Kettlebells look deceptively simple. At first glance they appear to be nothing more than a big hunk of metal, usually coated in some thick black paint. Often, they are something many believe belong in the bygone era of strongmen at a circus. But, as every Affiliate knows, kettlebells can be an essential part of your Box.
Eric Siegel, the owner of CrossFit Fenway, said that kettlebells have been essential. He said it is not uncommon for him to start out new members with kettlebells for their first few weeks, allowing those who have little to no experience weightlifting to get a sense of what it is like.
In fact, kettlebells are relatively safer than barbells for beginners, because they allow the user to keep the weight closer to their center of mass, significantly lowering their risk of over extending and injuring themselves.
Siegel also said that kettlebells are much less intimidating for new members than barbells because of their simple design. While many people who are not involved with CrossFit may be unaware of kettlebells, they are easy to pick up and understand.
But Dan Sullivan, the owner of CrossFit The Rack, said that you have to be careful when choosing your kettlebells. He said there is a lot that goes into making a good kettlebell, such as balance, durability and handling. However, he learned this the hard way, going through multiple variations of kettlebells before finding the right one.
Originally, he chose a few color-coded kettlebells with a rubber pad on the bottom of them to protect his floor. While his members loved the color-coding, he said the rubber pad was quickly torn off which left a nasty little screw exposed at the bottom.
Then he invested in another brand of kettlebells, but the handles were too smooth and members began losing their grip. And after a few intense workouts, the metal plating came loose and would rattle, ending up exposing the wooden interior.
Finally, Sullivan chose a brand of kettlebells made by Rogue. These kettlebells were made of solid cast iron, had textured handles for better grip and were color-coded. He said these have been the best fit so far.
His trials and tribulations have taught him not to skimp on any of the equipment he buys, especially kettlebells. But that doesn’t mean he only buys the most expensive equipment on the market. For instance, Sullivan said that many Boxes invest in expensive competition-style kettlebells, although none of their members actually compete, which for him contradicts the most important factor in buying equipment: the members’ needs.
While it may seem difficult to find the perfect equipment, Siegel said it is all part of the growing process. Recently, he has noticed a rapid increase in the availability of new and improved equipment for CrossFit. It’s a trend he doesn’t see ending anytime soon because, he said, as CrossFit continues to grow, so will the companies that provide its equipment.
Photo by Supri Suharjoto