Kettlebell competitions began in Russia in the 194o’s. Seven decades later, the sport is alive and well, right here in Des Moines.
“The amazing thing about kettlebell is we’re using every single muscle in the body,” says Greg Pankrukhin, a Russian born coach, more commonly referred to as Coach Greg at The Des Moines Kettlebell Club.
“Everybody goes through the same struggle – no matter if somebody is really fit or not fit at all, they start from beginning,” says Coach Greg in a thick Russian accent.
Coach Greg starts us off with a few one arm swings. He instructs us on every aspect of the move. From dead lifts to rows, technique is crucial. It prevents injury and is paramount during competitions.
“Then it’s an effort in mental toughness, because it teaches you to push and push,” says Julie Starry. “I like that aspect of it as well.”
Julie, a longtime runner, started using kettlebells after a running injury. After numerous workouts with the kettlebells, she decided to start competing.
“It’s a total of ten minutes and there are two different lifts that I do.”
That’s five minutes, each arm. And competitors must complete at least 50 reps per arm. A judge scrutinizes each rep and determines if it should count.
Last year, Julie won first place in the World Kettlebell Lifting Championships.
“You have to be tough enough to get there and bust it out,” says Julie.
Even if they’re not competing, everyone in this class is “busting it out.”
“It’s not just to workout,” says Coach Greg. “It’s a lifestyle.”