Kettlebell Workouts: The Agony and the Ecstacy. Or, Forget Niederkorn…call me Kettlekorn. October 30, 2010

The Wheel, aka Workout Torture Device

Back in April I started 5:30 a.m. kettlebell classes.  Before you think I am part of a bell ringing church group like my friend Annette did, I should explain that kettlebells are ball-shaped cast iron weights (basically like a cannonball with a handle).  They originated in Russia and are part of a fitness program that really works your core and makes you super lean and strong while burning a ton of calories.  It is by far the most challenging workout I’ve ever done, but it has also given me the greatest results.  I’ve lost ten pounds and several inches, and my clothes fit a lot better.  The results are so good, in fact, that I’ve started shamelessly flexing my muscles in the mirror and inviting my family and friends to the gun show.  

However, my gym is very good at mixing it up and confusing my muscles.  So before I could fall too in love with my progress, I was introduced to something that put me back in my place, and apparently that place was flat on the floor. You see, in addition to kettlebells, my gym also has us using bootcamp-friendly apparatuses like TRX suspension cords and platforms ideal for jumping exercises (not a personal favorite of mine, by the way).

So after feeling fairly confident of my abilities (other than Monday mornings, where I am suddenly tranformed into a remedial kettlebell user), I was suddenly faced with what is now my worst enemy:  The Wheel.

At first sight, The Wheel seems to look pretty harmless.  It’s basically a small wheel with pedals and straps (see innocent-looking picture).  The sadistic part happens when my trainer Derek announces that each of us will get a chance to strap our feet into the pedals, face down push-up style, then walk across the length of the studio and back on our hands.  While each of us takes a turn on the wheel, our fellow workout companions are doing exercises in different stations.  They have to do their assigned exercise until the wheel person completes his or her cycle (har har).  This is the infamous “man in the middle” process, which pushes the solo wheel person to hurry up and finish the painful exercise so that the rest of the class does not suffer doing too many reps in his/her respective station. 

As I approached The Wheel, I thought to myself, “How difficult could this be, right?  I’ve been doing these hard workouts for months, and after all, I can rock those mountain climbers on the TRX suspension cords!”  (Don’t ask).

Sadly, I was mistaken.  I pity the poor bastards suffering around me as I take my turn on the wheel, which incidentally goes something like this:  crawl two feet, face plant, crawl two feet, face plant.  I then decide that instead of turning around (that sounds too complicated) I am going to wheel myself backward on the way back.  Yeah, not my best decision.  I try not to look up and see the strained faces of my compadres, who are probably wondering when the hell I am going to finish and wheel my sorry ass back to the front of the room so they can stop their reps already.  However, that wasn’t a problem since the only thing in my line of vision was the ground (see plant, face).  And I guess the “front of the room” really means the uppermost front of the room, since Derek would not yell “time” until I was really there.  Note to self: sprawling on the floor and likening myself to a lame dog with a leg cart will still not cause Derek to say “time”.  And did I mention we were subjected to three rounds of the wheel?

I am now thinking twice before demanding my friends and family call me “Kettlekorn.”