Interview with Stephen Aish of London Kettlebells
I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz recently from various instructors in the UK who currently have kettlebell qualifcations talking about getting a qualification from London Kettlebells when renewal time comes around.
For some it’s the price that’s the main draw and for others it’s the quality of the the certification and support that follows.
Councils around the country are beginning to take the London Kettlebells qualifications seriously so it’s well worth consideration over some of the equally good but less recognised qualifications from across the water.
There is so much ambiguity and caution surrounding kettlebell training and yet they continue to grow in popularity so a nationally recognised qualification that people can easily recognise and be reassured by can only be a good thing and help the industry expand even more rapidly.
Stephen Aish who runs London Kettlebells was good enough to answer some questions for us surrounding what they offer.
1. How did you first get involved in Kettlebell training?
We were first introduced to the world of kettlebells way back in 2000 by an ex Eastern Block paratrooper with a grip of steel. Upon enquiring how he came to have this grip he revealed the benefits of kettlebell training to us and we have never looked back. With backgrounds in martial arts and many other physical activities kettlebells seemed to slot in perfectly as they are so efficient and effective. Our first one day workshop was with Mike Mahler and we have had the privilege to work and train with many professionals since then both in the field of kettlebells and numerous other sports.
2. Who would you recommend kettlebell training to?
I know you hear of “target markets” but we still maintain that everyone can benefit from training with kettlebells and that’s why we sell them. They are not the predicted fad that people believed and are being used globally with tremendous success. From the realms of rehab and corrective exercise, through weight loss and general fitness, to the realms of elite performance athletes – kettlebells deliver in so many areas and it’s good to see that people are realising this more and more.
A lot of people are put off believing that kettlebells will give you a bad back based on seeing people bend forwards to train the swing. Several physiotherapists we work with actually use this same action to help lumbar problems as the actions allows fresh blood flow to this area for recovery. We are not saying swing a kettlebell if you have a ruptured disc, but time and again minor back issues continue to be healed with kettlebells and the right therapist/trainer.
3. Your courses seem to be gaining in popularity and recognition. What do you think you offer that other courses don’t?
There are good instructors and bad instructors and the public and fitness professionals really need to do some homework before they potentially lose £300. Experience says a lot and kettlebells seem to have grown in popularity recently with numerous people peddling them on eBay and many instructors providing “the best instructor course in the UK”. The trick is not be dazzled by the promise of 30 plus exercises in a weekend or the secrets that no-one else will be able to teach you.
Coming back to the question I would just say that we cover the foundation exercises in full detail so that everyone graduating from our academy can safely train with kettlebells and then allow their clients to do the same. I think people recognise that sometimes less is more and that quality really does beat quantity.
4. With councils beginning to recognise your instructor qualifications do you think you will become a national accreditation body in the near future?
We certainly have plans for more courses and advanced courses within the kettlebell market for the future. We are also pursuing some joint ventures with training providers to see how kettlebells fit with the courses they currently provide so I would say there is a lot of potential for national accreditation from a recognised body.
5. What do you think your qualifications signify that other certificates like the IKFF don’t?
I have trained with Steve Cotter several times and he is a good friend. I would say the only real difference (apart from our lifting numbers) is that people in the UK need CPD to stay on the REPS register and a good way to confirm the quality of a course is if it is mapped to national occupational standards and carries something beyond the sellers hot air. The IKFF are a first class training provider and one that certainly doesn’t need the backing of REPS as it does not hold much weight for them. The real difference is with the UK gym structure as REPS instantly stand out with regard to course recognition and approval. And if you get to train with Steve Cotter – please do, he is one of a kind!
6. How much is a qualification likely to cost an instructor and what preparation should they expect?
We have found our 1 day intensive course to be the best for several reasons-
- Trainers only potentially need to take off one day from their schedules
- Most weekdays are full of clients – hopefully
- Sundays work well for London parking
For these reason we mainly stick with the one day and keep the 2 day aside for gym chains and corporate training. The 1 day intensive is £195 and includes a printed manual of all of the material with detailed teaching points for training reference. There is also an academy bag and one seriously funky metal pen – yep, the pen really is that good!
Although it is not necessary, it is certainly advisable to get some kettlebell experience before the course to at least understand some of the terms and motor patterns. We do send out the course manual a few weeks before the event so some prior reading will always bring everyone up to speed.
7. Do you think kettlebell training will become a standard class which is offered in gyms around the country in the future?
Kettlebells have been slow to take off in the gym environment for health and safety. While kettlebells as a training tool are not dangerous, they can be with a class of beginners that have no idea what they are doing. Most gyms run on the format of open or drop in classes. Because the mechanics of kettlebell exercises are so different from standard gym exercises an induction is essential before people can use them safely.
This means that people cant just turn up and join in on week 4 of a kettlebell class as it will hit the risk assessment alarm with almost all gym chains. And let’s face it – the last thing they want is a lawsuit for personal injury. The best route forwards presently is for them to be used by the trainers for PT and also for the bootcamp style classes where a group progress together through the induction and through several weeks of kettlebell circuits.
We have worked with several gym chains discussing the problem of inductions and can only conclude that a kettlebell induction process would be essential to allow people to then enter a drop in kettlebell class. Although this creates extra work it does allow the customer to benefit from this training method safely and so it’s down to a few meetings and some paper shuffling.
8. What do you think the main benefits of kettlebell training are compared to traditional weight training or aerobic classes?
Kettlebells come in to their own due to physics. The centre off mass is offset in relation to the handle so this means they produce different forces when in motion to standard dumbbells. The body constantly has to adjust and stabilise in order to counteract these forces and so most exercises contain a great degree of core activation and stability. With most kettlebell exercises you rarely need to move from the spot and that has the added bonus of being joint friendly when people need to lose weight and the treadmill approach may cause knee strains. The main benefit is time economy.
The 2 hand swing activates multiple joints and about 80% of the musculature of the body. As well as training peripheral heart rate it promotes a strong core and good posture when performed correctly. Because of the demand this one exercise places on the body we have found 10 minutes of swings to be as effective as a spinning class from personal testimonials. It also means you no longer need to spend 2 hours in the gym and can do more of the things that you enjoy in life. This is paramount when you consider that a good number of people see training as something they have to do rather than want to do.
9. What do you hope London Kettlebells will do over the next 5 years?
We have numerous plans and hope to continue training, spreading the effectiveness of kettlebells and promoting our courses and services for the benefits of current and future customers.
10. Is there any advice you would like to give to people who are too intimidated to get started with kettlebell training?
Yep, work out why you are intimated and fix it. Kettlebells are just another tool that can get you to your goals like any other form of training. Having a martial arts background we are very aware of the one-upmanship between trainers, training providers, equipment and indeed martial styles. When you get a little older and the ego hopefully pacifies you realise that the individual brings to life whatever they choose to do. The medium they use to achieve it is simply a neutral tool made effective by their knowledge, effort and commitment. We can briefly cover some of the possible intimidations below :-
Women associate weight training with bulking up – unfortunately this myth is so deeply burrowed in our society it stops thousands of people benefiting from weight based exercise. This could stretch to an article in itself so I will keep it brief. Kettlebell training is probably used in today’s fitness industry for weight loss more than anything else based on the demands of the 2 hand swing mentioned above. It melts fat and improves lean muscle mass and has successfully been used by many women that have jumped in and given it a go. I have had clients training for general fitness, strength and toning and they have lost 3kg in a month without a fat loss specific program.
Load bearing exercises promote calcium deposits that keep our bones strong and in post menopausal women this is a key cause of osteoporosis – thinking you are too old to exercise! This doesn’t even have to be kettlebells; light dumbbells or bodyweight is fine, just keep active. Promoting bone density is a key component to longevity for the elderly as it’s no fun sitting in a chair all day watching the TV. With the right routine people can be active in their 70s and 80s and this is a lot more important than worrying about your pension! And if you are wondering when you can start there is only one time and will only ever be one time – NOW.
Many people still wave the injury risk flag when discussing kettlebells on forums and from personal experience I haven’t had 1 injury with kettlebell training compared to my years in martial arts and other training endeavours. They are certainly not perfect , but used correctly they have massive benefits for the user in many forms not limited to physical exercise.
Fear of change is probably the big one here. Lets admit it, we are all guilty of being creatures of habit. This is good if they benefit you and not so good if they limit you or even have negative implications. For this reason we set up the public workshops which give people exactly the same material we cover on our academy courses with a little less science and a lot more encouragement and attention to detail. From here you can then work out if kettlebells are for you or not. So far no-one has turned away from kettlebells and we continue to demonstrate how effective they are through these workshops.
End of interview
You can get more information about what London Kettlebells can offer you on their website www.londonkettlebells.com and it’s worth following them on Twitter too for the offers and updated they regularly post.
If you get a qualification fromLondon Kettlebells then please let us and we will add you to our Kettlebell Trainers directory for FREE!