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We Take A Look At The First Work-Along-With-Your-Coach Kettlebells DVD

I am the type of person, one of very few, who will actually sit down with the entire user manual before turning on my brand new, shiny gizmo that I’ve been dying to use.

The Art of Strength: Providence

The Art of Strength: Providence

The reason is that I am paranoid that I might do something to damage it or shorten its battery life or something like that. I have found, at times, that this approach is rewarding. But other times, all it does is heighten the anticipation and it simply becomes frustrating to the point that I finally say, “the heck with it!” and put the manual down and just get down to business. For the most part, most of us aren’t like that. When we get something new, we just rip open the box and start enjoying our new present to ourself.

But when it comes to exercise, sometimes, just winging it can seem or even be a little dangerous, depending on your experience with whatever it is you’re going to be trying to use. Those who just pick up a kettlebell and start curling it obviously haven’t read the manual. And a person who puts his back into a two handed swing, because he some some guy on the beach doing it one time, is just asking for trouble.

That’s where our featured product, the DVD entitled: “The Art of Strength: Providence” comes into the picture.

For those who would rather get right into it, without risking unnecessary injury from inexperience, can do so with this wonderful tool. No big thick book to read. No guessing on how to use the kettlebell. And thankfully, this is one instructor we can put on “pause” to catch our breath!

For People Of All Fitness Levels

As is implied by the article so far, this DVD by Anthony Diluglio is perfect for the beginning kettlebell user. But don’t any of you advanced gireviks brush this off as a newbies-only DVD. Near the top of the DVD cover is the phrase “for people of ALL fitness levels”… and I would definitely have to agree.

When I first began to watch the DVD (I previewed it before actually working out, so that I would know what to expect… I don’t like surprises), I immediately thought, “OK, this is gonna be simple.” Sure enough, though, the DVD put me in my place. (You’ll be glad you kept that 1 pood.)

Anthony starts off with a warmup session of light stretches. Enjoy this time… it gets challenging quick.

While the beginner will find the first few minutes of this workout to just about the right pace, don’t let the first set of swings fool you… even the advanced girevik will find this workout challenging if he has chosen a heavy enough kettlebell for the job. But trust me… you don’t want to start too heavy. Swallow your pride and pick up whatever kettlebell you use for a light to moderate day. (Beginners, definitely start light… Anthony gives some advice on which kettlebell you should use in the “Intro” section.) But, if you get through the entire workout on the first try, then you definitely used too light a bell. So, adjust accordingly.

…simply follow Anthony’s lead. No worrying about what exercises you should combine with what. No trying to figure out what the best rep scheme is. You don’t even need a timer going to keep you honest on how long a break you should take. It’s all built right into the DVD for you…

For those who are kettlebell experts, you may wonder why you would bother with a workout DVD like this one. Simple. I think that this DVD will be a great touchstone to guage your level of fitness. If you feel that you are ready to move up to the next size kettlebell (and I don’t mean for a military press PR… I mean using the next size kettlebell as your primary kettlebell), going through this workout from start to finish is a great way to help you figure out if you’re ready for it yet. If you can do this entire DVD workout with a certain kettlebell, then you’ve definitely mastered that size and, in my opinion, you’re ready to move up. Because, even though this is full of basic exercises and combinations, working along with an instructor (in this case, Anthony) forces you to keep to a structured routine.

Those new to the Russian kettlebell will find this DVD to be a great place to start from. While Pavel’s RKC book (“The Russian Kettlebell Challenge”) is definitely required reading and the DVD by the same name is just as critical to your success in kettlebells, I believe that “The Art of Strength: Providence” is an awesome way to simply “jump right into it”. If you have a brand new 16kg kettlebell sitting in front of you, chances are, you’re not going to feel like sitting down for a few hours to read Pavel’s (or anyone else’s for that matter) book… You’re going to want to just START! This DVD is great for that. You get some quick, but quality, instruction for each exercise before starting on it. Then you simply follow Anthony’s lead. No worrying about what exercises you should combine with what. No trying to figure out what the best rep scheme is. You don’t even need a timer going to keep you honest on how long a break you should take. It’s all built right into the DVD for you.

To me, learning kettlebells for the first time is similar to learning a new diet… even though you might choose to read all the details later about the logic behind a diet, right now, you just want to know “OK, what do I eat? What do I avoid?” Right? You just want the quick version so you can get started. You’ll get the education later. That’s basically what “The Art of Strength: Providence” does for you… if you simply do what Anthony tells you, you will get a quality first workout that will easily kick your butt.

Ok, now that we know that this is a good buy for just about anyone who is into kettlebells, let’s roll our sleeves up and start picking the DVD apart.

A Closer Look

The first thing I’d have to say about this DVD is that it provides an excellent overview of the major basic exercises. If you had ONLY this DVD, you would learn enough in general to build a very solid foundation of strength. Anthony’s instruction is minimalistic and to the point. He tells you what you need to know without making you feel like a total idiot. If you’re new to kettlebells, you’ll notice that you don’t feel inundated with details… you get what you need, and that’s it. Nice, huh?

Anthony Diluglio, RKC

Anthony Diluglio, RKC

But don’t think you’ll get bored. As the workout progresses, the single exercises become combinations and then it starts to get interesting.

As you can see in the chart below, Anthony covers quite a versatile list of exercises, sure to keep your central nervous system from getting board. It is a nice balanced blend of grinds and ballistics. While it is good to sometimes focus strictly on grinds and other times strictly on ballistics, a blended workout like this one definitely has its place. Personally, I believe that the average person just starting out with kettlebells will find this blended workout more exciting and thus will likely be more motivated to work out regularly with kettlebells.

The DVD consists of a brief warmup session followed by 15 sets. Each set lasts two minutes (which, on some of the exercises, can seem like a very long time!) and is separated by one minute of rest (which can seem very short!).

To help you know exactly where you are in the two minute set, on the left side of the television screen is a red vertical time bar. As the time elapses, the red fill works its way down toward the zero mark. When you first start working out with “The Art Of Strength: Providence”, you may find yourself watching half of the timer run out from the sidelines while you try to catch your breath. But by workouts 2, 3, and 4, hopefully you’ll be working right along with Anthony rep by rep. Until then, since the time bar is sectioned off into 3 or 4 parts (depending on the set), use it to tell you when you should stop, depending on your skill level. For example, a beginner may choose to only work out until the bar has elapsed half way and then make it his or her immediate goal to last 2/3 or 3/4 of the bar next time.

Just about every work-along type of DVD comes with a soundtrack. “The Art of Strength: Providence” comes with two, as well as the option to not have a soundtrack, for those of you needing no auditory stimulation to help you stay motivated. The default track is instrumental. The other track that you can choose, other than the boring “no music” choice, is the same track with vocals. It has more of a hip-hop / R&B flavor, courtesy of Rod Strong, one of New England’s most sought after club DJs. While, in my opinion, the instrumental default is a little on the boring side (but I guess you need something mild, since this DVD has to please all sorts of people and tastes), the vocal edition is much more enjoyable. It has just enough of the attitude to keep you pumped and into your workout. Good stuff… Rod does a good job.

The Exercises

Intro: Joint mobility warm up

Round 1: 2-handed swing, one arm swing, hand-to-hand swing

Round 2: Cleans

Round 3: Chest presses

Round 4: Squats/sumo deadlifts

Round 5: One leg deadlift

Round 6: Windmills into an overhead squat

Round 7: clean and press

Round 8: Flip and squat

Round 9: Tactical lunges

Round 10: Triple crush

Round 11: Sling shot into a figure 8 with a static hold

Round 12: Seated press

Round 13: One arm row

Round 14: Pullovers, Russian twists, Sicilian crunch

Round 15: 3 minute snatch test

The entire workout takes place in a scenic riverside section in what I assume is downtown Providence, Rhode Island, in the early morning. The occassional person walking by or passing car provides just enough distraction to keep you from getting bored visually.

This DVD shows the workout through the lens of two cameras. Again, the cuts between the two cameras give you just enough variety so that you don’t get too bored. The cuts between the two cameras is not just for aesthetics though. Watching Anthony work out from different angles gives the viewer a better of idea of the proper and safe technique for each of the exercises. The quality of the lighting and the post-production work is tastefully and professionally done, contrary to the normal standard of many homemade workout or instructional videos. The sound is on par. The video is a tad on the fuzzy side… but it’s really not bad at all. Honestly, this is probably the most professional quality fitness video I’ve yet to see.

Between each set is a one-minute break. An animated graphic appears on the screen and you are notified of the next exercise. Once in a while a tip will pop up. However, I do wish that this break period put up various tips throughout the entire DVD. Just a little factoid every few seconds during the break would have been, in my opinion, a good use of dead time. In fact, it would’ve been even cooler if there was an option on the DVD where factoids would pop up constantly throughout the workout. Not a necessity for sure, but it’d be on my wishlist. No big deal though… the video is great the way it is.

If you can last through the entire workout, stick around for the credits… there’s a handful of bloopers that occured during filming of the DVD.

I have two suggestions that I feel could’ve made this DVD just a little better (other than my pop-up factoid suggestion). The first has to do with the menu layout. The “Practice” section is placed after the “Workout” section. Seems to me that it would have better to place it before the “Workout” section. It would be fine and logical to have “Workout” be the default choice, of course… but moving the “Practice” section up would help the beginner to see that it would be best to familiarize himself with the moves, at least briefly, before starting the workout. Since the “Workout” choice would be the default, there’d be no harm anyway… I just think logically, “Practice” should come first. Another thing is that the “Practice” section is basically just the DVD chapters. I personally would have liked to see a separate menu item called “Chapters” (which is pretty standard) and then, for the “Practice” section, have a little supplemental instruction for the various exercises done in the workout. Of course, everything that I just said in this paragraph is just my own personal opinion… the DVD is fantastic with or without these changes.

In summary, I’d like to leave you with this… If you don’t have “The Art of Strength: Providence”, you should get it. Every beginner should most definitely have this in their video library. It’ll give the newbie a headstart in figuring out some good quality routines (or just enjoy following this one) as well as help them overcome any initial anxiety and intimidation by their brand new kettlebell. For the intermediate kettlebell user, this DVD will keep you from getting bored and well help you guage your success. For the expert girevik, you may find this helpful to have when you reach a plateau. Since you already have your set routine, following this workout will force you to change up your workout once in a while.

You won’t be sorry for buying this high-quality product. Anthony Deluglio is a very experienced and knowlegeable kettlebell instructor and, for the price of a fraction of an hour of personal instruction, you can have him leading you in a good, hard workout anytime you want.

I rate this a strong 4.5 out of 5 poods. Get “The Art of Strength: Providence” today! I wish I had gotten it sooner.