National Kettlebell Day on January 12 celebrates the humble cast iron (or cast steel) ball known as the kettlebell. Resembling a cannonball with a handle, the kettlebell can be used for a variety of activities, including for sports, strength exercises, and other fitness uses. The organizers behind this day, whom we’ll introduce shortly, want this celebration to spotlight the kettlebell as a fitness tool. In their words, they want more and more people to embrace this tool, and not be afraid of using it.
History of National Kettlebell Day
While popular theory puts the origin of the kettlebell in Russia — because the word originated there, and they had the most visible use of this tool — the reality might not be as simple. Historians think the simple design of this instrument — it’s basically a weight with a top handle — means it could originally stem from any society that has used a strength tool, from the Highland Game athletes in Scotland to the Shaolin monks in China. The fifth-century Greek tool called the “haltere,” while radically different in shape and composition, produced swinging movements quite alike to today’s kettlebells.
This metal weight was initially observed to be used in Russia in the 18th century, although some documents also indicate its presence in places like Germany. Farmers using these instruments as counterweights while measuring goods discovered the swing-and-press motion of the kettlebell was perfect for feats of strength. Thus began the initial kettlebell competition in Russia. Its popularity spread to the kettlebell being recognized as a fitness tool, and by the 19th century, circus strongmen frequently demonstrated their power with the kettlebell.
Some of these circus folk even came to America with their kettlebells, establishing their gyms here, and introducing the American public to this cool new fitness fad. By the 1950s, this new trend had almost vanished from all fitness centers and gyms, however, and would only come back years later. Back in the Soviet Union, the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s established many kettlebell sports schools, and people took to it. Part of its charm was that it didn’t require any additional equipment and so was relatively inexpensive, and it didn’t need a large space to practice in. By 1981, the Soviet Union was mandating all workers practice with the kettlebell to create a fitter, healthier population with their ‘Official Kettlebell Commission’. It was only four years later that kettlebell was officially recognized as a formal sport all over the Soviet Union.
Then, in 2001, a Belarus native, Pavel Tsatsouline, started his certification course, the Russian Kettlebell Challenge in the U.S. According to popular opinion, Tsatsouline’s marketing campaigns for his course firmly established a kettlebell presence in the Americans’ minds and have only gained in popularity since. This increasing popularity encouraged Amy Moreland of Kettlebell A.M.P.D to create a special day — a day to show others that kettlebells can indeed be used in multiple ways, by people from all walks of life and at all fitness levels.
National Kettlebell Day timeline
The word 'girya,' which is the Russian term for the kettlebell and means a traditional Russian weight made of cast iron, appears in a dictionary around this time.
Russia declares kettlebell lifting as their national sport.
The American Kettlebell Alliance (A.K.A.) is established in January with one main goal — to popularize kettlebell lifting and education for people of all ages and skill levels.
The co-creator of Kettlebell A.M.P.D., Amy Moreland, establishes National Kettlebell Day, and the date is specially selected to fall on Ms. Moreland's birthday — January 12.
National Kettlebell Day FAQs
What is a kettlebell good for?
Kettlebells are good for a variety of physical activities like kettlebell lifting, exercises like lunges and lifts, and more.
Is a kettlebell better than a dumbbell?
Dumbbells are a good choice for weight training unless you have access to a personal trainer with kettlebell experience. Both tools have their own strengths, although kettlebells are better for increasing grip strength.
Can I build muscle with kettlebells?
Building muscle tone mostly depends on the weight training regimen you adopt. These tools, like many others, can be wielded for any weight loss and fitness training you choose.
National Kettlebell Day Activities
Watch a kettlebell video
Check out local fitness classes for kettlebell trainers. Watch a few kettlebell workout videos online too and if you’re ready, give it a go!
Use kettlebells to work out
You can try out the kettlebell at the gym or local fitness center, with appropriate supervision by a trained professional. Over time, you can even use the kettlebell for various quick, at-home workouts. They start at five pounds, so you can do a light exercise with a kettlebell too.
Introduce everyone to the kettlebell
Why simply tell someone how beneficial the kettlebell is when you can show them? Help them enter a wondrous and healthy world with the kettlebell by showing them how you've improved, and introducing them to your trainers and kettlebell classes.
5 Awesome Facts About Kettlebells
There are some instruments like the monkey-faced Onnit kettlebells or the mainstream kettlebells that are not accepted as kettlebells, according to purists.
Kettlebells in early gymnastics
German physical educator Friedrich Ludwig Jahn's Turners System of Gymnastics, has photographs of his disciples demonstrating techniques using kettlebells in the early 1800s.
Kettlebells got serious street cred
In 2002, “Rolling Stone” named the kettlebell the ‘Hot Weight of the Year.’
Scotland claims to have invented the kettlebell
They cast rocks in iron for a popular sport from the Middle Ages, thus creating a version of the kettlebell that may or may not be the original tool.
They had hollow centers
Not only were they hollow on the inside, but kettlebells were initially called kettleballs.
Why We Love National Kettlebell Day
Kettlebells are an awesome tool
Kettlebells are a great workout tool, burning more calories than your average exercise. Get this — an elliptical machine burns only 50 to 125 calories during the same time a kettlebell exercise would burn 300 calories.
They're also pretty versatile
Want to play a sport? How about some calisthenics? Or maybe strength training? Kettlebells allow us to do multiple kinds of exercises and sports with just one piece of equipment. They are very special in their versatility.
A day for sport
This day encourages people to get moving and stay healthy while using a kettlebell. We're feeling energetic already!
National Kettlebell Day dates