U of W boot camp works whole body with just one weight

Indoor workout offers alternative exercise during Winnipeg’s cold months

You can get a full-body workout with just one kettlebell, says Stefanie Esposito, who teaches a kettlebell boot camp at the U of W six times a week. Dylan Hewlett

One-armed swings, goblet squats and the over-head press are just some of the exercises that combine cardiovascular movement, strength building and flexibility using just one kettlebell.

“One kettlebell serves a full-body workout,” says Stefanie Esposito, who teaches a kettlebell boot camp at the University of Winnipeg’s Duckworth Centre six times a week.

Kettlebells have been used in Russia since the 1700s, and in some European and American weightlifting associations since the 1960s.

One of the primary exercises using a kettlebell is the swing.

“Swings work your entire body. The point is to really not use your arm, even though you’re holding it,” Esposito says. “You want to swing from your lower body. There’s a lot of core stabilization, and you work your glutes and hamstrings with squats.”

Esposito is certified as a kettlebell instructor by Agatsu Inc., the company that brought kettlebell to Canada.

She was tested on her knowledge and ability to train, as well as her physical ability.

“You have to show that you can do the moves properly to be certified,” she says.

Esposito’s boot camp usually runs through a circuit of exercises with partners. One person will do squats, swings, pushups or another exercise for two minutes while their partner rests, and then they switch.

“We usually do about eight rounds in a circuit,” she says.

For beginners, Esposito usually starts women with a kettlebell weighing 20-25 pounds and men with one weighing 30-35 pounds.

She says she doesn’t usually let people do drop-in classes unless it’s the first or second day of boot camp as it can be distracting to the rest of the group.

“I’d have to show the person how to do each exercise, and it would really slow things down - they’d be really far behind everyone else,” she says.

Esposito says that the boot camp doubles as a way to socialize for some of the boot camp clients - but thinks the name might scare away some people.

“The word ‘boot camp’ can be scary, because people think it’s going to be really hard or intense - and we do work hard, but really we have a lot of fun,” she says.

But Esposito says you don’t necessarily need a gym to do a kettlebell workout. 

“I’ve worked with people in their TV rooms where there’s just enough room to lie down,” she says.

The next kettlebell boot camp will begin the second week of January 2013 at 6:30 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a five-week session. The boot camps are open to students as well as the public. Visit www.wesmen.ca for details.

Published in Volume 67, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 21, 2012)

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