Tess's Kettlebell Challenge: As personal trainers not all of us jump out of bed at 4am excited for training. I started this challenge because I needed something to get me out of bed in the morning, yep I struggle with winter.

Challenge yourself
Today I completed a challenge that I started 30 days ago. I hear you say "but you are a personal trainer, easy for you, doesn't exercise stuff come natural?" Unfortunately not, personal trainers are mere mortals just like the rest of you, we have our ups and downs with our training too and like most people we need something to strive towards, especially in winter when it's cold and bed seems so much more inviting! And so it began.....

So what was my challenge?
Glad you asked! I was to complete 5000 Kettlebell swings in 30 days.

For the people who don't know what a Kettlebell is let me introduce you. Let's start with the name – it's not a cow bell, not kettle ball. It is called a Kettlebell!

Drop some knowledge time:
Kettlebells arrived in Russia at the start of the 18th century and was given the name "Girya" meaning kettlebell. Legend is, the Russians used the Kettlebells to help measure grains and goods and true to Russians style they would drink too much Vodka and start to challenge each other on who was the strongest and they started swinging and lifting the Kettlebells.

Kettlebells are a solid ball of iron with a handle and they come in many different sizes starting at 8kg up to 48kg, traditionally each Kettlebell goes up by 4kg.

There are several different exercises that you can do with Kettlebells the 3 common ones are swings, turkish get ups and goblet squats. You also have snatch, clean, front squat, press, push press, jerks, pistol squats, bent press, windmills and it goes on and on.

What's so special about Kettlebells?
You can cover many thing in one simple workout: for example some of the exercises require explosive movement, you can train to improve strength, endurance, speed, movement, power and (just about everyone's favourite) it works your core - all this in one workout. The way the weight is distributed with most of the weight in the bottom part of the bell means you have to constantly adjust your body to fit with it.

I have been training with Kettlebells on and off for years, well before kettlebells became mainstream here in Perth.  Everyone thought I was crazy, saying it's just another fitness craze passing through (a fitness craze that started long before it reached Russia in the 18th century), they couldn't believe that I found body building style training boring and that I thought there has got to more to training than your standard bicep/tricep workout.  I spent months training up for the course, I booked my flights and I travelled to Chicago and I became a certified Kettlebell instructor in 2011.  I was very excited to get my qualification under the legend Pavel Tsatsouline, a hardcore Russian who brought the Kettlebells to the western world.

Back to the challenge!
Like I said earlier, I needed to compete 5000 swings in 30 days.....it seems more impressive than it is. It is only just over 166 swings/day, had to do a session every day for 30 days and it was mixed between the standard two hand swings, one arm swings, alternating swings and double swings.  I followed a different workout every day and depending on the workout, weight I used, how quickly I wanted to complete it or how much rest I gave myself - depended on how long it took me complete - generally between 15 - 20mins.  I was also doing BJJ most nights and the last couple weeks I added a few body weight exercises and extra cardio on top of it.


Take care of your hands!
When I started this challenge, I just started getting back into Kettlebells after having some time off.  Anyone who has used kettlebells knows if you haven't done them for a while your hands can become unconditioned, so for the first couple of days my hands were hurting, the skin never tore, they just hurt to hold the kettlebell with some of the swings.  There were a couple of sessions that I missed which meant I had to double up the next day.  One Friday, at the beginning of the challenge, I missed it the workout so I got up early on the Saturday morning to do the Friday workout and the Saturday's workout. While I was doing the workouts I realised that I was having a party that night to celebrate my birthday, so I thought I probably won't want to train on Sunday so I did Sunday's workout as well.  I ended up completing 527 swings, (I did too many in one of the workouts, I had to use a timer and did too many rounds). So from 6am - 9.30am (I also had to train a client in that time too), I got Fri, Sat & Sun workout done.  That was a busy morning and then I had to run a BJJ class too.

I would fit my workouts in either before training my clients 6am or after I finished work.  Many people say they don't have time to workout, I don't care how busy you are, there is 24hrs in a day, there is always time for a workout.  Your workout doesn't have to be hours long, you can get a pretty decent workout in 20-30mins - heck you can smash yourself in 10mins!  That kind of workout should be intense and not done every day but a 20-30min workout can be done every day, 7 days a week.

What did I get from this challenge?
Probably the most important thing for me was a routine, every day for 30 days I was doing a workout. I committed myself to this challenge, I thoroughly enjoyed it (very important when working out) and I lost about 2kgs, if I was super strict with my diet I would have lost more.  I definitely feel more toned in my arms, glutes, lats, abs and thighs.

Challenge yourself
I would highly recommending setting yourself a challenge, it doesn't have to be the same as mine. It could be anything for an example - one month don't drink alcohol, do 30min of cardio every day, push up challenge, squat challenge, plank challenge, pull up challenge, good eating plan challenge - whatever you want to do you can turn it into a challenge.  Chat to one of our staff members and they will be able to give you some advice on how to set yourself up for this.

Want to swing?
Kettlebell swinging is challenging and if you don't know how to do it I would suggest you find yourself a qualified Kettlebell instructor to help you get the technique correct.  Like any exercise if you are doing the wrong technique over time you will injure yourself – Kettlebells don't hurt you, the way you swing a kettlebell can hurt you.  Tabitha and I will be running a Kettlebell workshops in the near future please let the staff know at the gym if you are interested in learning how to use this great piece of equipment.

So what now?
I must admit I was a little sad to finish this challenge, so I have decided to do another.  This time it is going to be 10,000 swings in 4 weeks.

This challenge is going to be a bit different from the last.  Each day, I have to complete 500 swings, workload - 2 days on 2 days off and in-between the rounds a strength exercise added.  Even though the workout will last for 4 weeks there are 20 days of work to complete the 10,000 swings - phew!  I will keep a journal of my challenge so watch this space in 30days and I will share my experience with you.

Tess Hunt 0404 609 707 Russian Kettlebell Cert Instructor

Tabitha Dearle 0411 644 489 Russian Kettlebell Cert II Instructor