You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Few movie quotes can capture your attention quite like this one. In the movie Fight Club the lessons are many, and while they may be convoluted to some, they are profoundly clear and resonating to others. I am of the latter group.
In fitness, categorizing and segregating yourself into a particular method or group is extremely common practice. It is easier to “fit in” with a single technique or mindset rather than embrace the possibility that other methods exist and may even be better. People become “enlightened,” get some results, and are ordained into a single mindset, compelled to spread their wisdom to the next person with ears.
The truth is, your realization is nothing but a fleeting glimpse of the reality of fitness. Your current solution is in all likelihood, temporary. Progression can be fleeting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is your body’s natural ability to adapt to repeated actions. You must be open to the fact that what works for current you, will not work for future you.
Another Hunk of Metal
The undeniable truth about kettlebells (and every other implement ever conceived), is that they are inanimate pieces of material that are no different from anything else that humans create: tools. The thing that makes them different is not their dimensions, the smoothness of their handles, or their weight increments; what makes them different is you.
What has really changed in the fitness community is the collective mindset. We have gone from a purely aesthetic focus to a partially functional one. I say “partially” because the people who want to get in shape to “look pretty naked” still far outnumber the ones who want to “kick ass wearing whatever the f&$@ I feel like wearing.” Even so, there has been a substantial shift and the kettlebell, among some lesser used alternative implements, epitomize the new objective: feel better, move better, and look better.
If You Are Not Your Fitness Tool, What Are You?
If the implement is simply a symbol, what does that make you? According to the quote, “You are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.” I take this is a less-than-polite way of saying that you are the world. As far as I’m concerned, without us, this planet is just another tiny chunk of stardust waiting to crash into another chunk of stardust until the end of time; in other words, nothing. Even if you supremely believe in mother nature, she is in extreme parol non-stop with a guaranteed end date of 5 billion years (sounds like a long time but isn’t in the grand scheme of the universe). Yes, we can save or destroy her, but let’s get back on the lighter topic of fitness for now.
Your goal in fitness should be a non-stop progression of performance with a time scale of exactly 1 (1 lifetime that is). Progressing, adapting, and learning what your body needs for your entire life is fitness; one implement is not.
With that in mind, we will continue to produce a non-stop, comprehensive, evolving stream of fitness information forever (or until the world ends, whichever comes first).
When you know nothing, it isn’t possible to make up your own program. While some people recommend that you take classes, get certified, read books, and otherwise commit massive amounts of time and effort in the pursuit of something that you have only just begun to understand, I will not do that to you. I am a realist. I know that your interest is waning just getting to this point of the article, so I recommend something extremely simple: use someone else’s step-by-step program and stick to it exactly. Don’t think, just do. There will be plenty of time to think and evaluate later.
Even so, I do recommend that you have at least one session with a certified kettlebell instructor if you decide to use kettlebells as your first tool of choice. A one hour session with a professional is worth 100 hours of imitating youtube videos on your own.
Now, I’m going to commit blasphemy according to some people by saying this: kettlebells may not be the best place to start (oh no!). They require a substantial amount of training and experience to master, and if you are just getting started, it may be detrimental to start with something so technical. Rather, I think you should start with the humble sandbag.
Sandbag training is extremely forgiving while also being effective. Due to the unstable nature of the implement, exercises require full body engagement. Better yet, dropping it on the ground won’t damage floors like metal implements will.