The challenge this week was travel. It’s relatively easy for me to swing a kettlebell at home. Easy, of course, if you ignore dragging my ass out of bed, actually doing the swings and avoiding Brisbane’s sweaty sticky heat. Easy because I have my own space, I have my own kettlebell, I don’t need a membership to my balcony (although it is an exclusive club).
Travelling with a kettlebell briefly crossed my mind. Could I sneak a bright yellow 16kg kettlebell onto a flight, in my hand luggage? Could I fit it into my checked luggage? The answer is probably yes but I didn’t want to deal with the consequences. Imagine if it fell out of the overhead locker!!
The real issue for me is a failure to plan. I tend to fall back on my “I’m sure it’ll be fine” approach to life. Often it works. It reduces a lot of stress for sure. Occasionally though, I really should plan ahead. I could have called my hotel to see if they had kettlebells in their gym. They didn’t. I could have trawled Groupon for one of the many FREE 7 DAY TRIALS that pepper the gym market in January. I didn’t. Fortunately one of my colleagues was having a break from his fitness regime. He was kind enough to lend me his gym access card for a few days.
Next time I need to plan ahead a little better. But ultimately it did work out just fine. I love it when that happens.
My morning challenge of swings has finally started to become a habit. I’ve gotten past that point where I felt like I had to make a decision every morning. Do I swing today? I always knew I had to but there were moments when I was tempted to “do it tonight” or “maybe I’ll take a day off today and make it up on the weekend”. It feels good to not think about it. Like brushing my teeth or making coffee, now it just happens.
I’ve been extremely lucky this week. Queensland Kettlebells reached out and offered to work with me on my technique and form. Practice makes perfect but only if you are practicing perfectly. If I made it through 100,000 swings with poor form I would surely have ingrained all of those bad habits and associated physical strains along the way. Piers worked with me on hip and arm position and weight distribution. I can already feel the reduced pull on my shoulder joints. “Sliding my butt along a bench” is the image I’m trying to hold on to while I swing to keep the hip hinge and drive neat and snappy.
The big challenge for next week is interstate travel and staying in a hotel. The hunt for a kettelbell begins!
The second week came and went in a flash. I’ve settled on 16 sets of 25 for the rest of this month while I build up the grip and forearm strength as I’m still worried about the kettlebell slipping out of my hands and going through a window or worse over the edge of the balcony.
I have to be honest though I am only 3,600 swings in to my challenge and it feels like I’ve been doing it for years. I keep having to remind myself that this is a marathon and not a sprint. The benefits will come later and now I just need to keep being disciplined. I want to feel some kind of instant hit of improvement but this was always about building good habits as much as building something physical.
Fortunately I seem to have attracted a very helpful community on instagram and I’ve received lots of encouragement from around the globe but also some great hints and tips. A big shout out to Deborah in Perth (ballet_barbells_debbi), Angie (angiejo.wanderwoman), Jen in Vegas (jenrosedance), and Piers in Brisbane (qldkettlebells). Thank you all so much.
And so the challenge begins. With great enthusiasm on New Year’s Day I leapt out of bed at 5.30 am grateful for not having too many bottles of wine the night before, threw on some kit and just started swinging. I probably should have warmed up or savoured the moment but I was pretty keen just to get on with it.
I started with 40 swings. I probably could have done 50 in that first set but could feel that aching heat in my knuckles and didn’t want to stop on any number not divisible by 10 (I am a numbers guy and a tiny bit OCD). The second set was the same with another 40 but this time knuckles and elbows were aching. Third and fourth sets dropped to 30 just in case and the sweat was making my grip pretty slippery and I was concerned that I may launch the kettlebell through a window. So I settled on 25s for the remainder.
Could I have done 500 instead of 400? No. No I couldn’t. While the simple everyday kettlebell swing looks so fluid and graceful my lungs were gasping and my heart was pumping hard. I feel like I’ve pitched the numbers just about right. If I do manage to get as far as 8 sets of 50 I will invest in the next weight up (20kg) and see what that does.
Day 2 mirrored day 1 but I’ve settled on 16 sets of 25 for the rest of this month at least. Better to start slow and build than to force it and injure myself.