I love training with kettlebells. The swing and kettlebell snatch are drills that help improve grip strength and increase cardiovascular capacity. The getup can improve core strength and balance. Regular training with a kettlebell can increase strength in a wide variety of areas and increase your functional mobility.
I also love the martial art of Tae Kwon Do. Regular practice of Tae Kwon Do will give you self-confidence and improve your ability to keep track of where you are as you move in 3-dimensional space. The ability to defend ourselves will allow us to face many of life’s challenges without undue fear of failure. We learn that we are capable of much more than we ever thought possible through the application of perseverance.
Having a genuine love of kettlebell training and Tae Kwon Do makes it easy for me to find the time to practice these activities. In fact, I feel that an essential part of me is missing if I can’t find time for what I love. Yes, I am addicted. I must have air, water, food, love for my family, and I must move. Yes, I am a very lucky guy. But, what about you? Why are you exercising? What do you want to accomplish? How are you going to get from here to there?
Most people don’t want to dig deeply for the answers to these questions, but that is a very important part of the process. Some new clients come to me because their doctor or loved ones have told them that they “need” to exercise. Other people are hoping to find the magic bullet, pill or potion that will help them lose weight and look good naked. Many of these people are unaware that you simply cannot out-exercise a bad diet.
If you “need to”, “have to”, or “must” exercise then this activity or any other activity may soon start to feel like WORK. And as you probably already know, we tend to avoid things that we don’t enjoy. It will be difficult to incorporate an exercise program into an ongoing lifestyle change if the only reason is that we “ought” to do it. We will very often fall off the wagon and stop doing what we “should” be doing. Perhaps we should call it training or practice so that it can be something we “want” to do.
Seek out a physical activity that is enjoyable, and therefore sustainable. Perhaps kettlebell training is such an activity. Kettlebell training can be done in a group class setting. This will allow you to share energy with others in the class. Spending time with other like-minded people can take an exercise program out of the “have to” category and turn it into something you want to do.
This is the first part of integrating a successful exercise program into your lifestyle. Make sure that the physical activity you choose as “exercise” is enjoyable, so that you will stick with the program. Exactly what will make it enjoyable is solely up to you. It can be camaraderie, competition or stress reduction. For most people, incorporating an exercise program into their lifestyle will bring their lives into a better balance and make life more enjoyable.
Here are a couple of things that make kettlebell training so appealing to me:
Firstly, the kettlebell swing (when done correctly) provides an incredible number of health, strength, and endurance benefits for a relatively short investment of time and equipment. This means that I don’t need to do 50 exercises for each individual muscle. The kettlebell swing gives me a lot of bang for the buck. If I want more of a strength challenge I can simply increase the weight. If I want more of a cardio effect, I can increase the length of the sets or decrease the rest periods.
Secondly, the kettlebell provides a wide variety of training options. From halos, rows, getups, curls, squats, presses, and even kettlebell juggling, you can always find a fun and challenging drill. This is important, because boredom is the enemy. Whenever the brain checks out and we lose focus, we might as well be walking on a treadmill while reading a book and putting on makeup (no offense ladies). But, we can develop and improve skills, practice more safely, and enjoy our training sessions more when we are engaged and having fun. Yes, hard work can be fun! Yes, you can and should be improving your athletic skills.
Seek out a qualified kettlebell instructor who will insure that you are following the important, underlying principles. A good instructor will help keep you engaged, excited, and inspired to make progress.
Kettlebell training may be exactly what you need to add a sustainable physical challenge to your lifestyle.
Get up and move.
Jay Armstrong is a Senior RKC, 6 Degree Black Belt TKD, and Master Z-Health Trainer. The past 30 years have been dedicated to helping others develop confidence through increased strength and pain-free, exceptional mobility. His quest for knowledge continues. He runs The Kettlebell Club in Houston, Texas.