My love affair with the kettlebell
October 16, 2015
I don’t know where my obsession began. I believe I can thank James Harris of XSport Fitness on Columbia Pike in Columbia Heights, Arlington, VA.
When he was my personal trainer a couple years ago he threw everything at me: suicides, burpies, heavy rope, bear crawls, and strange cannonballs with handles on them: kettlebells.
I had never used kettlebells, medicine balls, Bosu balls, Swiss balls, or any of the tools used both for full-body conditioning and by circus strongmen.
I lost my forward momentum when I ran out of personal trainer sort of money.
I discovered that I could install an app on my Roku and bring personal training and fitness classes directly to my Sony Trinitron in the form of the web, iPhone, and Android app, Daily Burn.
I looked around at all the classes and thought kettlebells looked efficient, especially since I was looking to become the kind of strong that would help me at the gun range.
Target shooting pistols take a lot of leg and upper-body strength as well as a lot more endurance and stamina than you would think.
Shooting well and over the course of an hour or so, with a full-size and full power handgun is exhausting, especially if you ever want to keep a tight group.
It works! Just dominating the two-handed kettlebell swing really tightens up everything you need to keep shooting all day long!
And so I hooked up my DB account to Roku and started doing workouts virtually alongside Cody Storey and his gang in a three-month class they call DBK. So, I started buying kettlebells.
I started by emulating the kettlebells that they had in the classes. I didn’t know at the time, but they’re called competition kettlebells. I bought what the folks in the class had, starting with a two blue 12kg bells from CFF FIT, a yellow 16kb bell from Kettlebells USA, and a purple 20kg bell also from Christian’s Fitness Factory.
And then I got busy. But I was really unable to keep up with the every day 50-minute workouts so I lost my forward momentum while becoming more and more enthralled by the cult and culture of the kettlebell: Pavel Tsatsouline, girya, girevoy sport, and even /r/kettlebell over on reddit.
Then I quickly became obsessed with Pavel Tsatsouline, the author of Enter the Kettlebell!, Kettlebell Simple & Sinister, The Russian Kettlebell Challenge, and Return of the Kettlebell. Pavel is known as the guy who first really popularized kettlebells in the USA and he’s a hoot to read.
As I have gotten more experience with the bells, I realized that while I still needed lower-weight bells like the 12kg & 16kg bells in order to keep in line with my aerobic limits, I was strong enough by now to swing a 24kg bell and I wanted a cast iron Russian style kettlebell instead of the steel competition bells — because that’s what both the Russian and US Army uses for their training. 24kg is around 53 lbs so I bought a pair from Kettlebells USA, the Metrixx Classic E-Coat kettlebells — they’re some heave bells, but so awesome.
So, I took to giving Get Fit, Get Fierce with Kettlebell Swings by Don Fitch a go. His strategy is really simple and I want to make it a baseline for all my other fitness: swing a heavy bell for just 90-seconds once every hour, which would mean around 12-minutes of swinging every day.
Swinging the 24kg bell for a whole minute and a half isn’t easy so I think I am going to switch it up: sometimes I plan to swing the 24kg Russian bell as many times as I can, until I stop, even if it’s less than 90-seconds; other times, I plan to go back down to 12kg, 16kg, and 20kg bells in order to be sure I make it to 90-seconds. Variety is the spice of life, right?
If I have more time, I can do a DailyBurn class or I can add the high pull, the clean, the snatch, the strict press, the floor press, the push press, the squat, the pistol squat — no, I’ll never be able to do a pistol, the deadlift, the farmer carry, the row, the goblet squat, the sumo squat, and the intimidating Turkish get-up — there are so many great workouts — you can get a sweet laminated poster with all the exercises for $27 on Amazon: Power Systems Kettlebell Training Poster by Power Systems.
All this in pursuit of becoming a giverik, a girevik (what’s the difference? Which one is correct?). I have been suffering from aches and pains and have been a little too careful reintroducing kettlebells into my daily life so posting this article was my commitment towards getting back into the swing of things!