Kettlenetics Series Review - The Whole Enchilada
Friday, August 08, 2008
Well, Kettlenetics arrived 17 days after I ordered it and about 2 days after my back decided it was ready for action. So, here is my opinion workout by workout.
Whats in the Box: The deluxe package arrived in one box. There is a case with 4 DVDs, a CD sleeve with 2 workouts, and 2 more dvds with their own case. I received a 4 pound and 8 pound kBell separately wrapped. There is a wall calendar with 7 moves broken down verbally and pictorially, a set of soft wrist protectors, and a weight loss success guide. The weight loss guide has a workout rotation for the basic set, shopping list, conversion chart, calorie need estimations, sample 7-day diet plan, jump start tips, info about the kBell and workouts, and 10 weight loss secrets (they are only secrets if you are an ostrich).
kb Elements: (7/31) For a moment I thought Michelle's voice was over-the-top perky, but I warmend up to it after a minute. She does a graet job explainging the moves. In fact, for things like swings, clean&press, and turkish get ups, she explains it RKC style. She is not as polished as some other workout instructors, but hey, it is her first series. She really emphasized form (back, ab, knee, and shoulder positions especially) and ends an explanation of a move with "yes?" to the viewer. The only thing I think was missing in instruction was ensuring that you keep your eyes on the bell when it is over your head. She did it, but did not state it. Also, judging by the wall chart, these are the basic moves for the workout moves since what is on the chart has pieces of what is learned in the workout. WIth that, it is on to flowmotion basics. (20 minutes)
Flowmotion Basics: (7/31) First off, I am glad I did this with the 4 pound bell - the moves are a bit tricky to master and there is not a lot of explanation. I really should have previewed it first and read the wall chart. On some moves she does a slow version then speeds it up, on others she just goes right into it. I am usually pretty coordinated, but I stumbled a lot. That said, I would much rather have less explanation and falter for a few extra workouts until I get the hang of it, rather than get the hang of it and have to listed to an explanation every time I do the workout. I was not sure if she was doing mirror cuing or not, but I figured it out about 5 minutes in - yes it is mirror cuing. The music is totally unnoticeable and the background exercisers neutral. A couple of things about form - she does not say to have one arm out to the side during one arm swings (that is the right way), but demonstrates it. They also go above the head on swings which is a no-no in traditional KBs, however she does emphasize the motion is coming from the lower body and abs, not the arms. I doubt if there is a risk of injury the way she does it. There are not a lot of reminders about form, so I would make sure to know the elements well. I am going to need some practice with this, but the workout was fun, sweaty, and went by in no time. It is a great add on to a short cardio day. (20 minutes)
Stretch & Strength: (7/31) The first half of this one you are on the floor doing ab rolls, planks, and bridge ups in a ballet inspired way. The second half you should have an exercise ball, but you can use a chair. The kBell is used for moves like the windmill, but I wish I had gone for the 8 pound bell this time. I would break this out as a cool down workout or on a day I want to say I did something but not get sweaty. (15 minutes)
Cardio Fit Ballet: (7/31) You know how it says ballet? It means it! I have always enjoyed dancing and have caught onto workouts like Turbo Jam quickly, but this was a bit out of my league. I enjoyed the challenge of being graceful though, and am loooking forward to feeling less awkward as time goes on. There are lots of plies, arabesques, and other terms I can't spell. You use a back of a chair for balance, but since that is one area I am pretty good at, I just put my hand on my hip. I think my calves got the biggest workout - the cardio in the title is a misnomer though. Also, I should mention that Michelle gives an intro to each workout at the beginning of the DVDs and that the bonus features are just ads for the web club and previews for the deluxe package. I took a moment to preview the cardio balance and it looks like fun - way more motivating music too.
Flowmotion Dance: (8/2) In a lot of the boards I have read, this one seems to be the least favored. Personally, I loved it for a light, dancy workout. As the title suggests, it is a dance style video. The first half she demos a piece of the routine, then you dance it to music. There are about 5 segments, then you put it all together at the end. The second set uses similar moves in different combinations, but incorporates the kBell. This time, she does one section, then runs it through from the beginning (except for the final move, she just does that one and goes into cool down - weird). I would have liked it better if she had done the first half the same way as the second with a run through after each new bit. This workout was very reminiscent of a lot of the bellydance videos and classes that I have done in terms of format, which may be why I enjoy it and other folks are less than thrilled. I would classify this one as a light interval workout, although you could get your heart pumping once you were familiar with the routines. I really like that when you dance the whole thing, Michelle keeps quiet so you can groove out. For those of you who do TJ, the song is one Chalene used in Booty Sculpt & Abs - a song I happen to like, by the way. (30 minutes)
kb Total Body Blast: (8/3) Today I am sore, if that tells you anything. Seriously, how does a 4 pound weight make my hamstrings cry for mercy? This workout does the typical slow demo followed by a fast set. I opted out of the 8 pounder and, other than the abs section, I am glad I did. For some reason I was able to get in the flow of this workout. Even though it is supposed to be advanced, I wanted to try it before going onto the longer workout in the basic package. For those of you who may have elbow and shoulder pain from this workout series, it is a typical injury a lot of beginner suffer with traditional kettlebells too. It comes from trying to make the kBell do what you want instead of what gravity intends. I noticed myself making this novice mistake - I was not letting the kBell pull my shoulder and elbow down during swings. I would say this is where the light weight is a detriment, but I experienced it when using 12kg bells, so it is form and movement, not weight. I will admit with a heavier weight, it feels really good pulling down on the shoulder in the down position of the swing, but other than that I am enjoying my baby bell. (30 minutes)
Cardio Balanced: (8/5) I should have done 2 things - a few more tries at the flowmotion basics workout and used the 8 pound bell. The moves in the first couple of sets were tricky, but the 4 pound bell was just a bit too light. The first half an hour is cardio and the last 10 minutes is floor work. I feel like I got a head-to-toe going over and would be surprised if I am not a little sore tomorrow. I love the music choices - mostly house/dance music. Cuing is on an 8-count but not directly stated. For those that have no music or dance background, it may be a challenge to find the rhythm. Michelle's "whittling away your waistline" phrase is absent from this one (thankfully), but we are introduced to the concept of "bell butt" (I want one). Her other favorite phrase is "enjoy it," but really there is not a lot of unnecessary commentary. (42 minutes)
As a side note, I did the first 15 minutes of flowmotion dance this morning and it put me in a good mood for the whole day. I was able to do the entire routine without a stumble!
KB Target Toning: (8/8) This one is made up of 5, 10+ minute workouts that can be done individually or in a customized group. There is no cardio here and very little warmup, so I did the first 15 minutes of flowmotion dance (I just love that one) then did it straight through. As an entire workout, it is a little boring, especially since the music is low key. I previously test drove the arms and standing core sections after doing kb TBB and like it that way as opposed to all at once. In the future, I will pick one or two sections to add on before or after a cardio focused workout. So here is the breakdown.
Upper Body: OUCH!!! She does several sets on one side than switches to the other and it burns! She also does pushup rows on the bell for which I should have used the 8 pounder for. I think this one is my favorite section and also the hardest of the lot.
Lower Body: I used the 8 pound bell and found it moderately challenging. Lots of squats, lunges, and balancing exercises. I modified to make it more intense, like adding arm moves and balancing on one leg for more sets.
Standing Core: Wood chops, Russian twists, and isolations made up most of the program. Interestingly, this secion shows off just how ripped Michelle’s arms really are. I also used the 8 pounder.
Seated Core: Russian twists, lean backs and bridge ups were the bulk of the moves. I cannot say it was the hardest ab work I have ever done, but it made me sweaty. I kept on with the 8 pound bell.
Flexation: No bell in this series, just several stretches, ab rolls and lying twists. This one is great to use after a long cardio/strength routine.
In summary, I really like these workouts as an entire concept. Once you get the hang of it, these are fun, full of variety while providing a total body workout, and can be as challenging as you make them. There are so many workouts to choose from, burnout factor should be quite low. Since most are at a half an hour or less, there is no excuse not to fit these in or use as an add on for other favorite programs. I will likely use a combination of the 4 and 8 pound kBell, but I imagine I will look for a 10 pound before very long. I think this set would be difficult for people who are very uncoordinated or who have not exercised in a while and, of course, it would frustrate RKC purists.
There are defiantly some bugs to work out before they put out the next series of DVDs. I don't think I mentioned this before, but they need to replace a few of the background exercisers. Some look at the floor, others look like they are trying too hard, and one in particular had a demeaning little "whatever" smirk on her face for the whole video. Michelle is fun, she just needs fun backup. I really hope Gaiam does not do to her what they did to Billy Blanks in terms of making her come out with new tools for every set. I want to see an advanced series with a heavier bell similar for what she teaches at the Miami Ballet with Kettlebell Concepts. Unless it is a potential money maker, I doubt we will.
The short version: I am really glad I got this set. I see myself using it for a long time in combination with Turbo Jam, Yoga, Tae Bo, and whatever else come up to tickle my fancy. Cheers, or should I say, "Enjoy It!"