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Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Are You Ready For Kettlebells?

Kettlebells class at 92Y May Center

OK, so you’ve made your New Year’s resolution. Are you ready for Kettlebells? The workout is over a century old, and is considered one of the most effective no-gimmicks approaches to developing lean, powerful muscles and cardiovascular endurance.

Russia’s legendary strongmen have used kettlebells since the 1700s and kettlebell strength competitions were elevated to the status of a Russian national sport by the 1940’s.  Martial artists, actors, law enforcement personnel and fitness enthusiasts also include kettlebells in their fitness programs. As a matter of fact, you come to the May Center Open House tonight and do kettlebell drills from 6-8 pm with trainers. The first 50 people who join the 92Y May Center at our Fitness Open House will receive $400 off* membership plus three complimentary months!

So what are the benefits of kettlebells? They offer a number of benefits over traditional weights and popular resistance machines: 

Kettlebells give you real-world strength.  Most objects you lift in the everyday world are not as perfectly balanced as a dumbbell or a weight machine. Kettlebells’ ball-and-handle design disrupts the balance you are accustomed to by moving the weight’s center of gravity away from your hand as you lift it [for example, lifting a broom from one end is more difficult than lifting the same broom from its center].  This new approach to balancing the weight will engage more muscles than you’ve ever used in the past, including your critical core muscles.  You will notice the benefit of kettlebells when you find that lifting your kids or groceries become much easier.

Kettlebells provide an effective cardiovascular workout.  Unlike free weights and most resistance training machines that solely concentrate on strengthening specific muscle groups, kettlebells are highly effective in bringing your heart rate to targeted levels.  One kettlebell workout will quickly convince you of its cardiovascular benefits.

Kettlebells burn fat. Studies have shown that kettlebell workouts burn more fat than most traditional weight training exercises.  In addition, virtually all of your muscles are engaged as you lift kettlebells.

Neil Mitchell, a trainer at the 92Y May Center for Health, Fitness & Sport who is also a certified Kettlebell instructor, says “Modern kettlebell training relies on what is known as ‘primitive movement patterns’ such as rolling over, sitting up, standing up and leading a movement with your hips as opposed to using your back or your knees.” Mitchell adds that kettlebell training re-engineers how your body moves through teaching your muscles to work together instead of allowing one muscle group to do all the work.

Kettlebells come in a wide range of weights (from 5 pounds to 150 pounds) and can be used by most healthy adults. 92Y Fitness Coordinator David Simmons suggests that women start with kettlebells that weigh 8 to12 kilograms (about 15 to 25 pounds if you buy American-made kettlebells) and men 12 to16 kilograms (about 25 to 35 pounds).  Simmons warns that you should avoid kettlebells if you have a limited range of motion in your back or shoulders.

Like any exercise routine, you should receive supervision in proper technique by a certified professional trainer and consult a physician before undertaking any exercise program.

[May Center for Health, Fitness & Sport]

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