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Is the Kettlebell Swing the Fountain of Youth?

January 2, 2009 07:31 AM

I have been using kettlebells for about a year now and I can report that I have NEVER felt better. My transformation has been remarkable. I am a 63 year old Chiropractor (I have been in practice for 21 years) and have been doing some sort of "training" most of my life. I have done almost every "type" of training, including running, gymnastics, bodybuilding, triathlon training, martial arts (judo & karate), yoga, Pilates, aerobics, cross training, cycling, etc. You get the idea. I am highly motivated to be healthy and strong but have never been an exceptional athlete. I am 5'6" tall and now weigh about 127 lbs. A few weeks ago I snatched the 24kg x 3 with each arm. I am doing 12 minutes of swings with the 20kg, in about 4 rounds. So I swing the Kettlebell for about 2 minutes or more between 1minute breaks. A year ago I could barely lift the 24kg with one hand. I have the body of a teenager, I actually have a six-pack (well actually it's a suitcase because there are a few wrinkles in there too), and I don't do any crunches or ab work. I used to spend hours in the gym and was getting fat and moving slower and slower and starting to look like the other old guys around me.

Then Kettlebells entered my life. I took a basic class from Jay Armstrong, RKC TL in League City, TX. I was amazed. What really amazed me was the strength of the women in the class. I mean here was the real deal, strong people with lean bodies and not a steroid or "performance enhancer" in sight. And so my journey began. I started with the 12Kg. and learned the " BASICS" of the swing and the TGU and C&P. It has taken me a year to learn the "REAL" BASICS of the breath and the rest of the Pull and Grind "secrets". I realize there is a lifetime of growth available to me in this type of training. A recent encounter with RKC Ben Lewis from Baton Rouge has further opened my eyes to just how far I have to go and what my true potential might be. He really burst my bubble by telling me to go back to the basics of the Enter the Kettlebell! and get serious about the breath and TGU and Swing before even thinking about the Rite Of Passage. He was right. So it is back to the drawing board for me.

But is the Swing THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH? Is that possible? This is my experience combined with my professional insights. The "concept" of the 12 minute swing workout is explained by Dr. Al Sears in his book Rediscover Your Native Fitness. Dr. Sears found that high intensity ? short duration anaerobic type activities that created what he termed a state of supra-aerobics (the heart rate increases for a few moments following the exercise) caused the body to produce growth hormone. This alone is a major factor in regaining youth. I tried his techniques and was really impressed. I felt much better than when using traditional "cardio" workouts. I employed them in running and stationary biking. The results were good but NOWHERE near as good as when I used the Kettlebell Swing. So it is not JUST the supra-aerobic state that is producing such a good result. So what could it be. I believe it comes from a remarkable combination of factors.

First, the movement itself is "creative" at its core. The hip snap definitely builds the creative, life-giving energy within. Drawing energy from the ground and expressing it through the hips to your intended target in a rhythmical fashion creates a flow of energy and movement missing in today's exercise world.

Second, the breathing techniques, breathing behind the shield, using the Valsava maneuver combined with the anal and epiglottis locks creates a dynamic internal pressure that I believe supercharges the cerebral-spinal fluid flow. The interthecal pressure is greatly increased when you add movement to the Valsava maneuver. Cerebral-spinal fluid is pumped or controlled by respiration that causes movement in the sacrum and cranial bones. I was told once that the converging waves from the cranium and sacrum somehow combine to create a flow in the CFS that is in the pattern of a double helix or the same pattern as the DNA molecule. I am not sure about this but it sounds intriguing. Now add to this the weight of a Kettlebell and you substantially amplify all these factors. I am not surprised people feel so great after a swing workout.

But it does not end there. Thomas Edison once said, "The doctor of the future will give no medicine; instead he will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, nutrition and the cause and prevention of disease". Edison, being an expert on electricity knew that the body functions by electrical impulses and he must have further realized that the flow of electricity could be impeded by the spinal structure. I believe that the spinal curves must be correctly maintained or the flow of information in the nervous system is compromised. In Chiropractic we call that a Subluxation. In order to do the Kettlebell swing CORRECTLY I really had to work on my form and this had an incredible influence on establishing the proper lordotic and kyphotic curvatures of my spine.

The Swing has the potential to totally rejuvenate a person. I believe we have stumbled on the real fountain of youth. It has definitely made me feel and look younger. I am much stronger and have much more endurance than a year ago. This is very difficult to do after 50 years of age let alone 63. I am actually looking forward to passing the RKC in about a year. Thanks, Pavel.

Dr. John Sullivan is a Chiropractor with 21 years clinical experience and teaches seminars in his low force techniques. He also holds a B.S. degree in Physical Education has been a student of health and fitness for over 40 years and is presently working toward becoming an RKC. He holds a NAUI instructors rating in SCUBA and was a PRO rated skydiver and Jumpmaster with over 1,000 skydives. An enthusiastic supporter of Kettlebell training he recently hosted a kettlebell workshop for RKC, Ben Lewis that was attended by 28 of his patients and friends. He is in private practice is in Lafayette, LA. Ph. # 337- 984- 9276, e-mail