Kettlebells: a real bang for your buck

Text by Maureen O'Hagan

Tom Corrigan is Mr. Kettlebell.

Seriously.

He’s taught Kettlebells, competed with Kettlebells (and won) and studied Kettlebells not only in the United States, but at an elite training camp in Russia, under men he calls the “Michael Jordans and Phil Knights” of the sport.

He’s brought that expertise to CrossFit Seattle, where he teaches Sunday mornings. He also gives Kettlebell workshops around the region.

Have you ever taken Scott’s Saturday barbell class? Tom’s Kettlebell class is the same idea. You’ll definitely sweat, but you’ll also learn technique from a real pro.

An Everett firefighter, Corrigan is a big guy. To look at him, you might think heavy-duty barbells. But he says it’s the Kettlebells, which he throws around three to five days a week, anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes.

Kettlebell training he said, “gives you a real bang for your buck.” And they translate well into real-life. As a firefighter, you’re wrangling a hose pumping 250 gallons a minute. You’re lifting people who are unconscious. You wind up in awkward positions, holding stuff over your head. You need a strong back, for sure. But you also need grip strength, explosiveness—and really good stabilizer muscles.

That’s what Kettlebells do, he said. Swinging a bell generates a lot of force, and the center of gravity is constantly moving. You’ve got to brace yourself against it. He’s taught Kettlebells to area firefighters, and he’s converted a number of them.

While we’ve all experienced Kettlebells as part of our regular CrossFit workouts, a class focusing solely on those heavy little suckers gives you something more. First of all, you’ll learn the secrets to wielding them properly. You’ll also see how those secrets can translate into improved performance.

“Anybody that thinks they can do the same things with a Kettlebell that they can do with a dumbbell hasn’t trained with me,” he said. “You can flip it, toss it from side-to-side, catch it.” The workouts are scaled to suit.

“Women love it because it tones and firms up the legs and hips,” he said, adding that it translates well into other sports, from running to power lifting to everything in between.

That’s the plus side. The downside is that you don’t want to do it wrong—which is where Tom’s expertise comes in. He teaches you how to work hard, breathe and stabilize, all at the same time. Being trained under world champions, he’s got the technique dialed in.

But he also makes it fun. You can get hooked on those little cannonballs.
“People don’t name their dumbbells,” he laughed. “But they name their Kettlebells.
“There’s just something about it.”

Tom teaches the Kettlebell Class at 11:30am on Sundays. Tom's schedule as a firefighter allows him to teach 3 Sundays each month. He will be teaching on January 30, February 6, 13, and 20. Andy or Dave cover for Tom when he is out. Once we move to the new space, we will no longer offer the kettlebell class on Sundays so come while you can!