Gym rats know all about barbells and dumbells, But the kettlebell - imagine a cantaloupe-sized cast-iron ball with a
handle - is probably an unfamiliar piece of exercise equipment.
In an effort to popularize a physical-training method developed around 1700 in czarist Russia to keep military troops
in shape, Durango Crossfit is sponsoring a series of kettlebell workshops in June and August.
The benefits of jogging, free weights, gymnastic rings, balance balls, parallel bars, yoga and pilates can be rolled
into a 30-minute workout with kettlebells, instructor Maryanne Garvin said last week.
"The kettlebell is a small, hand-held, portable tool," Garvin said. "It builds cardiovascular endurance, strength, flexibility and mobility."
Also as part of the series, Will Williams, one of six senior Russian Kettlebell Certification masters in the world, is scheduled to test instructor candidates.
Recently, Garvin demonstrated how kettlebell versions of traditional barbell and dumbell routines add a taxing
cardiovascular component and bring more muscle groups into play.
The finale was the "Turkish Get-up" in which Garvin, supine on a mat with a 30-pound kettlebell raised overhead, maneuvered through six positions to get to her feet. She then reversed the movements to end up lying on the mat.
"I always switch arms when I do this," Garvin said. "Sometimes I repeat using the left arm to strengthen my weak
Kettlebell exercises prepare the practitioner for movements - anticipated and unanticipated - of everyday life, Garvin said.
Jacob Nester, the owner of Crossfit Durango, said that is why many law-enforcement officers and firefighters train
with him. Crossfit is an international workout method.
"They train for the unforeseen situation," Nester said. "They have to be ready to meet any challenge."
Kettlebells provide functional fitness as compared with a discipline that solely builds muscle, increases
cardiovascular stamina or improves flexibility, Nester said.
The relative anonymity of the kettlebell in the United States can be attributed to its late arrival - barely 10 years
ago, Nester said. Meanwhile, weight lifting has been a fixture on the fitness scene ever since it was introduced as
an Olympic sport in 1896.
Pavel Tsatsouline, a Russian fitness coach, is credited with stirring popular interest in kettlebells in the United
States about 2000.
Garvin is a massage therapist and has been a fitness trainer for 18 years in pilates, yoga and spinning. She has
trained with kettlebells for two years and been a certified instructor for a year.
Garvin, who is one of a scant half-dozen certified kettlebell instructors in the area, owns the Silverton Movement
Center where she teaches kettlebell.
Kettlebell athletes go barefoot when exercising with the weights, which range in weight from 10 to 105 pounds.
"Athletic shoes support imbalance," Garvin said. "They're a crutch."
Kettlebell training is adaptable for fitness fans of all ages, from children to retirees, Garvin said.
"The kettlebell is scalable," she said. "My youngest student is 7 years old; the oldest, 87."