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