NY Times – Time’s A-Wasting; Pick Up a Kettlebell

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EVEN for the most diligent exerciser, spending endless hours in the gym to get into or stay in shape can start to feel like punishment.

 The trainer Lorna Kleidman empathizes and offers kettlebell classes that she says can help time-pressed New Yorkers meet their fitness goals in a few hours a week.

Kettlebells are round cast-iron weights with handles to make them easier to maneuver for a cardiovascular and strength-building workout. Ms. Kleidman, 47, has created two classes using them at the Fitness Cell Collective, a new Upper East Side boutique gym.

The first, KettleX, is an hourlong class that uses 12-to-17-pound weights for easy-to-follow, though intense, full-body moves. Most exercises involve swinging a kettlebell in different directions, alternating the left and the right hands, to work the upper body and core while doing lower-body moves like lunges and squats. The bell is lifted from the lower body by momentum, which helps propel the arms in various patterns and directions.

The second class, KettleX Step, adds the bells to a traditional step-aerobics class for a higher-intensity workout. Ms. Kleidman said that a 145-pound, 5-foot-6-inch woman would burn 950 calories in a 50-minute session. At 5 feet 7 inches and 134 pounds, she credits her lithe physique to these kinds of workouts.

“I had extreme asthma as a child and only started working out in my early 20s, when I joined a gym and tried every class offered,” she said. “Eventually, I became addicted to high-impact aerobics and was taking 15 hours of classes a week. But when I discovered kettlebells through a trainer, my metabolism shot up so much that I was able to cut down to five hours a week.”

When Ms. Kleidman was 42, she started competing in kettlebell-lifting competitions. She has participated in 10 so far, she said, and has won gold in all of them, including three international contests. One was a little over a year ago in San Diego, where she set a world record in her age category for using a 16-kilogram (about 35-pound) kettlebell.

There are thousands of kettlebell drills, she said, but the basic move is a swing that requires controlling the momentum. Doing that demands the use of nearly every muscle.

Melanie Silverman, 43, has experienced the effects of Ms. Kleidman’s workouts. A former lawyer, now a stay-at-home mom who lives on the Upper East Side, Ms. Silverman said that she had maintained her weight (138 pounds) on her 5-foot-8 frame since shortly after having her second child three years ago.

“I do two hours of kettlebells a week and get in my strength and cardio together, which makes it super time-efficient,” she said.

My personal trainer, Annette Lang, who is 53 and in prime shape, took the KettleX class and said that it felt as if it raised her heart rate in a different way from running or other cardiovascular workouts because it engaged so many muscles together.

“I definitely felt a good sore the next day,” Ms. Lang said. If you want a full-body workout without spending a lot of time, she added, “this is perfect.”

How would it feel to be Strong, Leaner, and more confident in your body?