The Kettlebell Way, Volume 2: The Empire StateAnthony Diluglio, Beth Chamberlin
Year Released: 2008
Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer
I am a high intermediate exerciser (I work out 6-7 days per week) who is relatively new to kettlebells. I really liked the first Kettlebell Way workout (ďThe Kettlebell Way to Your Perfect Body, Vol. 1, ĎA New ProvidenceíĒ), so I was happy to have the opportunity to try this one as well. The DVD features Anthony Diluglio, a certified kettlebell trainer who is founder of Punch gyms and Art of Strength, and Beth Chamberlin, an actress and self-described kettlebell enthusiast. In their Intro, Beth explains that Vol. 1 was meant to be a bridge to Anthonyís more advanced DVD, Newport; instead, with this DVD, they have offered viewers another more advanced option. Some of the exercises included can be performed with two kettlebells; either Anthony or Beth will show the more advanced variation, depending on who is leading that particular segment.
This is actually a 2-DVD set. Iím going to list Disc 2 first, as this is one that includes the Joint Mobility warm-up:
The joint mobility is actually the same footage which appears in Vol. 1. The section in the first volume was obviously cut, however, as it is only 5 minutes long, and here the segment is 9.5 minutes. I really appreciated the extra time, as this the additional moves included are excellent. Anthony leads and begins with a triple plane neck warm-up, followed by a very thorough shoulder segment including shoulder rolls with flexion/extension, shoulder rotation (the Egyptian, and several other shoulder stretches not included in Vol. 1. In addition to a hip flexor stretch, other moves for the lower body include a frog stretch on the floor and then both upward and downward facing dog from yoga.
Also on Disc 2 is the Manmaker series. The Manmaker is basically an advanced bonus round that you have the option of repeating several times. It consists of 3 sets of exercises, each performed for 2 minutes with 30 seconds of active rest (moving from upward dog to downward dog) in-between each set. The Manmaker exercises are as follows:
*Manmaker: combo of renegade row and squat thrust to double clean & press (2 kettlebells)
*Swings: combo of 2-arm, 1-arm, and alternating
*Crush Curls: full triple crush, bicep curls, and tricep extensions
Disc 1 contains the main Empire State workout. It is filmed on an elevated outdoor patio with portions of the NYC skyline visible in the background. As with Vol. 1, Anthony and Beth take turns leading the various segments. The Main Menu for Disc 1 is below, with my brief comments appearing in parenthesis:
*Introduction (2.5min; Anthony & Beth explain the 3min round formatóeach round consists of an upper body exercise, a lower body exercise, and a core moreóand the option of using 2 kettlebells)
*Workout (40 minutes total, with quick transitions within rounds)
*Workout Shuffle (consists of the warm-up and random segments)
*Workout Select (allows the user to select individual rounds)
*Bonus Round (2min high pull/snatch with both Anthony & Beth followed by an additional 2min of snatches with just Anthony)
*Links (links to Anthony & Bethís web sites)
The breakdown of exercises is listed in the DVD insert. I have copied this list here, adding a few of my own notes.
*WARM-UP: Mountain Climbers/Russian Twist/Chest Presses
*Swings/Half Get-up/Suitcase Row
*Lunge Cocktail (lunge with rotation)/Side Plank/Super Plank (a.k.a. spider plank)
*Squats/Bottom Windmill/Crush Curls
*One leg Dead Lift to a Row/Janda Sit-up (no kettlebell)/Tricep extension
*Overhead Lunge/Figure 8 to a Hold/Clean and Press
*Suitcase Dead Lift/Punch Matrix (plank with foot lowering to opposite side)/Side Snatches
*Hand-to-Hand Sumo Deadlifts or Pliť to Relevť/Pull Over to Get-up Sit-up/Hot Potato
*Super Burpee/Banana Rolls/Tricep Push-up
Overall, I really enjoyed this workout. I liked working the core in every round, and I liked the inclusion of some unique moves, from the Figure 8 to Hold (which I liked in Vol. 1 as well) to Side Snatches, which were new to me here. I also appreciated the variety of options that this DVD has to offer; I donít yet have 2 kettlebells of the same size, so I mostly followed the less advanced options, but itís great to know that I could grow with this DVD as I advance in my kettlebell work. Definitely recommended for those who enjoyed Vol. 1 and feel ready to move on to a greater challenge.
My only minor complaints? I do agree with Kath that it really doesn't make sense for this set to have 2 DVDs; since the Manmaker is only 8.5 minutes and the Joint Mobility is 9.5 minutes, the entire second disc was thrown in for a total of 18 minutes. Also, I don't understand why so many kettlebell DVDs fail to include cool-down stretches--I would have loved to have seen a short stretch segment here, although you could certainly use the Joint Mobility segment for this purpose as well.
I understand that some people prefer Anthony as an instructor on his own. I can't comment on this, as I haven't yet tried any of his other AOS workouts, but I can say that I really like the interaction between Anthony & Beth. I find that I can relate to Beth--not only do we have the same name (!), but she is almost exactly my age (I'm 43; she said in Vol. 1 that she is 44), and I like the idea of being in my best shape ever at this age, just like her. :)
One thing to note: Anthony and Beth do not mirror cue. I have learned how to cope with this in yoga, but again, being relatively new to kettlebells, it would have helped me a lot if they had--oh well. ;)
Note: The title is somewhat unwieldy (although not as bad as the original), so Iíll use the common VF forum nicknames for this Ė Kettlebell Way 2 / Empire State Ė and abbreviation Ė KBW II Ė in this review.
Iím reviewing this workout after doing it two or three times (although Iíve probably only done the Manmaker once).
General workout breakdown: This 40-min. kettlebell and bodyweight strength workout consists of 8 4-minute rounds; each round contains 3 exercises (1 lower body, 1 core, 1 upper body) of 1 minute each with 1-minute rests in between. A joint mobility warm-up as well as a warm-up round and a bonus round are included, but there is no cool-down. In addition, thereís a short bonus workout.
- Joint Mobility (9.75 min.) for the neck, shoulders / upper back / chest, obliques, low back, quads / hamstrings, outer hips / inner thighs, and hip flexors. (This seems to be the full version of the routine that appeared on KBW I.) Joint mobility is different from stretching because youíre also putting some resistance or tension into the movement, with the goal of increasing range of motion while strengthening the joints within that range of motion.
- Main Workout
Warm-up = Mountain Climbers / Russian Twist / Chest Presses
Round 1 = Swings / Half Get-Up / Suitcase Row
Round 2 = Lunge Cocktail (lunge w/ trunk rotation) / Side Plank / Super Plank (sometimes called spiderman plank, walking plank, etc.)
Round 3 = Squats / Bottom Windmill / Crush Curls
Round 4 = One Leg Dead Lift to a Row / Janda Sit-Up / Tricep Extension
Round 5 = Overhead Lunge / Figure 8 to a Hold / Clean and Press
Round 6 = Suitcase Dead Lift / Punch Matrix (from a plank position you reach one leg up and over the other to touch the floor) / Side Snatches
Round 7 = Hand-to-Hand Sumo Deadlifts OR Pliť to Relevť / Pull Over to Get-Up Sit-Up / Hot Potato
Round 8 = Super Burpee (includes a high pull, catch, & squat) / Banana Rolls (with arms and legs extended you alternate between holding a long crunch and a back extension / superman) / Tricep Push-up
Bonus Round = 2 min. of high pull to a snatch, 2 min. of snatches (Beth ducks out for the last 2 min.)
- Manmaker (8.5 min.) = You do 2 min. of each exercise with 30 seconds of active rest in between. The exercises are Manmaker (push-up with hands on kettlebells into renegade row; after so many reps youíll do a squat thrust up into a double clean & press, then squat thrust back into plank), Swings (double-arm, single-arm, hand to hand), and Crush Curls (triple crush, bicep curls, tricep extension, and back to full triple crush); your active rest is an upward-facing dog into down dog & back again.
Level: Iíd recommend this to experienced exercisers comfortable with beginner to intermediate-level kettlebell workouts. You need to know what youíre doing here, especially since there is no tutorial on this one. While this shares a few exercises with KBW I, Empire State has a number of progressions, even if theyíre just shown as options. Anthony recommends doing this as primarily a bodyweight exercise the first time through Ė or if youíre still working on your fitness level. This workout is challenging but allows for you to grow with it for quite a while because itís relatively easy to take things down a notch (for example, by modifying or dropping the weight) and then bump it up by following the more advanced options and/or picking up heavier weights and/or shortening or eliminating the rests or turning them into active rest periods. Still, if youíre brand or relatively new to kettlebells Iíd recommend KBW I or Providence over this one, just so you can build up your strength, endurance, and comfort level before adding this one into the mix.
I consider myself an int. / adv. exerciser whoís probably a low intermediate when it comes to kettlebells. Iíve been working with them for over a year and a half, but I donít use them as my primary exercise equipment, and while I feel comfortable with the basics Iím not yet ready to tackle some of the trickier moves. I was able to do or at least approximate all of the moves (the punch matrix and banana rolls are new ones to me and will require a little more practice; I struggle with the super plank because of an elbow issue, so I just hold a plank; and my back feels more comfortable doing regular snatches over the side ones). I found this one challenging. It was doable, but I was definitely working hard.
Class: Anthony and Beth, each performing the full exercise in each round although they switch off leading from round to round. For a fair number of exercises one will show a modification (sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes just an alternative); Anthony often demonstrates the full or more advanced version, but sometimes Beth will.
Music: upbeat beat-heavy instrumentals, pretty typical stuff for kettlebell workouts. The music is kind of repetitive within each song, but the songs switch from one segment to another, although the same tune, if you could call it that, plays during the intro and all breaks.
Kettlebell workout music is a tricky thing, as you need to move at your own pace rather than try to match the rhythm of the music or the speed of the instructor and your classmates. So Anthony and Beth do not really follow along to the music and will thus be out of sync at times.
Set: The main workout and Manmaker are set outside on the rooftop deck, ringed with potted plants, of a New York City skyscraper; itís a bright, sunny day during the main workout, and the sun is setting (I think) during the Manmaker.
The joint mobility warm-up is done in a brightly lit white-walled room with a Punch poster on the wall and windows through which you can see other buildings.
Production: clear picture and sound, mostly helpful camera angles, although there are a fair number of close-ups, some more artsy than they need to be and usually on Beth.
Between each round, youíre returned to a blue screen with a few kettlebells on which text will appear. Youíll get a mix of short motivational words or phrases, a notice that 30 seconds are left, and then an announcement of the upcoming round.
Equipment: The main workout is designed to be done with 1 kettlebell, although if you have 2 kettlebells of equal weight and/or 2 or more kettlebells of different weights feel free to use what feels right to you for each exercise. (For the most part having 2 kettlebells makes an exercise harder, although the single leg DL with 2 kbs of equal weight is in some ways easier than the 1 kb option.) The Manmaker is probably best done with 2 kettlebells of equal weight. For the average active woman, an 8 kg or 18 lb. kettlebell would be a good starting weight, but you might want to have a 12 kg or 25-26 lb. kettlebell nearby. For men, 12 kg / 25-26 lb. would be a good starting weight, with a 16 kg or 35 lbs. kb nearby. I have 15s, 20s, and 25s, and I found myself using one 20 lb. kettlebell for most of the workout. This is not an easy workout with those 1-min. segments, so donít be afraid to go for the lighter weight.
Depending upon your flooring, you may want a mat for some of the exercises.
Beth and Anthony wear flat-soled shoes, which Iíll sometimes use, but I prefer to do my kettlebells barefoot. Vibrams Five Fingers are another option for footwear. You really donít want a crosstrainer or other cushy-soled shoe, as itíll make it harder for you to grip the ground appropriately and your foot may even be tilted forward, making it difficult to keep your weight in your heels.
Space Requirements: Like most kettlebell workouts this is compact, but you will need to make sure your space is clear of people, pets, and other things on which you wouldnít want to drop a kettlebell, just in case. You should be able to do a swing, take a big lunge / squat thrust behind you, and lie down with your arms and legs extended. Oh, and make sure you have enough room overhead for the snatch, too.
DVD Notes: This has 2 discs, which seems unnecessary to me. Actually, itís kind of annoying, because the Joint Mobility segment, which Anthony says should be done before the workout (although you could certainly do it afterward instead), is on a separate disc from the workout. Iím also not a big fan of discs that overlap in the case; I prefer to have them on separate sides to minimize scratching as Iím trying to get one or the other out.
Disc 1ís menu options are Introduction, Workout, Workout Shuffle (Warm-up + Random Rounds), Workout Select (Access Individual Rounds), Bonus Round, and Links. This DVD is very well chaptered. Once you become familiar with the DVD, you can skip the short intro to each round (This is brilliant and should be done in more DVDs). You can also skip or shorten the rests as your fitness level increases - because you get an announcement that 30 seconds are left in the rest itís easy to progress from 1-min. to 30-sec. rests between rounds before you eliminate them completely - or if youíre short on time.
Disc 2 has the Manmaker, Manmaker 2x, Manmaker 3x [If you have enough left in the tank to do Manmaker 4x, you werenít working hard enough in the first three go-rounds!], and Joint Mobility.
Comments: Unlike KBW I (The Kettlebell Way to Your Perfect Body, Volume 1), KBW II is not a remake of another Art of Strength (AOS) title. Beth says in the introduction she wanted this to bridge the gap between KBW I / Providence and Newport but that Anthony wanted it to be a workout on that next level. Iíll let those who have both Providence and Newport weigh in on which goal this one accomplishes, but I will say that this is definitely a step up from KBW I in terms of both intensity and needed experience.
Anthony is an experienced and well-qualified personal trainer and certified kettlebell trainer who founded the Punch gyms and Art of Strength kettlebell certification. Beth is best known from her soap opera days (she was a regular on Guiding Light, which perhaps explains why she calls her fitness endeavor Beacon Fitness), but she is now a certified kettlebell instructor. Although less than a year has passed since KBW I, Bethís form is significantly better, sheís using a heavier weight (and feeling more confident with it), and you can even see some changes in her physique.
Unlike some other celebrity workouts, Anthony and Beth split the instruction, although it makes sense here since both are instructors and Beth is here because of her interest in promoting kettlebell fitness, not because of her interest in promoting herself or her acting career. Anthony and Beth instruct well here, although donít expect a lot of instruction during the workout, just some form tips and reminders. They interact nicely and are both a little warmer and more comfortable here than in KBW I. Note that Anthony and Beth cue for their right and left rather than the viewerís. This isnít necessarily a bad thing, as they sometimes spend a few extra seconds or reps on one side, so if you use this video on a regular basis and want to make sure youíre balanced you can alternate following their cues and mirroring their movements.