Ultimate Kettlebell Workouts for Beginners

Paul Katami
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Kettlebell, Total Body Workouts

I've been using kettlebells for about a year and a half now; although I'm not a beginner, I thought this DVD might be nice for variety. Also, I was interested in the tutorial segment, as it is vital to maintain good form when using kettlebells. This was my first DVD with instructor Paul Katami. I have seen clips of his prior kettlebell workouts, and I know that they tend to be faster-paced and use lighter kettlebells. (Usually, kettlebell work is done with much heavier kettlebells: recommendations average about 10-18 lbs. for woman and 26-35 lbs. for men.) Regarding weight, Katami says only to "choose the right weight" for your fitness level, but he does not make specific recommendations, nor does he reveal how heavy the weights that he and his background exercisers are using. I was also disappointed that Katami failed to talk about footwear for kettlebells, particularly in a DVD geared toward beginners. Kettlebells are traditionally performed barefoot or in low-soled shoes (Katami and crew are wearing Nike sneakers, which may or may not have low soles). Personally, I performed the workouts on this DVD barefoot and mostly using my 8 kg (about 17 lbs) kettlebell.

The Main Menu of this DVD lists the following options: Introduction - Workout Options - Bonus Features (Paul Katami Biography, Bonus from STRONG BODY, FIT BODY, Bonus from EXHALE: CORE FUSION POWER SCULPT) - Also from Acacia - Credits. Selecting Workout Options brings up a submenu with the following choices: Play All (79 min) - Tutorial (28 min) - Drills & Combinations (26 min) - Core (25 min). I have broken down each workout in detail below.

Katami is joined for the tutorial by background exerciser Nichelle; as with all the routines on this DVD, the tutorial is filmed in a pretty outdoor patio setting. This is actually more of a workout in and of itself than a true "tutorial," which usually means that the instructor breaks down individual exercises one by one. Although Katami does provide a bit more of an introduction for each exercise than he does in the other two workouts (he also offers form pointers throughout), again, this segment is definitely a workout in its own right. Katami begins with a brief warm-up consisting of breathing, jogs, and wrist rolls. He then does review various kettlebell grips before moving into the kettlebell exercises themselves. The moves are performed in drills, usually for 30 seconds each. He begins with the halo then moves on to the squat, swing squat, and kettlebell swing, performing three 30-second rounds of the latter. Next, Katami introduces the one-hand swing, performing these on either side and then moving into alternating swings. This is followed by the high pull (double 30 seconds, single either side 15 seconds). Following the pulls, Katami explains the rack position. From here, he does VERY FAST "power" cleans--clearly NOT a beginner move! These are followed by a series (15 seconds each) of front-loaded squats, squats with overhead press, and push press, repeating on the other side. Next comes a 45-second series of lunges, adding in rotation and then a chop. The final few moves include a bent-over row with an optional balance and bottom windmills. There is no stretching to conclude this workout.

For this workout, Katami is joined by both Nichelle and another background exerciser, Marlene. Each person has two sizes of kettlebells in front of them, but as noted above, Katami never cues which size kettlebell to use. The 2.5-minute warm-up includes breathing, wrist rolls, knee hugs, knee swings, and a brief jog in place. Except where noted, virtually all of the exercises in this section are completed for 30 second intervals. Katami again begins with the halo, but this is followed by a halo with squat and then squat with upright row. Next comes a series of swings: double swings, double swings with step out (either side), single swing, and single swing with step out (either side). As with the tutorial, Katami performs fast "power" cleans and then moves into a clean with overhead press combination; he also adds on an overhead triceps press here. (Note: I found it difficult to continue with the same kettlebell weight for some of these exercises.) He then repeats the same forward lunge series from the tutorial, this time for 60 seconds. Next comes a new move, lateral (side) lunges, adding on a biceps curl (I went down to a 10-lb. dumbbell for this and the next move). This is followed by a rear lunge, adding in a row, and the the two lunges/arm movements are put together for a combination, the last move of this routine. This time, Katami does include a short (2.5 minute) stretch: he starts with a standing forward bend to stretch the hamstrings, then moves into a standing quad stretch. He concludes with a standing stretch for the upper back and a few deep breaths.

Katami is again joined by both Nichelle and Marlene for this section, the first 7.5 minutes of which take place standing. After a brief warm-up consisting of standing twists and side dips, the group picks up their kettlebells. The exercises are again performed in 30 second drills, and the standing moves include halos, halos with ribbon, twists (both right and left), weighted lunge with twist (both sides), bow ties, side dips from lunges position (both sides), and finally, bottom windmills. Moving down to the mat, Katami goes through several tough sets of crunches, first with the arm in rack position, then with the arm straight up overhead (repeating on the other side). Moving the kettlebell to a horn grip, he then performs several variations of crunches up and over: standard, knees in, twist to either side, and tuck with twist. The next position is plank with one hand on the kettlebell for a knee tuck, and then side plank with a kettlebell pull. Coming back to a lying position, Katami performs a few more challenging crunch variations (bench press with crunch and fly with crunch) and then finishes with seated twists. Coming to hands and knees he concludes this routine with a few brief stretches, including child's pose and cobra. This was my favorite section of the DVD, and I definitely felt it the next day!

Overall, I thought that Katami did a good job with this DVD. He provides very good mirrored cuing, and he often gives form pointers during the exercises, pausing to provide reminders using his background exercisers.

The main problem I have (and why I gave the product 4 out of 5 stars) is with marketing this DVD as being "for Beginners" when it is so clearly NOT appropriate for beginners! First, although a tutorial is included, it is not nearly detailed enough for those who have never tried kettlebells before, and second, the workouts themselves are MUCH too difficult for beginning exercisers--they are more of an intermediate (using a light kettlebell) and even close to an advanced level (using an appropriately heavy kettlebell). Those who are experienced exercisers but new to kettlebells MIGHT be able to get by using this DVD, but for those who are true beginners, I would recommend Andrea DuCane's Kettlebell Boomer (geared toward older adults but great for anyone) or Iron Core Kettlebell (Vol. 1--a little repetitive but an excellent way to learn & grow).

Otherwise, if you have some prior kettlebell experience and are up for a challenge, I would recommend this DVD.

Instructor Comments:
This was my first workout by Paul Katami. I thought he did a very good job as an instructor, offering near-flawless mirrored cuing and frequently giving reminders on form (generally walking to one of his two background exercisers to point out specifics).

Beth C (aka toaster)