Kettlebell lifting is a popular sport in Europe and Russia, but is not as well known in the United States. The American Kettlebell Alliance is looking to change that, by hosting national competitions and workshops to teach the public about using the kettlebell as a dynamic part of their workout.
Florida’s first kettlebell competition, hosted by the American Kettlebell Alliance, will take place at Gym SRQ from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27. An additional four-hour workshop will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6. The workshop will be open to the public, and will be taught by alliance founder Yuri Petunovs.
"We chose Gym SRQ for our first Florida competition because the staff are open to new sports and ideas," says Petunovs. "It's the perfect atmosphere for doing a competition."
This will be the first competition the alliance has hosted since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last March, the alliance participated in the Arnold Classic Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, giving between 4,000 and 5,000 national kettlebell athletes a chance to compete. The Florida Open Championship at Gym SRQ will include about 20 to 40 competitors, both female and male, and ranging from light- to heavyweight and across all ages. Petunovs says there competitors as old as 75.
"We are bringing about 10 metric tons of kettlebells to this competition," says Petunovs . "I am bringing supply down from my gym in Connecticut, and we may need even more."
Kettlebells are weights that range from five to 100 pounds, and are used in a series of exercises, including swings, where the kettlebell is swung between the legs and up to eye level for a number of repetitions, and dead lifts, where the kettlebell is lifted straight from the ground. Beginner kettlebells weigh about 6 kilograms; those for amateurs weigh between 12 and 16 kilograms. Professionals use ones that weigh as much as 32 kilograms, or roughly 70 pounds. Competitors lift for about 10 minutes straight, completing about 100 repetitions, and are only allowed to switch hands once.
"Competitors can use one or two bells at a time, with some heavyweight lifters lifting well over 200 pounds," says Petunovs. "It's impressive when you see a 110-pound female lift above her body weight in kettlebells."
The endurance required is what makes kettlebell lifting different from other forms of power and weight lifting. When you are swinging or lifting the bell, you are engaged in a dynamic, total-body workout that targets every major muscle group. That's what makes kettlebell lifting attractive as a regular workout, says Gym SRQ owner Sohni Epp.
"Working out with kettlebells is time-efficient, cost-effective and can be done anywhere," says Epp. "From a metabolic perspective, it's proven that high-intensity workouts like this burn more fat and calories than traditional cardio." Petunovs says the average male can burn up to 3,000 calories during and after kettlebell lifting, after only one hour of working out.
If you want to give kettlebells a try after attending the Florida Open Championship, join Petunovs at his workshop, where he will teach the public about how to use the bell-shaped weights. The workshop costs $100, and is open to anyone. Petunovs will explain a variety of exercises you can do with kettlebells, and how they can improve your health. If you wish to use kettlebells at your next workout, Gym SRQ is offering year-round memberships and personal training sessions with its 16 trainers.
Epp says the gym acts as a getaway from the turmoil going on in life right now, and provides a sense of community. "We are excited to be open and hosting this competition," she adds. "Now we have kettlebells as one more tool in the gym."
The Florida Open Championship will take place 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27. The workshop will take place 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, March 6. Click here to register. Gym SRQ is located at 3530 Clark Road, Sarasota.