|16kg Kettlebell (image courtesy of Philippine Kettlebell Club)|
Based on what my trainer shared (Coach Paolo of PKC) and on my research, kettlebells ("Girya" in Russian) were used by Russian farmers before for weighing crops and now, it is primarily used in holistic exercises for conditioning and endurance like in "Crossfit" programs that focus primarily on explosive movements targeting multiple muscles for strength, endurance and even flexibility.
I have had the opportunity to join a 10-session Kettlebell classes in the open grounds of the University of the Philippines campus last January 2012 and since it was my first time to try it out, it literally left me breathless. It was quite a challenge to do swings even for just 2 mins, but as most experienced fitness enthusiasts and trainers say - start at the bottom, the lowest intensity that your body can handle and progress from there.
Based on how my body responded, it targeted my core (abdominals and lower back), legs, shoulders, triceps (particularly when lifting the bell overhead), but primarily - my forearms as you have to grip the kettlebell for the duration of the time that you have to finish one workout set.
It was also an opportunity to meet the founder of the Philippine Kettlebell Club, Nico D' Haenen and of course my trainer, Coach Paolo - both of whom are certified Kettlebell trainers by IKFF (International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation) and were very professional and gracious enough to share their knowledge in Kettlebell workouts. There were also other fitness enthusiasts, like a power lifter and martial artist whom I met and who were also interested in kettlebell exercises.
Overall, it was quite a fulfilling learning experience both from my trainer and co-trainees and it was indeed an honor to be surrounded by people who share the same passion for health and fitness as I do. I would probably be shifting again to Kettlebells once my usual weight-training sessions become stale, as of the moment however - I'm still really into weight-training and it has become so much of a lifestyle that it's virtually impossible to stop.
I do recommend Kettlebell workouts either on its own or in conjunction with your weight-training or other types of workouts as it combines both cardio and strength conditioning. It simply means that you will burn more calories and it will target your heart and major muscles of your body than if you just do weight-training on its own. If however, this is the first time for you to use a Kettlebell, it's better to start at the lowest intensity to avoid injury or fainting. Give your body enough time to adjust to this new fitness tool and progress accordingly. Always remember to properly warm-up your whole body by doing simple calisthenics for at least 15-20 minutes.
Better yet, enroll in one of PKC's Kettlebell classes and learn proper form, breathing and execution from their certified trainers.
And of course, don't forget to enjoy every workout and do help those who are struggling with their health and fitness goals once you become proficient with Kettlebells.