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Hmmm....I just might like Kettlebells....Cross
fit too? Who knows!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

So I don't consider myself a gym snob at contraire, I have the greatest respect for people of all abilities in the gym. Anyone that's out there working out hard is a winner in my book.

Let's just say I'm somewhat conservative in my views on what is appropriate in the gym. If I ever give a sideways glance, it's to the posturing he-man who does bicep curls in the squat rack, or to the gaggle of high school kids who talk and text while occupying the bench press....and for the longest time, those legions of Crossfitters who do weird things like medicine ball throws and kettlebell swings in the weight room.

But for some inexplicable reason, when my 20-something front office assistant asked me if I'd like to try a Crossfit workout with him last Thursday (he's been bugging me about this for months), I blurted out a quick "Sure!"

Don't ask me why I said yes; I still don't know. I told him that I'd hang with any exercise they threw my way except for plyometrics....I don't jump.

So bright and early Thursday AM we go into this ratty old warehouse they call "The Box" and I'm the oldest dude there by about 25 years....all good, I just looked around and sized everybody up ready to kick some a$$!

The Workout of the Day (The "WOD") was Tabatas.....hi-intensity drills of 20 sec all out effort, followed by 10 sec rest....repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes, then on to the next exercise.

The exercises were;

- Kettlebell Swings - choose your own weight
- Russian Twists with a medicine ball
- Push-ups, except you release your hands at the bottom (weirdos!)
- Platform Jump-ups (I did step-ups....I'm pretty strict on doing only low impact stuff)

We were to do 4 minute Tabata's on each of these, then end with a Plank Challenge....we all gather around in a circle and hold a plank until there's just one person left holding it!

So as luck would have it, I started out with the Kettlebell swings. I have never done Kettlebell swings. I have always thought those who do Kettlebell swings were a bunch of fad-following fitness weirdos. I grabbed a 35 lb Kettlebell ("Ooohh, you grabbed a Pood for your first Kettlebell swing! Good luck!" exclaimed the chippy little 19-year old college girl to my right.....I just smiled and nodded like I knew what she was talking about)

I've done Tabata intervals before on a number of exercises....spin bike, rowing machines, overhead presses. Done right, you're supposed to go all out (a 9 to 10 on your Rate of Perceived Exertion - RPE). I went hard, but since this was my first time doing it, I focused on form, but wasn't quite sure what good form looked like. I noticed some folks hefting the kettlebell over their heads, some only chest high, some were squatting down way low, others were just bending at the waist thrusting the kettlebell far behind them, so I just did my own thing working up a good sweat.

And man did I work up a good sweat! This was hard work....I liked it!

Round and round we went, hitting each of the stations. Like any group event, once I'm in it, I'm all in. I cheer folks on, I get loud, I let out Victory yells when the strain kicks in.....I'm a motivator at heart!

Then we formed up in a circle for the plank challenge. I heard a couple of groans all around me. That's when I knew I had them....planks are my secret weapon.....I get in to my Ninja Zone and I can go on forever.

20-something instructor gal yells out "You should be able to hold this for a minute, if you can do 1 minute 15, then you're in good shape!" More groans.

Give me a freaking break! I'll go 2 minutes before I even start wondering about the time!

So there's 12 of us in the circle....I hear yelps of pain on either side of me....a few grunts then bodies crashing hard on the floor.

"90 seconds, how are we doing?" I hear from instructor gal. I look up....there's 4 of us left!

I smile and go back into Ninja mode. At 2 minutes I hear a loud "AARRRRGGHH" in front of me....3 of us left. Then, not 5 seconds later, I hear a "WHUMP" and another falls to the ground. Only two of us left now

At 2 minutes 10 sec, it's just me and 20-something instructor gal. My front office assistant looks over at me sheepishly, "Jeez boss you think you can hold out with your bum leg?"

"F* you dude, I've got paper clips and rubber bands holding this old body of mine together, but I'm thinking I've got 3 minutes in about you instructor girl, can you make it to 3?"

She's sweating big time, but gives me a nod

"OK, then let's go, hold on!" I let out a victory cry, "let's hold on for 3...somebody give us a countdown every 5 seconds!"

I let out my Braveheart yell and tell her to do the same.....she does and we alternate Belly Yells every few seconds till we get the 3 minute call.....then we both collapse to the ground.

Not too bad.....but I still think they're a bunch of weirdos....nonetheless, I felt good and I'm intrigued

Friday night I start researching Kettlebell figures they were invented in Soviet Russia.....I wonder if my Stasi trainer guy has a few stuffed in the back of his closet, along with a hammer and a sickle!

Done right, they appear to be pretty darn good ways to develop power through the hips & glutes, and can be a pretty effective aerobic workout. I looked up a couple of respectable videos on Youtube to get the form right and learned that the purpose is to drive with your hips, not to lift with arms & shoulders....interesting.

So I worked them in to my routine today. I did some intervals on the bike to get warmed up, then grabbed a 35 lb "Pood", set the timer on my workout app and did 10 sets of 30 second intervals. (Of course, I did these in the Aerobic Room and not in the Weight Room like those people who annoy me so much do!)

WOW! 3 hours later, I am still feeling it! I think these have some promise! It's a whole different kind of workout, using weights for speed and power, plus I felt an incredible stretch in my hamstrings the more I did....and I definitely need more stretching.

Here's a link to how it's supposed to be done:

I finished up with 6 rounds of Farmer's Carries using 55 lb dumbells! These are also one of my favorites. In the last 2 months of doing these, I can tell my grip and forearm strength has improved dramatically!

So the moral is, regardless of how weird you might think someone or something is in the workout world, it's always worth it to try something might just find something you actually enjoy!

Have a great night Spark friends!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks for posting on my blog. Thought I'd post back. Enjoyed the tale about your workout. I have my own version of kettle bells... It's called "doing laundry in the basement"! :) The real kettlebells are fun for a change though. Been trying to get DH to try it.
    1848 days ago
    That's a fantastic story. Seriously, you should write a column for fitness magazines. You have the best workout stories.

    Oh yea! Wow... a THREE minute plank. That's impressive! I think NROL goes up to a 2 minute plank. If I can do 3 minutes, I had best be rewarded with a whittled middle. ;)

    As for guys doing curls in the squat rack - WTF is that!? Or when they do shoulder shrugs. We only have ONE squat rack, and then a Smith machine (nooooooo!!!).

    Yesterday I tried - for the first time - single-leg Romanian deadlifts. All the deadlifting progress I made before, and TODAY I am feeling it in my hamstrings. Running gave me an unfair hamstring advantage, even though I hadn't done it in like, months and months. Tomorrow I do regular Romanian deadlifts, with the barbell. I'll be interested to see how it goes.
    1848 days ago
    Great Blog !! I have never tried the Kettle Balls - I have thought about , now that I see this blog I will try - For the older I get it seems harder to work the upper extremities and core- But must be done . So like yourself why am I afraid to try something new ?? Love you description of the circle - Rock on - Brave Heart !! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1850 days ago
    I have two kettlebell workout DVD's and it's a GREAT workout! Not sure about Crossfit, though. Good for you for trying something new. :)
    1850 days ago
    I see these kettle bells as so popular in the States. I've never seen them in Europe until recently. I like your experimenting-try-something-new attitude!
    1851 days ago
    Great you tried something new! I like the idea of your trainer hiding kettle bells secretly in his closet... It is a weapon to stop burglars too (lol)
    Enjoy the new toy and keep pushing!
    emoticon emoticon
    1851 days ago
    Read this last night. This morning when I did my workout I thought I'd like to see how long I could hold my plank. When I start something challenging I gear up mentally by repeating your "Leave it all in the gym" mantra. I lasted for about 2:15 minutes. A guess as I was counting. My "one mississippi, two mississippi" might have gotten to be like Tina Turner when she sings the last part of Proud Mary. Next time I'll be closer to the clock.

    Thanks for the post.
    1851 days ago
    When's your next class??
    1851 days ago
    Sounds fun!
    1851 days ago
    I tried kettlebells twice, and I'm totally game to try em again- just have to fit them into my schedule! I pick form over quantity any day (says the chick who's hurt her back once too often). I would, however, love to try a crossfit class one day :)

    Plyometrics are great! Good cardio there, for sure. Not for those with weak knees or ankles, for sure.
    1851 days ago
    Oh this is totally my preferred training program! Glad you had some fun!
    1851 days ago
    I am *SO* excited that you worked out with the weirdos!!! I love reading your blogs and laughed out loud several times during this one.. cuz, as you know, I'm a CrossFitter.. but I've never done CrossFit in a regular gym. I think you would TOTALLY fit in a "box".. cuz you've got that competitive thing going AND the cheerleader thing.. a great combination.. I find my box to be the kindest people.. don't get me wrong, they kick my po-po and there is NO slacking.. but they are also so encouraging to a beginner like me.. and I admit.. I "drank the coolaid". I just finished reading a very interesting book about CrossFit called "Inside the Box: How CrossFit Shredded the Rules, Stripped Down the Gym and Rebuilt my Body" by TJ Murphy. It's a quick enjoyable read.

    And guess what?

    Kettlebells are my favorite! I usually swing a pood.. but have been building up to a pood and a half (about 53lbs) cuz that's RX for females and it's the ONE thing I feel strong at.. I love the snap of the hips and the feeling of power! Plus it makes my heart rate skyrocket.. well, skyrocket for me.. As for box jumps, I do step ups (one rupture achilles in my lifetime is enough thanks.).. and the pushups I do from my knees WITH the hand release.. LOL.. weirdos.. you so kill me..

    As for your yelling.. would you mind filming or recording that?/ cuz I NEEEEED to hear it!

    Congrats on showing them how planks are really done! SWEET... if I am EVER in your neck of the woods, I am soooooo meeting you at the local box because I have got to see you in action.. good thing laughing is a great ab workout!

    Oh! And this weekend at my box we're doing a "hero" workout called Murph.. Hero WODs are named after servicemen or first responders (firemen/policemen) who died in the line of duty.. they're notriously HARD.. and every year on Memorial Day we do Murph.

    Murph was a Navy Seal who died in Afghanistan who did a particular workout before missions... it's a 1 mile run, 300 squats, 200 pushups, 100 pullups and another 1 mile run.. uhhhh with a weight vest on.. yeah.. I'm doing a scaled version called "sMurphette" which is basically 1/4 of the workout.. but it will still be hard for me.

    I hope you go back to CrossFit... I honestly think you'd really like it..

    1851 days ago
    Man, you could almost encourage me to get into that kind of exercise. Was just reading about Tabata and am looking for a way to insert some of that into my other routines. Great that you were both the newbie and a leader, and for holding up the "50+ Male" reputation!


    1851 days ago
    LOL! Good to hear that you enjoyed it. I hear it's not for everyone.
    1851 days ago
    I don't even DREAM of doing CrossFit, but I know people who do ;) Thanks for a great and fun write-up on something I find so intimidating!

    P.S. Great job!
    1851 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/26/2013 6:06:06 PM
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