Craig Sylvester - Founder


Hello, I'm Craig Sylvester.  I own Michigan Kettlebells Strength and Training Center with my wife Dawn Sylvester.

January 9th, 2018. I decided after 11 years as a Professional Firefighter-Medic it was time to retire. I was in EMS for 3 years prior to that. So after 14 years of seeing so many patients who had to call 911 because of their poor health choices. I had to make the leap and become a full-time gym owner, because I can truly help more people with their health than I could as a Firefighter. 

 Before that, I worked in corporate America. I decided I needed a change, which was easier to do after being laid off. So at the young age of 33, it was back to school. I became an EMT,  then a Paramedic, and finally went to the Fire Academy. This, plus 2 years of college are the minimum requirements for most full time Fire Departments in Metro Detroit. These licences allowed me to fill out applications with no guarantee of ever getting a job. While I was in EMT school I worked doing landscape installations, lots of digging and tree planting. It was then that I started to realize how useless many of the machines and exercises I did in the gym were. The "gym strength" did not transfer well to the work I was doing. I started to change my training while in the Fire Academy. I did more body weight exercises, then I discovered kettlebells. I could not believe what a workout I could get in my living room with only a 35 lb kettlebell! I started to look for more "underground" and "old school" methods of training. This led me to Zach Even-Esh The Underground Strength Coach.

What I learned from Zach is this. I learned a lot about business, and a lot about strength training, but the most important thing I learned was this. Never give up. Keep on going for your dream.This was, and still is invaluable to me. If not for meeting Zach, and all of the great people I met through him, opening my own gym, would still be just a dream, that "one day" might happen. I turned my garage into an underground style gym. Complete with kettlebells, logs, homemade sand bags and sleds. If it was heavy and awkward and hopefully free, I wanted it. My wife thought I'd lost my mind, when I came home with a 5 ft tall, 600 lb tire. I was getting the best workouts that I had in years. I saw on Facebook one day that an old friend who I lost contact with was in a kettlebell competition. I thought I was the kettlebell guy, as no one I talked to knew what one was at the time. So I saw there was a competition coming up in Novi.  So I entered it.....I realized there was a whole world of kettlebells that I knew nothing about.

Luckily for me, Ken Blackburn who was the competition organizer, the co-founder of the IKFF, and is one of the best kettlebell instructors in the country, lives in Fenton, MI. I contacted Ken, and became a Certified Kettlebell Teacher (CKT). I assisted Ken on multiple private CKT classes. It was an unbelievable learning experience and I am forever grateful to Ken. I knew it was time to open a gym when I realized that  I was missing a very important piece...YOU! I didn't have any clients, so I put ads on Facebook and contacted everyone I knew. Then in 2010 started a summer kettlebell boot camp in a local park. After the fourth class I signed a lease.  With a handful of students opened Michigan Kettlebells Strength & Training Center on Oct 1, 2010. Since then I completed a 2 day Ketttlebell sport coach certification with Ken's coach Sergey Rudnev, who is a multi World and Russian Champion. I also spent a day of body weight training with Steve Cotter, who is Ken's partner in the IKFF. I am always continuing my education through seminars, competitions, books, magazines, videos, emails, and social media. Michigan Kettlebells is not just a business, its my passion. I want everyone who comes through our doors to have an awesome experience. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope to meet and train with you soon.


Craig Sylvester

Derek Vercruysse - Coach

Derek gym.jpg

Derek has been at Michigan Kettlebells since the very beginning as member and after about a year, he became the first Coach we hired.

Derek is all things events from 5ks, Marathons, 24 hour events like GORUCK Heavy and The World's Toughest Mudder and everything in between.

He brings a passion and commitment to getting Stronger for Life, which is what Michigan Kettlebells is all about.

Cold weather, blazing heat, rain....doesn't matter. You will find Derek outside training and he loves to have people join him. Nearly every Sunday of the Derek you will find Derek at Stoney or Bloomer park with some other weirdos, with weighted backpacks, putting in miles, carrying logs, do push-ups and anything else they can think of.


Melanie Mituta - Coach

Melanie started off as a member at Michigan Kettlebells in 2012. Melanie from the start was consistent and hardworking. The two most important qualities for success. She soon was a leader in the class and inspired others on a daily basis. Melanie competed at the International Kettlebell World Championships placing 2nd and International Kettlebell Games Qualifier placing 1st. Melanie started to pursue yoga while training at Michigan Kettlebells. I remember countless times when Melanie would crush a brutal workout and would be out the door to yoga. Melanie developed a passion for fitness and I could tell that she wanted to help others out even more than she was.

I decided in early 2015 that Melanie was going to be a Coach at Michigan Kettlebells, even though we never discussed it. I called her up and told her the reasons she had to do it and she accepted. Even though I was confident she could teach all of the classes at Michigan Kettlebells, I knew we needed yoga and the members wanted yoga. No one would confuse Michigan Kettlebells with a yoga studio, so I didn't want a typical yoga class. Kettlebell Yoga was born. Melanie will take you through 25-30 minutes of yoga and then send your metabolism into Overdrive with a 10-15 minute MetCon (metabolic conditioning) and then cools you down with yoga and stretches.    


Dawn Sylvester - ISSA CFT, SSN

Thank you for attending Michigan Kettlebells Strength & Training Center.

Congratulations! You have just made the right commitment to changing your body and your life, now, and for the future.

My name is Dawn Sylvester

I have certifications in Fitness Training and Sports Nutrition. I have been training women only for over 12 years, and am passionate about aging with strength. At 50 years old, I entered my first Bodybuilding show in the Figure Division and took 2 trophies. I was the oldest woman in the show out of 23 women. I did another show, but there were only 2 of us in our age class competing. She was a lifetime bodybuilder. She placed first.I decided that I wanted to compete in something more athletic and less about how you look. I then went on to Kettlebell Sport where you compete for numbers and time, and “made rank”. I am not bragging. I am trying to dispel the myth that women who lift weights, and compete will get bulky. I have been lifting weights for 25 years.  

The original goal I had when I got certified in Fitness Training was to empower women with fitness, and to stop them from trying to change their bodies by dieting. I now train and counsel women and men on how imperative it is to eat for vitality, supplement when necessary and how to lose body fat. The way your body responds to training, how it feels and how it looks, has been said to be 75% nutrition, 25% training.  

If you are interested in losing fat while getting stronger without cutting calories, then sign up for my blog. If you want to learn how to get a firm and strong body that carries you into a healthy future, then enter your name and e-mail  to receive my newsletter. Don’t negate any of your hard work in the gym with a diet lacking proper nutrition. I am an Isagenix as well as a Sunwarrior Consultant. Optimal products for fat loss, recovery and overall health. Nutrition is paramount in achieving your goals whether you want to change your physique or compete in an endurance event. At Michigan Kettlebells Strength & Training Center we want to create the best “YOU” that you can be. Strong, fit, and confident. We will help you meet your goals.

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