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Kettlebells: a real bang for your buck

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Text by Maureen O'Hagan

Tom Corrigan is Mr. Kettlebell.


He’s taught Kettlebells, competed with Kettlebells (and won) and studied Kettlebells not only in the United States, but at an elite training camp in Russia, under men he calls the “Michael Jordans and Phil Knights” of the sport.

He’s brought that expertise to CrossFit Seattle, where he teaches Sunday mornings. He also gives Kettlebell workshops around the region.

Have you ever taken Scott’s Saturday barbell class? Tom’s Kettlebell class is the same idea. You’ll definitely sweat, but you’ll also learn technique from a real pro.

An Everett firefighter, Corrigan is a big guy. To look at him, you might think heavy-duty barbells. But he says it’s the Kettlebells, which he throws around three to five days a week, anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes.

Kettlebell training he said, “gives you a real bang for your buck.” And they translate well into real-life. As a firefighter, you’re wrangling a hose pumping 250 gallons a minute. You’re lifting people who are unconscious. You wind up in awkward positions, holding stuff over your head. You need a strong back, for sure. But you also need grip strength, explosiveness—and really good stabilizer muscles.

That’s what Kettlebells do, he said. Swinging a bell generates a lot of force, and the center of gravity is constantly moving. You’ve got to brace yourself against it. He’s taught Kettlebells to area firefighters, and he’s converted a number of them.

While we’ve all experienced Kettlebells as part of our regular CrossFit workouts, a class focusing solely on those heavy little suckers gives you something more. First of all, you’ll learn the secrets to wielding them properly. You’ll also see how those secrets can translate into improved performance.

“Anybody that thinks they can do the same things with a Kettlebell that they can do with a dumbbell hasn’t trained with me,” he said. “You can flip it, toss it from side-to-side, catch it.” The workouts are scaled to suit.

“Women love it because it tones and firms up the legs and hips,” he said, adding that it translates well into other sports, from running to power lifting to everything in between.

That’s the plus side. The downside is that you don’t want to do it wrong—which is where Tom’s expertise comes in. He teaches you how to work hard, breathe and stabilize, all at the same time. Being trained under world champions, he’s got the technique dialed in.

But he also makes it fun. You can get hooked on those little cannonballs.
“People don’t name their dumbbells,” he laughed. “But they name their Kettlebells.
“There’s just something about it.”

Tom teaches the Kettlebell Class at 11:30am on Sundays. Tom's schedule as a firefighter allows him to teach 3 Sundays each month. He will be teaching on January 30, February 6, 13, and 20. Andy or Dave cover for Tom when he is out. Once we move to the new space, we will no longer offer the kettlebell class on Sundays so come while you can!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Outdoor gym in Mali (West Africa)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Justin came across this outdoor gym in Mali a few weeks ago. He said he had a
"What Would Dave Do?" moment and had to go pick up the weight.

Culmination of a year's worth of CrossFitting: learning to sink or swim

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Scroll down to read about Sean's trip.

Sean's incredible vacation to Palau:

If you asked me to choose my ideal vacation the choice has always been cold climates-- boreal forests, arctic and antarctic snows, mountains of the northern and southern hemispheres. if i am on vacation, then hat and gloves, a weatherproof shell, and a down jacket, are essential. touring skis preferred. I'd stepped outside the mold just once, riding a bicycle across Australia in 2004. acclimating first to the humid heat of northern Australia, and then to the dry heat of the interior, was just plain suffering (but FUN, in a difficult-- fight-gone-bad- type of way: one week prior to landing in darwin, to begin the trek, i was working in Antarctica, fully acclimated to 40, 60 below temps).

2010-- been a few years since i had a real vacation, time to do some traveling. Dave mentioned the magnificent diving of world war ll wrecks and reefs of Palau, as well as Palau's gaint clams (they're GIANT, living up to 150 years). this got me thinking. a new dimension to my travel plans-- humid, tropical heat, ever present water (instead of snow or desert), sandy island beaches. of course there had to be suffering-- in swimming parlance I'm a "sinker". the idea of embracing water sports has always enticed but intimidated… I'm scared of the deep.

After many hassles over flight itinerary (dealt with by my logistical magician partner-- she made the impossible possible), we were on our way to Palau, a small island nation in the southern pacific ocean.

The trip is one I'll never forget. sea kayaking and snorkeling are now part of the adventure repertoire. we chose to make the trip as cheap but adventurous as possible, finding a local wildlife biologist who outfitted us w two ocean kayaks, drybags, but more specifically, detailed waterproof charts, suggested itinerary, and a drop off point to begin our un-guided journey.

For me, day one was spent releasing mind from the fear of deep water, relaxing into a rhythm while harnessed with snorkel and fins. my travel partner was very patient. daytime itinerary always had new island beaches to reach, new reefs to snorkel. hundreds of colorful fish, every size and shape imaginable, giant clams, sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, salt water crocs-- all of it seen while slipping off the seats of our boats and into the warm water, strapping the kayaks to our ankles with leashes, and swimming with the prevailing current.

The most difficult part of our trip was not having fishing gear, having to rely on food purchased from the local supermarket. we were carrying 5 days worth of food, paddling and snorkeling for 8+ hours a day, but couldn't bring anything fresh, except for eggs (fresh food spoiled rapidly in the heat and humidity). i did learn how to husk and crack coconuts, which were delightful to drink and eat, but morning and evening meals consisted of some sort of tinned fish or one of at least 12 different varieties of spam (echhh) and eggs (we consumed the eggs within the first three days). fortunately the local market also sold Tabasco sauce.

The remote islands were home to a rare species of "tropical smooth tail squirrel" (luckily neither of us were freaked out by rats-- they were quite persistent, along with hundreds of hermit crabs). also strange birds, giant fruit bats.

We had to do two rather long open water crossings, the second proving to be quite unnerving as a 3 hour squall moved towards us from the outer reef, raising waves to whitecap and bringing heavy rain. visibility quickly became a problem. the most amazing part of being affected by adverse weather was the water temperature. if you became cold from torrential rain, simply immersing hands or body into the 80+ degree water warmed us right up.

Unforgettable moments-- snorkeling a reef known as "big drop off", the bountiful coral bed abruptly dropping 1,000 to 3,000 feet; snorkeling over a giant manta ray in the german channel; snorkeling behind my partner, like the sinker that i am, and being circled for 15 minutes by three very curious 6 foot long white-tip reef sharks.

If you ever decide to go--

bring tobacco sauce.
watch out for the rare smooth tailed squirrel.
avoid falling coconuts (but learn to harvest them).

For more pictures with captions, go here.

2010 Twelve Days of CrossFit!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

On December 17th we had our 7th Annual 12 Days of CrossFit workout. It gets better every year! Thanks everyone for a great day and fun holiday party. Scroll down for a link to all the pictures.

The 6:00am crew!

Suzie's 6th 12 Days of CF workout!