Why to Kettlebell: Functional Exercise


My first 80 pound Turkish Get-Up

My love affair began a decade ago. When I was a senior in high school and when my parents still had their fitness business, we began incorporating kettlebells. It was love at first swing. I spent the summer studying Pavlo, an amazing Russian who is master with a bell. I was quickly addicted. Addicted to practicing. I was set on developing my skills. Some of these moves can be complex, I wanted to nail them. Plus I was going to school for exercise science. I am also a naturally strong women. I spent my summers working out with my dad, brother-in-law, college athletes and guys from the gym. Eager to show myself and that I could hang with the guys. That is how we once broke a 90 lbs. bell on a Sunday summer workout. Men and their pride. I spent over 5 years training kettlebells (before I realized I liked the cooking aspect more).

Ten years later, kettlebells are still my weight of choice, even though I no longer teach them. Why? Why do I go back to them repeatedly? There are a multitude of reasons to start a kettlebell practice: 

  • Core Strength. If done correctly, you are constantly engaging your core during kettlebells. Which also protects your back (note again, when lifting correctly).
  • Stability
  • 12400967_10101165813213243_3118618635091546354_nFlexibility, lately I have really come to appreciate the flexibility work I get with kettlebells. Notably a windmill. I can modify any movement to get a greater range of motion, to reach and delve a little deeper.
  • Balance. Training older clients, especially, I realized the importance of balance. How easily we loser as we grow older. Practice. Practice. Practice this. Do around-the-worlds. Do some one-legged deadlifts.
  • Increased range of motion. With a barbell there is only so far you can go. Kettlebells, as a free-weight, allow for a free range of motion. Plus joints like a shoulder, can do multiple motions. You can cover and work them all with kettlebells. Which also makes them functional. I always started out teaching squats and lunges. I squat everyday. We sit everyday. Lunging is along the lines of walking. Kettlebells help you in your day-to-day activities and life.
  • You can get a cardio, flexibility and strength workout in one workout.
  • Focus and awareness. When I am lifting a bell, I am super focused. Especially when doing a complicated move like the Turkish Get-Up. My eyes never leave that bell. I am focused on every transition I have to make. There is no mindless machine work. You need to pay attention to what you are doing at all times.
  • You only need one bell. I can kick my butt with any size bell.
  • Creativity. Skies the limit with the exercises I can do with a bell. Plus there are endless ways to modify an exercise (either to support and injury or to make it more challenging).
  • Transportation. You can take them anywhere. My family has taken them on any vacation we have ever taken where we drove. I’ve done kettlebells on the beach (in the rain), in the mountains, in the snow, in hotel parking lots, across country. The options are endless. I love to do them outside, for some reason lifting in the grass, makes me fearless with a bell in my hand. It will just land and die in the grass. You don’t have to lift in a typical gym setting. Get out and get some scenery.
  • They don’t take up a lot of space. Machines, treadmills, etc. take up a lot of space and can often end up as a clothes racks, not kettlebells.
  • Everyone can do them! My nephews could swing a kettlebell from a young age. I’ve also trained men pushing 80 years-old. And most of the people I have trained are 40 to 50 year-old women. No matter injuries or age, kettlebells can be adopted for anyone. That is a great thought, kettlebells are adaptable, which is essential in the human world for survival.
  • They are fun! Especially when you get a group of people who are motivated, with good energy. There is nothing like the high, post good workout!

Videos coming later this week on some of my favorite moves!

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