11 Sep Amazing “Real World” Kettlebell Training Success Stories…
I write about the benefits of kettlebells all the time.
But, this is an article I’m extremely excited about and really proud to publish.
It’s an article that’s a collection of “real world” kettlebell training success stories (you may have even contributed to these amazing stories yourself but, if you didn’t it’s not too late to get your story in. See the bottom of this article for more info).
Kettlebell training is, obviously, one of the major topics here at RdellaTraining.
My mission and comittment is to help people get stronger so that they achieve the goals they want with the most proven and powerful tools like kettlebells, barbells, and bodyweight training.
In this article I wanted readers to hear and learn from “real world” success stories that others have experienced with kettlebells.
So, I reached out to fans, subscribers, and colleagues to gather success stories on how kettlebell training has made a major difference.
I’ve said for a long time that this tool is different when a person truly learns how to use the it properly.
Usually people who think it’s “just another tool” haven’t really discovered the most effective way to train with it yet.
It is important to remember it is just a tool though.
My hope is that these stories may help inspire others to grab the “bell” by the horns and discover the power by getting with a properly trained instructor, taking a workshop, or taking the next step in their training progression to get even better results.
Then, they will discover the power and the things that others have discovered and shared here with these stories.
I encourage you to read through each story, as each is very different, inspiring, and enlightening.
Some stories are really short and to the point, while others are extremely detailed.
What they all have in common is powerful outcomes from the principles of kettlebell training.
I’ll share an abbreviated version of my story at the very end, but right now let’s lead off with Karlos…
STORY #1: Karl Kay (Karlos, pictured above)
I turned 50 in August 2013.
Usual story to be told, a regular guy who was reasonably fit until his late 20s, then the whole typical poor diet and living on past glories caught up with me.
I retired from competitive team sports aged just 35, after suffering recurring lower spinal injuries, which I had carried since a motorcycle accident since age 18. I slid into my late 30’s metabolically broken, washed up, culminating in also suffering from cancer in early 2003, aged just 39.
Aggressive chemo saved me, and as you can see from the picture of me, there on my 40th birthday in Crete, I was a bit of a mess. Sure the steroids had added perhaps a further 25lbs, but what you see here is a guy who was well passed his best at the age of 40.
I roller-coastered through my 40’s with my weight and general fitness being typical of a guy my age. Until I hit the age of 48 and my usual annual check up with the doctors diagnosed me as being in a pre-diabetic state. So, I joined the gym and started a kind of pseudo-paleo-low-carb-diet.
As expected, it worked, and the results meant I was kind of “moderately happy” with my reduced weight, dropping 60lbs, 240 to 180 and reversing the threat of diabetes.
But, this got me thinking, and whilst sitting on the beach in summer 2012, aged 39 I looked at everyone else there on that beach and thought, why can’t I be really fit, I mean, like those older guys like say Mark Sisson who are way older than me and look great. I needed a new way, something away from that gym rat mentality that was getting me part of the way there, but not completing the full picture.
Somewhere between late August 2012 and Christmas I ordered my first kettlebells, 2 x 8kg, downloaded a basic app and started researching more on kettlebells.
By January 13 I had more bells, a 12kg, 14kg and 16kg, my wife acquired a set too and I had finally ditched the gym, opting for intense home based kettlebell workouts. I bought a set of basic barbells too in late May this year.
I signed up to play for my old cricket team who I had walked away from 15 years ago, who now play a very high standard, my fitness level meant I was selected as a regular team member playing with players literally half my age. Physically, I’m certainly the fittest in the team! – all down to kettlebells and fantastic input from your good self.
So, as you can see, from the “aged 50 picture” (on the right above), I’ve factored in some yoga for toning too. Kettlebells and clean eating have saved my life ….. literally I think!
STORY #2 Logrono Michael
I had a twinge in my shoulder from doing CrossFit for a few years that would never get better. When I switched to strict kettlebell work (snatches and jerks) I rebuilt my shoulder and have increased my shoulder mobility with no pain.
STORY #3: Mike Lindner
When I first started training I went from 202 to 167 in 2 months working JUST the “New” Program Minimum. After that I worked the ‘Right of Passage’ for 4 months and stayed around a strong 175 and have been there for the last two and a half years.
What the bells have actually DONE for me, is show me how others can realize their potential without wasting time with time tested strength and efficiency of movement. I found a calling to teach and a community of people who share that calling.
I’ll say more WHEN I pass my SFG soon.
(NOTE: Mike recently passed his SFG, Level I kettlebell certification. A huge congrats to Mike!)
STORY #4: Aaron Habel
Over the years I’ve always had a desire to exercise, but it wasn’t until I bought a kettlebell that I started to find that consistency to stick with something. Now I regularly use my kettlebell and actually enjoy working on my form and learning more all the time. It’s a part of my life now.
STORY #5: Jeff D. Zuniga
Kettlebells give this 45 year old “FOCUS.” As an athlete all my life I worked in the gym trying to be strong in a select few muscles. Now I realize the importance of overall strength and mobility. Just wish I had learned of the kettlebell in the late 70’s. Better now than never.
So very grateful. KBN! (Kettlebell Nation)
STORY #6: Sean Kerby
I bought my first kettlebell in ‘07. I was never into strength training, in high school or even as a Marine. I trained in martial arts but that was it. I really got into my bells in 2011. I had some really badass mentors who pushed me to be better. I knew what I wanted to be but didn’t have a way to get there. One day I found the StrongFirst forum and started reading. It suddenly clicked and now I train almost everyday and am working toward my goal of being a certified SFG.
STORY #7: Ric Garcia (FullForcePersonalTraining.com)
Two days before opening up FULL FORCE (Personal Training Center) the A frame we built for our TRX station fell on my head giving me a depressed skull fracture, a severe concussion and a cut that required 15 stitches.
Immediately following the accident I suffered from horrible migraines that would be exasperated by any physical activity. For about 4 months I was completely inactive and a lot of the time I was medicated due to the migraines. My body atrophied horribly.
On Jan first of 2011 I weighed 117 lb and was around 15-18% body fat. I basically looked like a 15 year old boy. No muscle mass and very little to no muscular definition. I was mentally and physically in a bad place.
I really had no direction in my training at the time because of fear. I was afraid of getting a migraine, but looking back I think I was more afraid of how hard I was going to have to work to get strong again. To this point I had never properly used a kettlebell and relied on traditional bodybuilding style and metabolic conditioning type workouts.
In March of 2011 I got fed up with being “sick” and weak and I decided to sign up for the August RKC in San Diego. I wasn’t sure if I would even pass but I now had a direction, I had focus, but more importantly I had a GOAL! I obsessed with kettlebells and every waking moment that wasn’t filled with business of family was spent researching technique, programs, or training.
To say that I had a long road ahead of me was an understatement. My first set of 10 swings with a 16kg DESTROYED me! My very first weighted get up was with a 12 kg and my whole body convulsed under the load. I was embarrassed with myself but that embarrassment turned to anger and that anger turned into a laser like focused that drove me to work harder and harder.
I passed my level 1 certification weighing 129 lbs and was measured at about 4-5% BF at the time. I was recommended as an assistant and since then have completed my CK-FMS and level 2 cert. I now do a Turkish Get Up with a 44kg and feel STRONG again. Kettlebells gave me more than just strength and mobility, they gave me hope and a direction at a time in my life when I had little of both.
I will forever be grateful that the RKC (SFG now) came into my life and I have dedicated my professional life to helping as many people as possible find the same hope I did through STRENGTH.
STORY #8: Candas Elizabeth Jones
I’m almost 52. I shouldn’t be able to raise my right arm over my head due to a birth defect. I can press a 20 kg, do a Turkish Get Up with a 24 kg. I never thought I would be able to do any of these things. I was definitely a reluctant participant when my husband brought them home and signed me up with Delaine Ross for a kettlebell intro class.
I had so much success without pain I was hooked. At my age, I am stronger and leaner than I have ever been. I have 10 year old twins. I keep them in line by reminding them I can swing more kilograms than they weigh.
I never spend more than 40 min on a training session. It’s no magic potion, but it is definitely following a plan, trusting the plan, and sticking with it.
STORY #9: Zac Zech, SFGI
Kettlebell training has had a profound, positive effect on me in numerous ways. Actually, I need to quantify that last statement, because it’s not the kettlebells that have had this effect, it was the principles of Pavel Tsatsouline.
I became a trainer in hopes that I could change careers, and I got into kettlebells to distinguish myself as a trainer and carve out a niche for myself. While researching kettlebells I was naturally led to Pavel’s books.
I was so enamored with his writing style and no-nonsense approach to training that his books were all I wanted to read and all I talked about. I told my best friend, who was a trainer, about his books and kettlebells and we both started learning and practicing with kettlebells and after we got HKC certified we started teaching it. A short while later he sent me a text thanking me for introducing him to kettlebells, because it had provided that extra nudge he needed in his training and allowed him break through some plateaus.
Now before this point, I’d always been lean and skinny, but I’d never been strong, after picking up kettlebells, running became easier, I was about to do multiple chin ups for the first time, no major feats of strength, but major for me.
I eventually started moving up in weight with the kettlebells and even added double kettlebells to my training. Fortunately for me my story is still really just beginning. 3 years ago, reading about the people who were amazing enough to successfully complete the RKC requirements were legends to me, and I didn’t think I could ever be one of them, I never aspired to be one of them, because it was out of my league and I knew it.
But as time went on, everything started getting easier, I was getting stronger and getting certified by Pavel seemed like not only a possibility and an almost certain eventuality.
So 2 weeks ago when I successfully passed the SFG weekend, the new and improved RKC, I had accomplished something that 2 years ago seemed impossible to me.
Even though compared to others out there, my story, to this point, is rather pedestrian. I was still able to accomplish the impossible, that is what the kettlebell has done for me, not to mention the far more impressive results I’ve been able to witness in those around me.
My brother was a 230 lb 18 year old with a scary bad resting heart rate which became dangerously elevated during even slightly strenuous activity, but after two years of training kettlebells with me and fight training at a local MMA gym, which he started at about the same time, he’s gone 2-1 as an amateur MMA fighter and 1-0 as an amatuer boxer fighting at a catch weight of 185.
In both of his MMA victories he won fight of the night and finish of the night, and is such an exciting young fighter that the local promoters appoach him about being on their fight cards.
My story isn’t nearly that impressive. Nor is it as impressive as my sister’s, who is a year older than me and has struggled with her weight her whole life, she lost 40 lbs and forged a physique that is the envy of all her old high school and college friends. She achieved and maintains her muscular figure with a steady dose of kettlebell swings, squats, deadlifts, and presses.
My story isn’t as impressive as either these, yet I am convinced that without my story neither of these is possible. At Strong First our motto is that strength has a greater purpose, and what could be greater than touching those around us and closest to us in a positive way to help them enrich their own lives and fulfill their dreams.
Now for the fine print, obviously my brother didn’t earn his record in the cage because of the kettlebell alone, he had to fight train. Likewise, if my sister hadn’t fixed her diet, she wouldn’t have enjoyed the results she has. However, in both cases, the kettlebell was just as vital a part of the equation, which, if removed, still would have prevented them from accomplishing what they did.
This is my story, but its not over yet, in 5 years my story will be better and maybe as impressive as my families and my other brothers’ and sisters’ in iron.
STORY #10: Tracy Seffers
Kettlebells saved my life.
How’s that for an attention grabber?
December 2010–I’m 44, and at 5 foot nothing and almost 200 pounds, way past chubby, chunky, pleasantly plump, or “still carrying around my baby weight”. My “babies” are 11 and 21 years old, and I’m downright obese. I’m also hypertensive, pre-diabetic, and suffering from chronic headaches–one of which was so severe it almost put me in the hospital.
The physical symptoms I was suffering, and some timely intervention from family members who had also struggled with obesity, convinced me to try ONE MORE TIME to get myself together. I began working with a doctor, who used minimal medication and a complete overhaul of my nutrition to get my blood pressure and blood sugar back into normal range.
Once that was accomplished, he said, I had to move. Better, I had to move in a way that made me strong, and in a way I would be passionate about–would want to do every day. That automatically eliminated the treadmill–the stationary bicycle–this gadget and that gadget gathering dust in our basement.
My husband suggested the kettlebell. He had a few in our basement, actually, and he had read the research. So I did, fell in love, and never looked back. They made me feel downright kickass! and aware of my body and its strength in a way I had never felt before.
Three years later, I’m on the uphill spring to 50, down from a size 1X women’s to an 8 petite, training for the RKC, and teaching hardstyle kettlebell in my community. I figure I’m just returning the favor.
STORY #11: Christine Egan
I started about 6 months ago and fell in love with Kettlebell training . About 5 months into the program I dropped from a size 8 to a size 4, lost 8 pounds, and went down to approximately 4.3% body fat. That was exciting!
But I also found that I am regaining confidence that I lost and am getting back to being the positive person I used to be. I just competed in my first Spartan Race at the age of 47 with my niece and can’t wait for the next one. I love the total body workout that kettlebells give me. I’m never bored and am so much stronger than I used to be.
STORY #12: Sharon Shiner
My son Max, age 11, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, anxiety, and mood dysregulation at age 6. Needless to say, everyday is a challenge with him. In January 2012, things got extremely hard with him, including having him removed from school and being hospitalized. At the time, I was just starting to train for Level 1 and I was just getting to know people in the kettlebell community.
Training became something bigger for me than it was.
It wasn’t just training, it was therapy.
My daily training routine was the only thing that kept me going through an amazingly hard time in my life. The community offered me support and strength when I needed it most.
The training has continued to be therapeutic for me. As I train for level 2 now and continue to have challenges with my son, I seek solace in the bells.
I have found inner strength I never knew I had from training with the kettlebells.
This inner strength allows me to find ways to deal with Max. I’m not sure that I’d be able to handle him without having done my training. The same goes for gaining strength from the community. Getting positive feedback from like minded people offers me support that I need to keep it all going, and for that I am thankful.
STORY #13: Mark Garcia Limbago
They’ve helped me achieve my strongest, leanest, and most mobile version of myself.
STORY #14: Nancy Stealey
I lost 50 pregnancy pounds simply with the press, swing, and snatch… Twice! 2001 and 2003.
They have also kept me lean and strong on 2 years of bed rest and 7 major ankle surgeries. I’m still in recovery mode.
STORY #15: Marc Garcia
Improved my strength, joint mobility, endurance, flexibility, and muscle definition!
STORY #16: Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner (CoachFury.com)
As an out of shape dad approaching 40, kettlebells have allowed me to do things I never thought possible.
I’ve made incredible strength gains, dropped 40 pounds, and have completely switched careers to become a strength coach.
Most importantly, I can continue to pick my kids up and play with them at their own pace.
STORY #17: Eugene Kwarteng
Kettlebells made my muscles into armor.
It may sound cliché, but the bell seems to activate all the muscle layers.
Over time, the muscles literally become harder and makes me more resilient to accidental impacts or intentionally impacts (ex. punch to the guts or accidental run-ins with another body resulting in the other body being repelled).
I have become “super-human like,” at times.
STORY #18: Michael Rossler
Here’s an example of how kettlebell training has given me a resilient body.
Last summer (June 12, 2012) I had surgery to repair an inguinal hernia (men have a 1 in 4 chance of getting one, that’s just how it is). When I woke up from the anesthesia I had to use the bathroom. I asked the nurse where the bathroom was. I got out of the bed and started walking to the bathroom. At the same time the anesthesiologist happened to be passing by. He looked at me incredulously and stated that he had never seen anybody get up and walk—and have no pain—immediately after hernia surgery like I just did.
I told him I was in great shape because of training with kettlebells. He then said that he had to try kettlebells if that’s what they can do. About a week later, at my post-op visit with the surgeon, he actually thanked me for being so fit and healthy, stating that it made his job a lot easier.
So, that’s what kettlebells have done for me.
STORY #19: John Lesko
350lbs, BP=150/110, 40% body fat, high cholesterol, low testosterone (260), diagnosed with major (chronic) depression.
In 2009, I took my first kettlebell cert (WKC). I went home and started training, but soon quit because it was too hard. In 2010, I took my 2nd kettlebell cert (IKFF) and began training (officially) in Dec 2010. At this point I am still in the same condition.
Although my specialty is Kettlebell Sport, I have also been using various metabolic conditioning workouts and kettlebell complexes for weight loss and conditioning.
When I started, I struggled with 16kg kettlebells, tearing all the time and not being able to complete workouts due to conditioning. I could not jog for 1 lap around the track without stopping.
250lbs, BP=110/74, 20% body fat, cholesterol normal, have not had testosterone checked, and feeling pretty good.
I run 2-3 miles 5-6 days a week. I train with the 32kg kettlebells at least 3 times a week.
I have achieved “Master of Sport” in 3 organizations and “Candidate for Master of Sport” in another.
I currently hold the North American record for the 32kg snatch (161 reps in 10:00) and the North American record for Biathlon total (153.5 points).
I am on my way of earning my spot on the first ever Team USA in Kettlebell Sport and compete in the IUKL World Championships.
STORY #20: Suzanne Ko (SkoFit.com)
Before working with kettlebells for myself, I had very little knowledge and was always curious. I felt that kettlebells was something that required proper instruction and not to be taken lightly. So when my friend and fellow trainer invited me to try it out at her friends’ studio, I was eager to give it a try.
The studio is Rebell Conditioning and co-owned by Mike Connelly and Ryan Steenrod in Chicago. My first movement was the swing and it was horrible to say the least. My squat was also not very good. However, after that day last April 2012, I was determined to get better.
I scheduled one session a week at Rebell. Slowly, I worked on improving my swing and squat, while learning new movements such as the Turkish Get Up. My first day was a very humbling experience, but there was no judging – simply great teaching and learning.
I decided that I needed to pursue kettlebells further and signed up for a HKC certification in November 2012. The amount of learning and sharing of knowledge was pretty inspiring. My instructor, Jon Engum, blew me away with his incredible teaching. He broke down movements that made it possible for anyone to pick up. When I received my instructor certification, I was bitten by the kettlebell bug!
When StrongFirst announced the first inaugural SFG Level I certs, there was no doubt in my mind to sign up. I amped up my training at Rebell from one day a week to five days a week. I went from not being able to press an 18 pound bell to pressing a 12kg inside of a month. The rate of progression in my strength with kettlebells was nothing I had ever experienced.
The most important component that I learned in my training was overcoming mental strength. It taught me that while I have the physical strength, often times my mind can sabotage me.
Whether it is getting through the 5-minute snatch test without listening to the fatigue and doubt, or simply letting fear prevent me from stepping out of my comfort zone to press a heavier weight. However, once I get past that mental barrier, it is pretty empowering to find that inner strength.
There is an amazing group of instructors in the kettlebell community that are willing to help you, regardless if you have not even met them in person. I am deeply grateful for all the friendships I have formed from my SFG cert and beyond. There is no ego, but a mutual respect for one another, knowing that we are all here to help one another. That in itself is pretty amazing
STORY 21: Veronica Alexander
My name is Veronica Alexander. I wear many hats; wife, mother, Mima (grandmother), sister, daughter, and US Army Disabled Combat Veteran. I was officially diagnosed with stage 3 Pulmonary Sarcoidosis in mid 2009.
There is no cure for Sarcoid so I have been on a mission for the past year trying to find alternate ways other than these death drugs prescribed so that I could live in peace with this disease.
At the end of 2010 I weighed my heaviest ever, a whooping 176 lbs. mind you I am 5’3 1/2″ tall. I had to make a change. My husband had be using this adjustable kettlebell for a while now and of course he is singing its praise and as the great wife that I am was like blah blah blah. What is this weird looking thing? It took me a whole year and a half later to get pass that. I really think it was more of a pity party, if you ask me.
Lets skip to June 2012. I was at rock bottom. Super depressed, still “fat”, and really really tired of my death drugs! So I weaned my self off. I changed my diet and I was introduced to you.
I started off with only 5 lbs and the video that came with the adjustable kettlebell. I did only swings 3x a week. I would say after 3 weeks I was HOOKED!!! I felt better and I lost 11lbs!!! I then began to learn more techniques, different exercises with the bell, etc.
You then introduced me to Sinister!!! Oh man, how I love that work out!! I would do 4 sets every morning 3-4x a week and by then I was singing the kettlebell praises. Telling any and every one who would listen. Then came Shock and Awe and boy let me tell you what it is all in the name!!! What a wonderful tool!! I will always and forever have that workout in my arsenal!!
I am happy to report that I am now a healthy 144 lbs and about 20% body fat. My goal is 130’s and 15-18% body fat.
My favorite kettlebell exercises are the swing, of course, all variations and the double snatch!!
So, to conclude my story I really could have simply said…. kettlebells saved my life!
Special thanks to my husband, Adrian Alexander, Greg Cook, all my haters, and to you.
I will always and forever be kettlebell strong!!!
For those that submitted their stories, thank you!
These stories are amazing and each is so different.
Each and every one is powerful, whether just the top line benefits or a detailed story of transformation in some way.
For me, I can honestly say that kettlebells changed my life in just about every way possible.
I truly mean that and I’m grateful.
Even though I started strength training at such a young age, I had no idea the real value of strength.
When I discovered kettlebells in 2009, it transformed my body and entire training philosophy.
I now understood the benefits of strength and human movement to optimize our potential.
I took my own training and the training of others to entirely new levels.
I’ve never looked back and it’s been an amazing journey of maximizing my own human potential by simply getting stronger and moving better.
As Zac mentioned above, strength has a greater purpose.
I’ve rediscovered the barbell and learned the proper way to use it for maximum strength and performance.
What benefits have I experienced?
Well, after decades of training, I’m stronger, more muscular, fitter, leaner, more energetic, injury-free, and have unreal mobility and movement capacity that blows my mind.
Kettlebells have brought me strength, youth, passion, energy, and performance beyond what I thought was possible.
I could write extensively about what kettlebells and strength training have done for me, but I’ll keep it short right now.
I’ll just say the tool has literally been “game changing” in countless ways that have significantly impacted almost every area of my life.
With that, again, I want to thank all those that contributed and shared their amazing stories in this article.
I hope this was insightful and inspiring for you.
It’s very powerful to see how others have been impacted and transformed by proven strength training methods, like kettlebells.
Do us a favor and please share this article and help to inspire and educate others on the value of kettlebells and proper strength training.
***If YOU have a story and want to me to include it here, please send it to me via the contact page.
Even though this article is now published, people searching for information and inspiration constantly “find” articles like this, so please send me your story if you would be willing to share it.