The unusual bits of kit you’ll find in the gym, variously described as cannonballs with handles or metal handbags, are in fact kettlebells. They have come a long way from their roots in 18th-century Russia where they were used mainly for weighing crops. Farmers who used them got stronger, and would show off their prowess with kettlebells at festivals.
Today, kettlebells can give you an intense, total-body workout. Kettlebell exercises are used to build strength and endurance, especially in the lower back, legs and shoulders. They offer a potent combination of cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.
Kettlebell exercises fall into two main categories: ballistics – where you swing the kettlebell, and grind – where you lift at a slower pace. They differ from traditional dumbbell or barbell routines as they often involve large numbers of repetitions, although you do get short breaks every few minutes.
These things are weighty, and it’s really important to make sure you lift them correctly – a strained back is not going to help your fitness regime! This is where kettlebell classes come in. They focus on getting your lifting technique right by concentrating on basic movements such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, which work the whole body at once. Because of the high number of repetitions, our instructors pay special attention to starting kettlebell progression slowly to build muscle strength, support the joints and prevent injury. When done correctly kettlebell exercises improve mobility, range of motion and increase strength.
In a study where kettlebell enthusiasts performed a 20-minute snatch workout, they burned as many calories as they would have done running at a six-minute-mile pace. Like every other form of fitness training, the more you put in, the more you get out!