I first became aware of kettlebells about seven years ago after seeing them on The Biggest Loser UK; I found them really intriguing, and was amazed by the weight loss results achieved on the show by using them. I knew then that I just had to buy one, and thus began my love of kettlebells.
To look at, they're a bit like a cannon ball with a handle, and are available in a variety of weights and designs - mine is cast iron with a girly pink coating and I love it.
When you think of weight lifting, you'd be forgiven for associating it with manly men building bulky muscles, but this is not the case with kettlebells, although they can also be used for this too. They are actually fantastic for women and fat burning, as you can burn as many as 1500 calories per hour when using them. Plus, they also sculpt the body brilliantly in the process, something you'd normally need to do as a separate workout, but with these, you get both - and at the same time too. This is because your whole body has to move to swing the bell around and stabilise it, giving your core a fantastic workout too, now if that's not good news then I don't know what is.
They're becoming more and more popular these days, and dare I say it, quite mainstream. They're even being used by many celebrities to 'stay fabulous' (J'Lo, Katherine Heigl, Kim Cattrall, Jennifer Aniston, and Penelope Cruz, to name but a few) and let's face it, these celebrities do seem to know how to keep themselves trim.
I'm not going to lie and say that using kettlebells is an easy option; they're not a miracle solution that requires no effort. You still need to eat well and work hard with them, they're heavy and it's tiring (well it is exercise, isn't it), but they are worth it.
The results you can get when you put the effort in are nothing short of awe inspiring. Take Jodie Prenger for instance, the results she achieved on The Biggest Loser UK (which she won, by the way) by incorporating kettlebells into her healthy eating and exercise regime were gobsmacking and if you don't believe me then you should take a look at this before and after photo (image courtesy of Shine TV & The Biggest Loser UK):
As I touched on earlier, kettlebells come in all different colours and designs; you can get fully cast iron ones, cast iron ones with a vinyl base, acrylic handle bells with a vinyl or neoprene base, ones made from rubber, kettlebells that can be filled and adjustable ones too. Personally I would go for one with an acrylic or chrome handle as I find them to have less friction, which means less chance of getting any blisters on your hands and giving you a smoother snatching motion too; but it's a personal choice as to which one you think works best for you!
For a female beginner I would suggest something around the 4-8kg mark as your starting kettlebell weight, as you're not looking to build up muscle (although as mentioned, this is possible if this is what you are aiming for, as a male or female by using a heavier weight) probably building up to about 12kg as you get fitter.
The price of a kettlebell varies greatly depending on what kind you get, and also what weight (which is why I won't go into costs as it would take forever), but if you compare them to gym memberships or other cardio and toning equipment for the home then you can see that they're actually quite good value (and brilliant space savers). Below are a few places that I've found online that I feel could be worth a look on your kettlebell search.
If you're a member of a gym then you may find that they have kettlebell classes there already, and you should definitely enquire because it's obviously safer to have somebody there as you start learning how to use the bells, both safely and effectively. However if they don't do classes, or you're not a member of a gym then don't let that put you off as there are some really good instructional DVDs available to purchase online such as:
PLEASE do NOT be tempted by the "10 Minute Solution - Ultimate Kettleball Fat Burner - Andrea Ambandos" DVD, it has nothing to do with kettlebells other than on the cover of the DVD, they don't even use a kettlebell in the workout on there; and quite frankly, some of the exercises that they do with their DUMBELL would be very dangerous to do with a kettlebell.
The other alternative would be to hire a personal kettlebell trainer as they can teach you at your own pace, help you when needed or if you're doing it incorrectly, keep you motivated and generally kick your bottom if you're lagging (something lacking when relying on your own motivation to work out at home, or go to a gym); but they are much more expensive so I wouldn't suggest this as your only option as I know that not everybody has the funds spare to do this.
Whatever way you choose to do these, if you choose to, please be safe and take precautions so you don't injure yourself, the same as you would with any other exercise. This means you need to do a full warm up and cool down session, and make sure you execute the kettlebell moves as instructed, so as to avoid injury.
Please note, I have no affiliation to any of the websites mentioned above.
You can also find me over at www.thebeautyscoop.co.uk
Follow Claire Lynch on Twitter: www.twitter.com/The_BeautyScoop