Fad Fitness: The Beauty of Kettlebells

Week 5: A bit of personal practice gives the phrase "home body" new meaning

Thanks to pre-holiday work crunches and scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t able to get to the Punch Gym this week, but I’m proud to say that I kept up my kettlebell routine at home and at my regular gym. That’s the true beauty of kettlebells. They're inexpensive enough that I can have one at home for those living room sweat sessions, widespread enough that every gym will have a full set (usually near that scary dumbbell section), and the pros love them so much they design entire gyms around just kettlebell routines. So no matter what you’re up to, there’s no excuse to skip a workout.

At home, I worked on the dreaded kettlebell swing. I may be five weeks into this tortured experiment, but it seems that I still have work to do on this “simple” move. In a way it reminds me of yoga's downward dog—foundational but still hard to perfect (for me, at least). When I'm doing the swings at home, I can practically hear Punch’s head trainer Branden Bonk: “Sit back in your heels!” “Squeeze those glutes!” “Tighten that core.” And every time I make one of those subtle tweaks, it feels a whole lot more natural. Thanks, virtual Branden!

I’ve also made it a point to do the workout with a mirror nearby so I can spot check my form—I tend to squat instead of “hinging” at the hips—when need be. Bonk would be proud to know that I’ve even begun incorporating moves I learned in our Strongman circuit workout into my solo sweat sessions. (Don’t worry, I haven't taken a sledgehammer to random objects in my apartment.) Rather, I practiced my kettlebell “cleans” and did some vintage squats while carrying a medicine ball.

As we head into the holidays, I'm feeling better than I usually do this time of year. ‘Tis usually the season when I come down with a very nasty cold, which (knock on wood) hasn’t happened yet. I have a feeling my workout routine may have something to do with it. Scientists agree. Supposedly, exercise sends antibodies and white blood cells through the body at a quicker rate. On a more vain, practical note, I'll be packing fewer bulky cover-up sweaters this year. For once I'm feeling lean going into Christmas week. (You might want to ask me if I feel the same way after gorging on sugar cookies for a week straight.)

Truth be told, this week is going to be hard on the workout front. Once I get home for the holidays, it’s going to be jam-packed with family dinners, errands, and paying old friends and neighbors a visit. I'm confident I'll squeeze in some kettlebell sessions, though…even if they're only 20 or 30 minutes each. Time will tell.

About the Project: The Active Times' Fad Fitness Challenge is a six-week-long project in which five hapless writers will immerse themselves in five popular fitness programs—CrossFit (at CrossFit South Brooklyn), Insanity, Barre, Flywheel and Kettlebell classes—for the dual purposes of getting in shape and evaluating them for our readers. We guinea pigs will bust our butts, burn calories and discover muscles we'd long since mothballed and, if all goes well, emerge into the New Year with a well-rounded perspective of the top fitness fads. Check back every weekday from now until the New Year to come along for the ride without breaking a sweat. Click here to check out the rest of the programs.