Sunday 12 March 2017

Kettlercise Ignite DVD Review

Price: £13
Length: 3x 30 minutes
Workouts: All-over body (cardio, abs, strength)
Suitable for: Anyone with some level of kettlebell experience
Rating:   ★★★★★
Enjoyment:  ★★★☆☆   Difficulty:  ★★★★☆   Results:  ★★★★★
Based on 5 weeks of use.

   I'm a big fan of kettlebells. Because their weight isn't distributed evenly like hand weights or barbells, they take a lot more concentration to control, and there are a range of different exercises you can only do effectively with such an unbalanced weight. These movements are quite often explosive and a lot of the power comes from the lower body, making every move a full-bodied compound exercise, using more calories and getting in lots more fat-burning while still creating lean muscle and a shapely silhouette.
   Kettlercise have always been amazing at delivering effective kettlebell workouts, and though their Ignite program is aimed at more experienced kettlebell users - ie someone who has used any of their other DVDs already - even as their 7th installment, it hasn't lost that intensity.

   Kettlercise Ignite consists of three 20 minute workouts, each with a 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down, and instructed by two familiar faces: Anoushka and Stacey, with Mandy in the back, all of whom you would recognise from Lean In 14. All three workouts utilise kettlebells to a slightly different end: cardio, interval training, and after burn. You wouldn't think that three kettlebell workouts could be so different, and that's a very good thing because it keeps it from becoming exhausting. I used this DVD 3 times a week on non-consecutive days for 5 weeks, and never once got comfortable or familiar enough with the DVD for its difficulty to drop. Some moves are repeated - windmills and swings are, after all, some of the most effective kettlebell moves - but there are a wide variety and a number that are only found on one workout.
   20 minutes might not seem like long, but Kettlercise transitions from one move to the next without even a few seconds' break, so you can rest assured that those 20 minutes will be truly packed full of sweat, fat-burn and muscle toning. Kettlebells are one of the top five most effective workouts for fat-loss, and most classes, Kettlercise or otherwise, average at 25 minutes.

   This should go without saying, but a kettlebell, or selection thereof, is necessary for this workout. I have three on hand - 4kg, 6kg and 8kg. I haven't used kettlebells in a long while, so my 8kg went mostly neglected, but my 6 and 4kg were more than enough. Some moves you will want a lighter weight on, especially upper-body-specific moves like front raises or snatches, in which a heavy weight can be harder to control, but in this case I go as heavy as I can while maintaining good form, and when a move that drives most of its power from the lower body comes along, like a swing, deadlift or squat, I increase the weight.
   A mat is also a good idea for comfort's sake. Every workout has some abdominal moves at the end and a mat makes them more comfortable and subsequently easier to complete a set of.

   While it's not usual for a workout DVD to have a separate instruction disc or segment demonstrating the form of the movements for beginners, Kettlercise are good enough to offer this on most of their DVDs because kettlebells and the movements performed with them are different from dumbbells and other weights due to its shape, affecting the distribution of its weight and the challenge that comes with just holding it correctly to keep that uneven weight under control. But that isn't present here, and that's no doubt because both DVD and website state clearly that Ignite is not for beginners. They advise that you only use if you've used another Kettlercise DVD or have attended some other kettlebell workout and are familiar with the weight. The workouts are not easy, and while there are modifications, they are few and far between and the moves themselves are challenging.
   As such, this DVD is simply not suitable for beginners, though Kettlercise for Women volume 1 & volume 2 are, as is Lean In 14.

Melt Down
   Melt Down is horrible, but it's worth doing. This is a cardio-specific workout, a kettlebell workout dotted with cardio intervals throughout such as burpees, crab toe-touches, kettlebell star jumps and so on, but fortunately they're spaced apart widely enough that you can still do the rest of the workout. Kettlebell movements are quite dynamic, full-body and high impact already, so pairing them with body-weight cardio moves hikes your heart rate up fiercely, and with the inclusion of simpler moves like windmills - still full-body, but certainly slower and more controlled - you get that wonderful interval training which is proven to burn additional calories by forcing your heart rate to rise and fall multiple times and keeping your body guessing.
   I despise cardio, and this workout more than the others on this DVD. And that's why I would never skip it - because it must mean it's effective. No one likes burpees, and that's because they're hard enough that they provide results for everyone regardless of fitness level. Indeed, a full burpee is kind of an advanced move, but it's one that is easily modified for intermediate and beginners.

   Detonator is a much more typical kettlebell workout. It uses familiar moves like swings, windmills, side bends and such, but stands out by combining moves into pairs, such as a bicep curl at the mid-point of a weighted squat, or a lunge with a swing. This works more muscles at once, allows the use of familiar, simpler moves like those squats and bicep curls without letting the heart rate drop too far, and is lower-impact and yet still immensely effective because the cardio doesn't come from jumping, but from engaging upper and lower body at the same time, and so continues to burn calories after the workout is finished while repairing the muscles used.
   This workout is the most straight forward of the three, making it perfect for those who are experienced but out of practise, or for those who want a fat-burning workout without the jumping around.

After Burn
   After Burn is a more advanced 'Detonator'. It stacks up moves, but by using 'complexes'. These are seen in their Lean In 14 program, and rather than combining two moves, it combines up to four. Needless to say, it's complicated. The clue is in the name. This really works your nervous system too by making you think, and it works the most muscles it can. It also means you can go deeper into a lunge or a squat because you're not just repeating that single movement over and other; instead, by performing an overhead press after a squat, you get those few seconds before squatting again, and in a chain of four moves, only one of them is a squat, giving you even more time before dropping into it again. It's less about the number of reps in this case and more about the range and depth.
   Like Detonator, this also gets your heart rate up, and is the most advanced of the three simply for its complexity.

Enjoyment:  ★★★☆☆  - Not conventionally fun, but the variation between the three workouts does give a greater enjoyment to the workout, as it feels less like doing the same thing every session.
Difficulty:  ★★★★☆  - Kettlebells are always hard - that's why they're effective. This DVD takes kettlebells further by stacking moves, and these are both physically and mentally challenging.
Results:  ★★★★★  - You simply cannot avoid results with any of the three full-body, cardio-resistance combination workout.

   Kettlercise seems incapable of bringing out bad DVDs. You would think there was only so much that could be done with kettlebells, and while many of their workouts are similar, they still manage to maintain enough difference to develop favourites, and this is one of my favourites. Having used many of Kettlercise's DVD, I'd say that this is the staple piece, as it offers three 20-minute kettlebell workouts that each provide a different angle on the form, and that makes it invaluable.
   Results are also guaranteed due to the nature of the workout - it's high-impact enough to melt fat on the spot, but it's loaded with resistance which also means you're toning up lean muscle, creating a curvy silhouette and increasing your metabolism, and also means you continue burning calories afterwards while your body repairs itself from the exertion. It is, simply, epic.


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