Saturday, March 27, 2010

Karma bit my ass in Bang's kettlebell class

Yesterday I taught Urban Warrior Team Training with some extra Tabata and made jokes about people being able to pick a Victoria's Kitchen food item from the freezer (kind of like a tickle trunk at the dentist) if they felt nauseous during class. Twisted, yes. The last thing they are thinking about is food. But a small apology for their discomfort.

So had a bit of a crazy morning and had a few minutes to grab an americano from the Common 1071 College (best coffee shop in T.O. by the way. When I walked in at noon it was packed. A dude was playing a mandolin in a corner, uber cool music playing and totally interesting people and with the type of gritty ambience that makes Toronto my personal utopia) and then headed down to Bang Fitness for my first full kettlebell workout. I should know better than to grab a coffee before a workout but I also knew it would give me a bit of a jolt for a super hard sweat plus I was already well hydrated.

The class was scheduled for 45 minutes so I knew, like my 45 minute Tabata class, it would be fast and dirty.
Over the last 6 years, kettlebells have become much more mainstream and part of my job in serving my clients is trying stuff out so I can have an educated opinion about something they might be interested in adding to their programs. Also, if I really like something I'm going to get certified in it and bring it into my bag of tricks. And I try stuff out on my body first before recommended anything/anyone (naturopaths, physios, functional chiros, different types of yoga, new spinning programs etc etc).

I picked up the smallest kettlebell available (12 kilos 26.4 lbs). The instructor at Bang was great and the people who were clearly regulars were killing me (with laughter) during much of the class. We did 3 sets of 5 exercises, 1 minute each 3 times around. About 10 minutes before we were done, the nausea started setting in and I kind of just laughed about it and sucked it up. I knew how good I was going to feel when it was over. The movements are very full body of course. There was a lot of overhead pressing to kick the metabolism into high gear. The instructor also included a little plyometric work (split squat jumps). The people there were clearly well conditioned and strong. The 4 other women there were clearly stronger than the average woman. And true enough, the class was a great reset on my attitude and made me feel like I was going to fly the rest of the day. Even later in the afternoon, I went for a big grocery shop and found myself smiling at everyone (cookoo!).

So what do I think? I'm likely going to keep pursuing kettlebell training for me (probably find someone to do some private training with me) and might even look into a certification down the road. It fits into my efficient training philosophy. It was everything I had hoped it would be and I'm ready to start ramping up my own training. For my better conditioned clients with good structural balance and few injuries, I would totally recommend kettlebell work as a supplement to their strength work. And it's great for people that have gotten off the long steady state cardio thing of the 90s and really want to push themselves.

BUT Kettlebell classes are not the right place for people new to kettlebell training to start. Before people even think about picking up a kettlebell, they should be doing loads of training to improve mobility, address RSIs or other injuries, fix structural balance issues and develop strong neural pathways to muscles that have become amnesic due to inactivity, desk work and improper movement patterns. The kettlebell training pros out there might disagree with me I know but I've been helping a lot of people with shoulder injuries or a history of shoulder injuries and trying to get their scapular stabilizers working and get some good TVA strength. Lifting heavy weight overhead, a movement common in kettlebell training, is not a great place to start in terms of building upper body strength. Kettlebell training is not the place to start for people with poor body awareness and obvious postural issues. And many of the movements involve bilateral work (i.e. squats) and anyone starting out training should be including loads of unilateral strength especially if they've had any lower body issues that could have led to compensations on one side of the body.

Patty Scott, an Agatsu-certified kettlebell instructor, stresses the importance of getting personal instruction when it comes to using kettlebells. "With the popularity of kettlebells, a lot of people are learning the basics from DVDs and YouTube. I cringe at some of the instruction given on websites, even though the instructions come from extremely well-respected and certified kettlebell trainers," she warns. Scott, who was an experienced fitness professional and trainer long before she tried kettlebells, uses herself as an example. "When I first started using kettlebells, I sustained some nasty bumps and bruises. I cannot imagine what would happen to a person with less experience!"

Here's a vid showing some typical kettlebell movements.

Like any trendy fitness tool, some trainers are not using kettlebells the way they were designed to be used. This video below is the perfect example of what happens to fashionable tools. This is just wrong.

Hope this info helps! And BTW I'm not suffering today. Just a little aware I did some hard work yesterday. I can walk.

Jane Clapp

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