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Firefighters, Insure Your Career And Life With Kettlebells

Well, I’m here to attest to you, fellow brothers and sisters of the fire service, that the answer to these problems facing you is a lot simpler than you think. It’s nothing new. In fact, its “old school”. It’s nothing fancy, and to say it comes with no fluff would be an understatement. If you are not familiar or heard of Russian kettlebells and Pavel Tsatouline, the time is now.

If you, like just about every other department out there, are strapped for available space, cash, and time, your answer is here. The Russian kettlebell is the perfect solution.

If you have room in your firehouse to lay down a standard piece of plywood (4’x8’), then you have a decent size space to work out in. The space has to be clear of clutter and have overhead clearance, but you don’t need hundreds of square feet.

As for price, the money you will spend on, say, three kettlebells of various sizes, will be a mere fraction of what any of the new “infomercial” driven exercise gadgets that are out there that make promises as empty as your pockets.

Kettlebells Are Invaluable For Getting Firefighters Into Shape

Kettlebells Are Invaluable For Getting Firefighters Into Shape

The kettlebell is known as the “complete gym in your hand”. Pretty much every exercise you perform with a kettlebell uses total body strength to complete, thus cutting down on the long drawn-out body-part isolation, typical gym workout. The kettlebell is anything but typical. Kettlebells stress muscle integration, not muscle isolation, so your body gets stronger as a unit, instead of separate “mirror muscles”. The idea is to get all your horses pulling as a team. Make no mistake. This is tough stuff… but hey, it’s a tough job.

If cardio fitness is a concern, don’t worry. There are ballistic movements, such as the swing and the snatch, that will not only make you stronger from head to toe, but will jack your cardio through the roof. Hit these exercises for a while and see for yourself how much more time you will get out of an SCBA bottle. (For the layman, that is the bottle of air that firefighters breath out of in a fire. SCBA stands for self-contained breathing apparatus.)

Looking to make your back more injury-resistant? Again, it’s the kettlebell to the rescue. Through proper technique and movements, which are explained in detail in Pavel Tsatsouline’s books and videos, you will strengthen your back with every rep of every exercise. If you are looking to gain flexibility along with your strength, there is the windmill, an exercise that your back is yearning for. Get on board with this, don’t become a back injury “statistic”.

The kettlebell is anything but typical. Kettlebells stress muscle integration, not muscle isolation, so your body gets stronger as a unit, instead of separate “mirror muscles”. The idea is to get all your horses pulling as a team. Make no mistake. This is tough stuff… but hey, it’s a tough job.

We cannot forget the shoulders in all of this. Kettlebells will give your shoulders the strength and endurance necessary to pull those ceilings and walls. Virtually every overhead exercise done with kettlebells will give your shoulders the strength needed to get thru the toughest of fires.

A lot of guys complain that they experience an “all over” body hurt after fires. Well, if an all over body exercise is what you’re looking for, I have 3 words for you… Turkish get up. That’s all I am going to say. This exercise makes everything else a party. Everyone I’ve ever taught these to hates them at first, but loves them when they see the return in strength that they are gaining. Check out Pavel’s “Enter The Kettlebell” book or DVD for more on the Turkish get up.

Author & Firefighter Anthony Grokaitis Presses A Kettlebell

Author & Firefighter Anthony Grokaitis Presses A Kettlebell

I almost forgot to mention the added bonus of incredible hand strength that is a by-product of kettlebell training. Every firefighter knows how cumbersome the handling of tools becomes, once your firefighting gloves get wet. I found that doing some kettlebell drills with firefighting gloves on is a killer way to improve your grip on tools.

Here is another plus… kettlebells are virtually “firefighter proof”. In other words indestructible. Everyone knows that firefighters are famous for either “breaking it” or” losing it”.

As a recent graduate of the level 2 RKC training held in June 2006, it becomes apparent to me everyday that the fire service, in all its glory and old school tradition, should embrace the Russian kettlebell and the teachings of Pavel, as they both ooze “old school” in their simplicity and effectiveness.

My department puts on a firefighter safety and survival seminar every year, and a lot of the training has to do with rescue, whether it’s a victim or a downed firefighter. I always thought to myself, if you are not capable of saving yourself, how are you going to save someone else? Get yourself strong and agile enough so that you are part of the solution, not the problem. Don’t wait until you find yourself in a situation like that and then try to call on “life saving” strength. Pick up a kettlebell, Pavels “Enter The Kettlebell” DVD or book, start training, and be ready for any situation that might arise.

Make kettlebells part of your “rescue training”… don’t become a statistic.


Kettlebell.com staff writer Anthony Grokaitis is a fire lieutenant with the 500 member Worchester, MA fire department.

A certified level 2 RKC kettlebell instructor, Anthony regularly trains first responders, so that they can be in better physical shape to serve their community.