The Burn: Getting Familiar with Kettlebells
A semi-personal group fitness class for when you don't want to be mansplained about an exercise.
December 4, 2018
There’s plenty of valid barriers for not going to the gym: time constraints, membership fees, yoga pants in the wash ’cause you keep passing them off as formal wear. For me, the most intimidating thing about going to the gym was having no idea what to do. Besides the fear of looking stupid or having a moose-like gym regular mansplain the leg press to me, there is a real danger in utilizing exercise equipment improperly. Even using something as innocent-looking as free weights can result in an injury.
But rather than ordering a smoothie and calling it quits, there are local fitness studios – like Movement 108 – that have personal training-esque classes (read: plenty of 1-on-1 attention) in a group setting. I tried the Movement Kettlebell class with instructor Jake Ritcher, and got a (totally safe) crash-course intro to the wonderful world of the bell.
Movement 108 is located in the South Granville area, and the studio is divided into two sections. The front half is where they run personal training sessions (there were two going on during my class) and the back has space for group classes. Natural light floods the studio, and PNW-inspired murals decorate the walls. The relaxed but determined vibes of the space mimic that of the instructors and participants – I was greeted by lots of fit and friendly faces as soon as I arrived.
It took me about four seconds to realize that I was the only newbie in my kettlebell class; my instructor Jake later told me that most of the morning crew are regulars. I knew nothing about kettlebells besides what they looked like (thank you, Google image, for confirming). After a quick warm-up that was part stretching, part yoga, Jake instructed everyone to grab two weights that we felt comfortable squatting with. Luckily he then either saw the look of uncertainty on my face or heard my internal screaming, because he helped me choose a weight that I could lift safely. This is a great part of Movement 108’s classes: they generally have 10 or less participants, so it’s easy for beginners to get the extra attention they need. It also means that instructors know the strengths and weaknesses of most of the regulars. As Jake walked around giving encouragement and gentle reminders to the other participants, it was clear that he had a good idea of what each of them was capable of and what areas they could be pushed in.
The workout itself focused on two exercises, hinging and planking. We did two different combinations of exercises that concentrated on these forms. The first started with split dead lifts with two bells that we alternated with a plank pattern, and the second was kettlebell swings and squats combined with another plank combination and (if you were brave) (I was not) push-ups. Doing a kettlebell swing when you’ve never picked one up before feels pretty unnatural, and Jake helped me by showing me how to practice doing the exercise against the wall. The personalized help you receive during the session can feel a little bit awkward at first, but I think that knowing I was doing the exercise right – and getting the most out of the class – was totally worth it.
My instructor said you might have to do an exercise a hundred times before you do it 100% correctly. Even though I certainly did not leave the class an expert, I did leave feeling much more confident of my ability to identify, lift, and swing a kettlebell. The small class sizes at this studio are a definite bonus; you really get the best of both a group class and a personal training session all in one. If you need some personal guidance but are too intimidated at the prospect of having all your instructor’s attention on you, you should definitely check this place out. I left feeling sweaty, sore, and ready to claim the amount of attention I rightfully deserve.
100 – 1416 West 8th Avenue
Drop-in group classes $35, personal training $100