In the old days, I joined a gym and learned the typical isolated movement fitness workouts.. with doing one muscle group each day. There is nothing wrong with that, but I never truly enjoyed working out like I do now…now that I have been introduced to kettlebells. I am now 42 yrs old and was lucky enough to have a friend invite me to a kettlebell fitness class about 4 yrs ago. I was hooked from that day on. Even though I ran cross country and track in high school and college, I really didn’t enjoy running or your typical cardio. The older I became the more I ran on treadmills to keep in shape and still continued to do isolated movements to build strength. I really bulked up with muscle in my 30’s and realized that I was losing flexibility more and more. In 2013 a friend of mine challenged me to run a tough mudder with him. Me being me, and never turning down a challenge, I accepted. I tried to up my cardio with running but realized how hard it was with me weighing 220lb. About two months before the race I took my first kettlebell class and a light bulb went off. I can build my cardio, build strength and flexibility with one tool! Kettlebell workouts incorporate cardio, endurance, and strength in one complete workout package.
When you start kettlebells I highly recommend finding a certified kettlebell instructor to teach you proper technique and help you along the way. My instructor was Kevin Gabriel who runs Iron Valley Kettlebells out of Exton, PA. There are several different certificated out there but I found mine through dragon door website. I was lucky to have a great instructor who taught me right from wrong and challenged me along the way. After a few classes I quickly realized I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was; as my instructor – who weighed 50 lb less than me – was much stronger. I truly believe those two months of kettlebells before the tough mudder were the only reason I finished the race. Even though I was just starting kettlebells it quickly helped me build up my endurance, cardio and strength. After the race I started to dedicate myself solely to kettlebells. This has progressed today as we now train with kettlebells and incorporate many other HIIT type of workouts into the routine weekly.
The great thing about kettlebells is they don’t require much of an initial investment and you can buy one kettlebell and do countless different moves. A few of the basic moves you will start with are the kettlebell swing, dead lift, clean, press and goblet squat. I would recommend starting with a 16 kg if you are a man and a 8 kg for woman. First learn the proper technique then you can worry about increasing weight. You will be amazed how much of a full body workout you can get with those five basic moves. Kettlebells are also a perfect tool for girls who just want to tone up. Once you learn the basic moves you will move onto some more advanced moves including the snatch, getup..etc. The kettlebell snatch is one of the most taxing exercises you will do. “In a 2010 study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise, researchers found that an intense kettlebell workout lasting 20 minutes and involving fast kettlebell snatches burned between 13.6 and 20.2 calories per minute – equal to running a 6-minute mile pace. The participants were all male and well-trained in kettlebell technique. Kettlebell snatching yields a high calorie burn because it is a total-body movement and is highly intense.” Think about that.. running a 6 minute mile for 20 minutes.. that is intense!
There are many kettlebells on the market but to name a few I prefer are the Dragon Door, Christian Fitness Factory, Rouge Fitness kettlebells. In my opinion the best bang for the buck is the Rouge fitness bells (and I have no affiliation with them) but they are great bells and one of the cheaper ones found on the market. Rougefitness.com usually has a great sale on Black Friday with free shipping on 5 items so if you can wait it’s well worth it.
Currently I weigh around 190lbs but I am in the best shape of my life as I have dedicated myself to a true healthy lifestyle. I no longer drink, I eat healthy (see my recipes) and train 4-5 days a week. With two young beautiful daughters in the house I hope to lead by example and let them learn a healthy lifestyle. So if you are bored of your typical weight and cardio training, I highly recommend discovering kettlebells. Hopefully it will change your life like it did mine!