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Here's to You: Kettlebell training a ringing success with fans

Cindy Borowski, left, Tim Hodapp and Kelli Christiansen perform a set of swings and lifts with kettlebells under the watchful eye of instructor Chad Doocy.

Kettlebells. They look like cannonballs with large, thick handles. But those who have touched kettlebells respect them.

Kettlebells are a new type of training exploding in popularity in the United States.

Kettlebell class is offered at Bemidji State University at the Gillett Recreation Center. It has become so popular many students repeat the class. The instructor is Chad Doocy, HKC (Hardstyle Kettlebell Certified). Kettlebells come in weights from 5 pounds to 100 pounds, and Doocy said if he takes one look at a student, he can determine the weight that person should start with.

"It's versatile training, a fantastic workout that fits the entire bill. It challenges people," said Doocy. "Truly a full-body workout that includes strength and explosive power improvements, increased level of conditioning, improved joint flexibility and range of motion, stability, coordination, balance. And, most important, it boosts your metabolism, great for both muscle building and weight loss."

Doocy said he has had students from 14-67 years old. And whether the students participate in a 15-minute or 45-minute workout, they sweat. His interval-based workouts are intertwined simple exercises, like push-ups or running in place between the variety of kettlebell lifts and swings.

Kettlebell training is not recommended for everyone. It's not for anyone with lower back or shoulder problems.

The proper technique is crucial, Doocy said. From the simple pick-up to release, participants need to concentrate on form.

"It's great, better than lifting," said BSU senior Kate Jamnick. "For just an hour, it's a great cardio and toning workout, everything you want."

Freshman Paul Voss said, "I like to box. This is much tougher. I've never been this tired since my swimming days in high school."

Anyone interested in trying kettlebells can go to the first class free. The beginner classes are held at Gillett Recreation Fitness Center at BSU from 6:15-7:15 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Advanced classes are held from 5-6 p.m. Monday and Friday. The cost is $7 per class for individual classes through fall semester, which ends Dec. 15. By semester with unlimited attendance, the cost is $95 for non-rec-center members, $65 for members and $35 for BSU students. For details call the Gillett at 755-4135.

Beginning and advanced classes start Jan. 16. To register, visit the front desk at the Rec Center.