Why is the Kettlebell So Popular?
I first picked up a kettlebell around 2007 or 2008, somewhere in there, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school I was attended had one. I messed around with it a little I knew what it was but beyond that very little. Then around 2010 I was working at a Gold’s Gym and these two balls of iron showed up. These were foreign objects from space to nearly everyone else in the gym. Today, in 2017 kettlebells are everywhere and very few in the world of fitness are unfamiliar although I still hear the occasional “kettleball” nonsense every now and then. So how is it in less than a decade this tool has risen to such prominence?
I attribute several factors to the rise of the kettlebell but will list only a few of the highlighted points here.
Like almost anything in fitness that is “new” (we know kettlebells aren’t new at all) there is an initial gain in usage simply from curiosity. “Hey what is this thingy about?” And when you have an itch you must scratch it. Many people each day would walk by and give those kettlebells a try at Gold’s Gym.
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Some would try a few moves, others just would pick it up, look confused and place it back down. Either way the kettlebell was getting some exposure from the sheer novelty of being unknown and unique. Those that really wanted to learn more would head to the internet and begin looking up the kettlebell.
#2) Rise in Mass Exposure
I jumped to this one but only slightly, there was a significant underground movement prior to any commercial appeal but that is a different article for a later day. What I am referring to is two major enterprises also had tremendous growth in that same decade and both made use of the kettlebell and gave it exposure.
I am of course referring to Crossfit and MMA. As these two athletics grew more and more people saw video footage of kettlebells and the association of sculpted athletes using kettlebells. Most often it was an action shot of someone performing a kettlebell swing.
The more that people saw these athletes on TV the more people wanted to check into this kettlebell contraption. And so we saw more rise in the popularity of the kettlebell.
#3) It Works.
No I am not talking about the MLM body wrap gimmick. I am saying that the kettlebell is super effective and gets the job done. It is one of the best overall tools for strength, conditioning and all around fitness.
I could go on for a week about how awesome the kettlebell is and if you are unfamiliar, please check out a program (doesn’t have to be Awake and Alive’s but that’s cool) to learn how using kettlebells properly can dramatically enhance your fitness and health. I have never heard anyway say “Kettlebells are ineffective.” Assuming that had proper instruction.
I say it to my students all the time “Kettlebells get the job done!”
Kettlebells are extremely versatile and their effectiveness works in the most basic of programming ie swings, goblet squat, TGU, windmill all the way to complex flows of unbroken movements with the bell never stopping.
You can literally spend a lifetime using a kettlebell or two and still come up with new things to try. The possibilities are endless. Pick up a kettlebell and start training today!
These are just a few factors that have attributed to the rise in popularity of the kettlebell as a training tool in the last decade or so. From the humble and strange beginnings of dust covered balls of iron in the corner of gyms to a widely accessible and much more familiar tool, the kettlebell is well on its way but still has some ground to cover.
Will it ever replace the barbell? (We will discuss this in an upcoming article.)
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Mark Smith is the owner of Asylum Fitness in beautiful Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a Movement and Strength Coach that uses unconventional tools and methods to make his students a little better with each practice. His main focus is movement, he believes, “We were born to move. Reclaim your birthright.” He encourages his students and all those he meets to just play, similarly to when you were a kid, believing that play is the foundation of movement and movement is life. “By learning to move better and improving our mobility, everything falls into place.” he says. Mark is an Outdoor Fitness Enthusiast, is well versed in corrective exercises, and currently holds a level 1 FMS (Functional Movement Screen), and is a MovNat level 2 certified trainer and is always seeking to learn from the best. He also has a background in track and field, martial arts, ballroom dance, and currently is practicing parkour.