Live and Die By The Kettlebell

By Nick Lynch


When I was only a few years into my career as a trainer, the owner where I was working had the opportunity to buy some Kettlebells and asked my opinion about them. My response still makes me laugh, “Kettlebells? They’re a fad, don’t buy em.”

It’s a great example of how an ‘expert mind’ can limit the ability to see clearly and prevent growth. On a daily basis, I am challenged to constantly remove ego, stay open, and invite the Universe of possibilities in. Just when I think I know something, the Universe reminds me that to become an ‘expert’ is to stay ignorant. My goal, to see and teach that possibilities are unlimited, requires me to see with a beginner’s mind.

When I’m successful it allows a certain flow that sees beyond limits. New ideas and concepts seem more plentiful. With a beginner’s mind, I see  the client for who, and where, they are- not where I am. This allows me to not only implement a training program for them, but it also allows me the flexibility to see how, on any given day, it may need to change.

Getting out of my own way enabled me to bring Kettlebells into my client’s, and my own, workouts. I now see unlimited possibilities for what one can do with this singular piece of exercise equipment. For me, “live by the Kettlebell and die by the Kettlebell”  is a metaphor for the importance of keeping an open mind, a beginner’s mind.

Today, I use kettlebells for all of my clients and individualize their use according to the needs of each client. Here’s why:

  • Nothing compares to the shape and weight distribution of the Kettlebell.

  • Going overhead with a Kettlebell and a neutral wrist never gets old. The shape challenges coordination of breath and posture. The wrist position can be seen in this image:

  • Hand-to-hand ballistics. Swinging a Kettlebell in the air, releasing and catching with the other hand challenges the brain to focus and coordinate. This requires a higher level of performance not only for the workout, but for life. (Video posted below)

  • Full hip range of motion. Reaching your arms between your legs with a Kettlebell allows you to go where your couldn’t with a barbell. A barbell stops at your bones, a Kettlebell can go further. With proper posture, you’re safe.

  • Results, Results, Results! Better posture, development of functional movement patterns, sculpting  and more. Results, like nothing else, make clients happy.

While we all know breath is essential to life, most of us tend to need reminders that to truly “live by the Kettlebell”, one must master the concept of coordinating breath with posture. The Kettlebell requires coordination of breath with movement. In fact, the number one rule to good training is breath. Without breath, there’s death.

To do a lot of of Kettlebell ballistics or to press overhead for high reps or to lift heavy for low reps, your breath needs to be strong. The Kettlebell reminds us to breathe deep. To inhale. To exhale. And, if you breathe deep and at the correct time, you are alive and well.

I am very thankful for the versatility Kettlebells provide to my client’s training programs. Versatility is expansive, it vanquishes narrow-minded, one-way, thinking. Versatility taps into the flow of unlimited potential. And, while I explore and incorporate many different modes of training methods to meet my clients needs, Kettlebells have opened a porthole of awesomeness that younger me, couldn’t have foreseen and they continue to open my mind to see human movement in a whole new way. Kettlebells enable me to help my clients correct dysfunctional movement patterns, correct posture and gain strength. But more than that, I’ve discovered how that metaphor to “live by the Kettlebell, die by the Kettlebell,” is a constant reminder to maintain an open mind that attracts possibilities. Now that’s versatility!

Hand to hand swings video: