Saved by the Kettlebell
Life throws curve balls at everyone at some point, sometimes one after another. That’s what happened to me beginning 2006: my mother passed away suddenly; three years later my brother died of an accident. I constantly felt overwhelmed with a stressful social service job, as I struggled to carve out a more hopeful future. In May 2011, I was at my heaviest and unhealthiest, physically and mentally — standing at 5’2″, I weighed in at 141 pounds at 34% body fat percentage. I felt broken despite having a boyfriend and friends around me, and often turned to food for comfort. I knew I needed help. I decided to sign up for personal training at a local gym, where I worked out at least three times a week. With the help of a trainer, I started eating better. By October 2011, I found myself at 116 pounds, stronger, able to rock climb better, healthier (I reduced my cholesterol by 30 points!) and happier.
One trainer introduced me to an exercise tool that I had never seen before: it looked like a cannonball with a handle. “What the f*** is that?” I said. I was scared of it for some reason. “It’s a kettlebell,” he said. He showed me how to swing a 12kg. It took me a while to get the hang of it. He showed me more moves, like the Turkish Get-up. Intrigued, I researched kettlebells and found out that it’s an efficient way to improve cardio AND strength. When I stopped personal training in March 2012, I decided to maintain my weight loss through kettlebell exercises. I found a group class, with the intent of mastering the moves so I could do them on my own.
I got addicted to kettlebell workouts — so much so that during vacation in the Philippines in July 2012, I looked for a kettlebell facility to train for a week. The trainers in Manila told me about girevoy sport (GS), or kettlebell sport. “There are kettlebell sport competitions?” I asked. They started teaching me GS style jerks and snatches. I couldn’t get the moves down, but they kept encouraging me. “You’re strong,” they said. “If you learn the technique, you can compete.” When I returned to Chicago, I started playing around with GS style moves using competition kettlebells.
In December 2012, I earned my certification as a Kettlebell Teacher through IKFF (International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation), Levels 1 and 2. I started teaching a beginners’ class in February 2013, and enjoyed every minute of it. In March 2013, I competed in my first kettlebell sport event: the 10-minute Long Cycle (clean and jerk), and achieved Rank 3 in Sporting Perfection Category, and won 1st place in my 50kg division. Yes — I weighed in at 108 pounds and lifted a 35-pound kettlebell 48 times within 10 minutes.
The competition was a beautiful experience — it was both a culmination and beginning of my fitness journey. I realized how far I had come: I was no longer a client, and I was more than a student; I had become a teacher. In less than 2 years, I went from being sedentary to a kettlebell sport athlete. Today, I am training hard to keep improving my performance in the sport, and I’ve only just begun my journey as a competitive lifter.
And that is how I was saved by the kettlebell. I went from being a despondent individual to an empowered athlete and teacher. I have fallen completely in love with this fast-growing sport and with the community of competitive lifters all over the world.
This blog is my way of sharing what I’ve learned and continue to learn about health, fitness and nutrition; of connecting with you; of helping spark something inside you. You may not fall in love with kettlebells the same way I did, but I hope this blog helps you find your own salvation — to fall in love with something that inspires you to be the best version of yourself. Wherever you are in your journey, I would love to hear from you.
Bea Rodriguez, IKFF CKT2 & Kettlebell Sport Athlete, Rank 2 Sporting Perfection, 1st Place
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