body changes from kettlebells

Kettle Bell Conditioning

Back in December I wrote a little bit about my experiences at The Warrior Room kettle bell gym here in Portland. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and also the background to this post here.

Why Kettle Bells Are Awesome

I’ve been a fan of kettle bell workouts for a few years now. Michael turned me on to them because besides cycling, his fitness was pretty much entirely kettle bells. While working out with KB was fun, I didn’t really get really into it until a few months ago when I went to the Warrior Room. Why? Because I knew my form wasn’t quite right. Going to the classes and learning the proper form and having an instructor correct my movements made a WORLD of difference.

What I love about kettle bell training is how EFFICIENT it is. If you are short on time but still want to workout, you can get in a pretty kick-ass workout in 30 minutes. The other bonus is that you don’t need a gym membership! Kettle bells can be affordable and they can be expensive. It just depends on what you’re willing to spend. But buying a kettle bell or two of various weights is a whole lot cheaper than an expensive gym membership! If you’re still unsure, and live in the Portland area, get the Groupon deal for the Warrior Room. Minimal commitment and you get to try it out for yourself. That’s how I started! And now I’m hooked.

Another reason I love KBs is the progress I saw. After going to 8 classes at the Warrior Room I saw definition in my arms and shoulders I hadn’t seen before with traditional weight lifting.

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Now my triceps need to get on board with my biceps and tighten up. 😉

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Kettle Bell Conditioning

Because I blogged about my experiences there, they offered me a free Kettle Bell Conditioning class for me and a dozen of my friends/readers who wanted to give it a try. It was very generous and the second I posted the news on Facebook I was flooded with comments and emails from people who wanted to give it a try.

The gym added a class that was specifically called Kettle Bell Conditioning and was exactly what I was looking for when I first started. It was less “crossfit” and more instructional. The class is entirely about learning the form and movement in a proper way. I’ve taken one of these specific classes before the free group class.

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I enjoyed it so much and left feeling more confident in my abilities. The instructor corrected a few of my moves and postures but overall I did okay. I was also able to take the tips I got with me to my regular gym to practice on my own.

Free Class

I was really happy with the turnout. Eight blog readers and friends came out to give the Warrior Room a try. A few had to cancel last minute due to the nasty flu/bronchitis/cold thing that is going around. So there were 9 of us working out and that turned out to be a great sized class.

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We started with the usual warm-up: 30 jumping jacks, 15 squats, 10 push-ups, repeat. Ashley, the instructor, told each person what color kettle bell to grab for the first lesson and we got started.

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Some of the things that were covered were how to do a proper deadlift and how to do the swing. The swing is the challenging part. I struggled with that when I first started at the Warrior Room. For some reason I couldn’t make my body do the proper hip hinge and snap. It’s a lot harder than it looks! But with practice and correction from Ashley, I am doing so much better! Having the right hinge and snap in the swing is so important because the potential for back injury is there if you don’t. You don’t want to thrust your hips/stomach forward on the swing, it’s more of a snap up.

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We did a little tabata workout next. 4 sets of 20 seconds of high-knees and then we grabbed more kettle bells for the next training part. This time she showed us how to do goblet squats, sumo squats and then some ab work (crunches, double crunches, bicycle crunches). Next was some easier upper body workouts. I think everyone was feeling the burn already! We did overhead press with two kettle bells and then also did the up-right row (which is one of my favorites).

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If you hadn’t noticed, we’re doing the kettle bell workouts bare foot. Why? As a runner, I thought it was very weird the first time I took a kettle bell conditioning class and we went barefoot. I am so used to wanting LOTS OF CUSHION it seemed foreign. But in reality, doing weight lifting and kb workouts in running shoes interferes with the natural movement of the foot and ankle. It also changes the way you step and walk. Going barefoot will improve your posture, form and stability. I noticed a difference right away with squats. Squats were a million times harder barefoot because I was so used to using my shoes as a crutch. Without that crutch I had to focus on staying balanced on the heels of my feet. So much harder than it sounds!

I used to have very weak ankles. So weak that I’d strain and sprain them on a regular basis. What changed that for me was swimming. Becoming a strong swimmer strengthened my ankles and I’ve never had an issue since. Gone are the days where I’d roll my ankle just standing. Instead, my ankles became the rock hard support for my body I needed. Swimming and kettle bell training seem to go hand in hand with strengthening weak parts of my body.

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I truly hope everyone had a good time at the class. I’m sure it was harder than they were expecting and somewhat foreign if they’d never picked up a kettle bell but if I convinced even one person to give it a second try I’ll be happy. I think kettle bell workouts are one of the most efficient fitness I’ve tried thus far. It’s fast-paced and there is no chance you’ll be bored! I promise. And I promise a good sweat and a good calorie burn! The free training class lasted about 45 minutes and I burned 500 calories. Have I convinced you yet? 🙂

Skyfall

I love long weekends! My long weekend started with a great swim and then Michael and I went to a friend’s house for a dinner party. It was a unique kind of dinner party. Our friends were going to reveal the results from their ultrasound! It was a really fun idea. We arrived and they told us to put on a little pin with our guess: boy or girl?

Mustaches for boy votes, pink lipstick kisses for girl votes. Our friends had taken their sealed ultrasound results to the party store and asked the guy working there to look at the results and put the appropriate colored balloons into a big box and seal it. They had to wait three days until the party to find out for themselves! I couldn’t wait. The anticipation would kill me. 🙂

It was a boy!! It was fun being part of the reveal along with the soon-to-be parents. There was also tons of food: salad, fruit, pizza, cookies and cupcakes. I might have eaten one too many of those amazing things.

It was a fun night and it was good to meet some new people and see some old friends. (One was a coworker I used to work with years and years and a 100 pounds ago! It was funny seeing her reaction when she finally recognized me.) I spent way too much time playing with my friend’s adorable Italian Greyhound:

Needless to say, Saturday morning at the gym I pushed myself a little bit harder to work off those mini cupcakes. I spent 40 minutes on the bike and then spent the remainder of my workout doing kettle bells. After only a few weeks of doing them, I notice a change in my body. My core feels a little stronger, my shoulders looked sculpted and I feel stronger all around.

It was such a nice day in Portland on Saturday–freezing cold but dry. Michael and I wanted to get out of the house and enjoy the rain-free day so we went out to lunch after my workout. I’ve been dying to share this sandwich with you guys. WOWZA. Probably one of the best sandwiches I’ve eaten as of yet.

We went to Meat Cheese Bread in SE Portland. With a name like that, you can’t go wrong. Michael got the steak sandwich with blue cheese on it and said it was also one of the best sandwiches he’d ever had. Mine is pictured above. It was the “Green Bean” sandwich. In it was a soft boiled egg, sauteed green beans, aioli sauce, and bacon relish. The baguette was soft and chewy, but lightly toasted. I cannot express just how delicious this sandwich was! It sounds like a weird combo but it was not weird at all. I definitely want to recreate this masterpiece at home.

With our bellies full and satisfied, and with me commenting that I wanted to eat two more of those sandwiches, we headed downtown to spend the afternoon at the Chinese Gardens. The gardens are in the middle of Chinatown in downtown, hidden behind giant white walls. It’s deceiving because you can’t tell what beauty is hiding behind the walls and it also looks really small but it’s pretty big once you get inside. It’s feels like it’s three times its size once you’re inside the sanctuary.

It really does feel like another world inside there. There were giant koi fish swimming in the waters and the place was filled with pretty chrysanthemums.

 

Aren’t those wonderful? I think the orange one above looks like something you’d find in the ocean. We meandered around the gardens, enjoying the charming scenery.

It had been at least a decade since I’d been to the Chinese Gardens. It’s a great place to take people visiting Portland from out of town, but for some reason I always forget about it. Michael had never been there, which surprised me as well.

The ground was a mixture of stonework and this amazing tile work. The ground itself was art. There was so much more that I could show you, but you should come to Portland and take a look for yourself. It’s an enchanting escape. 🙂

Our fun-filled Saturday ended with a movie date. We saw “Skyfall” and it was an exceptional movie. I enjoyed it so much and there wasn’t a moment in the movie where I was bored, confused or ready for it to be over. In fact, when the credits started I was kind of sad that it was over. I won’t give anything away but I will say that the casting was fantastic! Well done! Go see this movie! 🙂

QUESTION: What was your favorite part of the weekend?