Kettlebells seem like such simple pieces of gym equipment. A rounded weight that you pick up by its triangular handle; no need to add more weights or strap anything up.
You just need to know how to use it.
Stephanie Kosnick, instructor of the kettlebell class I was to take at Founders HIIT & Strength Club, said some people and gyms don’t know how to properly utilize the weights; sometimes they only act as doorstops and not the dynamic weight she teaches her classes.
The kettlebell class is one high-intensity interval training classes offered at Founders HIIT & Strength Club, which opened in 2015 as Foundry Fitness. (The name change is recent.) While Kosnick has been working with the venue since March, her kettlebell classes only became regular fixtures on the gym’s schedule after Labor Day.
Going into the 9:30 a.m. 45-minute class, I knew some things. I knew what kettlebells were; I’ve even used some to lift before. I’ve done weight training before, but the majority of my exercise choices are done with my own body weight (yoga, running). I’m in decent shape, and like a supportive class dynamic. Seeing my mostly millennial classmates in slightly-better-than-me fitness, I thought I could probably hold my own.
Founders HIIT & Strength Club offers several HIIT workouts, labeled with words like “Forge” and “Power,” but based in different exercises and training modules. The classes (small for more individual attention) start at $20 per class, with several packages available. Call 518-650-8111.
This class worked in a set of stations and workouts: Stephanie would give us a minute or two for each exercise, which ranged further than just kettlebell swings. There were pull-ups, side planks and push-ups. There were short rests, of which I took advantage.
I had no idea how important posture was for this class.
I’m glad Kosnick took the seven minutes at the beginning of the class to go over correct form. (Even if it was just for me and we kept the more experienced athletes in the room from starting their workout.)
The form is less of a squat as I had expected; the power of a kettlebell swing coming from the hips, the glutes and hamstrings as opposed to a pendulum effect with your arms. Picking up the kettlebell about 1 1/2 feet away from your feet, keep a straight back. You pull the kettlebell back through your legs, with your hands right under your groin. This is important: You hinge from the hips. From that hinge, swing the kettlebell forward, with the weight not swinging above your eye level.
All that being said, that form takes time to get used to. Stephanie would prompt me not to “bottom out,” meaning I swung the kettlebell too low. She knows her stuff: Certified through the StrongFirst program, Kosnick prefers that Russian-style kettlebell swing. She says it “calls in all the players” of your muscle groups.
There were several times when I lowered the smallest kettlebell — 12-kilograms (a little more than 26 pounds) — exhausted, while classmates kept on swinging. Several of them did yoga poses between the round-robin workout. Talk about staying power.
The other exercises were the break I needed from this new form. My body ached the next day, mostly in the shoulders, abs and hamstrings. But it’s something I wanted to go back to — a 45-minute workout that kicked my butt, but everything else as well.