10,000 Kettlebells for Parkinson's Challenge Ends in...

Strange title, but you may recall that I am a swimmer. Until about a year and a half ago, I was more or less self-taught. Last fall, my daughter and I joined a Cross-Swim class, so we got to mix some high-intensity activities with swimming. The swimming was the “cool-down” between other exercise sets. Sometimes, our swim was a swim-stroke – front-crawl, breast-stroke or back-stroke. And sometimes, it was just kicking. I say “just” kicking because we had the flutter board to hold, so our only propulsion was kicking.

Here’s what I learned. I could barely move forward! Totally embarrassing because my daughter was like a torpedo. I had started getting ready for the kettlebell swings in December, so by the time February rolled around, I was swinging quite a few kettlebells around. And here’s what I figured was going on: the kettlebell swings were so intense and I was doing so many (tissues out here – boo hoo for me) that my poor legs could not possibly have enough energy left for swimming kick. I thought this was pretty reasonable, even though the Cross-Swim instructor smirked. Well, okay – she laughed out loud. Seriously – I couldn’t go all the way down the pool (25m) without my legs feeling totally exhausted.

Fast-forward to this year. Cross-Swim changed to Stroke Improvement in the Fall, so I’ve been learning to swim (properly) for a few months. And here’s what I learned about kicking: with some coaching on proper form, and a systematic program to train for endurance and improve speed, my swim kick has improved. I can actually do it now. AND… we’re nearly half-way through the Kettlebell challenge and I can still kick. Don’t hear me say I am a torpedo with a flutterboard in the water, but I realized that I couldn’t kick because… I couldn’t kick. I did not have good technique, and I had not trained the specific muscles which put the strength into the kick.  The Kettlebell swinging was not to blame. My lack of technique and fitness was!

Not everyone is going to be working on improving performance in a sport, but many of us will want to be improving some aspect of our performance by joining in a fitness challenge. I would encourage people to get some coaching, especially if they feel like they are not making progress. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you can do with a little help!