I have a confession to make: I have completely fallen in love with kettlebell training! It all started about five years ago while my husband, James, was fitness training at a local corporate gym. He was able to convince the gym management that he needed kettlebells to train his clients, but he had to convince me first, and I was skeptical. With all those machines and weight training equipment, why on earth did he need kettlebells? We were on a limited budget and he wanted to spend some of it on something he called “kettlebells!”
It didn’t take me long to realize that we had made a good investment. What I didn’t expect was that they would become such a huge part of my life.I started casually training with them, and slowly but surely, my kettlebell workouts started transforming me inside and out.
I continued to support James by accompanying him at kettlebell events and trainings, but the turning point came when I went with him to an IKFF certification course, where I was fortunate enough to be allowed to participate in and learn from Steve Cotter. By the end of the two-day course, I realized that learning kettlebells and influencing others was my new goal. As we drove home, I told James I had decided I wanted to become a certified kettlebell instructor.
James, of course, was extremely supportive, coaching and encouraging me until I felt ready to take the next step. Conveniently, USAKL was offering a certification course in my area, and I immediately signed up for it. I prepared for the course, following course material instructions provided by Nico Rithner, and on January 12, 2013, I became a certified kettlebell instructor. I must admit, next to the birth of my two sons and my wedding day, this has to be one of the most significant accomplishments in my life.
As a way of background, let me explain that I never considered myself the “athletic type,” let alone dreaming of becoming someone that would actually train other people. In fact, as a child, I suffered from several ailments, including rheumatic fever and pleurisy. Physical education was my most dreaded subject in high school. Little did I know that as an adult, and in fact, in my middle age, my perspective on fitness would change so drastically.
First, by marrying someone who has been a fitness enthusiast his entire life, and secondly, by interacting with numerous people in the kettlebell world, which I like to call the “Kettlebell Family.” This Kettlebell Family has greatly influenced me and been my inspiration to become fit and healthy, and kettlebells have been the perfect avenue to accomplish this endeavor.
Sharing the Kettlebell Training Treasure
I feel like I have discovered a treasure that I can’t help but talk about a lot! In fact, all of my friends and family members ask about it if I don’t bring it up first. I am still amazed at the number of people that don’t have any idea what a kettlebell is. I also find it quite amusing when I hear some respond by: oh yes, I’ve seen those “kettle balls” or worse “cow bells!”
When you discover a treasure, you can either be selfish and hide it, or share it with as many people as possible and get an unlimited supply of rewards in return (I have chosen to do the latter). My passion has become reaching out and motivating middle-aged women like myself, who have extremely busy lives, to make time for fitness. What better way to do that than with kettlebell training!
At first, most people are skeptical (like I was), but once I explain that due to their unique shape, kettlebells provide a time-saving, powerful, and effective strength, conditioning, balance, and flexibility workout, they are willing to give it a try. What surprises them is the fact that they feel muscles they didn’t know existed. Needless to say, after their first taste of kettebell training, they are hungry for more! In about 30 minutes, they can accomplish what used to take them at least an hour.
Learning the dynamics of kettlebells has also made me realize that there is still a misconception amongst the general public—that doing cardio is enough. I’ve educated many of these women about the importance of strength training. As we age, our bones and muscles deteriorate, and strength training helps counteract these aging effects. An added benefit is a toned body and a renewed sense of self-confidence!
Speaking of self-confidence, this is one aspect of kettlebell training I didn’t expect. I have been so pleasantly surprised to feel my self-confidence soar. What’s more, apart from the multiple benefits of kettlebell training, the euphoria I feel after my workouts is second to none. Getting this “natural high” is my daily emotional medicine. Let me explain…around the time I started getting excited about kettlebells, I was experiencing increased stress at work, and kettlebell training became my stress reliever. My work situation improved, and my addiction to kettlebell training intensified.
Kettlebell Training Key Points
When I first learned the basic Kettlebell Two-Hand Swing, I was intrigued by how many muscle groups were involved in that simple, yet powerful movement. I could feel my entire core, glute, arms, and leg muscles contracting and becoming stronger with each swing.
As I became more proficient with the basic swing, I explored other variations, such as the Figure 8, Figure 8 to Hold, and the Overhead Swing, which has become one of my favorites! Regardless of what kettlebell exercise or routine you perform, here are some key points to remember:
- Focus on the “mind-muscle connection.” Don’t just go through the motions; make sure you are consciously engaging the intended muscle groups as you perform each exercise. Make EVERY movement count!
- Breathe! Proper breathing is essential to kettlebell training; breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Synchronizing breaths with kettlebell movements is something that takes practice, but well worth the effort.
- Stay Hydrated. Before, during, and after training.
- Consume Protein. Have protein (preferably in liquid form) after your training for muscle recovery and growth.
- Don’t Rush Progress! Celebrate accomplishments, small as they may be. You are in a better place than when you started. Don’t ever give up on your fitness goals!
My Kettlebell Training Passion
Before heading out to my “regular job” at the Homeland Security Section of the Anaheim Fire Department, I now train one-on-one early in the mornings, and also hold two group kettlebell classes per week. Training others is extremely satisfying, especially seeing fellow middle-aged women discover that their bodies can do things they didn’t think they could.
I love pushing them to levels they didn’t know they could reach, and see their self-esteem grow. The positive energy I get every time I train, whether myself or others, is indescribable, and I see no reason to stop. I plan on doing this till I can do it no more.
I am definitely still very much a work in progress. The good news is: I am in good company! I am encouraged beyond belief and completely convinced that kettlebells are what I need to continue doing. Yes, I plan to age gracefully and fit, but not without helping others to do the same!
James eventually left the corporate gym world and founded BodyBalance Fitness, which has proven to be the best decision (next to marrying me) he’s ever made. BodyBalance Fitness is all about using unconventional training methods; first and foremost kettlebells, but also sandbags, clubs, TRX suspension gear, and such. Our philosophy is simple, yet essential: help others become the best version of themselves—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Total Body Kettlebell Training
Here’s a sample routine I do with my clients. Perform each exercise for 20 seconds, with a 20-30 second rest period between each exercise. The exception is a one minute rest after the first exercise, as it is a two-minute exercise. One complete cycle should take about 8 minutes. Repeat cycle two to three times for an invigorating, fat-burning, and strengthening workout.
1. Swing Variations:
- Two-Handed Swing
- Hand-To-Hand Swing – Figure 8
- Figure 8 To Hold
- 20 reps x 5 sets = 2 minutes
- Rest 1 minute
2. Global Drop to Deep Squat
- 20 seconds Rest
- 20-30 seconds
3. Lunge to Hold (both sides)
- 20 x 2 = 40 seconds Rest 20-30 seconds
4. Twist and Shout (both sides)
- 20 x 2 = 40 seconds Rest 20-30 seconds
5. Deep Squat-Bicep-Tricep Combo
- 20 seconds
- Rest 20-30 seconds
6. Jump Press
- 20 seconds
- Rest 20-30 seconds
7. Single Arm Snatch (both sides)
- 20 x 2 = 40 seconds