As a Kettlebell sport champion, coach, and the creator of KettleX workouts and education, I’m always eager to learn. In my search for knowledge, I often write out my ideas to sift through and solidify or discard them. I’d like to share recent thoughts inspired by a well-respected instructor and Kettlebell trainer.
The article I’m referencing was addressed to personal trainers with the message of how to use Kettlebells properly. This is a terrific topic and many of the points within the article were well stated. Yet there was something awry in the overall message as a result of studying a style, an approach that’s clearly branded. When a style is branded it is by nature limited, and it becomes challenging if not impossible to expand the ideas of the brand. Expansion is important for thought, progression of movement, and physiologic development. It’s not enough to simply perform the same series of a few moves with a heavier Kettlebell and call it progress. The problem with branded style is that the point of the business is the brand, as opposes to creative thinking.
As a result, areas of potentiality are not recognized or experimented with because they’re not relevant to said brand.
One of the points of the piece was “It’s not about the bell, it’s about movement.” Couldn’t agree more, since the bell is simply a tool (an excellent one!) for most every fitness endeavor sans maximal strength. Nope, it’s not about the bell, it’s about how your body moves in relation to the bell; under, around or in opposition to the bell. A solid foundation in proper movement patterns is necessary, as are Squats, Dead lifts, Pushing and Pulling, as the writer suggests.
The statement that follows is where the limitation resides: “Very light bells are (next to) useless.” Well, let’s consider what we’re discussing: If we’re discussing strength training, then it’s true that light weights are not effective. Yet the article was discussing Kettlebells and how to use them properly so here’s where one must consider the source. Very clearly the source for this information is derived from a branded viewpoint.
The truth is there are myriad ways to use a Kettlebell.
Point of fact, I’ve created the KettleX fitness workouts and DVDs with unique movements and a variety of planes of motion, and the KettleX Yoga workout after years of yoga classes. The objective of KettleX Yoga is to challenge the human body with yoga Vinyasas and a very light Kettlebell throughout the session. Holding, passing, and balancing throughout a 50-minute Vinyasa flow with a very light Kettlebell offers a gloriously challenging workout, with no prior Kettlebell experience necessary. Why?
Because you won’t see a Turkish Get-Up, Swing, Push Press or the like in this workout. So it’s not a real Kettlebell workout? Well, there comes the branding indoctrination again. I invite you to think in broader terms.
As stated above, there are myriad ways to use a Kettlebell. KettleX Yoga is an example of a kick-ass workout it utilizes a Kettlebell, this weight with handle, and not a heavy one. If someone wanted to try a heavier weight than what is offered, they would find it impossible to produce the movements of the workout. It’s not always about the weight. If the writer’s intention was, as stated, “it’s about the movements, not the bell,” then this workout is the perfect representation of just how versatile Kettlebells are.
Tell me, if you’re in triangle pose with a light bell over head in a bottom’s up position, do you doubt that the arm needs to be straight, grip engaged, trunk rotated and abs firing in order to hold this position, and then gracefully transition to the next one?
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: Kettlebells are special precisely because they’re a weight with a handle, giving it a variable center of gravity, making them challenging. And they’re challenging whether or not you use heavy weight. Weight is dictated by your goal and your ability, but it certainly doesn’t make light Kettlebells useless. After all, we agree it’s not about the bell, it’s about the movement.