Enterprising Ellen Branches Out With Weights and A Kettlebell Class…
Outfit: what to wear? Flat shoes apparently! I went with converse, over knee socks to keep warm, one-year-old yoga pants (saggy crotch), standard C&C vest top, surf t-shirt, Kale sweatshirt, 1971 Reiss faux fur coat, hair accessorised with jam (don’t “arsk”). I feel like a mixed up sporting person, was I yogaing, gyming or possibly skiing???
Venue: an amazing, extremely friendly, well run gym, The Engine Room, Portumna.
Our instructor was Steve Killen, who looks like a tidier, bearded version of Rambo. The afternoon started off on the wipe board with a well informed talk about strength training. We talked weights and reps – what and how many are used for muscle build up, getting a J-Lo bottom (I am sold when this is mentioned) etc. Instructor Maggie Duff was there to reassure us as a “well fit” woman herself, we would not look like men if we lifted weights.
Deadlift: Do it with form
The correct way of lifting, pushing, pulling and stance was all very carefully explained as we went on to “deadlift”. We warmed up for the lifts by lifting not so heavy weights. Here’s a great guide to deadlifting. A basic deadlift is when you pull the bar from the floor until you’ve locked your hips and knees. Proper Deadlift form starts with the weight on the floor and you must begin with with your lower back neutral. The correct stance means – feet under the bar, shoulder-distance apart, knees over ankles, belly out. Emphasis was placed on the back, so as not to injure ourselves. Rounding out the lower back can cause serious injury. I felt very safe with Steve the instructor and at no time did I feel I was lifting too much or putting my body at risk. My muscles either side of my lower back felt amazingly strong the next day, as well as my shoulders and buttocks.
Next we went on “squat lift”
This is the one you see on TV. Again, there’s a great guide, with images here. The bar is set to shoulder-height. You walk underneath and put the bar on to your shoulders. The bar by itself weights 20 kilos! And then we put weights on the end of it! Again with the correct stance, one squats down and back up we did 8 reps (did it 8 times) then let the next two people do it, then did the 8 reps again another two times. It is very important to have “rest” periods in between “reps sets” to let the muscles rest. I could really feel this working my thighs and buttocks as well as muscles in my inner groins I didn’t know that I had!
Final lift was a “bench press”, high five myself because now I can say how much I “bench”! And the answer is probably 4??? This is where you lay on a bench, feet on the floor and ‘push’ the weight away from you. Working your shoulders and chest. This looks easy because you are laying down but I personally found this the hardest as my shoulders and chest are not as strong as my thighs.
All weightlifting is working the core.
After the weightlifting session I felt very strong, butch and felt like I wanted “a fight”. Don’t know what that was about!
Next we went on to Kettlebells. The history of kettlebells is fascinating. They originate from Russia and were originally used for weighing crops. They are made from cast iron or steel and look a bit like a cannonball with a handle. The Soviet Army used them for training and there have been kettlebell competitions since the 1940s.
I was told to take a pink kettlebell! Pink really doesn’t say ‘Russian army person’ to me but later I was sooo please that I got the pink one! Various “swings” just using the one bell were demonstrated which we tried to copy (a lot of the people in the class attend kettlebells or had been in the past and we very competent). Steve made it look very easy; which it is not! It is amazingly good for coordination, (of which I have none); core strength and physical fitness. It is also good for the mind, just like in yoga the mind must focus fully on the present moment, and the brain is quiet. It was also really good fun.
Kettlebells have become very popular of late – there are plenty of clubs and classes you can join. You can even compete at international level. When you become more experienced you can learn different moves which have amazing names! I was really looking forward to the “jerk” and the “snatch” just so I could childishly giggle.
Steve and Maggie are both extremely passionate about what they do and this really came across. Steve was like a Duracell bunny at the end of the class using nearly every piece of the equipment in the gym to show us what we could do! (Check out the pic)
It is not just because I am a teacher and I teach classes – but there is something so rewarding about going to a class, sharing that experience with other people. And finally I know I keep banging on about it in my other blog posts; but to have a great, caring, safe, qualified instructor is priceless.
The one sad thing that did happen during the afternoon was that I made a hole in my playboy bunny sock…
Just one final note on health and safety, make sure that pants are not too old of you could find your gusset near your knees!
Bonus bit: Check out Maggie Duff being awesome in this Kettlebells video! You can finc out more about Maggie’s classes and training here on her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ZUMBAMD/
Notes from the Ed.
Ellen was at the EngineRoom in Portumna, a sports and holistic therapy centre. She attended a one off Strength Training & Kettle Bells class, which ran for 2.5 hours and was priced at €25. There are regular Kettle Bells & Introduction to Kettle Bell classes running there all the time. Check out http://www.engineroomportumna.ie/.
This article was not solicited or paid for, and the opinions expressed are all the author’s own. Ellen is a qualified Iyengar yoga teacher and is only batshit crazy half the time. (We can just never tell which half) To keep up with her yoga wit and wonder, you can check out her Yoga page on Facebook. at https://www.facebook.com/EllenBaggsYoga.