by guest writer David Parmer.
Today at the gym I was doing Cleans and Snatches with a 20kg kettlebell. And it felt
good. No, let me correct that: it felt GREAT.
I’ve only been doing kettlebells since December 2008, when I first picked up
an 8kg bell. The only instruction I had was from posts on You Tube to begin
with, then I ordered Pavel’s book and DVD, Enter the Kettlebell.
After that I did a lot more research on the Internet and found some great
videos by people like Anthony DiLuglio, Jeff Martone, Lauren Brooks, Adam
Davila and Troy Anderson. Many thanks to you all. May the metal gods smile on you.
When I see how really fit some kettlebell users are, I realize that I am truly a beginner.
But I am determined to continue, and here’s why.
I am now sixty-four years old, that’s six-four, not sixty-something, and
with luck in August I will be sixty-five, that’s six five. And there’s not
a damn thing I can do about it. Or want to. Normally, I don’t play the
“age card,” but today it bears directly on what I have to say.
Recently I have had experience of watching friends and other people
my age and younger simply deteriorate. And many of the friends
are up to 10 years younger than me. Many of them are “well off” and
exude satisfaction in the financial area. I congratulate them on their successes.
However at the same time, the majority are “getting old” they have a variety
of ailments including major problems with their joints. Others have made
recoveries from life-threatening illnesses and have put themselves under doctors’
care for the remainder of their days. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t have to
be that way.
I grew up in the 1950s (To get an almost accurate feeling for the era I recommend
the HBO show MadMen.) At that time a man was “old” at 45. Naturally he smoked
and drank and by 45 developed a respectable pot belly and could complain of
a bad back without social disapproval. Twenty years later in the 1970s we had
the beginning of the fitness revolution with Phil Knight’s invention of the
first pair of Nike shoes and a new era opened up. Health and fitness became a
way of life for a lot of people. The jury was in; lifestyle, particularly exercise
and diet were definitely connected to longevity.
And yet many people ignore the evidence and continue to push themselves.
They take and take and take, and never give back to their bodies in the
form of exercise. They fail to do what American business writer
Steven Covey calls “sharpening the saw.” Coffee, cigarettes and overwork
are what their bodies get instead. And by their fifth or sixth decade the bill
comes due. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as far as I understand it, offers another
paradigm: We have two forms of “essence.” One type we get at birth from
our parents. This is a fixed amount, like a trust fund. We have another type
of essence which is acquired essence. We get it from our food, rest, the air
we breathe and exercise. The Chinese Taoists make an art of cultivating
this essence. The result is that they live on the interest and draw sparingly
from the principle, or original essence. We have all seen people “getting
old” and frail, and withering away. TCM might say that they are simply
using up their essence account, and soon there will be no more.
As for me, I am determined to lead a vigorous and healthy life for as
long as possible, (and to top-up the essence account)
and that is where the kettlebells come in.
I am convinced that the kettlebell (even with my limited experience) is
one of the finest tools available today to build a strong mind and body.
I can still remember the feeling I had the first few times after doing a kettlebell
workout. I felt like an animal, like a primate; like some long-lost connection
had been made to a primal part of my brain.
I am equally convinced that traditional “weight training” or
resistance training is not the way to go—at least not for me.
Recently I did two kettlebell workouts in a week and for a third workout
I decided to do “anything-but” kettlebells. I did bench presses, seated
rows, barbell curls etc. The result was that I was both “pumped” and
“burned.” I didn’t enjoy either. I felt like RoboCop walking down the
street. Certainly a far cry from the primate loping through the urban
I truly wish I could help my friends and the people I know. And yet
the evidence for fitness is all there and the choice is theirs.
None of us are attracted to zealots; quite the opposite, it is those
who quietly walk their talk that inspire us.
“No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne.
David Parmer is a freelance writer
and copywriter living in Tokyo.
You can contact him at: email@example.com