July 22, 2008

What the hell is a Kettlebell? Sarah Lurie's Workout DVD

[By Merry]A product review? On Cranky Fitness?

Yes, I know. I do product reviews about as often as I say something nice about... well, about pretty much anything. I made an exception in this case because I was intrigued by the name. What the hell is a kettlebell? Something that rings when it's made a pot of tea?

What the hell is a kettlebell?
Turns out it's a hand weight with a luggage handle on top. Cute as the dickens.

Don't knock the power of 'cute'! Hand weights are like people: both are much more likely to get picked up if they're cute. The son of Charlotte (from The Great Fitness Experiment) named her kettlebell 'Tinkerbell'.

What are you supposed to do with it?

Hey, it's a hand weight. You do the math.
(Sorry. I always wanted an excuse to use that expression.)

Okay, in case you're as mathematically challenged as I am, there is help. Sarah Lurie has put together some fitness DVDs showing how to get a workout with a kettlebell. What's really cool is that her DVDs combine working out aerobically with lifting weights. To someone like me, who would rather clean house than lift weights, this idea out-wows sliced bread.

The DVD I was given was called Kettlebell Basics, but Gofit.net has a list of several different DVDs that you can choose from.

Reasons to use a kettleball
1 - It's fun. Doing something different spices up a workout routine, which means I'm more likely to keep exercising.

2 - It's a workout. For several of these exercises, you hold the kettleball with both hands, thus using more muscles than you would with holding a weight in just one hand. Kind of like using a snowboard rather than two separate skis. With a snowboard, you end up using more core muscles because you're desperately trying to stay vertical.

3 - While it's nice to use muscles I wouldn't ordinarily put into play, even nicer is the idea of lifting weights while getting a cardio workout. Sarah Lurie guides you through a series of exercises that have you doing lunges, squats, and such like while raising and lowering the kettlebell. (The handle makes it much easier to swing the weight around than it would be to swing a regular hand weight.)

Things I didn't like so muchTo be completely fair and unbiased, there were a couple things I didn't like.

- Between exercises, the DVD lists key bullet points about form, things to keep in mind. Which would probably be useful if the font weren't so small that I couldn't read the text from 4 feet away.

- One of the exercises involve grasping the kettlebell with both hands, swinging it between my legs and then up to above my shoulders. These people have great faith in my ability not to accidentally lose my grip on the kettlebell and send it flying across the room. [Some manual dexterity is required to use a kettlebell.]

To read another review of Sarah Lurie's Kettlebell Workout DVDs, check out Workout Mommy's blog.

What about you? Have you tried using one of these things before, and if so did you like it?

P.S. My apologies to Nitmos. Here at Cranky Fitness, we are keenly aware of the robust necessity of remaining dynamically sensitive to our readers' needs. However, this is a serious product review, and it would be totally inappropriate to work in any gratuitous Martina Navratilova references. Besides, I could not find any indication that she had ever used this product.


  1. Hey you make these things sound kinda fun! But aerobic weight-lifting, fun? That's as weird as... Crabby being cheerful!

    They are awfully darn cute though.

  2. Oh and Charlotte over at The Great Fitness Experiment has a great review of these things too. Little guys get around!

  3. great minds.

    think alike and are still sore (well, if youre me anyhoo. if youre YOU then you do a better job o'linking. *sigh*)


  4. Even the solid color kettleballs are so cool looking, but have you seen the painted ones?


    I'd love to have one or two of those just sitting around my living room floor for spontaneous workouts.

  5. I broke and bought the DVD and kettlebell after workoutmommy reviewed it. Personally, I love it. I can relate though to the fear of swinging your kettlebell and well... letting go and... taking out the brand new plasma TV thingie... the man would be... MAD!
    I am pretty confident in my coordination, but me little hands get sweaty ya know.
    Jokes aside, I am still working on form to avoid banging my wrists when cleaning the kettle, and yes, I got this belly to work around, but all in all, kettlebells are here to stay in my workout regimen because I work SO many muscles at once AND get my heart rate up. Multi-tasking are we?

  6. They definitely seem to be a popular topic! I am planning to get the kettlebells and probably the DVD, so will let you know if I break anything :-)

  7. Looks like a good one to use around the house. Easy to stash away in a cupboard after your workout I bet.

  8. I am waiting for someone to actually let go of one midswing. It is VERY tempting, I tell you and I imagine it would feel very satisfactory in the midst of an adult temper tantrum;) Anyhow... great review! KBs are fun and def. a great way to change up your workout. (Thanks for the shout-out Crabby!)

  9. They do sound like fun.

    However I am just way too scared that I'd hit someone with it while swinging :(

  10. I've almost purchased kettlebells a few times, but as a devout cheapskate, I just feel like they're way overpriced. At the point when they're considered "over," I'll probably suck it up and finally buy them.

  11. I do use hand weights but I can see the value of the kettlebell, since it uses the core muscles, a group that always needs work.

    Besides they are cute.

    Gonna toddle over to workout Mommy's blog to check her review.

    Thanks for an intro to a handy and pretty workout tool.


  12. No-one can tell me if they ring!! Oh, when one smacks you upside the head, your EARS ring!

    I get it now.

  13. I really wish my gym had these, because they look fun! I am working out with Smart Bells (http://www.thinkfit.com/), which are kind of a similar idea, and because you transfer it back and forth a lot, just as easy to let fly...

    I sometimes work out with resistance tubing (http://www.shapeupshop.com/bands_balls_tubes_bars/ideal_tube.htm) and there's this one partner exercise I do, where I always warn them not to let go of the band, because if they did, it might slap someone in the knees, or even worse, the face. So far it hasn't happened, thankfully...

    I also using foot loops (http://www.shapeupshop.com/bands_balls_tubes_bars/versa_loop.htm) and those do snap after a while. Thankfully not in someone's face (we sometimes use our hands with them).

    I think I may need to check out kettlebells next time I go to a fitness conference. Everyone seems to be blogging about them!

  14. Kettlebells are used regularly in crossfit workouts (the new Marine Corps workout initiative). Everyone thinks they're great for your arms - but they really help tone your glutes, thighs, quads more! I definitely love working with them. Plus, if the buff bods of the Marine Corps like them, and I can do the workouts - I'm in!

  15. Is there something new going on with you? First kitties now love for cute weights?

    Seriously, take your temperature.

  16. Apparently the kettlebell idea originally came from Russia's military. Sounds like it makes you tough and gruff!

  17. I am with Jenn here. What's with all of the cutesy stuff?!?!

    Somebody(s) -yes both of you- need an attitude adjustment!

  18. Charlotte is totally onto something.
    -When upset, load your kettlebell in the car
    -Drive to a nearby park, anywhere where you have room really
    -Swing the kettlebell and... LET GO midway through your swing
    -Watch it fly and thud into the ground
    -Run to retrieve

    We will name it the "Angry Kettlebell Throw and Sprint" work out.

  19. The Firm was doing weight-lifting plus aerobics back in the... 80's?

    The very first tape is a bear to do (none of them are easy), and I love the old tapes and really feel accomplished if I can finish one, but I haven't liked the newer ones. Unfortunately they re-name the old ones when they re-issue them, so one has to go by the cover art ("The Firm 1" is now "Body Sculpting Basics", and it looks like they only have 2 of the oldest available currently). I have 7 or 8 Firm tapes - I really ought to start doing them again now that there is room in the basement.

    NAYY, just a fan of the old Firm.

  20. I seen it and immediately thought
    "Accident waiting to happen"

    I am a workout klutz, so this probably isn't a good idea!

  21. I'm going to get one to take on my (cheerful) evening walks along the levee. Kettlebell is the new Prada on my arm.

  22. Well, I accept the apology and appreciate the effort. However, my first thoughts were...I wonder if Billie Jean King ever used this product???

  23. Alice, I love that idea! Cranky Fitness at its best.
    Hey, maybe we could even get to demonstrate this new exercise technique on the Ellen DeGeneres show! Nudges Nitmos to make sure he got the gratuitous L reference

  24. Sighs. I am one of the (increasingly few) unfortunate people who has yet to workout with kettlebells. And they DO look cute! So much kettlebell desire right now it hurts:)

  25. Gotta be one of the best looking pieces of fitness equipment around. Put em on the stove for a teapot look a like when not in use.

    I did say fitness EQUIPMENT, Merry!

  26. Well, as my hands are numb most of the time (I slipped a butcher knife into the cupboard door across the kitchen once!) this is probably not a good idea for me.

  27. Although, probably safer than knives!

  28. These things are everywhere! And I hadn't heard of them yesterday

  29. Stumbled upon your blog from Jen Sinkler.

    Kettlebells are a fantastic workout. No worries you won't loose it mid swing. And once you pick up on the technique you won't be banging your wrists either.

    Good to hear all the feedback since we train with them regularly at my gym. If ever in Philly, please do check it out!

  30. Kettlebells are fine when used in moderation, but the legions of kettlebell-toting marketing hypesters infesting every fitness-related corner of the 'web would have you believe that they're a panacea for every fitness-fueled frustration.

    They're just a tool. And a tool that is less versatile, less ergonomic, and much more expensive than your run of the mill adjustable dumbbell. There's nothing you can do with a kettlebell than you can't do -- sometimes more efficiently -- with a dumbbell.

    Kettlebell marketers will have you believe that every drawback is a benefit. They'll try to convince you that kettlebells are long-lost secret training tools of ancient warriors, just now brought to light by benevolent fitness trainers. And they'll do their best to indoctrinate you into the cult of kettlebell -- where your initial goals are forgotten and you now judge the worth of every fitness program by how closely it adheres to the party line vis-a-vis the kettlebell in-crowd.

    Other than that, they're a lot of fun!

  31. I think you are forgetting the fact that kettlebell exercises use up to 20 calories a minute. Which means if you do a 30 minute workout you have actually used/lost about 600 calories verses the the same with a dumbell or barbell of about 10-15 calories for same/simillar exercises for a much longer time in the gym of about an 1 hour. Not to mention that kettlebells promote fluidic movement, rather than mechanical movement which is harder on the body. Kettlebells promote a more day-to-day functional movements, and can help people get in shape faster. Like with any exercise program I would suggest learning the movements without the equipment first to get used to the motions involved,and get an OK from your doctor for any new exercise program. K.R.Q.


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