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Kettlebell Ringers: Russian Workout Catches on in Denver

First used to train Russian soldiers, the kettlebell provides an effective full-body workout

Gus Petersen demonstrates the splitting star juggling move.

Gus Petersen has been a personal trainer for 25 years.

Gus Petersen juggles kettlebells, and teaches his clients to do the same.

First used by Russian soldiers, the kettlebell provides an effective full-body workout that incorporates both strength and cardio. Denver trainers are increasingly hip to the benefits of these cast-iron, kettle-shaped weights.
One look at a kettlebell and I was intimidated. The cast-iron weights, named for their resemblance to a teakettle, were first used to train Russian soldiers. Despite their daunting history, I decided to give kettlebells a go. Unlike traditional weight training, which can focus on static moves, kettlebell training requires fluid motion -- swinging and lifting the weights to target the entire body. For some sequences you are able to alternate the weight between hands to work upper body and core while performing lower body movements that resemble lunges and squats.
The kettlebell definitely provides an effective full-body workout that incorporates both strength and cardio. However, it can be challenging for beginners to control momentum and maintain proper form while executing the dynamic techniques. To ensure I was following the correct form, I went on a quest to find trainers and gyms that help newbies master the fundamental kettlebell lifts like the swing, clean and snatch. All focus on efficiency, form and functional movements.
ProEdge Kettlebells 
Trainer: Gus Petersen
Gus Petersen, owner of ProEdge Kettlebells, is always creating dynamic moves to challenge his clients, including kettlebell juggling. That's right, trainees launch kettlebells into the air and then catch them (hopefully). Petersen, who has been a personal trainer for 25 years, has designed the vast majority of the moves that make up the K.A.T. system, all of which incorporate total body and core strength. Working in playful moves is key to his training mantra. "I want people to look forward to these workouts. When we learn through play there is no stress. It has to be fun or people won't stick with it," says Petersen.
Petersen trains clients in a backyard studio at his Denver home, even in the winter, which is when he says the kettlebells double as "heaters." He is also takes his kettlebell workouts on the road, traveling to clients' workout location of choice.
Pricing: Individual: $60/hour at his studio; $70-$80/hour to travel to client's location; semi-private one-hour class: $80 at his studio; $100 to travel to clients' location; group one-hour class (four or more people) $100-$125 depending on location.
Location: Trains from his Denver home; travels locally and nationally to train private clients and teach workshops.
Trainer Robyn Smith
Robyn Smith aims to focus on muscles lacking strength and flexibility to enhance athleticism and functional fitness in her clients. To do so, she rarely targets one muscle group. "We are working two, three or four muscles at one time. And I always make sure we are engaging the core and always moving," said Smith. Modified movements are taught to those working to build up their strength, and for those with injuries.
"My favorite thing is showing people something they thought they couldn't do or training them to reach that point," says Smith as she demonstrated a Dex squat. During the move, clients squat to the ground, roll on their back and stand back up in one fluid motion with a kettlebell in hand.
Pricing: Individual: $70 for a one-hour class; $45 for a half-hour;Couples: $100 for a one-hour class; group: $15-25 per person depending on size of group
Location: Next Level Fitness, 2570 S. Colorado Blvd.
First used to train Russian soldiers, the kettlebell provides an effective full-body workoutColorado Kettlebell Club 
Trainer: Nico Rithner 
Ask Argentine-born trainer Nico Rithner the key to the most effective workout and you will learn it's not leaving a pile of sweat on the floor. "Form is the cornerstone. It helps you learn how to move better and become stronger in your daily life," says Rithner owner of the Colorado Kettlebell Club (CKC).
CKC offers a variety of classes for kettlebell enthusiasts. Their Cross Training Class mixes in barbells, calisthenics and kettlebell lifting while the unlimited members who train specifically for Olympic weightlifting, Kettlbell Lifting Endurance or Powerlifting receive personalized programs. Classes cap off at 10 people to ensure Rithner can focus individual attention on each of his clients. After clients have mastered proper kettlebell form, Rithner advances exercises and weight.
He is also the strength and conditioning coach of the Glendale Raptors Rugby Team where he incorporates kettlebells into the players' workouts. "The team has become even more athletic and stronger with the weights," said Rithner. "They are a powerful training tool."
Pricing: $80 for eight classes a month, $125 for unlimited classes
Location: 4950 E Asbury Ave #1 Denver, CO 80222
Contact: 303/204-9693

Read more articles by Carri Wilbanks.

Carri Wilbanks is a Colorado-based freelance TV host, producer and writer. Read more about her global adventures at catchcarri.com.    
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