National championships are this week, and the Nanaimo Kettlebell Club will be there with bells on.
The team will have three athletes in Victoria on Saturday (May 28) for the Canadian Kettlebell Sport Nationals.
The club has existed for a year and a half, since teen Kendra Falkenberg visited the gym and showed an aptitude for kettlebells.
She wasn’t good at other sports, she said, and didn’t like other sports, and then she tried kettlebells. Within a year, she was representing Canada at worlds in Dublin along with teammates Solomon Macys and Rachel Robertson.
“I really started to enjoy it and then I started competing and I really loved it,” Falkenberg said. “I’ve been doing it for a year and a half and I think I want to be doing it for a long time.”
Kettlebells are commonly found fitness equipment, but the sport isn’t well-known in Canada. It’s both a strength sport and an endurance sport, as competitors perform 10-minute sets, trying to perform as many repetitions as they can in that time frame.
“As opposed to Olympic weightlifting where they’ll lift a maximal weight one time to try to complete one rep, we have a sub-maximal weight that we’re lifting multiple times in a 10-minute set,” said Macys, the club’s coach. “It becomes a lot about conditioning, but also a lot of mental focus and determination, because things like your grip giving away are things you have to deal with in that seventh, eighth, ninth minute of the set.”
Every competition kettlebell is the same size, weighing from 8-32 kilograms (18-70 pounds). There are three events: the snatch; the long-cycle clean and jerk; and the biathlon, which combines the snatch and the jerk. Three to five competitors are lined up on a platform at the same time in front of judges who ensure the athletes perform complete reps.
Macys was attracted to the sport because it was a bit of an enigma, at first, that he was determined to figure out.
“When you see kettlebell sport done really well, it looks fluid, it looks graceful, it looks beautiful,” he said. “But when you start, it’s a little bit of a different story. You’re banging your wrist and it’s all clumsy and awkward.”
While the sport’s best might be able to reach 200-240 reps in 10 minutes, beginners can set their own achievable targets.
“You can always build to that goal of building your endurance, building your technique…” Macys said. “Let’s say you hit 150 reps, and you’re like, ‘OK, I think I want to try the next bell.’ You can go ahead and try the next bell and start working on that.”
The club trains out of Macys’s home gym, Ballistic Strength Nanaimo. To learn more, please visit www.kbclubnanaimo.com.