We Tried It: What to Expect in a Kettlebell Class

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I always try to stay on top of the latest fitness trends—not only because it helps me to answer questions from our members and keep our fitness content fresh, but also because I'm a bit of a fitness junky. I like to try new things so that my workouts stay fun, exciting and effective. Kettlebells recently caught my eye, and I can't even tell you how I first heard of them. But then, I kept hearing more and more about them and began to see trainers working with them at the gym, too. I started to watch kettlebell videos on YouTube just for fun—it looked so different and intense—and that led me to researching and writing an article for SparkPeople that explains the benefits and basics of kettlebell training. (If you've never heard of kettlebells or don't know much about them, I suggest starting with that article.)

One thing was clear to me from my research and my interviews with kettlebell experts: Kettlebell training isn't something you can just jump into without the proper instruction. As a fitness professional, I understand a great deal about how the body works and how to move in a safe and effective manner, but kettlebell training looked so different and unusual to me, that I knew I had to learn about it directly from a true expert if I was going to do it right. So that's exactly what I did!

I gathered a couple of my co-workers who were also eager to try kettlebells, and we met up with Henry Marshall, a NSCA-certified personal trainer and IKFF- and AOS-certified kettlebell trainer for an hour-long workout at HealthStyle Fitness club in Cincinnati. This was our first time trying kettlebells. Want to hear what we thought about it (and see the short video we filmed during our session)?

This video (below) shows just a sampling of the moves that we learned and practiced during our workout. It gives a good idea of what kettlebell training is like. Notice how we squat deeply (all the way to the floor), lock out our knee and elbow joints during the movements, and harness momentum—techniques that most fitness professionals avoid during traditional workouts because of their potential injury risk. That's a big reason why you should always get expert instruction and oversight when you begin exercising with kettlebells.

If you have trouble viewing this video here, please click here to see it on YouTube.

Overall, here is what each of us thought about our first kettlebell workout:

Paul tried a 16-kilogram (35-pound) kettlebell. He said, "I loved it, and it was very difficult! I'm pretty active—I do weight training 4 or 5 days a week, and I do cardio like running and boxing/wrestling, too. Still, I found my first workout with kettlebells to be pretty challenging. There is a lot to coordinate and think about when you're doing the moves, which involve your whole body. I was pretty sore for a couple days—especially my hamstrings and, strangely, the arches of me feet were a little sore even during the workout. I would say kettlebells would be very good for people who want to switch up their workouts to something more full-body, and/or something that involves a little more thought, skill or coordination. I definitely think you wouldn't get bored doing kettlebells!"

Tim used a 16-kilogram bell, too. "I have to say I really enjoyed the workout—it was both challenging and fun," he commented. "This full-body workout combined strength training, cardio, anaerobic activity and coordination. The different movements allow you to work muscles you wouldn't normally use, which meant that I was sore for a few days following it! I consider myself an active person; I lift weights and do some type of cardio about 5 days a week (running, sports, hiking, biking etc). I'm the kind of person who loves to mix up my workouts and find new ways to stay active and kettlebells seems like a great additional 'change of pace' workout to add to the routine!"

My Take: I LOVED the kettlebell workout! I am hooked! I worked out with a 12-kilogram (about 26 pound) bell to start, and near the end that become too difficult and I had to drop down to the next level they had available (8 kilograms or about 18 pounds). I knew that kettlebells were supposed to combine strength training and cardio into one workout, so I wore my heart rate monitor during the workout and my heart rate was way up—near the top of my aerobic range (80% to 85%) during most of the workout. It was intense! I was dripping with sweat and I felt tired as if I worked out much longer. But at the same time, it flew by because it was so fun and different.

I loved how kettlebells train your muscles (strength training) and your heart (cardio) in a single workout—it's like multitasking! I'd liken it to other mind-body exercise, like Pilates or yoga, because you have to focus so intently on the task at hand. You are coordinating so many parts of your body at once that you really have to pay attention and think about what's going on to do the move safely and correctly. Some people like a mindless workout where they can distract themselves for an hour, but I like a mindful workout where you focus on what you're doing. To me, it was like a sort of meditation—other thoughts don't creep in because you're so "in the moment" during the workout. But beyond that, it was just a great workout. I used my body in new ways and felt really strong and accomplished by the end.

I was sore for a few days afterward—especially in my hamstrings, butt, inner thighs and lower back (in a good way). Since our workout with Henry, I've purchased my own 20-pound kettlebell and I've been practicing what I learned at home once or twice a week, as well as trying out some of the kettlebell DVDs that are on the market. I highly recommend learning directly from a kettlebell professional before you try it on your own, but I do plan to review some of these home fitness products in future blog entries.

Thanks again to HealthStyle Fitness and Henry Marshall for the great kettlebell experience!

Are you interested in kettlebell training? Have you tried it yourself or seen others use kettlebells?

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MUSTANGMOM6 4/13/2018
Great article Report
KHALIA2 2/19/2018
I have tried them only once. Did not have a good experience. Report
I'd LOVE to try a kettlebell workout. I'm hoping that once our gym reopens the "winter side" (where the KBs are kept) I'll be able to schedule something. I love the idea of a high intensity combo cardio/strength workout. Report
Didn't have a good experience. The instructors kept forcing me to use a larger kettle bell than I was comfortable with and I always hurt my back. Report
Kettlebell can be used in the health club all around the state so it is old, I believe that you must try if you'd like to build great muscles.
Get more details please check :
https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAO_WkDutpo
Love Kettlebells! Highly recommend Paul Katami videos. Report
I've been training with a kettle bells instructor in Beijing for the past 6 months and I have to say it has been life changing. Kettle Bells, when practiced under the guidance of a trained and qualified professional, is the most fun, effective strength training and aerobic workout I've ever had. It is incredibly dynamic and challenging. I have moved through so many issues regarding my mind and body that I'll never be the same. I compare Kettle bells to yoga, climbing and meditation: I have to maintain a sustained focus on what my body is doing, I must constantly learn and relearn about my mind muscle connection and I get to zone into what I'm doing to such a degree that there is no space left for thinking- just the act of swinging or get ups or whatever else I'm engaged in. Kettle bells should be taught at every high school to raise awareness amongst young people so that they can familiarize themselves with their bodies and their bodies' potential. Give it a shot...just make sure you have a trainer for the first while otherwise you could really hurt yourself. The benefits are unbelievable. Report
If you want to start kettlebels at home, start with a DVD and use a regular weight as a modification. I used Jillian Michaels' Shred it with weights. It is only $10 or $12 on Amazon. She does have a tutorial to practice with before you start the "real thing. If you like the work out with the regular wieght then invest in a kettlebell. I found a 15lb one at Ross for about $25 which is a GREAT price. If you do buy a ketttle bell, pick up a pair of weight lifting gloves as your hands may get really sweaty. Report
I 've seen Kbells at my gym, but was afraid to use them. Can't wait to try it now. Report
I love kettlebells. This is one of the most intense and rewarding fitness classes I've ever taken. I worked with a certified KB instructor for a year and now work out at home 2-3 days a week. A half-hour of KB in the morning and I'm energized for the day! KBs have helped me keep my 50+ lb weight loss off for two years. Report
I tried a class from livingsocial, and I'll be going back to Dumbbells. The injury potential is much higher with these (I strained my ab for example), so I would say this isn't something someone should just purchase and try out at home. People, you're swinging around a poorly controlled weight. Make sure you're doing it with someone who is knowledgable Report
I haven't tried these, though I have looked at them. You have *SPARKED* and interest! Report
I have been doing kettlebells for 3 or 4 years. I have started doing them 4 days a week. Our class is pretty intense and I have gone from using mostly 26 lbs to 44 and 53 lbs. Report
I am eager to try it out. Report
Kettlebells are a great workout. A lower weight (10lbs.) still gives me elevated heart rate and sore muscles but is easier on 51 year old joints. "Viva La Kettlebell"! Report
I just bought a set of Jillian Michael's Kettlebells from Walmart and look forward to trying them out soon. Report
I love my kettlebells. I use them several times a week. Now using a 35 and 50 lb.
Michael Report
I LOVE kettle bell training! I have Kettleworx and I use a 10lb bell. This is undoubtedly the most challenging work out I have ever done and that includes P90X. The difference for me is that the moves are DOABLE. I couldn't master a lot of the moves from P90x but these are effective and I don't feel like a moron for not being able to execute them. Report
I will work up to this workout. Report
While not for total beginners, it only takes a little instruction and proper attention to form to get started doing the basics. All of this can be done with a good intro Kettlebell DVD or grab a class if you can find one.

A+ workout... worth doing.. love it! Report
I love Kettlebell. I love everything about the workout especially the results. Report
I currently have a 5 pd kettlebell and love working out with it. When I have some extra cash, I will purchase a heavier weight and workout dvd to go wit it. Report
I know this is an older post, but I am curious if you can offer some good kettlebell DVD's for newbies? I have a kettlebell and absolutley LOVE it, but the DVD that came with the bell is of very poor quality. The instructors movements are so fast, anyone would be unable to keep up - and it wouldn't be safe to attempt to. There are so many DVD's on the market, I'm not certain which would be good to purchase for a fairly new user. thanks Report
They are a great bit of kit for training but don't get caught up in the hype and try using them without correct instruction from a porfessional first, sometimes the most simple things can do the most damage.

Also steer clear of cheap kettlebells, believe it or not you can make a mess of an iron ball with a handle if they are manufactured cheaply. There is a full report here that can save you time and money www.bestkettlebell.com .

I second the comments from KOKOMOROCK, that is great advice, thicker handles are sometimes hard to come by. In my opinion Lifeline USA Kettlebells are the best value for money and they are made in the USA. Report
Kettlebells ar GREAT ! Two things to remember though- 1) all kettlebells are NOT created equal, cheaper does not necessarily mean better. Handle thickness will vary (you WANT the thicker handles to build hand strength) and the most important point is 2) that while KBs are a safe workout when used PROPERLY, you should seek out training from someone qualified to teach KB`s. Being a personal trainer does NOT automatically qualify a person to teach KB`s. Pavel s started the whole kettlebell revolution, go to his website ( www.dragondoor.com ) and look up the list of qualified instructors there. I did, and I learned a LOT from my instructor. So don`t just rely on any dvd ( such as Jillian Michaels), because doing KB`s incorrectly could cause you problems down the road. Report
i AM GOING to try some sort of kettlebell training without having to buy kettlebells. How?) bprobably heavy books on a backpack:
I bought a light weight set of kettlebells, 3lbs and 5lbs, to help me get in shape and develop some strength after wrist surgery. I used it 3 or 4 times, very modified, shortly after my surgery, but once my dr. released to regular activity I went ahead and did the routine on accompanying dvd. The first time I "racked" the kettlebell (see the photo at the head of this article -- that's racking the kettlebell), the kettlebell swung against my elbow and cracked the head of radius. Not realizing I had broke my elbow, I actually did the rountine a couple of more times, modifying it to be more gentle because I thought I had given myself tennis elbow. Each time I was making the break worse. I really enjoyed the kettlebell, but I can't recommend it. Because the break is at the very end of the elbow it also damaged the ligaments and they will take upwards of a year to heal even though the bone healed in 6 weeks. Report
I was introduced to kettlebells a few months ago and I think it's a wonderful workout!! I desperately needed to add strength training to my workouts, but did not want to lose cardio; kettlebells gave me both strength and endurance. I failed to meet my goals, but I'm on the road to fitness again and kettlebells will help me get there. Try them--you will LOVE them!! Report
I've been using kettlebells exclusively for strength training since last October 2010. Love them! My overall body strength has increased since I switched from dumb bells to kettlebells. I do kettlebell workout twice a week on top of sprints/interval training twice a week. Report
@TAMARASART most of the sources I've seen estimate the calorie-burn for kettlebell workouts to be about 200 k/cal per 10 minutes of continuous motion. There is an option in the Fitness Tracker to "manually enter calories burned". Follow the prompts and add kettlebell workouts to your Favorites. Woohoo! Report
I am thrilled to see that SP is taking interest in kettlebell training. I have taken two classes at the Y with an experienced trainer, and I am getting hooked. I purchased a 5 pound kettlebell and a Jillian DVD to study at home. I am learning all I can from online sites and know I have to do it correctly to avoid injury and problems and to get all the benefits (which are many) from kettlebell training. So far I am loving it and will continue to pursue it. Would love it if Nicole would do a video on kettlebell training. BTW, I will be 82 in December and love SparkPeople and all the support and encouragement we have access to here. Report
I have to dissagree with the poster above.. Many kettlebells out there featuring the same shape as KetUSA's ones, yet cost up to 1.5-2 times less..I checked through http://cheap-kettlebells.com and found FAR better deals there... Report
I have 6 kettlebells of different weights, I like them better then dumb bells they have a bigger varity of movement you can do. I am still looking for more dvd's. I would like so see one from spark people.. I have a couple from bob harper that are good but they do exercises with dumbells to that I like. Report
I am interested in trying it but afraid to buy any dvd's.
If you made a dvd or taught it here at Spark I would give it a try.
Also would have to know how much wt. to start with. I don't know anything about this kind of workout, so I would need a lot of info. and advice! Report
This is awesome...are you going to give us a Coach Nicole Kettlebell workout video to follow? Report
Just got a kettle ball a month ago and I love love it. Its a great full body work out,no bad aches or pains just the good muscle soreness Report
I love the kettlebell. I started about 2 months ago at the Y with the trainer there and have kept at it at least once a week. It is a great workout to do when I am crunched for time! I do feel like it is multitasking as I am sweating and breathing hard--aerobic and strength all at once! Report
Kettlebell workouts are awesome!!! They feel more like fun than working out, but you feel the soreness, which let's you know it's working, for a couple of days. I was doing it before I started Sparks, but haven't gotten back at it - which I really should, but I have a 5 year old and 19 month old who are constantly getting in my way when I attempt to do it. Basically, I have to wait till they are in bed and by that time, I'm beat!!! Report
I've been using Kettlebells for about 3 weeks now I started and currently am using a 10lb kettlebell and am considering moving up to a 18lb one very soon. I love working out with the kettlebells. I've been doing an hour every other day and a 1/2 hour on the off days. Calories that I burn in the excersize is amazing. I have a bad back and did my research prior to getting a kettlebell including talking to my chiropractor. My Chiropractor actually encouraged me get into this as it strengthens your core and your back. So those of you who are skeptical about trying these I encourage you. I at the begining of this was a very out of shape person who is working hard to get back into shape. Report
I have tried the kettlebell workout from Kathy Smith and she starts you w/a 2pound weight which is perfect. I think if you are truly interested and don't have a fitness center you can go to or afford then this is ideal. I got it from her website. Very affordable and Kathy Smith makes it easy to follow especially for the extremely awkward like ME!! Her set has 2 and 5 pound kettlebells. Try this you just might like it. Report
Looks intense but a good workout. Don't know anyone who has tried this or currently doing it but think I'll do a little 'nosing' around and see if I can find someone. Thanks. Report
Considering the fact that the Russians have been using Kettleballs since the early 1900's for training, I would not consider this a fad by any means. The orginal kettleballs were cowbells filled with lead to give them weight. I would love to try kettle ball training but seems like not enough instructor's have the training to give instruction. Report
I'm definitely going to give it a try. Report
I love working with the kettlebells! Report
I know someone that attends kettlebell class in NE Minneapolis. They just recently went through three days of certification training in April and we are now asking our gym if she could teach classes. She has only been doing this herself since October 2009 and the definition of muscles in her upper arms, the balance and she also helped me get into Fitness Pilates. This is a workout that comes from Russia and is extremely good at burning calories and stablizing your core while making you stronger.
Now we just need to know how to track this on the fitness page. Report
Oh My God!!! What an intense looking workout. I just read and watched this video with my 9 year old son and I will definitely be planning on working my way up to getting fit enough to do this kettleball workout. I don't like to venture outside my home for exercise/workouts since I am not at all comfortable in gyms and I do not drive. Yet in considering doing this for future intense fitness I WILL go to a gym for a trial workout to get the proper training and to see if I can handle it.

I look forward to Coach Nicole's review on home dvds concerning kettleball training for future reference in mixing it up.

Big Applause to the SparkPeople trainers for taking on this workout, if you guys were sore its something for others to consider before jumping in and taking the advice of these fitness experts- I like the idea of doing trial runs at fitness places who offer 1 week free passes before signing on. Report
I like working with kettle bells. They are so much fun and great for the core.

I wish the video didn't have the music so the instructions would've been audible--I could use a couple more exercises. Oh well.

I've not had any problems with my wrists from using kettlebells--and I have problem wrists. Report
I bought a very light kettlebell just to try it. Now I'm needing a heavier one b/c I just love this type of workout. IT's the one I do the most. I have found several DVDs that are excellent ( www.collagevideo.com ) and done by professional people. I get better weight loss results when I use the kettlebell. Report
I've been using kettlebells for a few years now as an athletic and personal trainer. The best ones I've found so far Kettlebells USA. They are a real professional grade kettlebell, not the cheap Costco, Go Fit etc. that everyone is selling these days. They also have very good prices for the quality of kettlebell. They also support our troops by giving Military Discounts. Check them out at http://www.kettlebellsusa.com Report
As a person of "age", I am afraid of hurting myself with these nutty balls of weight. Personally I see them as a FAD, like so many that have come and gone. I will not be wasting my money on them. Give my my resistance bands any day over these! Report
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