Fitness tested: Kettle bells
Like most people I love a good cuppa. Be it tea or coffee, it conjures up feelings of warmth, comfort and above all relaxation. Well, putting the kettle on took on a whole new meaning last week when I decided to try a Kettle Bells class at a local studio.
You may be wondering what on earth is a kettle bell? Well it’s a heavy weight shaped in the form of an old-fashioned stove kettle with a large round bottom and a handle; basically it's a cast iron weight. Think of a cannonball with a handle on the top.
I like trying any new challenge and when I heard it’s a favourite of the likes of Penelope Cruz, Jessica Biel, Liverpool FC, Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConnaughey and Cameron Diaz, I was sold. If it’s good enough for them I had to give it a go.
So I arrived as usual not quite sure what exactly we’d be doing with these ‘kettles’ but had an open mind.
Being a beginner I was handed a kettle bell and as I grasped it my hand shot to the floor with the weight of it. Apparently I was holding one of the lighter ones - 8kg if I recall correctly. The experts hold one in each hand.
I don't have the worst level of fitness in the world but on starting the class with simple lunges and squats it dawned on me that I was a long way off trying to master one in each hand like the rest of the class.
You see, these kettle bells, due to their shape, allow a flexibility that means you can use them in every exercise which in turn challenges your body even further.
They do have some specific moves which mostly sound normal but then you have some spurious ones like The Jerk, The Snatch and wait for it…..The Turkish Get Up! I am not sure where this originated but I do know that kettle bells as a concept started in Russia.
Anyway the Turkish Get Up is as it sounds…..a move that has you literally getting up off the floor though it could be the Spanish Get Up or the Irish Get Up or more appropriately the Almost Impossible To Do Get Up as I found out.
You lie on the ground while holding the kettle bell up, perpendicular to your body. What follows is a series of manoeuvres to get yourself off the floor in a safe way while still holding the kettle bell in the air!
Now this is a difficult one and definitely at the higher end of the scale in terms of proficiency but I loved the challenge. You’re so busy getting up off the floor and managing it safely that you don’t realise you are working so many parts of the body.
As a beginner, I made a mess of my first attempt and so opted to try and master getting off the floor in the correct manner without a kettle bell but still maintaining the posture. I looked a bit like a contemporary dancer reaching for the sky but I didn’t care as I was eager to learn.
Distracting and requiring great concentration as they can be dangerous, I have found kettle bells training gets results.
My expert instructor was very attentive despite the 12 other people in the room, and the exercise seemed fast and efficient, challenging both the muscular and cardiovascular systems of the entire body.
It's not for the rookie trainer as it's important to know how to do basic lunges, squats and other stretches properly and safely first. The class may also not be suitable for people with existing injuries.
In my experience, you can judge the effectiveness of a new fitness programme by how sore in the muscles you are the next day and even more so the day after that.
As I struggled down the stairs with fatigued legs and bum after the session itself and by two days later was crawling out of bed and waddling down the stairs I was in fact thrilled with the results. My fiance asked if there was anything he could do to ease the pain to which I answered, “yes, stick the kettle on!”
For information on pay as you go kettle bells and other classes see www.justclasses.info
Elaine Roddy is Director of Buzz PR see www.buzzpr.ie