Subtitle: The real title of this should have been ‘Allow Myself to Plagiarize Myself.’ Portions of this originally appeared in post & in a magazine. All of today’s post was inspired by this blogger’s tweets.
Writing a fitness column means my inbox overflows with opportunities to review health-related products. Most of these solicitations I delete knowing that, although they claim to seek my honest opinion, they’d be truly disappointed at how honest my opinion can frequently be.
Recently, though, a request came in which I couldn’t decline.
First, I ask you indulge me in some back story.
Over a decade ago I had a neighbor who would regale me with his exercising-in-the-garage stories. Our conversations were always the same and unfailingly focused upon his sweaty experiences hoisting kettlebells.
Being the mature woman I am my first reaction was not to investigate the kettlebell & its fantastic fitness producing properties. I instead dubbed my neighbor K-Bell, mocked him/his stories relentlessly to the Husband, and gave his workout nary a thought.
Little did I realize ole K-Bell was a man ahead of his time (though he was still totally mockworthy. Dude worked out next to his car in the garage in the TEXAS HEAT!).
Flash forward to 2009 & kettlebells are all the rage.
As a result, when I was offered the chance to test a kettlebell/KB exercise DVD I immediately agreed. It may have taken a decade to pique my MizFit curiosity, but piqued it finally was.
My kettlebell arrived and when I ripped into the box I discovered what looked like a cannonball with an suitcase handle attached.
And it looked dangerous.
Even with the DVD it only took me a moment to realize I required some background knowledge before this uncoordinated woman could commence swinging. Beyond the fact I feared accidental self-harm, I’m a total fitness nerd at heart.
I was far more curious where the kettlebell concept originated than how tight it could conceivably make my glutes.
Kettlebells, I discovered, were invented by the Russians.
Initially used as counterweights in the marketplace (who knew?) they were soon adopted for strength and flexibility purposes.
( For the other fitness nerds among us:) One man, Pavel Tsatsouline, a former Soviet Special Forces instructor, is credited for introducing kettlebell training to the United States.
Tsatsouline is also the man I loved to hate after my attempt at the DVD workout, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I wanted to know why hoisting kettlebells supposedly trumped traditional weight training.
Were there benefits beyond sheer novelty to my handled cannonball?
The answer, I found, was yes. A single kettlebell could do a vast number of exercises which, were free weights used, would require a veritable weight rack to execute.
Kettlebells also utilized functional movement or real-world strength.
Much to my chagrin, I’ve realized the chance of my being stopped on the street & asked to bench press is quite slim and the likelihood I’ll hoist/attempt to shove an unwieldy suitcase into an overhead airplane bin is far greater. I needed the functional strength this handled cannonball could offer.
Finally, it was the promise to increase endurance, flexibility and core strength which sold me on the idea.
That and the notion I’d complete the *same* training routine as the Russian Special Forces.
Or so I thought.
Research completed, I was eager to squat, swing and snatch. I planned to workout, see how I felt, and write my column. Ah, the ignorance of a newbie kettlebeller’s best laid plans.
I popped in the DVD, grabbed my kettlebell, and swung not a swing. I watched, slack jawed, as the host of the DVD, vigorously squatted and snatched her weighty kettlebell with ease.
Here’s where I confess had I not committed to writing about my experience I’d have thrown in the not yet sweaty towel. My kettlebell would have done one swing only: straight into a closet.
In the name of journalism, however, I persevered. I did the entire DVD my first time sans kettlebell. And my second and third time, too. I fumbled along with the instructions on the Turkish Get-up and the squat. I struggled to keep up with the workout routine *without* a kettlebell in my hands.
Eventually (if by eventually you mean after a longass while —which I do) it clicked.
My get-ups flowed& no longer resembled Get-Up And Tumble To Floor. I performed the shoulder press properly and my imaginary weight never touched my body. My core stabilized and my movements, like the pro’s on the DVD, were fluid and controlled. My heart rate elevated and I saw how the workout taxed my aerobic and anaerobic systems.
My kettlebell, though, remained grounded.
I appreciated the fact that the DVD manufacturer trusted I’d not, in a spasm of swinging, fling the kettlebell into the TV. I possessed no such confidence, but did possess kettlebell skillz after hours spent mimicking the video’s moves.
Armed with my knowledge I took the entire workout outdoors. I swung, snatched, and pressed in the grass with the same wild abandon Id seen onscreen. After ten minutes I was more exhausted than I typically was after my cardio and weight routine combined.
As Oprah says: I had an Aha! moment.
Outside, where I feared no wreckage, I swung freely. I employed the explosive movements that make the kettlebell a cardiovascular workout. I embraced the full concept of swinging in multiple planes with multiple joint actions.
Not only did I grasp the routine, I saw how it could increase strength in all aspects of life from carrying groceries to martial arts.
Would I recommend a kettlebell DVD workout? Sure, if you have the time and patience to learn the moves properly without the kettlebell first.
Would I recommend kettlebells in general? My answer for that is exactly the same.
GoFit, while not the focus of the rambles above, has been GENEROUS enough to offer to send one reader a kettlebell & dvd set.
The company (beside being uber-giving) is the industry leader for providing quality products paired with fantastic trainers and innovative instructors.
(translation: you shall never, ever see MizFit leading a video. )