kettlebell as a social event

This is a guest post by Beth Johnston.  The ‘fit neighbour’ to which Beth refers is a previous guest blogger and persuasive (read charming) friend to many. Beth’s first kettlebell class was in March of this year and she has continued to show up with enthusiasm, laughter and determination.  That is what makes her such an amazing woman.  Oh, and the fact that she is totally infatuated with mothering her two sons and successfully balances an interesting career in communications with her family devotion and huge capacity for friendship. I am very grateful that she took time to write this guest entry.  Thank you Beth. for your inspiration.

It was January and a nagging knee injury from a long-ago car accident was making life in the winter more painful than usual. Because of the pain, I had stopped exercising and was gaining weight. I knew I had to do something about it. Motion is lotion, as they say. But after a diagnosis of a torn meniscus and a scheduled surgery date in the very distant future, I was feeling pretty discouraged.

My fit neighbour had been talking about kettlebell — her latest workout passion. I listened enviously as she talked about the “good sore” she was feeling and how this workout would make you sweat and increase your heart rate without impact.

I had been trying other aerobics-type exercise classes and feeling clumsy and nervous I’d further injure my tender knee.  The idea that I could get a cardio and strength workout in 45 minutes without pounding on my joints intrigued me.

The first evening I climbed the stairs to The Whole Way Health and Fitness Studio and met Wendy, I knew this was going to be a different exercise experience for me. Her earthiness and sense of humour instantly put me at ease. When I explained my painful knee problem to her, I saw understanding, not pity in her eyes. Her confidence reassured me. “I have lots of people with knee problems, hip problems, shoulder problems, back problems,” she explained matter-of-factly.

She watched me carefully as I tried my first few swings, coaching me on proper alignment and form and modifying a few exercises for me.

My first few squats were basically knee flexes, I really couldn’t go very far. Wendy coached me to “stay with it.”

kettlebell lunge in Victoria Park

I did stay with it.

For six months.

I signed up for two of Wendy’s MOVE IT! Outdoor Boot Camps in Victoria Park. For eight weeks I started my days with a group of inspirational women in the park at six a.m.  It wasn’t always easy, but man, did I ever feel great after.

I can now squat my butt almost to the floor, I am pain free, the locking and clicking in my knee joint have ceased and I have gained so much core strength every move I make is easier. I can peddle my bike faster, heave laundry baskets higher, climb stairs without railings, pick up my kids and swing them in the air and even get up from a seated position without using my hands.

Wendy has a great teambuilding skill, there is so much camaraderie among her clients, it feels like a team. Her studio is filled with energy, inspirational quotes and she practices what she preaches, a holistic, healthy lifestyle filled with daily meditations and gratitude.

Although many people in the class are super  fit, this is not an intimidating gym for the California body set. It’s not a place where people obsess about appearances or measurements or weight. These are real people, focusing on health, wellness, fun and getting what Wendy calls their “sacred sweat” on.

I laugh as much as I sweat every time I go.

If I keep exercising this way I am optimistic I won’t need the orthopedic surgery I am scheduled for in July, 2011. Fingers crossed — and kettlebell in hand.