It is an interesting fact that kettlebell training began very much as a “man thing”. As women became interested in kettlebells for sport and fitness, and those who were fully self-possessed valkyries began throwing around these spiteful cast iron balls, the industry responded.
In my part of the world, far more women than men are working with kettlebells.
Maybe its because we’ve been kettlebell training on a group basis and potato fed boys are not keen on group stuff, by and large. Maybe they think that if women are doing it, it can’t be a real workout — here I’d have to relate the bravado of men on stationary bikes, situated where they can observe our kettlebell training, referring to women in kettlebell training as “throwing their purses around”. I could add the tidbits offered up by male partners of female participants smugly denying the possibility of taking your heartrate to 90% max without moving your feet. Maybe some of them are hesitant to stand shoulder to shoulder with women who are hefting 16kg kettlebells. I don’t really know the answer, but I always wonder at this phenomena.
As the rest of us know, put a kettlebell in his hand and let anyone who knows their stuff take him through 20 minutes of kettlebell swings, grinds, and presses and denial will slide off the tongue of that man like water off a duck. It could make a great C&W song.
Men are finally, on a growing basis, stepping up to kettlebell training in Prince Edward Island and getting results. This past week, for the first time ever, I led a class of men only. I have to tell you it was a lot of fun. These were all men who have been participating for a bit of time in the groups, so they weren’t new. But it was a unique situation to not have any women show up for the 5:30am training. These guys have been in the weight room for years and are now seeing the benefits of adding kettlebell training to their workout regime.
One of the guys has experienced a 15 pound weight loss without a loss in strength along with improved balance and flexibility. He also finds the kettlebell training decreases his post-workout soreness from the weight room. I ‘d have to tell you that beyond the weight loss this man’s body shape and movement patterns have changed. His body has better muscle balance, and there is a growing overall fluidity in his gait.
Another man has noted decreased joint pain while weight lifting. Some of the repetitive use injuries in his shoulders and knees from years upon years of weight room movements have rehabbed, his supporting structures have strengthened and he is experiencing less discomfort through ligaments and tendons. That would be due to ballistic properties of kettlebell training which places traction forces on attachments while the muscles are moving through their functional range. Improvements in cardiovascular endurance and functional strength have also been noted.
I really enjoy having these guys in group. They are working with heavy kettlebells. Most of them know how to focus and hold their form. They add a different level to the camaraderie in group, insulting each other with friendly and cutting repartee, and they willingly take whatever abuse I might hand them. They don’t hesitate with a quick and dirty retort to anything I throw at them and I learn a lot from them. I particularly love their end of training stretches.