I've heard the kettlebell called the ugly duck of fitness.
He's bottom heavy, funny looking, hard to take places and has a tendency to strike out with women. Poor thing! But truth be told, Mr. K has a lot more going for him than most would guess. He's a well-endowed fella who prefers not to let on to his greatness until your very first swing. Fitness experts Lorna Kleidman and Paul Katami proved to me just how smart Mr. K really is. Ready to graduate from your dumbbells?
Don't judge a book by its cover or a weight by its shape.
Makes sense, right? But how smart is Mr. K, really? I knew exactly who to ask--Lorna Kleidman--the reigning queen of kettlebell fitness. She's based in NYC and just so happens to be a 3x world kettlebell champion. Lorna retired from competing last year to go full throttle in her endeavor to innovate and popularize kettlebell fitness (specifically for women). I've known Lorna since the birth of MizzFIT.com (I reviewed her academy way back when). You won't meet a kettlebell expert with better form, teaching skills and creative kettle-moves than hers.
Lorna says: "Dumbbells are boring. I don’t like to be bored when I work out, do you? I create flowing, dynamic sequences with kettlebells to assure you’re never bored and you’ll never zone out." Lorna further explains that Mr. K outperforms the dumbbell by allowing for more graceful, fluid movements that render a glamorous posture, in addition to being completely fit.
After taking her class, I could see how this is true. Dumbbells don't comfortably move or fly with you when you're moving in different directions at varying speeds. They just feel heavy and clunky.
But dumbbells are the norm, which is why most women shy away from kettlebells. I was curious to hear how Lorna warmed up to Mr. K and eventually fell in love. This is the story she tells:
"I was introduced to kettlebells and discovered I didn’t even need to workout every day to achieve my best body. With kettlebells, a gorgeous shape began to emerge, with a round, lifted butt, flat abs, confident posture and a faster metabolism. After years in every kind of fitness class, I knew kettlebells were something special, something I wanted to share with others. They had such an impact on me that I began preparing for International competition, which had traditionally been a man’s competitive sport. Within four years, I became the most decorated kettlebell athlete in the U.S., including breaking a world record in 2011."
Clearly, kettlebells aren't just for men and you don't have to use heavy bells to see results. Paul Katami, the reigning king of kettlebell fitness on the west coast, tells me that Mr. K transforms your workout into multi-planar training which is the most efficient way to work your body. Paul is a kettlebell master instructor and has trained top celebrity trainers like Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper.
Paul also tells me that "the center of gravity displaced in the kettlebell forces you to think harder." Swinging the bell requires power (from you) which creates momentum which then creates even more energy during your workout that enhances the flow of movement from the bell to your muscles and so on. Dumbbells just don't inspire momentum like Mr. K.
2 brilliant ways to kettlebell - in class and at home!
Lorna Kleidman and Paul Katami are kettlebell pros for a reason--they designed popular group fitness programs around the kettlebell. Lorna teaches a series of signature classes called KettleX, KettleXStep and KettleXSport. XStep and XSport take things up a notch by combining classic kettlebell moves with step aerobics and intensive timed-drills. That's cardio on top of weight training (just to be clear) which means a hella cardio burn for you! I was drenched in sweat after class. And it was nearly impossible to stop because the motions during class were so fluid that taking a moment to towel off or sip some water would have totally broken my flow. You should try it out! Here's Lorna's schedule of NY classes.
For all you beginners out there, Paul Katami wants to show you the kettlebell "ropes". No need to leave home because he's got a DVD for you called Ultimate Kettlebell Workouts For Beginners. I'm no beginner and found this DVD tough. But who wants easy? I love the way Paul walks you through all the movements in 30 seconds and then makes you get right to it.
The DVD features three 25-minute workouts. For a challenge, I recommend doing the whole dvd at once completely barefoot with a 10-lb kettlebell. Be ready to lunge, chop twist and attempt moves that challenge your balance. Paul may have trained Jillian & Bob, but their kettlebell workouts don't compare to this one. This is a full body workout that any woman who likes training with weights will enjoy. It's the un-boring DVD workout that will make your body slimmer and smarter. Buy it here on Amazon or on AcaciaLifestyle.com.
How to choose the RIGHT Mr. K???
There are so many Mr. K's to choose from. He comes in classic, eccentric and even modern styles. Personally, I own Trainer Bob Harper's Contour Kettlebell from GoFit but with so many new brands of kettlebells on the market, I hardly know how mine measures up...although I must say I like what I own!
I asked Lorna and Paul to weigh-in and here's what they had to say about it...
- Lorna thinks just about any kettlebell works as long as it's modeled after the original design. She stays away from novelty bells (like the concave one I own above) and always recommends two different kettlebell weights within a session to switch things up and increase resistance when you can.
- Paul thinks the classic bell is the only way to go. He tells me "trends make your workout easier." Instead of opting for a concave bell (which is supposed to be less painful) he told me to stop making concessions around the bell and wear wrist protection. I can deal with that. I mean, hell, he's the kettlebell king.
Now that you know Mr. K is ALL THAT and a bag of biceps, will you give him a chance?
Hopefully so! And if you happen to connect with either Lorna or Paul through their classes or by purchasing their DVD workouts, please tell them I say hello! I really can't emphasize enough how well they know and speak their craft. People in fitness like Lorna and Paul, who love the gear as much as they love the results, are few and far between. They take the time to learn how to best work with the equipment not just use it. My recco: give Mr. K a shot and work out with them!