Kettlebell Holiday

I taught kettlebells again today.  I hadn’t planned on it, as it’s July 4, but some folks expressed interest in getting a workout in before the evening festivities began.  Of course, those folks didn’t show up for the class.  But a good friend and I did.

I made up a hybrid workout.  Wanna know what we did?  Here ya go.

The Power of 10 Workout

Two-handed swings
Figure 8 to hold

Do 3 sets of the above 2 exercises, 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off between each move.

Then, ladders.  This is a series where you do one exercise, rest a few seconds, then start at the beginning again.  So first up, high pulls.  We did 10 per side, right and left, and rested.  Then we did the set of high pulls again but this time added on the next exercise, which was racked forward-and-back lunges.  Rest, then start at the top again, adding a new move at the end. I think of this like a progressive workout, similar to the old game of “telephone”, where each person adds something to the original secret going around.

10 High Pulls – right and left
10 Racked forward-and-back lunges – 5 per side, right and left
10 Goblet squats
10 Hip raises
10 Pushups
10 Dead lifts
10 Cleans – right and left
10 Triple crushes
10 Chair squats
10 Sumo squats

10 Half get-ups – 5 per side, right and left
10 Crossed-leg hip raises – 10 per side

And to be completely honest, we didn’t get through the last rep adding the sumo squats.  My hand opened up. Well, more specifically, a callous on my left hand.  The skin peeled back like an apple. I didn’t fancy bleeding all over the mat and bells. Because that *can* happen.  I’ve heard.

“I think this’ll be our last round,” I told the other attendee.  “My hand is shot.”

He grinned and nodded.  He was only too happy to be close to done.

Even cutting the ladder workout short, it still took up about 30 minutes of class.  Not too shabby for planning on the fly.

I have some thoughts after teaching my 7th class.  Teaching the class keeps me accountable.  I can’t slack off and use baby weights.  I must be careful to use correct form.  I also need to gauge the amount of effort expended in the room.  Can the class do the work?  Where is it hitting their ability level – too easy, too hard or just right? I’m also learning to tailor the class to fit the needs of the group.  What I want to do might not be what they are up for.

And so it is with most of life.  In relationships, we pay attention to what edifies others.  How we speak and our actions can help or hinder others.  Sometimes, I make things too hard. I put up obstacles and talk myself out of good things. I would say I’ve got a varsity letter in making my life too hard.  I hope I haven’t done it to others.

We ended today’s workout with a 2-minute high-low plank, my friend’s choice.    Boy, that plank challenged me; my body shook during the last 30 seconds. The give and take of life can make it richer and broader. Often, stepping back and letting others offer input makes sense. I don’t have to have all the exercises or all the answers, carrying it all.  I just need to show up.

For those of you subscribers, I apologize for the bizarre post of yesterday.  WordPress has a new interface and I’m still getting the hang of it.  Onward and upward.


Spring Break Joy

Why is it that I feel so incredibly joyful when the sun shines here?  Anything (good) could happen.  Even laundry. Twirling and dancing and goofing off seem well within reason today.  At this very moment, both the front door and back door stand open to the sunshine.  Chloe wanders from one to the other, checking out the view. She pushes the back door open with her paw and dashes out.  Sweet freedom!  Rex, out on a walkabout, is nowhere to be found.

Ruby and I worked out together today.  She opened the secret compartment where I keep them (kettle)bells.  She yanked out the smallest one, a yellow 10-lb. torturer.

“I’ll use this one,” she said.  Then she went outside for a few turns of the jump rope.  Bored with that, she came back in.

We started with jumping jacks, which needed no weight.  I told her we’d do 60 together.  She pooped out after 20, then rejoined me. She moved her skinny arms in time with mine, her eyes focused on me, but kept jumping up and down with her feet.  Too cute.

We got down for 10 push ups.

“Keep your body straight”, she admonished me.  I listened.

I showed her squats with the sunny handled orb.  Those took a bit of coaching, as did the lunges.  She thought it pretty funny when she fell down from stretching her lunging leg out too far.  Ha ha, missy!

Dare I say she was a natural with the kettlebell swing? Amazing girl.

After a bit, she lost interest.  She had an idea.

“Mom, can I fill a plastic bag with pillows and punch it?”


“Sure,” I panted from the other room.  What does it mean?!

She punched with all her might, grunting as she landed each blow.  Once the pillows had all their stuffing, ahem, redistributed, she moved on.  Time to get outside!

She dressed in zebra-striped pants with a floral top and brushed her hair in a rush. She shoved cheetah-print flats onto her feet.  She quick-dialed a little friend down the street and blazed away.  Spring Break!  Everybody holla!

What are you up to today?



Joyful Strength

Another day in paradise, I mean kettlebells.  We did Helga’s playing cards workout.  She removes all the numbered cards lower than 6 as well as the aces.  Each suit – hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades – represents a different exercise.  You do the exercise assigned to that suit, such as push ups, and the number on the card tells you the reps.  Each face card means 20 reps of that activity.  If it’s a one-handed exercise like high pulls, 10 per side.  We go thru the now 33-card deck, with jokers as rests, twice.  It ends up being 40 total of each numbered exercise and 80 of the face card exercises.

She assigns different exercises for each 33-card set.  The first set has a lot of squats and the second has a lot of arm maneuvers. It was jolly until we did the sets reversed. So today, we had jump squats in the first set.  I’m still sore from the complexes on Wednesday.  We made it.  However, I will never be mistaken for a basketball player.

“Our recovery time is getting better.  We might spend a minute resting between groups of cards, but that’s it,” Helga told me.

We’re stronger than we think.  Could be the 80s heavy metal music.  Day 17 of Janathon?  Done.

It leaves me wondering if any of us knows how strong we truly are.  I don’t give too much thought to whether I can finish a kettlebell workout anymore.  I set my mind to do it and I finish.  Now, if I’ve caught a cold or ate too much breakfast, it’s a different story.  I might get queasy or cough up a lung.  Breakfast might threaten an encore appearance, albeit in a new guise.

I’m realizing more and more the importance of our thoughts.  Most of the songs in kettlebells have similar themes.  “You suck”, “I want you – now!” or  a combination of the two, which seems a conundrum.  I’ve teased Helga about it before.

“No Air Supply?  No Madonna?  What about Wham!?  Throw us a bone!”

She just laughs and says we can’t work out to those songs.  The tempo has to be just right so we don’t go too fast or get too relaxed.  Ozzy, Motley Crue and AC/DC must have planned ahead for such a contingency.

I find I listen to the songs but think about other things.  I hear the words and the music but when my energy flags, I remind myself of scripture.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:4

For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7

Not that I burst out into song during class.  Granted, I’m not always heavenly-minded.  Sometimes I can barely form  a coherent thought, I’m breathing so hard.  When I can focus my thoughts, I do better.  My renewed vigor helps me finish strong.  I remind myself of what I have done already.  Our bodies are amazing! These verses become a part of me, which manifest themselves in positive actions and words.  I’m not only training my body, but my mind as well.


On the eighth day of Janathon,
Our teacher did decree:
Fifty minutes of kettlebells
Will be a workout to make us sweaty.

Okay, crappy Christmas parody of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, but there you go. We alternated between kettlebells exercises switched up with 5 minutes of stationary bikes.  True confession:  I hate bikes.  Even though I adjust the seat height, I never get one that is comfortable. I’m either tilting forward or leaning backward.   No Tour de France for me.  I’m beginning to wonder if my backside is simply misshapen.  I am learning to engage more core muscles because of it.  Not a total loss.

And now, for something totally different…

My dad just told me a story about the two cats he and my mom had when I was very young.  As he stroked our sleek midnight cat, Rex, he related this tale.  Brother cats, (S)noopy and Toughy/Tuffy, moved with them when they came cross-country to Dad’s teaching job in Oregon.  Yes, I realize they sound like rapper names.  Hear me out.  Dad also said they had to give the cats away after they moved.  The kitties simply did not adapt to the new Portland neighborhood. He still feels regret over that.

A few weeks before they moved, a neighbor came over and talked to Mom and Dad.

“Do you have two cats?” she asked.

My parents confirmed this.  Yes, a black cat and a tabby cat, both from the same litter.

“Well, I just saw a tabby cat dragging a black cat out of the road.”  Toughy got hit by a car and Noopy got him out of harm’s way.  Now that’s brotherly love.

Rex, golden eyes droopy with world-weariness, agrees.

Photo by

Photo by

Day 7

And after writing the earlier blog post for today, I completely forgot to record my workout for Janathon.  Sigh.

I had a hard time getting out the door as I didn’t sleep well. I ran three miles this morning.  It was cold, damp and misting a little, just how I like my Januarys.  I dodged small to medium-sized puddles.  I gave some random guy directions to the courthouse.  Hope he made his court date on time.

To all you Janathoners out there, keep it up!  You can do it.

Workouts from the Web

Tired of doing those time-consuming workouts?  Well, have I got news for you!  Did you know you can get fit in just one (1) minute a day?  One measly minute is all it takes.  Congratulations!  All of us can spare it.  That’s 60 seconds of pure energy, folks!  Check this out.

The One-Minute Workout: Sixty seconds, 60 different exercises. You’ll need a bench, a medicine ball, a willing partner, and an appetite for fun! Ready? Go: Left jab, right jab, left kick, right kick. Shimmy to your left, shimmy to your right, grab your partner, hold him tight. Jazz hands. Power jazz hands. Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care. Squat, rise, drum on your thighs. Drum on your partner’s thighs. Apologize, apologize! Step up, step down, twist your hips, spin around. Leapfrog your partner. Have your partner leapfrog you. One-second tickle fight! Do a jumping jack, then a reverse jumping jack, then a Spanish jumping jack. Tilt your head and shout “Ole!” Run in place. Shuttle run in place. Pretend you’re at Squaw Valley skiing down KT-22. Shift your weight right, shift your weight left. Avoid those trees! Simulate a wipeout. Spring to your feet, grab the medicine ball. Toss it. Catch it. Pound it like a conga drum. Lift it above your head. Tuck it under your arm. Strike 18 different variations of the Heisman Trophy pose. Collapse in exhaustion. (Note: If you attempt this workout, please film it and send me the video.) – From

Stop laughing!

And I want to see the video, too.

P.S.  I think my girl does this workout at least once a day.  Cheers!

Do you do this type of workout?  Does it help you?  Mixing it up can be good and create muscle confusion, which means your body continues to improve.  And yet – see below…Seriously, somebody stole their shirts.

Kettlebell Kindergarten


I taught my first ever kettlebells class today.  I’m not looking to get certified any time soon.  Our instructor is going on vacation and she’d like someone to teach while she’s gone.  This was my practice, a sort of dry run. I wanted her to see what I did and offer any constructive criticism.  I was excited about it but also a little nervous. Will I do a good job?  Did I create a workout that’s too hard for even me to complete?  That’s the biggest one.  I wrote it all down and tried it at home, modifying as I went along.  I had one section that’s kind intense.  I couldn’t finish it all.  I figured I’d wing it and push myself. I axed the 40 seconds of pushups.  What was I thinking?! I hate pushups.  Working at at home with only your cats for company is not particularly motivating.

I’m definitely not at the same level of cardio fitness I had before I stopped running.  I did walk regularly, and stretch a ton.  I figured out I have a backlog of stretching as far back as 1982.  I started playing organized sports (volleyball) that year.  Don’t think I’ve stretched much since then.

And, I reminded myself to eat less breakfast.  Lately, it’s been trying to reappear during the House of Pain workouts put on by our sensei.

The class went well, overall.  We espouse the Russian kettlebell technique, for those who wonder about such things. I did not get queasy. The regulars and some newer people were teachable, if rather quiet. The usual moaning and groaning didn’t surface. Our regular instructor stood in the front row.  I think she liked having someone else be in charge for a change.  She wanted to get a good workout.  I did circuits, 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off, with about a minute rest between circuits.  I felt a little like I was test-driving a car.  I wanted to see what this baby (the class) could do!  I typed it all up because my handwriting, as you know, could pass for chicken scratch.  The 40 seconds of jump squats was a little much, but we only did it once.  Hopefully nobody hates me forever for that.

Our teacher was pleased.  She said I need to be louder in calling out exercises and general instruction, but she seemed to like it.  She’s gone to Hawaii the beginning of next month and I will take her morning classes.  It encouraged me to be entrusted with helping people on their fitness journey, even for a short span. I know I have a lot to learn.  I did enjoy making up a brand new workout.  I’ll have to research a little and figure out something new to try while she’s enjoying the beautiful Hawaiian scenery.  It’s going to be fun.  Look out!