do you incorporate the steel mace into your client's training? (Time: 1:50 - 2:50)
3. How do you feel the steel mace complements kettlebell training? How does it complement your other training? (Time: 2:50 - 3:50)
4. What are the reactions of your clients when they first train with a steel mace? (Time: 3:55 - 4:45)
5. What, if any, are misconceptions of the sport of steel maces? What area of steel mace training do you think should be more researched? (Time: 4:50 - 8:43)
6. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got into training/fitness? (Time: 8:45 - 10:54)
7. What’s your go-to music for working out? (Time: 11:05 - 11:45)
8. Training barefoot, why do you do it? (Time: 11:45 - 12:45)
9. Do you have a training philosophy and if so, what is it? (Time: 12:50 - 13:55)
10. What does your diet look like, and what’s your favorite food, cheat meal or anything? (Time: 14:00 - 15:10)
11. What do you and your clients think of SET FOR SET’s steel maces? (Time: 15:12 - 17:25)
So I’ve been doing steel mace training for about 6 and a half years, maybe a little bit longer. I remember the very first time that I saw steel mace training. It was on Youtube actually. It was with Mark deGrasse. He used to have a magazine called My Mad Methods, so he had a bunch of different things on there - kettlebell training, steel mace training…all about unconventional training - and I remember seeing him swing around a mace doing some 360s. I remember seeing that and thinking “That is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, and that’s something I’m missing in my training”.
So, I picked up a sledgehammer that I had, and I tried to replicate what I saw mark do. It went over alright but the sledgehammer was rather light. So I remember I ordered my very first steel maces, a 25LB mace and a 7LB mace. Around that time I was doing a lot of strongman training and I remember I did a 625LB farmer walk for 75-80 feet or something like that. So, if I could do that kind of farmer walk, a 25LB steel mace would be nothing. So, that was one of the most humbling things I’ve ever done, trying to do a 360 with a 25LB steel mace and not knowing any of the form properly. It definitely checked my ego rather quickly
So, ya that was my very first introduction to the steel mace.
I use the steel mace every single training session, with myself and with my clients as well. I probably do over 50 sessions with clients each week. In every one of those sessions, in some shape or form, my clients are using the steel mace.
So some of that might be for mobility training, warm-up, and we also do a majority of our strength training with steel maces. So, heavy 360s, heavy 10-to-2s, and things like that.
And for myself, about the same thing. I also do a lot of mace movement stuff like steel mace complexes. But probably my favorite thing to do with the steel mace is really heavy 360s and 10-to-2s. That for me builds such insane rotational strength, which is probably one of the most underlooked things in sports training (and fitness). Rotational strength is really underutilized.
I don’t do the traditional lifts too often, but every once in awhile I like to test myself just to see where I am at. I do about 90% kettlebell and steel mace training and 10% other accessory stuff, whether it be sled training, trap bar deadlifts, hip thrusters, things like that.
When I don’t do a deadlift for a while, and I go back to it, I’m always so surprised by how much stronger I’ve gotten. And that’s all from heavy steel mace training and heavy kettlebell lifts.
So I think steel mace training goes hand in hand with pretty much any type of training. Just the core strength that you get from rotation with the steel mace is unparalleled. I don’t think that there is anything else that can compare to working and building all of those stabilizer muscles as the steel mace does.
So some people are super excited to get started but a lot of people are really nervous about it because who’s ever swung a piece of steel around their head? But people get quite addicted to it. Once they start doing a 360 and 10-to-2, and getting those movements down and really learning the skill of it, they get almost obsessed with mace training and that’s all they want to do.
I’ve trained so many people over the years with the steel mace. Honestly, once they get it down and get open to the mace, they absolutely love it. You know, once they get that first impression, like “ok, I’m not going to hit my head or back with the mace”, because we focus on proper form, everyone absolutely loves mace training.
I think too many people that aren’t skilled to train the steel mace are training clients with steel maces.
So someone picks up a mace and starts swinging it, then they begin to implement mace training with their clients when they do know the basics of how to do a proper 360 and things like that. And I get it that people want to do that really cool flow thing, but if you don’t have the basics yourself, how are you going to train someone else to do steel mace flows and things like that.
You know this doesn’t apply to everyone out there of course, but with Instagram you see so much of it and I just think that before you train a client to do steel mace work, steel mace flows, or whatever the case may be, you need to have those fundamentals down yourself. And a two-day training course isn’t enough to teach you how to do steel mace stuff properly in terms of implementing it properly with clients.
This reminds me. One of the first kettlebell certifications I did years and years ago, after we finished, the instructor said “Now you guys are certified, but if I see you guys doing kettlebell boot camps or kettlebell classes on Monday, you are going to have a talking to”. Because, even though you’ve done that certification, it doesn’t mean you can train people right off the hop. So I think you have to really hone the skill of it and then slowly implement it. That’s just my views but it’s a little bit different for everybody.
As for the other part of the question, what misconceptions…
So for those who’ve never tried the steel mace and they see me at my gym doing 360s with clients, there very first thought is “I can’t do that, that’s going to tear my rotator cuff” or “I have shoulder injuries, I can’t swing that thing”. This is actually the total opposite.
Many people come to me with shoulder issues, and once they start swinging a lighter mace and then getting more incorporated with rotations, almost all of their shoulder issues go away.
So, most people looking in think “that’s going to tear my shoulder up”, which to be fair could happen if you aren’t doing the movement properly and you are overloading with too much weight, but if you are with a trained professional, someone who has been doing it for a while, and you are learning how to do that movement properly, there’s not going to be any issues. If anything, you are going to have stronger, more mobile shoulders.
Here’s a perfect example. Back in the day, I use to do a lot of heavy lifting. Heavy shoulder presses with my absolute favorite. I would just load up, load up, load up, and I remember I worked up to double 110 for seated military press, and that F’ck up my shoulders so much. I tore my rotator cuff, and I think it had to do from that really heavy overhead press, and for the longest time my left shoulder had a lot of imbalances and I would try to do different kettlebell movements, like a snatch, I couldn’t properly stack my shoulder. BUT once I started incorporating steel mace training, all of those imbalances went away and my shoulders are so strong, so mobile now, and I can be strong in any kind of position. I owe all that to proper steel mace training.
I’ve been a personal trainer for over 13 years. I started off with more classic training - bodybuilding, powerlifting, a little bit more sport specific stuff.
I am from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada. A lot of people might not know where that is. It’s as north as north can be in Canada. Not a lot going on there.
I moved to Kelowna, BC about 3 1/2 years ago and that change for me has been absolutely awesome. We are starting December and it’s still beautiful out. So it’s such a huge change from Saskatchewan to Kelowna, and I haven’t looked back.
So, a little bit more depth into my training…
I’ve trained under some of the very best strength and conditioning coaches in the world.
Johnathon Chamber is someone who’s really changed my outlook on training. He was George St-Pierre’s strength and conditioning coach. I trained under him for quite a while [in Montreal]. He changed my outlook from being bodybuilding to more sports-specific training. Spending time with him and training under him and with him changed my outlook immensely. When I got back to Saskatchewan after training with him, my whole mindset changed. That really broadened my horizon so much, because at that time I thought training was really about building muscle, and I didn’t know about these other things. So, when I got back from Montreal, it really opened my eyes and I started looking for different types of training, and that’s what lead me to kettlebell training and then steel mace training. I was looking for more and was trying to get more knowledge.
I always have a few things on the playlist. Spotify is key, no question. I’m usually always listening to Rancid, Transplants, a lot of old school punk like The Clash. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Nirvana and Slipknot. Also, on the total opposite end, I listen to things like Drake, which is always good. It all depends on what kind of mood I’m in, but usual Rancid, Slipknot, Rage Against the Machines. Any of these get me pumped up.
So, I’ve been training with bare feet for 7 or 8 years, maybe a little bit longer. I had the Vibram five fingers shoes, which I really liked, but I’d so much rather train barefoot. You just feel so much more connected and rooted to whatever the exercise is that you are doing. Doing a deadlift or a kettlebell swing barefoot you can really dig your heels and toes in and it just feels so much more natural.
So many people are wearing big, soft, cushy running training shoes, and you can see it in their form. When a client comes to me and they have thick heels on their training shoes, and they go from that to training barefoot, they notice such a difference.
Consistency. That is the best thing you can do. Working out of a big gym, you see so many people come and go and I see so many people fall short because they are not consistent. They come in and go balls to the wall for a month, two months, or six months, whatever it may be, then they take time off away from the gym for a month or two months, then they come back to square one and they have to build themself up again.
Now, not every day has to be a killer training session, but if you go in and do the work and keep on hammering, that consistency time over time will help you build, build, build.
You know I didn’t have a lot of time today, I had a sh*tload of clients and I had to record this video, but I still made time for my training, so I did a nice little circuit training with steel maces and kettlebells. I got everything in, including my warm-up, in 45 mins. Then I was ready for clients.
I’m not too huge on cheat meals but I do have a cheat meal I like. I absolutely love Denny’s. Get me a Grand Slam, Denny pancakes, and that’s probably my favorite thing. Other than that, I eat pretty much the same all the time. And I love the foods I eat. I eat elk, and that’s probably my favorite thing, raw fruits, vegetables, sweet potato, lots of nuts, lots of berries. I just eat healthily. I don’t have a “keto” thing, but I do fire off with higher fats. High fats, high protein and moderate carbohydrates. That keeps me in shape year-round. And that keeps me energized too. Just a nice clean, healthy diet. Nothing against cheat meals, I just love what I eat and I love staying consistent. Consistency again. But if I’m going to have a cheat meal, you best believe we are goin' to Denny’s.
I would never support something unless I believe it, and I absolutely believe in SET FOR SET’s steel maces. I have honestly every single brand of steel maces, probably six or seven different ones. I love to try out different ones. See what it’s like, see what my clients like, and then get those maces.
When I first tried out SET FOR SET’s maces, I was actually blown away. Very well balanced. The grip on the mace is my absolute favorite.
I have some maces that are rather aggressive, I don’t mind it so much, but if you are doing more movement with it, it does tear up the hands a little bit. And if you client that is first coming into steel mace training, and they use the maces with really aggressive grip, it does turn them off a little bit from mace training because they are not used to having their hands torn up, although it does come with the territory.
Then some maces are too slick. Almost little to no gripping at all. So I think the SET FOR SET steel mace is kind of right smack dab in the middle. It’s not too aggressive of a grip, there’s just enough of it where you don’t have to really death grip it to do a long set of 360s to 10-to-2s. So I think the grip is one of the things that really separates SET FOR SET’s steel mace from one of the more larger companies. And then the matte black just looks slick.
Steel maces in general, I think everyone should be using them. My personal favorite is SET FOR SET steel maces and that is because of the grip. Also, they have a decent price point too. So anyone can really afford to get started. Buy a couple of maces - 10LB, 15LB or 20LB mace - and with that, you can really start to get a good foundation, for home training or brining into your gym.
Get yourself some SET FOR SET Steel Maces
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