I am so very pleased to share this guest post written by Jane Magrath.  She participated in her first kettlebell class on September 17, 2009.  I have had the honour of watching Jane become stronger, more confident in her physical body, and more willing to challenge herself physically and mentally.  She is an amazing woman and she writes beautifully. Jane is a Professor of English at the University of Prince Edward Island and has found new, healthy ways to deal with the pressures of academia.  I know you will be inspired and entertained by Jane’s confessions.  Thank you Jane.

Confessions of a Kettlebell Addict

Jane Magrath

I am falling in love with my arms.  I am falling so hard that I sometimes sneak peeks at them during the day and give them a surreptitious squeeze when nobody’s looking.  I am so in love with them that I have also been known to whip off my jacket in order to share with friends, colleagues, and (this is how bad it is) sometimes even mere acquaintances my fabulous, tight, muscular, sexy, “Michelle Obamarms.”

Jane's version of 'girly' push ups

This love affair is fairly new; in fact, as recently as 6 months ago, I barely acknowledged my arms, choosing to ignore them when I could; when I couldn’t, we existed in an antagonistic union of tight-lipped displeasure and silent disappointment.  My arms were flabby, lumpy, large, and weak.  And, with the wandering eye so typical of those trapped in an unsatisfying relationship, I lusted after other arms.

Jane windmills

In September, I—accidently or by some grand design—discovered kettlebells: innocent-looking, sometimes brightly-coloured balls of iron that use the medium of sweat to forge new relationships between woman and body.  After a month of bi-weekly swinging and pressing and squatting and snatching, I could feel myself tentatively warming to my arms; after 4 months, I’ve progressed to full fondling.

The road to bliss wasn’t without its potholes, though; the kettlebell is a demanding matchmaker. In fact, after my first kettlebell class, my arms were so miserable, so sore, so angry with me, that they refused to pick up the grocery bags from the cash desk and load them into the cart—putting me in the humiliating position of having to ask for help.  But this rebellious stage was short-lived, and, as trust grew between us, my arms started to look forward to their sessions with the ‘bells and to become grumpy if a session was missed.  They are, I think, becoming addicted to their ‘bell-fix.

Significantly, in the last few weeks, I’ve also found myself experiencing an awakened sense of, not quite pleasure, but definitely interest in other heretofore barely tolerated parts of my body.  As with my arms, the kettlebell seems, like a couples’ counsellor, to be working its magic with my back, my belly, my calves, and even my thighs.

the swimming, skipping, climbing, swinging, leaping child Jane

And something else is happening.  In part, I think it’s the skipping we do as a warm-up; as it becomes easier and easier, it becomes a more and more nostalgic exercise, each revolution of the plastic rope taking my body back through 30 years to the child who skipped in the playground.  In part, I think it’s the mental and physical integration required by the kettlebells and the gradual building of strength; as the exercises become less conscious, the movements become more natural, and the swinging more meditative, I am reacquainted with the child who once ran all summer, who clambered so high in trees that she got stuck, and who never questioned the limits of her body.

Jane's arms are fantastic!

Somehow, it seems, kettlebells are moving me backwards in time; they’re taking me from antipathy towards my body, through tolerance, through appreciation, and through love; they’re moving me toward—I really think—that place of integration so many of us lost around puberty—that place where we didn’t have a body (that displeased or pleased us); but where we just were—mind and body, wrapped and intertwined and inseparable—strong, confident, joyful selves.

(Pretty good for biweekly sessions with a little ball of iron!)