When I was a high school Latin teacher, I was always asked “Why Latin?”.
My response was always “Because studying Latin lets you touch everything-language, history, philosophy, even martial arts”. All the things I love to do.
This is the same response I have when asked “Why Kettlebells?”. The training touches on, and helps me become better in, all the things I love to do.
Running and The Russian Swing
Before kettlebells, I ran a lot of road races. 5ks, 10ks, all kinds of marathons-everything was fair game. Being a runner can be an all-consuming hobby. When I was training for those higher mile races, I’d literally spend upwards of 20 hours a week running.
It got to a point where running was pretty much the only form of physical activity I was getting. While this is fine for others, it is not for me. When I decided to take a break from running and develop my strength, I found Baltimore Kettlebell Club.
Outside of my martial arts career (more on that later), I had never experienced as complete a total body workout as my first kettlebell class!
I spent a year learning all the core kettlebell moves: the Russian Swing, the Turkish Getup, the Snatch, the Goblet Squat, and the Shoulder Press; and after that year, I decided to get back into running.
I was shocked when I finished my first 5 miles!
Despite not having run at all for a FULL YEAR, my legs felt stronger, my cardio gas tank was fuller, and my mile times were faster!
Martial Arts and Strongman
In addition to my mile times, I noticed improvements in my martial arts ability. I have studied Chinese and Japanese martial arts for years. Chinese Martial Arts, particularly Kung Fu, emphasize the importance of being flexible, fast, and strong.
I was always looking for a gym that I could cross train at to further develop my strength, power, and flexibility. After my first couple Kettlebell classes, I noticed that my hip flexibility was noticeably improved, my cardio conditioning was up, and my legs were getting stronger.
While Kettlebell class helped with my flexibility and conditioning, Strongman class helped with my overall strength. I was always a little bit intimidated by moves like the deadlift because a) I didn't really know how to do them and b) I didn't look the guys I always saw doing them (i.e. gigantic). During my first Strongman class, Dan broke down the deadlift for me and made me feel really comfortable with the movement. I eventually got over my mental block of lifting heavy by understanding that proper mechanics and will power, not necessarily size, are the keys to success.
It may be a little off topic, but it needs to be said. BKC is one of the most welcoming and supportive environments I have ever been a part of. Much of that is due to Dan (the owner and resident steel bender) and his genuine interest in helping others. Over the years, I’ve talked to Dan about not only my deadlift technique, but events and challenges going on in my life outside the gym. Dan has always been there to lend a compassionate ear and offer any assistance he can. While my workouts at BKC have made me a physically stronger person, Dan’s unfailing compassion and support have made me an all-around better person.
About the Author
Originally from Massachusetts, Jonathan Arend resides in Laurel, MD with his wife Claire and their two cats, Rayne and Drizzle. Jonathan works as an Instructional Designer and in his spare time he practices, teaches, and competes in Chinese Martial Arts.