I took extreme interest in being able to move heavy iron through space at the young age of 15 and quickly discovered my unique fascination with the human body. There is something about the iron that young boys are magnetized to. I think it’s the obsession to live up to their favorite superhero or at least to appeal a little more to the ladies. Whatever ‘it’ is, I caught the fever. Chest, Bis and Abs on Monday. Back, Shoulders, Tris on Tuesday. Legs on Wednesday. Repeat beach muscle lifts-what you see in the mirror-on Thursday and Friday. After all, that is what the ladies like, right?
And then it happened. My sack-of-bones started to break down. My low-back throbbed. My shoulders ached all of the time. My ankles became my Achilles literally and figuratively. I ran cross-country and track and played basketball, yet I had difficulty moving fluidly on any court or field. I continued to lift weights like I was on my deathbed. The mantra bigger, faster, stronger was the only thing I thought about. My dogged-determination brewed in me to ‘suck it up’ and push through it like most athletes are taught. Pain was to be thought of as ‘slight discomfort’. Little did I know that treating my body as a collection of body-parts would lead to my self-inflicting pain and overuse injuries a short four years later while in college studying Exercise Science (the obsession ran so deep that I decided to pursue education beyond Ironman and Planet Muscle).
Fast forward seven years.
I decided on a serious career as a personal fitness trainer at a big-box gym. I quickly discovered this type of gym and the training I was supposed to be promoting was causing my clients to physically break down as much as it was in my own training. After 18-months of insanity, I made it a personal vendetta to search for something I could morph into my own and actually deliver results to myself and my loyal clients.
Perusing the magazine rack at the local bookstore, I picked up the latest injection of Muscle and Fiction. Flipping through the pages, I zeroed in on an black and white ad promoting some simple barbell program written by some Russian dude claiming outrageous gains in strength. He even went so far to title the program “Power to the People.” So audacious the claims-as a young thirsty curios lad-I had to purchase and test drive this stripped down program. It worked. It led me to an online forum where this Russian dude had assembled an underground army of followers. He had invaded the U.S. completely undercover and was building a militia unbeknownst to anyone in the Ken-and-Barbie-fitness community which was all according to his blueprint. They forum devotees were swarming like a bee hive about these “kettle-things.”
Cowbells, Kettle-balls, Kettle-What? That’s what I asked myself in the spring of 2003. Cast Iron Balls…with handles. Kettlebells. My hunger for the pursuit of the iron resurfaced. A small hunch and a serious life gut-check that summer led me down a small little-traveled trail leading to my current state of reality. The masochist in me was relentlessly magnetized to these over-sized bowling balls with handles. The sadist in me knew others disgusted with their herd workouts would salivate over this newly re-discovered Russian Secret weapon.
My peers thought I had checked myself into a virtual loony bin. I didn’t care. I went rogue and immersed myself into this underground culture of physical training. A common bond grew among these seekers of sinewy muscle that actually had form AND function. What a concept! I had discovered the holy grail and realized shortly that I was on the beginning of a revolution in the United States headed Pavel Tsatsouline known as ‘the Evil Russian’. Pavel’s kettlebell regime quickly spread its tentacles throughout this underground community of strength enthusiasts.
I was mesmerized seeing the future in the crystal ball…or at least an iron-ball covered in black epoxy paint! I was so mesmerized that I volunteered for 23 hours of contact through a specialized kettlebell course with my new-found mentor “The Evil Russian”. Contact didn’t even begin to explain what was endured that weekend. Upon arrival at this certification, Pavel defined contact-hours as ‘bonding’-so far as schlepping it to the bathroom. Three days back in September of 2003 changed my physique, my mental fortitude, and my life trajectory all in one shot.
Kettlebells were going to be the next major fitness trend. Not some hokey infomercial three-month fad. Kettlebells and kettlebell training hovered way below the radar of the popular majority-unlike traditional training in the hamster maze gyms–mainly because kettlebells require fortitude, attitude and WORK-itude I set out to stake my claim in the kettlebell underground.
Who does kettlebells? First serious guys that depend on fitness for their jobs like FBI, Secret Service, CIA and even a few cops. Then hard core trainers who cared about delivering maximum results in minimum time to their faithful clientele. The Russian Kettlebell Revolution picked up serious momentum towards year end 2007 gaining exposure in countless popular fitness magazines and big-city newspapers. Now Family-CEOs (moms)–the fastest growing kettlebell sect-are discovering that kettlebell conditioning is the most time-efficient cellulite vaporizer while balancing Junior soiling his diaper and Fido chewing shoes.
Why kettlebells vs machines, barbells or dumbbells? Machines are a waste of time and perpetuate laziness in our sub-fit over-fed majority. Sitting down to exercise? Who thought of that and when does life happen sitting down? Barbells. Good for one action: incrementally increasing resistance to increase muscle mass on athletes who need extra muscle mass. And last time I checked, you can’t swing a barbell between your legs. Dumbbells. Decent. They have a completely different feel to them than kettlebells. Anyone who says you can perform kettlebell movements with dumbbells and receive the same benefits hasn’t used kettlebells.
Kettlebells are a unique shape with displaced weight suspended from the handle promoting fluid momentum-based movements combining strength, cardio and flexibility all in the same training session with only ONE tool. This Russian secret weapon has been praised “the ultimate hand-held gym”.
Where does one learn the art of kettlebell swinging? From a QUALIFIED kettlebell instructor. Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) Instructors are required to withstand a mentally and physically vigorous 23-hour course before being cut loose to teach unsuspecting victims. I am one that instructor. Actually I am known as ‘THE kettlebell guy’ in Minnesota. And you are my next client. I invite you to be a contestant at my next beginner kettlebell class known as the Gauntlet and discover for yourself how to chisel away your spare tire and vaporize your muffin tops via the power of the kettlebell.