While bodyweight boot camps are incredibly effective, more and more boot camp owners are turning to exercise equipment such as tyres, ropes, kettlebells, and dumbbells to spice up their sessions. In this article, we will be answering the question “Should I use kettlebells in my boot camp?”.
Using kettlebells can be great for smaller boot camps, or for experienced clients. But you don’t want to be spending too much time teaching correct technique, particularly in larger groups. If your clients know what they are doing, then kettlebells are a superb tool for muscle building and fat loss.
In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into kettlebells. We will examine what benefits they offer, if there are any drawbacks, and how you can best incorporate kettlebells into your boot camp.
Should I Use Kettlebells in my Boot Camp?
If the answer was “no”, then this would be a truly short article! Whether or not you decide to use kettlebells in your boot camp really depends on your specific situation. Do you have the space? What size is your camp? How well trained are your participants?
When everything matches up, kettlebells can massively transform your sessions. They can make your classes more exciting, more enjoyable, and your clients can get amazing results.
If they are not the right fit though, they can lead to injury, boring sessions, and large costs with little reward.
Don’t use kettlebells in your boot camp if …
- You Don’t Have the Space – Many kettlebell exercises involve swinging the heavy bells through the air. This is not conducive to a tiny room or small patch of grass. If you can’t swing a cat, then you can’t swing a kettlebell!
- Your Class Isn’t Ready – While kettlebells can be used by people at any stage in their training journey, they require some coaching. Bad form is a nightmare when it comes to kettlebell exercises. If your class is mostly made up of new members, then teaching kettlebells might be a bad idea!
- Your Class is too Large – A heaving boot camp is not ideal for kettlebells. Partly because of the mix of fitness abilities, but also because of the person to equipment ratio. If you have 50 members, then how many kettlebells are you going to need? One bell per five people? That’s 10 kettlebells.
- Your Class is too Small – If you are just starting out, and you don’t have the members yet, then investing in fitness equipment is a bad idea. Unless you happen to have a lot of start-up money! Build your reputation on creative workouts using bodyweight exercises then invest in equipment once you are making decent profit. [INSERT CALL TO ACTION/LINK HERE]
Do use kettlebells in your boot camp if
- You Have a Dedicated Long-Term Client Base – If you have a core group of members who have been with you for a long time, then introducing kettlebells can really improve your boot camp. Long-term clients will be fitter, better coordinated, and able to learn exercises better. Kettlebells will help them to build more muscle, burn more calories during a workout, and it will help them to perform more complicated bodyweight exercises in the future.
- You Are Looking to Expand Your Business – Adding in new equipment is a great way to earn more money. Offer a kettlebell introductory workshop where each member can learn all the relevant moves. Not only will this reduce injury risk, it will generate a lot of income, boost your credibility as a teacher, and diversify your coaching portfolio (more on this later).
- Your Clients Want to Build More Muscle – Bodyweight exercises are fantastic for building strength, particularly in untrained individuals. But as your members get stronger and fitter, the addition of resistance exercises (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells etc) can really help them to progress.
Best Kettlebell Exercises for Boot Camps
There are many kettlebell exercises that can work in a boot camp and listing all of them would quadruple the length of this article! So, we are only going to mention five of the best kettlebell exercises for boot camps.
Exercise #1 Farmer’s Carries
Farmer’s carries (also known as Farmer’s walks) are great exercises for core stability. Hold a kettlebell in one hand (you can also do one in each hand), stand upright, and then walk forward at a brisk pace. This exercise is great in boot camps as it can be performed as part of a relay. Perhaps an obstacle course or race between teams of 4-5 people?
Exercise #2 Kettlebell Swings
The kettlebell swing is the most well known kettlebell exercise, and it is an absolute classic. Burns calories, works the cardiovascular system, strengthens your core, and builds muscle in your arms, shoulders, and thighs.
Exercise #3 Kettlebell Cleans
Kettlebell cleans are a great exercise, that originate in Olympic lifting. They are easier to teach though and are much more accessible. Kettlebell cleans incorporate the kettlebell deadlift and a modified kettlebell swing. They are fantastic calorie burners, take up little space, and once mastered there are many variations. Including …
Exercise #4 Kettlebell Clean & Press
The upgraded version of a kettlebell clean, the kettlebell clean and press adds a standing shoulder press. Burning more calories, strengthening your shoulders, and engaging the core even more. The clean and press is another Olympic lift that can be taught with kettlebells and made more accessible to people.
Exercise #5 Kettlebell Goblet Squats
Kettlebell goblet squats are an amazing squat variation, perfect for beginners and experts alike. The goblet squat will really help iron out technique and is a great progression from bodyweight. All you need to do is hold a kettlebell in front of your chest and perform a regular squat. While goblet squats can also be performed with a dumbbell, the kettlebell’s handle makes it the perfect choice.
Exercise #5 Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift
The Kettlebell sumo deadlift is a killer compound exercise that targets the hamstrings, glutes, and back. This (one of my favourite) exericses develops musscle and strength necessary for more explosive and strength based movements in sports, training, and life.
How Kettlebells Can Supercharge Your Boot Camp Business Fast
Kettlebells are fantastic, but they do cost a lot. Do they make sense from a financial standpoint? Well, yes and no.
If you are starting out, then spending your small budget on a set of kettlebells is a bad idea. You would do well to invest that money elsewhere and focus on creating exciting and unique bodyweight workouts for your boot camp [INSERT CALL TO ACTION/LINK HERE].
But used correctly, kettlebells can really help you to increase your income. Most boot camps are fairly simply set up. The coach who runs them has a number of boot camp sessions each week. Maybe a morning, afternoon, and after-work timeslot.
Each session is performed in the same location, and uses bodyweight exercises and clever drills to create a fun, calorie-burning session.
What Are Kettlebell Classes Good For?
Imagine adding kettlebells to each session, it would probably be a bit of a nightmare at first. Having to teach everyone proper technique would take ages and the flow of the session would be ruined.
Of course, you could not bother, but that would lead to increased injury risk, which is obviously a terrible idea.
Ideally, you would want more time to teach people how to use kettlebells properly outside of the class. That way, when you introduce the exercises to your boot camp, your members can just pick them up straight away.
What you can do is offer a kettlebell workshop. Make it a special one-day event. Charge a decent price for the workshop and offer a special kettlebell class each week.
You could also go down the personal training route with individual kettlebell lessons for each member as a one-off. Remember, your boot camp is the most important aspect of your business. But an additional kettlebell class/workshop can add another revenue stream to your business.
You only need to teach 5-10 exercises, but once enough people have them, you can start using kettlebells in your normal boot camps (with alternative options for untrained or new members).
Teaching your boot camp members a new skill will really help to position you as the expert you are. It will increase your income each month, and allow you to further expand your income with sales of kettlebells (if you can be bothered to go down that route).
Picking the Right Kettlebells For Four Boot Camp
If you ARE going to incorporate kettlebells into your boot camp, then you are going to have to make a decision as to how many you purchase, and what type.
We recommend using the real cast iron kettlebells. Plastic kettlebells are terrible. A bad shape, easily broken, and they look cheap!
What weights you choose should reflect your boot camp members. What are their strength capabilities? Are they mostly male? Mostly female? What are their goals?
But you will want a range of weights. Avoid the exceptionally light kettlebells, they are basically useless. But the light-medium, medium, and medium-heavy weights are good choices.
There is little point in getting the heavy or very heavy kettlebells. Though they are great for some exercises (deadlifts), those exercises do not suit boot camps. Also, most boot camp members will not be strong enough to use them!
8kg to 12kg kettlebells will do well in a boot camp setting. Possibly a 16kg kettlebell if you boot camp is made up of men.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kettlebells
If you are going to start introducing kettlebells into your boot camps, you should anticipate some questions regarding them. Here are some frequently asked questions about kettlebells:
Can I Train with Kettlebells Every Day?
While it is possible to train with kettlebells every day, if you are using them properly you will need adequate time to recover. Train 3-4 days per week and rest the remaining or lower the intensity of the exercise.
Can Kettlebells Replace Dumbbells?
There are certain exercises where kettlebells can replace dumbbells. Goblet squats, Farmer’s Carries, front squats, Romanian deadlifts, and more. However, there are many dumbbell exercises that cannot be replaced by kettlebells, and vice versa. If an exercise specifically calls for a kettlebell or a dumbbell, then it is probably best to use the right tool.
Can Kettlebells Build Muscle?
Yes, kettlebells can build muscle, but they are not necessarily the best tools for doing so. As with bodyweight exercises, there will be a long period where kettlebells are fantastic for muscle building, but at a certain point progressive overload will require dumbbells, barbells, and resistance machines. For most people though, a kettlebell is a fantastic muscle building tool.
Will Kettlebell Swings Burn Fat?
Any exercise can be used to burn fat, from walking to deadlifts. Kettlebell swings are no different. In fact, kettlebell swings are one of the best fat-burning exercises around. They burn a lot of calories and can significantly raise your metabolism for long after your workout.
Do Kettlebells Work Your Abs?
There are several kettlebell exercises that directly work your abs. Kettlebell ab crunches, kettlebell Russian twists and several more. But almost every kettlebell exercise will indirectly work your abs. This is because strengthening your core muscles is all about maintaining balance. Kettlebells will challenge that balance, making your abs work overtime.
Will Kettlebell Swings Strengthen My Lower Back?
Performed correctly, a kettlebell swing can strengthen your lower back. What’s more, kettlebell swings can also strengthen the surrounding muscles that can contribute to lower back pain if underdeveloped (hamstrings, glutes, core muscles). Performed incorrectly, a kettlebell swing can cause a lot of damage to your lower back though, so
Final Thoughts on Kettlebells And Boot Camps
But as your boot camp becomes more successful, you will soon have more money to invest in improving it. Adding equipment is a great way to do so. Kettlebells are an excellent investment. They have many uses, are fun to use, and if you spend your money wisely they will last a lifetime.
You do not need a kettlebell to deliver a good boot camp. Filling your classes with imaginative exercises and drills should be enough to build yourself an amazing business. But if you want to add them, then rest assured that it is a smart investment and can lead to amazing results. Both for your clients, and for your business.
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