Before I started strength training, I equated a kettlebell to a form of torture. It’s dark charcoal black color and thick round shape reminded me of a witch’s cauldron (and nothing about those two things struck me as positive). Much to my chagrin, I was required to take a Kettlebell Training Class when I first started Blackburn Training Center. As James had me grab my first 8kg bell a clear sense of uneasiness shot through my body. I’m not someone that scares easily (I did push out an almost 9 pound baby boy after all) but something about the kettlebell elicited fear. And considering the fact that kettlebells were concocted in Russia sometime in the 1700’s for weighing crops (but realized they were better utilized for building strength and muscle), I had reason to be scared.
The first exercise James had me do was a swing (a combination of squats and hip thrusting) to a clean (using my hips and legs to swing the bell) to a push (putting the bell up to my shoulder) to a press (using my hips from a squat to press up to the sky). Unfortunately I didn’t immediately realize that I wasn’t supposed to be using my back for most of the exercises (which I was consistently reprimanded for and felt the pain from the next day), instead it was my core, hips and legs that were going to get the most intense workout all together. Working all these muscles as a unit was not only going to make me stronger, it was also going to help with my coordination, posture and agility.
It’s been almost 8 months since I picked up my first kettlebell and although I still struggle with my upper arm strength, I’ve begun to see a complete change in my workouts. I use to falter with my balance and now I am squatting properly and firmly (well most of the time). I’ve also noticed leaner muscle development in my arms rather than bulk. And with repetition and correct form, my swings have only gotten more powerful and my coordination is on point. Best of all, I finally realized that the main number on kettlebells are in kilograms…not pounds! I completely misjudged the kettlebell and now we are friends. Not great friends, but still friends!