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Core Strength With Kettlebells

Your program director invested in a set of kettlebells for the group fitness studio, and you’ve attended the introductory workshop on proper form and basic teaching skills. However, you don’t feel confident enough to lead participants through a selection of drills. There’s no need to let the kettlebells rust in the corner of the studio! Use the core section of your next class to teach students three simple and effective moves.

Kettlebell training is safe and efficient if done properly. With its handle positioning and offset center of gravity, the versatile kettlebell provides a unique workout experience. While each of the following exercises targets the core, participants will enjoy additional benefits, such as improvements in flexibility, balance, mobility and stability. Instead of isolating the core, these are multijoint moves offering a functional approach.

Ideally, use this core mini-workout with a smaller class (six people or fewer) so that you’re available for one-on-one coaching. Be patient with students as they acclimate to the kettlebells. You can still sign up for a more advanced education course, but while you’re waiting, go ahead and safely use the new equipment to add variety to your next class.


This move is great as a warm-up or as active recovery between higher-intensity exercises. Slingshot-to -hold requires core stabilization while rotating the kettlebell around the body. A change in direction adds to the challenge. This move also requires hand-to-hand coordination, so make sure participants have enough space and are prepared to react swiftly if the kettlebell drops. Quick feet are happy feet.

  • Stand with arms loose and core tight.
  • Keep back straight and move kettlebell around body, passing handle from one hand to the other.
  • Switch directions after 10 rotations.
  • To add “hold” portion, lift kettlebell as it crosses front of body, receiving it in palm of free hand at opposite shoulder; alternate directions. Use power from legs for extra push if needed.

Once you’re comfortable passing hand to hand, progress with care to figure eight.

Figure Eight (not pictured)

  • Begin in hold position with handle in right (R) hand and round bottom of kettlebell in left (L) palm in front of L shoulder. Maintain flat back, and hinge at hips.
  • Bend knees slightly and begin passing kettlebell through legs, maintaining core integrity.
  • Switch hands at bottom and bring kettlebell around outside of knee, to opposite hold position. Extend knees and hips in unison.
  • Continue figure-eight pattern, switching hands at bottom of movement, not at top.
  • Repeat 10x–20x.

Kneeling Windmill

This exercise builds rotational core strength, balance, shoulder stability and hip mobility. First teach it without a kettlebell to ensure participants can perform the proper technique. When they have demonstrated sound technique through full range of motion, have them choose a kettlebell they can maintain in the overhead position.

  • Begin in half kneeling position, with L knee on ground under hip and R knee forward, bent at 90 degrees. Externally rotate L leg so that legs make right angle, creating solid base.
  • Carefully lift kettlebell into rack position with R hand so that thumb is touching clavicle and forearm is zipped tight against your ribs.
  • Press kettlebell overhead, locking it into place; this is your start position.
  • Keep kettlebell pressed toward ceiling, rotate hips so that L hand touches ground across from L knee.
  • Maintain straight line with arms, perpendicular to ground.
  • Contract core and drive kettlebell up, returning to upright hold position between each rep.
  • Repeat 10x on each side.

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