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Class Spotlight: Kettlebell

June 14, 2011

This week marks Yen Yoga & Fitness’ one-year anniversary! In celebration of this milestone and in gratitude to all our students who continue to support and inspire us, we’re offering free classes all week long. This is the perfect time to sign up for that class you’ve always wanted to try, but in case you’d like to know a little more first, we’ll be highlighting our class offerings all week right here on our blog.

Take what is essentially a cast-iron cannonball, stick a handle on it, and whaddya got? America’s newest fitness craze.

Okay, maybe “craze” isn’t exactly the right word. But since being introduced to the U.S. a little more than 10 years ago, kettlebell training has been gaining serious popularity among fitness enthusiasts and celebrities (including Jennifer Lopez, Penelope Cruz, and Matthew McConaughey among others) for its incredible effectiveness in blasting fat and building strength. The secret to this Russian import’s power is how you use it: Instead of lifting it like a standard dumbbell, you swing it. Standard dumbbells target only a few muscle groups at a time; kettlebells, with their offset center of gravity, call all your stabilizing muscles to action, engaging your entire body (belly, butt, hips, thighs, legs, arms—you name it) to counteract the kettlebell’s momentum.

The kettlebell’s simple but ingenious design also allows for greater range of motion; this translates into more effective strength training in a shorter amount of time, building strength and endurance for the kind of activities you’d perform in everyday life. And it’s also a great cardio workout: Instead of utilizing heavy weights and less reps, lighter kettlebells are used so that you can repeat each explosive movement, raising your heart rate, burning calories and building endurance.

Still not sold? According to Women’s Health magazine, researchers found that people who did a 20-minute kettlebell workout torched almost 300 calories—and that’s just for starters. When you factor in the muscle-sculpting impact (the calories burned after you exercise as your body repairs its muscle fibers), the total expenditure could increase by up to 50 percent. Which might be why so many devotees credit kettlebell conditioning with getting them in the best shape of their lives.

Proper form is paramount with kettlebell training, so experts recommend that newbies start with a trainer or in a class before embarking on their own home routines. To sign up for one of Yen Yoga & Fitness’ kettlebell classes (free this week!), visit our online class schedule. In the meantime, check out these videos for a few of the many kettlebell training techniques: the snatch, the swing, and the waiter’s walk.

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