kettlebell workouts

Two Classes

The Warrior Room does a ton of charity work. The recent one for the holidays was the “Bad Form Violation.” Gym members were being fined $1 for each “bad form” violation during classes and the money raised goes to The Annie Ross House toy drive. (They were also collecting unwrapped toys for kids.) Annie Ross House is a local shelter for families in crisis:

“We are the only emergency family shelter in all of Clackamas County and serve families with children who are currently experiencing homelessness. Five families a night reside at the Annie Ross House and we also provide six units of transitional housing to families with large barriers to housing. When families arrive at the shelter they are given a food box, personal care items, and each young child has a stuffed toy waiting in their room. Families occupy a single room and share three bathrooms and communal kitchen, dining and living rooms.”

I love all the charity work the members of the Warrior Room participate in! This was a good cause. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about getting a bunch of violations!! Some of the citations were really funny. Check it out:

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When I saw the “inability to count” violation I had to laugh AND groan. If I was going to get a citation it would be that one. I can NEVER remember how many reps/sets we’re supposed to do in class. I don’t know why, maybe because Ashley gives us too much info at one time for me to remember, maybe I’m just too focused on the activity to remember the numbers. LOL

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Impressive multi-tasker! They are pretty funny and the wall is plastered with the citations. Stay tuned to see if I make that wall…..!

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They raised a bunch of money for the charity and also collected a TON of toys for kids for the charity, too. They filled the back of the Warrior Room truck with toys and took them to the Milwaukie holiday parade:

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Good job everyone who donated!

Class #1 – 1/2 Tabata, 1/2 Isolation

It was a challenging class for a lot of reasons. The first was the partner workout. The partner workouts are fun but hard because you end up working a lot harder than normal because you have a partner relying on you. So taking breather breaks isn’t an option. This particular partner workout was especially hard. Check it out:

We faced each other and got down in push-up position. Then we did 16 push-ups at the same time, slapping alternating hands with each push-up. So it goes like this: push-up, clap left hand, push-up, clap right hand and continue. THEN it was 8 partner burpees with a hand clap in between each one before jumping up. Then we did 30 traditional kettlebell swings then 16 lateral jumps. Dripping in sweat after one round! We did three I think (but like I said above, I have a hard time counting in class LOL).

Deck Squats

These are a lot harder than they look. You squat down, roll onto your back with your legs up and then roll back onto your feet. It REALLY works your core. I found that holding a small kettlebell while doing this made it a LOT easier to get back up. The momentum and the weight of the kettlebell made it easier. Before when I did this move in class I struggled a lot with getting back on my feet. Give this one a try and you’ll see how challenging it can be!

Kettlebell Hang Clean

This was a newish move for me. (As is the next one.) This is most definitely a full-body workout. It’s a squat, a core workout as well as shoulders and biceps. I felt this one the next day!

Kettlebell Dead Clean

This one is hard. I kept wanting to do it like the hang clean. But after a few rounds I got the hang of it. Dead lifts are a good core and glute workout. It’s even more challenging doing it with just one kettlebell.

We finished up with a bunch of ab work (ouch) and then cooled down. It was a good burn.

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Class #2 – Kettle Bell Conditioning

Saturday’s class was a good one. There wasn’t anything new to me, but there were plenty of moves that I like to do. One routine we did was a set of 30 swings (I went up to 35 pounds), followed by 10 up-downs, then see-saw presses, then 5 burpees. We did four rounds of this. The see-saw press is a fun one. I used the orange kettle bells for that one, they are 15 pounds each. I could have gone up to 20 pounds for that move but it was a packed class and they were all taken.

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Then there was a set of 100 mountain climbers, followed by 12 tuck jumps (I modified with squats jumps), then 12 double mountain climbers followed by another 12 tuck jumps, then 12 sumo mountain climbers followed by 12 tuck jumps. Sound like a lot? It is! My heart rate was pounding!

What I like about the Warrior Room is that Ashley is always good about modifications for people. If there is ever something someone can’t do she comes up with a variation. For me, it’s lunges. My physical therapist told me long ago, DON’T DO LUNGES. Like ever. It’s just not knee-friendly and I do notice that my knees get cranky when I try to do lunges. So whenever lunges are part of the workout, Ashley gives me a modification. This time it was doing the TRX knees to chest move.

After that there was an ab set (v-ups, windmills, etc). Then we did a set of double swings (I used the black kettlebells –20 pounds each), followed by squats, squats presses and then a deadlift (with the silver kettlebell which is 35 pounds).

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After that set of the kettle bell work we dd the mountain climber sequence again. Personally I enjoy the 1/2 Isolation & 1/2 Tabata class (see above) than the Kettle Bell Conditioning class because it’s more fast-paced and burns more calories. But the KB conditioning class is a good balance because it focuses more on perfecting the KB moves.

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So there are two different classes that were both a lot of fun and a good workout!

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? 🙂