Kettlebells the Iron Core Way, Volume One

Sarah Lurie
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Kettlebell

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I'm a high intermediate exerciser who works out daily, but I'm new to kettlebells. I practiced some basic kettlebell moves with a dumbbell for awhile, but this was the first workout that I used with my new 8 kg (18 lb) kettlebell that I purchased on Amazon.

This DVD features RKC kettlebell instructor Sarah Lurie. It includes a short (1.5 minutes) introduction by Sarah, a 5.5 minute instructional segment (Foundation) in which Sarah breaks down some, but not all, of the kettlebell moves found in the workout, and then a 46 minute workout (Circuit).

For the actual workout, Sarah is instructing live with two background exercisers, Robert and Sammy. The workout begins with a 3.5 minute warm-up which includes halos, around-the-world (both hi and lo), and windmills. (Note: NONE of these exercises are covered in the tutorial.)

The Circuit is conducted in three rounds of individual exercises, with a 30 second break between exercises and a 1-2 minute break between rounds. Prior to each exercise, graphics appear on screen breaking down the move in detail and offering form tips; a countdown clock also keeps track of the breaks.

The exercises in the rounds are basics the same, with some slight variations as noted below.

Round 1:
*2 arm swing (20)
*cleans (8)
*1-arm press (8)
*front squat (5)
*renegade lunge (10)
*single leg deadlift (8)
*good mornings (12; Sarah calls this "active rest)
*1-arm rows (10)

Round 2:
*2 arm swings (20)
*cleans (8)
*2 arm swings (10)
*1-arm press (8)
*front squat (5)
*renegade lunge (10)
*single leg deadlift (8) plus 2-arm swings (10)
*1-arm swings (10)
*good mornings (12; Sarah calls this "active rest)
*1-arm rows (10)

Round 3 (combines exercises together):
*1-arm press (8) plus alternate swings (10)
*front squat (10) plus renegade lunge (10)
*single leg deadlifts (8) plus 1-arm rows (10)

*rolling situp: with kettlebell between calves, perform sort of a half rollback with rotation
*crunches: with kettlebell between feet, roll back and up with bent knees

There is no cool-down or stretch.

For the most part, I felt that this was a pretty good kettlebell workout for a beginner, as it covered basic exercises and felt fairly doable--plus, I was appreciative of those rest times! However, I don't think that Sarah's breakdowns of the moves provided quite enough information, and I didn't like the fact that she only included SOME of the exercises in her tutorial rather than all of them. Furthermore, during the workout itself, her pace is a bit too quick for a beginner; although I'm an experienced exerciser, I struggled to keep up with her at times. So, I think those brand new to kettlebells might want to supplement their training with online tutorials or other sources in addition to this DVD, but I would still recommend it.

Instructor Comments:
I thought Sarah was fine overall. However, it would have been helpful if she had mirror cued--with being new to kettlebells, it was kind of tricky trying to learn from her when I had to reverse her movements. Also, there were a few times that I noticed her lips were out of sync with the audio. Finally, she makes some obviously scripted comments to her background exercisers at times; these just seemed a bit silly to me.

Beth C (aka toaster)


Iím reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This 46-min. DVD contains a short instructional segment followed by a basic kettlebell workout.
After an introduction (2 min.), Sarah discusses the 6 foundation moves that make up the workout (6 min.): two arm swing, one arm clean, one arm press, front squat, renegade lunge (a squat side to side with the bell held by the horns), single or one leg deadlift. In this instructional segment, a screen with basic form notes appears first, then Sarah demos the exercise live with tips via voiceover, with the camera alternating between front and side views and additional form tips appearing at the bottom of the screen.
The workout begins with a warm-up (2.5 min.) of halo, around the world, around the world - lower, figure eights, and windmills, with a 30 second break afterwards. The ciruit (38 min.) runs through two arm swings, one arm cleans, one arm presses, front squats, renegade lunges, single leg deadlifts, good mornings, one arm rows, with 30-second rests between exercises and a slightly longer break (about a minute) before running through another circuit. The second circuit adds a few more swings, so this time around you do two arm swings, one arm cleans, one arm presses, two arm swings, front squats, renegade lunges, single leg deadlifts, one arm swings, good mornings, and one arm rows. The last circuit has two arm swings, one arm cleans, one arm presses followed by alternating swings, front squats followed by renegade lunges, and single leg deadlifts followed by one arm rows. Ab work (3 min.) follows with rolling sit-ups and crunches. There is no cool-down or stretch.
Quality is stressed over quantity, with most exercises getting between 8 and 12 reps, although swings and ab work are done in sets of 10, 15, or 20.

Level: Iíd recommend this to experienced exercisers who may be new to kettlebells, although if youíre brand new Iíd recommend supplementing with other videos (such Lisa Shafferís or online ones at Art of Strength), books (such as Pavelís or Lisa Shafferís), and/or if at all possible live classes, especially since as a beginner itís hard to self-diagnose form issues and problems.
If youíre very new to kettlebells and/or at an intermediate or lower stage of general fitness you might want to work your way up to doing all three circuits, just doing one the first time through and then adding on as you feel ready. Those who have more kettlebell experience under their belt as well as a higher level of fitness can turn the rests into active rests, doing their choice of moves (lower impact, like marching in place or stepping side to side; higher impact, like jumping jacks or burpees; or perhaps doing 30 seconds of swings in between, if youíre really a glutton for punishment!).
Iím an experienced exerciser (I consider myself an intermediate / advanced in cardio, strength, and Pilates, while Iím more of a low intermediate when it comes to yoga), but Iím still new to kettlebells. When I tried this DVD a few weeks ago, I had watched Lisa Shafferís instructional video, read her manual, and tried her 6-week beginnerís e-book program plus had been taking classes at my gym for just over 4 months; on average Iíve been working with kbs once a week as part of my usual program. I felt appropriately challenged, although as I did it this time around, using moderate weights and taking the breaks as breaks, this certainly didnít push me to my limits.

Class: 1 man and 1 women join Sarah, who instructs live, although during demos Sarah is alone, with instruction via voiceover.
The background exercisers may not be exactly in time with Sarah at all moments, but thatís OK, as itís best to work at your own pace.

Music: instrumental with a beat - kind of rock-like. Itís not that bad but quiet in relation to Sarahís voice.

Set: interior space lined with kettlebells and photos of Sarah doing kettlebell exercises along the back wall.

Production: clear picture and sound, helpful rather than distracting camera angles that show all of Sarah at all times. Itís rather no frills, except for the text that appears on the full screen before exercises and sometimes at the bottom during exercises with form basics and tips. There is a countdown clock during the 30-second rest periods.

Equipment: a kettlebell. Sarah and crew appear to use the same one for the entire workout, but because the exercises are done only one or two at a time itís easy to use more than one. 8 kg (17.6 lbs.) is the usual suggestion for women and 12 kg (26.4 lbs.) for men who exercise regularly but are new to kettlebells. As someone who in class still uses 8 kg for most exercises but 12 kg for double-handed swings, some squats, and deadlifts (although I should be getting close to the point where I can try this weight for cleans and other exercises), I used my 20 lb. kb for most exercises, using the 15 lb. for the warm-up and one of the press series and the 25 lb. for the two arm swings.
Youíll want flat-soled shoes; if you have cushy cross-trainers like I do, youíre better off barefoot, which is how I do my kbs.
Oh, and if you sweat as profusely as I do, have a towel and a bottle of water handy.

Space Requirements: enough space to swing in front of you, take a big step side to side, and lie down. This has a very small footprint and is perfect for those without much room.

DVD Notes: The main menu choices are Play, Foundation 1, and Circuit 1. The instruction, warm-up, each circuit, and abs portions are separate chapters, but you may have trouble if you try to start skipping exercises with in the circuits.

Comments: Iím not sure what the difference is between my version (the one with the white background on the cover, copyright 2007) and the other one available (the one with a yellow background on the cover, copyright 2005), other than the cover and date on the back; the 2007 edition still has the 2005 copyright date on the workout itself.

Instructor Comments:
Sarah focuses on cueing and instructing, with constant form reminders, including some scripted comments to her background exercisers as you come back from break (yeah, thatíll get old the gazillionth time through). Sheís more natural when discussing the exercises while doing them. Although she has a pleasant, encouraging, upbeat personality, her words of encouragement come out with almost a kindergarten teacher tone (ďIím so proud of youÖĒ). Sarah cues for her right and left, rather than the viewerís, so no mirror cuing.