When engaged in the process of real learning, and honest pursuit of progress, implement should be an afterthought.
I was recently told by the new owner of a gym I used to be a part of that “Kettlebells just aren’t sexy… “.
What he meant was that in the often dysfunctional visual vernacular that CrossFit has manufactured, they aren’t as flashy or dramatic as Olympic lifts, and therefore are due less attention when constructing functional, capable, brutal athletes.
I happen to disagree.
I couldn’t care less about the appearance differences between kettlebells and barbells, or the difference in maximum attainable poundage, or “digestibility” for the sheepish masses. What I couldn’t care more about is having at my disposal, and in both my physical and instructional toolbox, the ability to train someone to the absolute best of my abilities and to the absolute limits of theirs- An always challenging task that certainly takes more than one ingredient.
It is both my opinion and long-term experience that if you are not as proficient at teaching kettlebell lifting (progressive, detailed kettlebell lifting- not simply crappy, quad-dominant not-really-overhead “kettlebell swings”) as you are at teaching with a barbell, then you are under-providing for your generalist trainees/ athletes. This is especially true of those with positional restrictions, injuries/ injury recovery, special needs, or any sort of unilateral imbalance (spoiler alert: that includes everyone at some point in their athletic development/ career).
Is being able to walk into a training room and expertly wield any implement available to you “sexy”? Is developing the subtle strength, power, and coordination elements of your skill set in dynamic and challenging ways “not sexy”?
Don’t ignore or under-value an entire wildly useful modality simply because Glassman didn’t like Pavel when CrossFit began. Our pound-for-pound strongest athletes got that way through addressing details by any means necessary, and achieving balance by identifying imbalance- not just grabbing what’s handy and hoping for the best.
If you are any sort of mixed-modality trainer or coach and you are not detailed, specific, and proficient in performing and teaching kettlebell lifting, you’re asleep at the wheel, and your athletes could be performing better; Even the ones at the top, and definitely those still on their way up.