You get an origin story today folks! Before I get into the awesome reasons we use kettlebells at Restored Strength, I wanted to share with you my history of kettlebell training. The reason for the origin story is to give you better understanding of how I got involved with them and where it’s taken me. If you want to skip all the monologue of an incredible story of sorrow, pain, action, suspense, drama, etc. Go to the top 5 reasons part of this article.
Just for clarification, I was being dramatic about all of the emotions in the backstory, this was my attempt at getting you to stay for the first part.
The year is 2013, I just started school at Alexandria Technical Community College for Health & Fitness. In my first semester a speaker named CJ Erickson from Noonans Sport Specialist came in to present to our class how to use kettlebells. I’ve was unfamiliar with kettlebells it caught my interest because they were different and unique. By the end of class CJ was telling us more about the benefits of using kettlebells, and he talked about the cardiovascular training effect the kettlebells have.
First year at Alex Tech
I raised my hand and asked “So, you’re saying that I don’t ever have to run again and can replace my cardio with kettlebells?” to which he responded “yeah, I don’t see why not”. That’s when I was immediately sold on the idea of kettlebell training.
The beginning of 2014 I was registered for my RKC Level One, this is the gold standard certification in kettlebell training. I would spend the next few months preparing for my certification that summer.
The three-day course consisted of both application and lecture of how to teach and use kettlebells. The workshop was led by Andrea DuCane and plenty of other respected fitness professionals that assisted during the workshop. This would be a very challenging and informal weekend of education and practice.
My first RKC where I met Andrea DuCane
In order to pass the certification, you must meet the following requirements:
· 100 snatches in under 5 minutes with an assigned weight, mine was 24 kg (53 lbs.)
· Testing on technique for proper form on all big lifts that were taught.
· Teaching requirements for demonstrating your ability to teach other people.
As you can tell this was a pretty intense weekend that was ahead of me. I felt confident going in because I had hired a coach to help me prepare for this weekend. After three long days of learning and working out I passed my RKC and became a certified kettlebell instructor. I met so many people that influenced and inspired me to want to become a Master RKC Instructor someday to teach others how to use kettlebells.
My first coaching job in 2014 at MWC
In 2015 I was arrested for a DUI. I was just starting my career as a coach and was wanting to accomplish big things. At the time I had always struggled with my relationship with alcohol and being reckless in my behavior after drinking. After a night at the bar with some friends, I made a poor decision to drive home. I was being reckless and was fortunately pulled over and was arrested. The very moment I was being handcuffed I felt all of my hard work being taken away from me.
The RKC has a professional code of conduct one must follow after becoming certified. I took this to heart and felt that I was not upholding myself to this code and in fear of ruining my life and losing my certification, I made the smartest decision I could and made a choice to walk away from alcohol. I no longer wanted to be reckless or abusing alcohol because it would only hurt me and those I loved. The RKC Code of Conduct helped me with this life altering decision and I couldn’t have been more grateful with the outcome.
In 2016, I went to my RKC Level Two where I would advance my skills as a kettlebell coach. I went to California to learn from Max Shank, one of the industry’s best in movement and training. There I was able to learn from the best and how to advance my understanding of kettlebell training.
Getting to meet Max Shank
Since then I have assisted teaching at other RKC workshops around Minnesota, Iowa, and even New York City. I have trained others to get certified as well for their own purposes. I write articles about kettlebell training for Dragon Door, and have earned a new title that I proudly wear.
In 2020 I was promoted to an RKC Team Leader.
The position of RKC Team Leader is by invitation only. The RKC Team Leader has displayed consistently strong teaching skills over a number of years and demonstrates a very high level of physical skill in their kettlebell practice.
I’m the youngest RKC Team Leader as of right now and the only one in Minnesota. I take pride in the organization that helped me get my start in the fitness industry. I wanted to share with you the true nature of where this all started and where it is today.
My promotion to RKC Team Leader
Here are the top 5 reasons we use kettlebells
1. Kettlebells Are Great for Functional Fitness
The word functional fitness in context to the fitness world is subjective. Everyone will have their own interpretation and use of this word. For context, I’m going to be describing the way I use and define functional fitness for our gym and the workouts we do.
Functional Fitness- The application of strength and conditioning principles used to prescribe a movement-based program that uses exercises to improve activities of daily living.
Fancy talk for not doing dumb shit and everything we do has a reason for how and why we do it. Now that I have that part out of the way let me explain how kettlebells are functional.
The reason that kettlebells are functional is because of the exercises you can do with them carry over into real life.
The way you pick things up off the ground is a deadlift, the deadlift is a hinge pattern, the hinge pattern is found in almost all kettlebell exercises. The way you hold the kettlebell by the handle replicates the way you hold groceries when you carry them in. There are plenty of other examples, but the main idea here is that the exercises the kettlebell offers lets you use them for activities of daily living.
2. They’re versatile
When I look at kettlebells I always ask myself why am I using this tool and what job will it do. Exercise equipment should be purposeful and needs to be intentional with what effects it will have. Kettlebells have this amazing ability to be used for so many things, take for example the kettlebell swing.
The kettlebell swing can be an exercised used to create great power, but also can be used for conditioning (fancy talk for cardio). I used a lot of different kettlebell exercises when doing rehab at Health Source and also with building strength when working with coaching members.
Kettlebells can be used in so many ways and it shows, unlike barbells or machines. Barbells and machines tend to be fixed, meaning that they can’t fully move with your body. Kettlebells on the other hand work in opposite, your body is the machine and you do the work the kettlebell just hangs out.
3. They get you stronger
In kettlebell world we call this “the what hell effect?” What this means is when you train with kettlebells for some time you begin to see strength carry over into areas you wouldn’t expect. For some people they see themselves deadlifting heavier weights, others get stronger with their squat, some people become more explosive, and they’re moving better.
Now, as far as why and how this happens, I can give you an engrossed explanation in anatomy and physiology or use a simple analogy. Let’s do simple and for my nerdy people out there just shoot me an email and we can talk nerd.
Let’s say you have a friend named Karen, Karen can cook and she enjoys it, but god damn it Karen you don’t use spices. She has the blandest food you can imagine, it’s as if someone shunned her from using spices.
Anyways, one day you over hear her saying how she feels that she’s just missing something in her dishes that would make it better. Then you find your opportunity to speak up and give her the help, “Have you considered using spices Karen? They do add more flavor to dishes”.
Karen takes your advice into consideration and then started adding spices into her food. She was so taken back by how much flavor those spices would add to her dishes. Her family can’t explain how her food is better, but they are happy.
Adding some spice into your workouts will make them better, aka use kettlebells to get some unique results.
4. Cardio without running
Running is awful, I don’t care how good it is for your heart, there are other means of training the heart without beating the shit out of your body. I have a heavily biased opinion on running and have my reasons for it. I’ll begin with how damaging running can be on the body over the long-term. When I look at running I think of all the bouncing and jarring motions being created that the body has to absorb from the impact you’re creating. If you’re running mechanics are not optimal, you will be at higher risk of injury.
Running requires a great amount of time for a lower return on your investment. What I mean is that you can spend hours running and get better at it and have all the great cardiovascular benefits of it. Where the profit of running diminishes is how running doesn’t get you stronger, doesn’t help increase your range of motion, doesn’t improve your ability to get up and off the ground, doesn’t help strengthen your posture, and so on.
Using kettlebells in your workouts allows for you to keep your joints in a safer position when doing exercises that elicit the same response as running. Running is done for cardiovascular training which is increasing your heart rate. Guess what? Your heart does not know the difference between running and using kettlebells.
Your body can tell the difference between what muscles and joints you are using, but your heart will not. You can now trick your heart into doing cardio without having to run, how fun!!
5. They’re bad ass
Kettlebells allow the user to explore new movements that they would have never thought to have done before. Have you ever seen a Turkish Get-Up? It’s a pretty cool exercise to learn that has a lot to offer. Some of the benefits are core training, mobility training, lower body and upper body strength, balance and stability, and fall prevention.
The reason that there is so much going into the getup is because of how the exercise begins. You start on the ground and work your way up to standing position and then return yourself to the starting position. That in itself is a lot of work to do, now imagining holding a kettlebell doing all of that?
Another reason they’re bad ass is because they have this grit to them. It’s a cannonball with a handle, they’re heavy and awkward. But I think that’s what really attracts me to them is seeing that they have this rugged look and that requires skill and technique rather than just brute strength.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of kettlebells and why we use them in our gym. If you’re wanting to learn more about kettlebell workouts and how you can start using them email us today!!