Friday 11 September 2015

Kettlercise For Women Vol 1 DVD Review

Price: £15/ $20
Length: 20 & 35 minute workouts
Workouts: Full body
Suitable for: Beginners - Advanced
Rating:   ★★★★★
Based on 5 weeks of use.

   Kettlebells are finally getting the attention they deserve. The unique shape and weight-distribution of these under-appreciated pieces of kit mean that you can do more with them than dumbbells or barbells. There are a great many exercises that are only brought to their full potential with these pieces of kit due to the explosive nature of the movements and the manner in which the weight is handled.
   Metabolic Training, or MRT, is the use of strength-focused compound movements that increase the heartrate, making the workout both strength and cardio. And while cardio is essential for fat-burning, building lean muscle is key to keeping that fat off - not to mention the after-burn effect, where your body continuously burns calories for hours after your workout as it repairs the muscle tissue and generally recovers.
   Compound movements are simply movements that aren't isolated to one specific muscle group. Squats isolate the legs and glutes; bicep curls isolate the biceps. However, if you perform both a squat and bicep curl together, you utilise your legs, glutes, biceps and a few other muscles all at the same time to both complete the moves as well as stabilise yourself. This means you work more muscles, burn more calories, and get your heartrate up more effectively in a lot less time. Rather than 30 seconds of bicep curls followed by 30 seconds of squats, you do 30 seconds of both together. All muscles are used, the extra exertion increases heartrate, and you're done sooner. Simple!
   And kettlebells are one of the best MRT tools you can use.

   I'd seen Kettlercise advertised in Women's Fitness magazine for about a year and a half before I decided to try it. It claimed to give great results, but I've always been sceptical, plus with all the black and orange, I thought it looked like it took itself too seriously, and that put me off. But I decided to try it anyway because I love kettlebells and I only had one other kettlebell DVD, and while it's a damned good one, a little variety never hurts.
   Kettlercise For Women is a 2-disc DVD set. The first disc goes over individual moves, teaching you their function and form so that time isn't wasted in the workout itself.
   The second disc features three workouts - the Full Body Workout, 8 Minute Abs and Express program. All of them require kettlebells, but the weight depends entirely on what you're comfortable with. They can each be completed with 2kg if that is your limit, or even 8kg if you're badass enough. I am not; I stick comfortably between 4kg and 6kg, keeping my 8kg for swings.
   Each workout starts with a decent warm up of dynamic stretches that raise the heartrate and also avoid static stretches which can hinder and pull cold muscles. They each finish with a cool down of deep static stretches, and when the instructor says it's the best part of the workout, she's not wrong. Each movement of the workout lasts for one minute, or for 30 seconds if you have to alternate sides, and there's a small clock in the top right corner that counts you down - it never stops moving and neither do you, transitioning from one move to the next without rest, but the workout is designed in a way that lets exhausted muscles recover while working others before returning to them again.
   I was a little dubious after reading reviews on Amazon about miserable instructors, but while the two women in the background barely crack a smile, looking miserable or serious for the most part, the camera barely lingers on them in particular, and the instructor herself is perfect. She's cheerful but not in an annoying way, but neither is she too tough. She's the perfect balance, and she smiles more than enough for the others. So don't let such comments put you off!

Express Program
   The Express Program is a 20-minute workout with an additional 5 minutes for warm up and 5 minutes for cool down, so the whole section lasts for 30 minutes. The first 15 minutes are spent on full-body moves and the final 5 minutes on abs specifically, and it's a tough workout.
   Personally I always feel I can do more in the express program than I'm asked, so on days when I feel like I can give more, I make every move a compound move. I sink into a sumo squat on the bicep curls; I rise in and out of a sumo squat with tricep extensions, I sink into crescent on rows and shoulder presses. However, the workout itself is more than enough, but as someone with a little more experience with such things, I knew I could modify and I knew how to do so safely.
   Your heartrate will rise quickly and you'll really feel the workout at the end, even after just 20 minutes. Comparing it to the Full Body workout, it doesn't feel like a lesser workout. It just doesn't take as long, so if you've not got the time to spare, you can still get in a killer workout.

Full Program
   The Full Body Program is a 35-minute workout with an additional 10 minutes for warm up and 5 minutes for cool down. It's not necessarily more intense than the express program, but as it lasts longer you will feel it all sooner, you'll do more moves, reach more muscles, work muscles more and generally burn more calories, but it's only the harder workout in terms of stamina. Just like the Express Program, the final 5-7 minutes are ab-specific moves.
   I never modify the moves on this workout, I prefer to do them as they're presented because the extra 15 minutes will kill you more than you think. By the end of the full program, I'm more than tired enough, I feel the workout all over, and I'm dripping with sweat. I feel it all day, and it's awesome. I choose to use this workout if I have more time or feel like I have more to give, but, as I said above, even comparing the full program to the express program, neither of them is a lesser workout than the other, it's just that one takes longer.

   Kettlercise for Women is amazing. I was concerned that it looked like it took itself too seriously and that reviews on Amazon suggested miserable instructors, but neither are further from the truth. The instructor is perfect, neither too cheerful nor too mean, and the backdrop is light and not at all distracting. The clock in the top right corner can be a bit annoying if you're struggling but it can also help you push a little harder. It also makes it apparent just how much work you're doing as the clock doesn't stop for a moment, and neither do you.
   The movements are full-body, it increases your heartrate brilliantly, giving the whole strength workout a cardio edge, as kettlebells should be, and it's a good place to start if you're new to kettlebells.
   There is a second volume which I will be getting, and will review once I've used it.


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