Earlier this week, the Greatist team hopped the 6 train and made our way uptown to meet Lorna Kleidman, three-time world kettlebell champion, and two of our friends from Chobani, Elizabeth and Karen. Many of us had never laid our paws on a kettlebell — the fitness tool gaining attention for it’s ability to simultaneously build strength, cardio, endurance, balance, and flexibility Oxygen cost of kettlebell swings. Farrar, R.E., Mayhew, J.L., Koch, A.J. Health and Exercise Sciences Department, Human Performance Laboratory, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010 Apr;24(4):1034-6. And there they were, lined up by size and corresponding color like painted bowling balls with handles.
We staggered ourselves in the dimly-lit studio, kettlebell, towel, and water bottle at each station. Kleidman, in a set of badass spandex and with perfectly coiffed curls, prompted us to shout out some adjectives that come to mind when we think of kettlebells. “Hard!” “Heavy!” “Intimidating!” Kleidman acknowledged that there tends to be a sense of nervousness with kettlebells, and rightly so as many of us had never trained with them. “It’s not hard, it’s challenging,” she told us. “If it’s hard, you wouldn’t want to come back.” Spoiler alert: It was hard, but many of us said we’d absolutely do it again.
The first few minutes of the hour-long class consisted of active stretching and jumping jacks. Then, Kleidman had us practice a basic swing without the weight — hinge at the hips, bum out, eyes forward, wrists right into our lady (and gentlemen) bits. I couldn’t help but wonder the pain I’d endure if I mistakenly swung my hands just a few inches higher. But, miracle of miracles, when we practiced our first weighted double-arm swing the kettlebell followed the arc it was supposed to (phew). We swung the kettlebell higher, allowing momentum to help it along. It was actually kind of fun (Exhale. Whee! Exhale. Whee!) Then things got real.
We lunged to the left and threaded the kettlebell behind and around that bent leg, passing it from one hand to the next. Then came simple upright rows. OK, simple enough… until Kleidman instructed us to zip the bell up in front of our bodies and swiftly press it overhead. All manageable until my hands began to sweat profusely, and I became more concerned with the implications of losing grip and accidently throwing a 12 pound weapon at one of my coworkers.
We continued through Kleidman’s routine of kettlebell exercises, from front and side lunges to figure-8 squats and plank rows. We circled the weight in front of the body, around our heads like a halo (talk about coordination), and then dropped down for some push-ups between sets. While we learned fewer than 10 movements total, the challenging part was moving through the circuit seamlessly (for a bajillion reps, roughly speaking) and at a fairly rapid pace.
The up-tempo mashups blasting through the speakers and Kleidman’s motivational musings like “You can do anything for 30 seconds!” made the class fly by as quickly as I thought the kettlebell would fly out of my hand and smash the mirrored wall in front of me. (Note: Not everyone had the sweaty palm problem, but Kleidman suggested light grippy gloves for next time).We finished off with a light stretch, toweled down our faces, and took solace in the fact that we burned somewhere between 600 and 850 calories in the one-hour session. On our way out Kleidman gave us the best instructions yet, “Go home and eat!”
Second photo by Jordan Shakeshaft
To learn more about Kleidman, her KettleX classes, and coaching, visit www.lornafit.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter at @LornaFitness.
Have you tried kettlebell training? Tell us what you think of the bells in the comment section below or tweet the author @nicmcdermott.