New York City’s best kettlebell classes

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Dasha Libin

Your personal trainer may have had you swing kettlebells. But lots of things—like safety concerns to fears of scratched studio floors—have kept the weights out of group fitness classes, says David Ganulin, founder of Kettlebell Concepts, and the country's de facto kettlebell authority.

Not anymore. Gyms and boutique studios across New York City are realizing the benefits of these Russian-born bad boys and finding creative, safe ways to incorporate them into fun, blood-pumping classes.

"The kettlebell is a very effective tool to get someone sweating in a very short period of time, and it works both the anaerobic and aerobic system," says Ganulin. The key is an instructor who can demonstrate proper form, ensure safe spacing, and get creative with a hunk of cast-iron. We set out to find them. Here are the city's seven best kettlebell classes.... —Lisa Elaine Held

Photo: Dasha Libin Anderson of Kettlebell Kickboxing


Eric SalvadorKettlebells at New York Sports Club

Popular trainer Eric Salvador (who was certified by Ganulin's Kettlebell Concepts) leads a group of seriously bad-ass women through an incredibly tough sequence of lunges, squats, dead lifts, and more.

I marveled as they clean-and-jerked bells that weighed upwards of 22 pounds and then put them down for fast-paced burpee intervals.

Salvador's charisma and killer playlist keep the class fun, and he's also a stickler about form and offers helpful corrections throughout.

And since this class is part of New York Sports Club's Small Group Training program, both members and non-members can sign up. www.mysportsclubs.com

The studio at Remorca FitnessTRX & Kettlebells at The Studio at Remorca Fitness

Nedra Lopez, co-owner of The Studio at Remorca Fitness, is becoming known as top instructor in the city. She has a knack for designing total-body classes—like this kettlebell-TRX fusion class—and for seamless cueing. You get your heart rate up and work your lower body during swings, lunges, and dead lifts with the bell, and then use the TRX to sculpt arm and back muscles.

The class has a low-key vibe, especially since you'll typically be one of 3-5 participants (most of which are Upper East Side moms), and Lopez offers constant hands-on adjustments to correct form and technique. She also carefully sequences the class to stretch hamstrings and hips before picking up the 'bells—to make sure you have enough flexibility and range of motion to avoid injury.

Bonus: You strap on a high-tech heart monitor during all classes at The Studio, so, at the end, you'll get to see how many calories you burned, and how hard you were working. www.remorcafitness.com

kettleX stepKettleX Step at The Fitness Cell Collective

Competitive kettlebell champ Lorna Kleidman created KettleX Step, which is like an '80s step aerobics class on steroids. It's creatively choreographed to music, so you're stepping up and down on a riser and adding moves like lunges and twists to the beat, all with a 15-to-25-pound kettlebell.

Then, when you think it's over, Kleidman takes you onto the ground for killer planks with kettlebell lifts and rows. You finish it all off with plyometrics, jumping on and off the riser, still clutching your bell.

The class is a seriously tough, all-over workout: You'll feel your abs working during every single move. Kleidman's other class, the signature KettleX, is slightly more athletic, with less "stepping." www.fitnesscellcollective.com

Steve Feinberg Kettlebell Workout at Equinox Park AvenueKettlebell Workout at Equinox Park Avenue

This just may be the city's most serious kettlebell class. Steve Feinberg, the founder of Speedball Fitness and another Ganulin kettlebell protege, is the creator and instructor. And in his class, you'll never once put the bell down (except to take a sip of water).

Feinberg spends a good chunk of time in the beginning demonstrating correct form and technique, and then gets everyone going with with squats and swings. The moves are traditional, and difficult, so expect lots of cleans, jerks, snatches, and rows (and some top-of-the-wrist bruises if you're a beginner).

To distract you from the pain, Feinberg has a loud, high-energy playlist to which he often sings his cues, i.e. "Now swing it over to the other si-i-ide." www.equinox.com or www.speedballfitness.com

kettlebell kickboxingKettlebell Kickboxing

The city's most well-known kettlebell class is routinely packed wall-to-wall with fit Lululemon-clad 20-somethings (and lots of magazine editors).

They're here for founder Dasha Libin Anderson, whose method alternates traditional kettlebell swings and lifts with martial arts-based moves like high kicks. This gives the class a heavier cardio emphasis than many of the others.

Rap and dance beats are bumping throughout class, and Libin Anderson, who's a champion martial artists, intersperses her cues with funny stories of clubbing and skinny dipping. It's like girls night out—with more sweat, and kettlebells. www.kettlebellkickboxing.com

Kettlebell/TRX Fusion at Exceed Fitness

Upper East Side fitness playground Exceed Fitness uses kettlebells in most of its group classes, and this fusion class with happy-go-lucky Livingston Miller is no exception.

The name, however, doesn't begin to describe everything you'll encounter. Kettlebell squats and swings are scattered among upper-body work with the TRX, Bosu burpees, jumping rope, high knees with a medicine ball, push-ups, mountain climbers, and more.

It's impossible to get bored or burned out with this much variety, a playlist of remixed Rihanna and Gotye, and Miller's encouragement and easy laugh. www.exceed-fitness.com


Refine Method kettlebells

The Refine Method

Plenty of boutique-fitness-loving women have been turned on to the benefits of kettlebells at Refine Method. While not exclusively a kettlebell class, Refine's founder Brynn Jinnett features them prominently in her popular interval-based workout. The former professional ballet dancer and sports-science geek swears by the 'bells as a better, more efficient way to tone and train.

So, depending on the class and the circuit sequences, you might clutch one big kettlebell to your chest, drop into a side lunge, then pop back up to standing with the kettlebell. Other timed circuits include standard lunges with one kettlebell in each hand, push-ups on the kettlebells, and kettlebell squats.

And all of these are folded into the workout, which features weighted pulleys for strength training, cardio drills like high-knees sprints, glides for ab work, and pop music to keep you from collapsing.  www.refinemethod.com


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4 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. November 26th, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Thanks for the great article, ladies! Just one small point about the science: The KB does work both energy systems, but the bell needs to be the right weight. In a study by Dr. Benjamin J. Fung PT, DPT published in the ACSM June 2010 supplement to Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise found that when the kettlebells were less than or equal to 13% of the lifter’s body weight that the workout was strictly aerobic. This sheds some light on what would be considered a “heavy” weight.

    I just had to also add that this list would not be complete without mentioning Vincent Metzo, the Director of Education of KBC. His sessions are where I recommend all our instructors to go to see what a proper KB small group class should be. (www.kettlebellbootcampnyc.com) Vince is also the Dean of the Advanced PT training at the Swedish Institute. Also, we’ve been working with Crunch for many years and, although they may not have it on their group ex schedule, there are a good number of semi-private small group sessions happening club wide! (Have customers ask the PT Manager for more info about small group kb classes!) Thanks again!

  2. November 28th, 2012 at 4:20 am

    While many studios do cherish their wooden floors there are 2 routes if you want to get around possible scratches.

    1. The small stretch mats can be used longways and this helps set up the right stance width for the 2 hand swing exercise.

    2. The standard 1 metre squared jigsaw mats used for martial arts can be purchased cheaply and cut into 4 sections – just make sure each person attending your class has a kettlebell and a small mat cut-off.


  3. November 28th, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Thank you so much for the article and getting the word out about these amazing tools. I’ve been using them for a few years now, and love them. I will say that I’m curious as to why you focused only on the classes with Kettlebell Concept certified instructors. Personally, I find that other certifications are more comprehensive and I feel more comfortable working with an RKC coach than anyone else. Ari Harris is an RKC level 2 instructor, and teaches at NYSC Forest Hills. His classes range from beginner to advanced, and are by far (after over 3yrs of looking) the BEST classes as far as combination of motivation, “bad a**-ness” and proper technique. If you can, you should check him out.

  4. January 23rd, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    i think that is among the so much significant information for me and it help me to reduce chest fat. and i’m happy studying your article. however wanna observation on some normal issues, the website style is wonderful, the articles is actually great : d. good task, cheers

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