Join a hybrid kettlebell Pilates class and gain strength as you flex.
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
Kettlebells and Pilates are two exercise types not usually associated together, especially on a gym's class schedule. Kettlebells -- round, hunks of metal -- originating from Russia are the antithesis of the graceful Pilate strength poses. Kettlebells weigh from 5 to 106 pounds and are hoisted overhead, swung and used as counterweights. Pilates builds your core with repetitive movements. There are strength and cardio benefits for combining the two.
Kettlebell Pilates: The Workout
The Russian kettlebell is now a staple in gyms across the country. Russian trainer Pavel Tsatsouline sparked an immediate interest in kettlebells when he brought them to America, with classes quickly forming and major research institutions taking notice. A kettlebell workout can be gear for the beginner to advanced exerciser. And you'll reap the benefits regardless your fitness level. Kettlebells provide a whole body strength and flexibility workout that burns calories, too. Similar to kettlebells, Pilates focuses on strength as well, but Pilates uses a core-based strengthening routine to increase flexibility and balance. And your posture reaps the benefits. Like kettlebells, Pilates routines come in beginner to advanced ranges as well. But unlike kettle bells, which encourage cardiovascular endurance, Pilates is more about muscle lengthening and flexibility. Don't rely on it for calorie burning. Combine the two instead, shred 20 calories per minute and work your core.
Kettlebells are akin to dumbbells, each used to strengthen and tone muscle. Kettlebell routines are marketed as a whole-body workout experience, and in many ways they are. Throughout a workout, you are engaging your quads, glutes, core muscles, pecs, triceps and biceps. Whether it's an overhead swing or a leg press, you're using multiple muscle groups at once. However, an American Council on Exercise study discovered that participants who participated in an eight-week kettlebell program showed a 70 percent improvement in ab strength. This focus on core strength is similar to that found in Pilates. Pilates also tones like a kettlebell workout, too, which is why the two go hand in hand. And through various poses, you'll work each muscle group.
Both Pilates and kettlebell workouts contribute endurance and aerobic benefits in their own ways. According to the ACE study, kettlebells raised users' aerobic capacities 13.8 percent. A separate ACE study evaluated the cardiovascular and aerobic benefits of Pilates and found them wanting. While a Pilates workout will leave you feeling breathless, it hasn't taxed your cardiovascular system like a kettlebell workout. Yes, Pilates will raise your heart and respiration rate, but not as effectively as a kettlebell workout. That's why combining the two works best.
Safety and Consideration
There's no universal accreditation program for kettlebell Pilates instructors. But instructors can be certified to teach them individually. Ask to see the instructor's credentials, and check she is certified to teach at least one of the forms. Ask about her familiarity with the other fitness style if she's not certified in both. Watch a class session before signing up. Instructors should encourage proper form, encourage participants to progress at their own speeds and point you to the appropriate class for your fitness level. Check with your doctor before trying a kettlebells Pilates class, especially if you're new to exercise.