Sunday, 16 March 2014

Kettlebells with PT Luca Meriano

Luca's kettlebells. Don't let the pastel shades fool you, they're not metrosexual.
While I can still type, I'm posting about a kettlebell workshop I went to today. I fear that tomorrow will be too late.

Luca Meriano ran a three-hour beginners kettlebell workshop at The Gym on Waterloo Place in Edinburgh. A new skill for me, a new teacher, and a new venue.

The Gym is a cavernous, white, modern 24 hour gym with plenty of space in the matted area for Luca to teach 9 of us the basics of kettlebells. It was clean, well equipped and (despite being the most central gym location you could imagine in Edinburgh), didn't seem full of posers. Which I liked.

Luca was a great teacher. He broke everything down very clearly. His instructions were really succinct and he took the time to check we were all managing the moves. Everyone got individual feedback throughout the class, one to one. Luca was thoroughly professional and  knowledgeable and I can't think of anything else I would ask for.

Me and the teacher!
Kettlebells will leave me with more bruising than a pole dance class, I suspect. Luca says that this is common to start with, but with practice you develop better control and stop whacking your forearms with the kettlebell!

Luca told me that kettlebell moves use up to 80 muscles. Even a shoulder press-type move uses the whole chain of muscles from your feet to your hands overhead. Two hours on and I'm starting to believe it... I'm not sure I felt this achey after my last marathon!

We had a very thorough warm-up before learning how to swing, clean, snatch and squat. Doesn't actually sound much when you list it like that, but after two hours I was feeling ready to go home. It was the cleans that I really struggled with by the end, because every time I racked the kettlebell, I was thumping it off the outside of my forearm. By the final sequence my left arm was in too much pain for me to finish - not the 'good workout' pain but the 'dropped an iron on my arm' type pain. Still, I'm assured it's just a beginners ailment and it's about timing.

The squats were not the forward-tipping Body Pump variety but real ass-to-the-grass hip-openers. After about 40 of those today, I fear my training run tomorrow will be in jeopardy. It occurs to me now that I didn't know I could do ass-to-the-grass squats until today, and why didn't I know that? Well, because nobody's ever asked me to do them, so I didn't know I could. Which is quite depressing, actually, as a bit of a sign that I don't push myself to try new stuff.

Far from only working the upper body, even when they're overhead kettlebells are really intense on your lower body, as you push from the hips to get the momentum for the moves. Squeezing the glutes protects your lower back from strain so it works your ass like crazy - before you even begin those squats!

The class, still smiling after three gruelling hours!
I used an 8kg (pleasantly pink) or a 10kg (baby blue) kettlebell. Luca has his own stash of them, the size and standard required for competition. They were colourful, but Luca warned us off the smaller (but not lighter) gym's-own kettlebells, describing them as 'metrosexual' (I did LOL).

Luca told me that having good flexibility and mobility in my hips meant that my kettlebell technque was good. Who knew, bellydance and kettlebells are odd, but complementary, bedfellows. Hurray.

I'm plan to use kettlebells again, even if they are the metrosexual kind that Edinburgh Leisure supplies.  Luca suggested 50 squats, 50 snatches and some core work as an all-over general workout in 20 minutes. I need to remember to squeeze my glutes, keep my elbow in and swing the other arm!

Great workshop, great to learn some new skills!