It's my birthday next week and I've been lucky enough to receive an early present in the form of a 24kg pro-grade kettlebell from my girlfriend. I've known about kettlebells and had a vague interest in them for a while but have never really had the time or inclination to find out more about them until recently.
So a few months ago I ran a Parkour taster session with Dan at a new gym called OLF, or Optimal Life Fitness, in Hither Green, South London. On the day, we met BJ, who runs the place with his business partner, and a bunch of other guys who had come for the opening day to try Parkour, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kettlebell sport or any of the other sessions being introduced that day.
Now I'm not a big fan of gyms or places where you can go and watch TV, or enjoy air-conditioned treadmill sessions whilst listening to muzak or pan pipes. Give me a cold, dark, abandoned carpark with a rusty pipe and a weight vest and I'll be more at home.. but OLF? Well, this was no ordinary gym.
A converted warehouse, the first thing you notice when you walk in is the towering scaffold structure that is bolted in to the side wall and submerged 6ft in to the concrete to support even the biggest guys swinging around on it.. quickly followed by the climbing rope hanging from the rafters, a power rack, some benches and an armada of kettlbells. Not to mention the Bulgarian wrestling bags, rings, gladiator walls, straps and, well, the list goes on.
This is a gym. In the same way Gym Jones is a gym. And this is the home of the Trojans Lifting Club.
The taster was successful enough to allow for a regular Parkour session there that I've been running and I've enjoyed getting to know BJ and Tommy there who are both very intelligent in their approach to training, and strong because of it. It was BJ that introduced me to kettlebells and some basic weightlifting skills and I've been hooked ever since.
Fast forward a couple of months and here I am with my very own kettlebell and feeling humbled by this monster sitting next to me. Just picking the kettlebell up makes me think and when you actually start to try the basic swings and techniques you struggle to understand how someone can repeat this for a few minutes, never mind ten, which would be the typical amount of time you'd be swinging this beast for in a kettlebell competition.
So I'll start from scratch. I aim to begin with the basic two-handed swing and then progress on to the one-handed variations, switching between hands and repeating until I feel comfortable before experimenting with the cleans and snatches that these training tools are so famous for. Oh and of course, the infamous Turkish Get Up.
It's going to be a busy month ahead with next week in Leicester, then out to Nicaragua for a week followed by Brazil for a fortnight for teaching and training, so I won't get much chance to use the kettlebell until after that, but it'll be waiting for me when I get back.
And I can't wait!
Results and thoughts to follow..