Why do they work , and
how can they be more effective than traditional methods?
Kettlebells offer the
complete “do it yourself” exercise package
, for life.They offer:
- Value for money
- Convenience & portability
- Safety .
- Effectiveness - covering the “ holy triad” of strength, flexibility & cardiovascular conditioning aka
- Fun & infinite challenges ; simple - intermediate - advanced
Think “gym in a ball”
– “cardio”-bike/treadmill/fitball/Pilates/yoga/ ab machine etc – Kettlebells cover all these bases at once and without an overly analytical , isolationist approach. Those addicted
to traditional methods may have trouble forgetting sets, reps , abs and pecs , but with practise it can be done! “Work”
then becomes “play” and you exercise becomes fun again – just like in childhood. And learning to exercise
intuitively is tremendously self-empowering – you learn to recognise your strengths & weaknesses and how/when to
step up/back down.
money – there is a one-off cost (or maybe more if you accept the challenge and graduate to a heavier bell
or 2 identical bells for added variety). Put simply , a one-off cost - for life
for the whole family. Plus , no gym fees (or transport costs to/from gym) , no fancy clothes ( barefoot is best), and if you
are someone who doesn’t need to pay for motivation , no ongoing personal trainer costs. Having said that , initial instruction
in the safe use of kettlebells is recommended as the basic movements have to be learnt with strict attention to proper form
– especially important in older or injured folk who may be burdened with stiffness and pain with acquired abnormal movement
patterns.. That said , 1-2 sessions is sufficient and from then on, the kettlebeller (or “Girevik”) can learn new movements and accept new challenges from a variety of resources e.g websites , instructional
dvd’s & videos.. There are really no barriers except a willingness to accept a “new” way of thinking
The subsequent leap of faith is greatly rewarded!
You save $$$ by fixing and
preventing injuries yourself.
& portability - a bell can accompany you wherever , whenever.
Because the modality is so effective and natural there is no absolute necessity
to plan workouts or keep to strict schedules (the “have to go to gym class on Tuesday & Thursday after work”
Puritan ethic). You are in control ; you can do a little here , a little there , at work or at home or at the beach ; some
days you feel energised and do more , other times you may be sore or tired (though not from Kettlebells!) and do less, but the important thing is to practise &
play as often as possible – ideally daily. You will see that is much easier on your body than occasional hard prolonged
workouts, and the results are superior.
Safety issues –
it is ridiculous, as some do , to criticise free weights exercises as dangerous.
Danger occurs when exercise is not performed in a mindful fashion i.e. without
using the brain to control movement. If you lift a weight that is too heavy , with poor form , or allow yourself to operate
in a distractful environment (for me , gyms) you will get injured! If you exercise to the point of failure (the “pump”
, the “lactic acid burn” or an overly heavy weight ) you cannot expect the body to work effectively or safely.
A tired nervous system/ muscle cannot perform its functions of safe joint mobility/stability.
A kettlebell is a tool , and like a powertool
or knife you are responsible for reading the instrcutions and using it wisely!
The basic whole body movement
afforded by kettlebells tend to prevent any one muscle or muscle group from being overloaded. The caveat is that you do not
perform technically difficult exercises e.g. overhead “windmills”
when either mentally or physically fatigued. The point is not to go to “failure”- rather to practise for “success’.
So, it is safe if you perform tricky moves when fresh and mindful , and follow these with other less technically
demanding exercises – some of which however may be done to the point of cardiovascular “almost failure” if one is attempting to improve stamina.
It is clearly not safe to use kettlebells on uneven surfaces , in crowded gyms , in the presence of small children and pets,
when inebriated or when exhausted from other efforts. But equally , one should not be using a fitball or doing yoga under
similar circumstances .
Remember : frequent
, mindful “exercise practise” whilst avoiding “failure”
Often the most simple and direct
path is the quickest route to success. Kettlebells exploit the mind-body connection (neural training or “neurosynaptic
facilitation” – essentially the more you practise , the better you get) and get the job done , with ridiculous
efficiency. You can achieve more in 10-20 minutes than you can with 45-60 minutes of traditional exercise. And you can easily
manage this daily – 24 hours is plenty of time to recover from the average session. The key is to mix it up – using a combination of ” grind” (slow) strength movements , rapid forceful (ballistic) movements and careful , balance/flexibility challenging movements. When you become familiar
with the variety of movements, it is easy to plan your own sessions accordingly
so that for example the body can recover from a mostly strength session but can
still manage a “cardio” session the next day. In reality most kettlebellers being enlightened , easygoing and
knowledgeable folk mix the sessions intuitively , unless they are preparing for a specific goal. Most folk just want to be
, in general terms fit , strong & toned (remember : strength is tone) and flexible every day , for life. Ready for anything , anytime.
Exercise is an obvious prescription
for healthy living. The problem is that for most people , especially as they become older , is that it becomes a chore , and
enjoyment of life without exercise somewhat guilt-ridden. Many become trapped in a vicious cycle of “can’t / shouldn’t
/ mustn’t” : the “bad
back”, ”arthritis”’ “ dodgy Xrays” , ”doctor/physio
says…” syndrome. Even when they join a gym , is it ever fun? Be honest.
Ever seen anyone having FUN with a dumbbell???
The shape of a kettlebell
means it can be tricky to handle , which imparts a high skill level to a workout. That takes away the feeling of drudgery
and boredom you get with weight machines and other modalities.
Fun & challenging means
playing ; if necessary relearning this concept which has been drummed out of adults
by adults You practise and play with kettlebells…even when you are trying
to achieve serious goals.
And after all , fun is….fun.
It makes you happy , which is what you aim to be as often as possible. The holy grail of life is to have fun , achieve
and to help others. Practise playing , and having fun and happiness will follow. You will also progress towards a natural
, spontaneous and indeed childlike way of moving – with much less reliance on stretching and warming up. The results
translate into being able to participate confidently in a normal wide range of exercise pursuits and sports.