The fitness world often gets into kicks or crazes like Crossfit, kettlebell training, or Zumba. No one has heard of it then EVERYONE has heard of it, and you’re crazy if you’ve never tried it. Some of those crazes, like Tae Bo, fade away. Others, like kettlebells, have stayed with us. Today I’ll talk a little about kettlebell training then doing a review of the Empower 8lb kettlebell with DVD.
What is a Kettlebell?
A kettlebell is, in its most basic form, a heavy ball with a handle attached. Think of it like a medicine ball with a place to grip it. Some are cast iron. Some are sand filled plastic molds. I’ve even seen travel-friendly water-fillable kettlebells. Some models are adjustable. Kettlebells and kettlebell training have been around for literally centuries as an alternative to traditional dumbells and weight racks.
Why Kettlebell Training?
Kettlebell training has a long list of benefits. A few are:
Stabilization Muscles – Because the weight of a kettlebell is not evenly distributed, there is a need to balance and stabilize that isn’t present with traditional weights. This burns calories and builds muscle faster than if the same workouts were done with dumbbells.
Portability and Affordability - A single kettlebell takes up about as much room as a volleyball and can be kept at home as a great alternative to the gym without spending too much money. Add a jump rope and you’ve got a pretty solid set-up for less than $50.
Combine Cardio and Weights – Because kettlebell training involves lots of dynamic as opposed to static movements, the heart rate is up higher than it would be doing traditional light weight lifting. Kettlebell training is especially effective for weight loss because of this combination factor, building muscles while burning calories. (The most recent resurgence of kettlebell training popularity is thanks to their appearance on The Biggest Loser.) Men who balk at the idea of sacrificing weight time for a treadmill can get in their cardio with kettlebell training and still be building muscle.
Empower 8 lb Comfort Grip Kettlebell with DVD
The lovely folks at Empower Fitness sent me this set to test out, and I was happy to give try an at-home kettlebell workout. I opened the box and inside was a kettlebell, a quick-guide of “Kettlebell Boot Camp” moves, and a DVD with workouts by Gin Miller.
The kettlebell is plastic, sand-filled, and designed ergonomically for comfort. Cast iron kettlebells are a bit rougher on the hands and may require gloves for comfortable handling, so at this lower weight, I prefer the plastic. In the higher weight ranges (they can go up to about 100 pounds,) I prefer the stability of a metal ball.
I immediately fell in love with the Kettlebell Boot Camp guide and did all the moves in single sets of fifteen reps, did ten jumping jacks between each move, then cycled back through again replacing the jumping jacks with five push ups. It took about a half hour, and I was sore the next day. Eight pounds is not a very heavy weight, but the most important part of kettlebell training is the ability to stabilize the ball, and I found that anything above eight pounds and my wrists and forearms were wobbling. (Okay maybe I don’t workout my forearms often enough.)
Today my daughter shrieked about not wanting to go to the gym, so I decided to pop in the Empower Fitness DVD that came with the kettlebell, “Gin Miller’s Calorie Burner Workout.”
The kettlebell training DVD has a seven minute warm up (a MUST if you’ve never picked up a kettlebell and need to be instructed on proper posture etc,) three separate workouts that can be combined, and a six minute cool down. Workout 1 is 10 minutes and a slightly slower pace/lower intensity than Workout 2 and Workout 3, both of which are fifteen minutes.
The workouts are challenging and not repetitive. I was worried I would end up doing 45 minutes of kettlebell swings, but it’s a good variety and not, as I feared, just all the moves from the Boot Camp sheet set to music. If you thought you recognized the name Gin Miller but weren’t sure, she’s the founder of step aerobics and an absolute staple in the fitness industry for good reason. You can click here to buy the DVD directly and read more details on her website here.
Kettlebell Training is Ideal For:
Those trying to lose weight.
Anyone seeking to improve core strength.
Fitness novices needing to build cardio and strength without overdoing it.
Anyone short on exercise time.
Injured athletes (or anyone recovering from an operation or trauma or childbirth) who cannot do plyometric or explosive movements.
Those with limited space for equipment at home.