Kettlebell Couples-Friends with Benefits

A loud “beep!” rings out from the interval timer. Josh and I gratefully set down our kettlebells and give each other a sweaty hug, kiss and high five.

Happy we decided to train instead of pass.

Proud of how hard we worked.

Stoked to have each other to share it with.

Before kettlebells, I was a cardio pig, bingeing on running and step-aerobics.

Josh liked to hit the heavy weights via beach-body type workouts, plenty of bi’s & tri’s, chest, no back, no cardio.

What’s a duo to do when what little free time we had was spent training foolishly apart?

Kettlebell training became the unexpectedly awesome way to train together. A perfect bridge between balanced strength and endurance, we found ourselves getting stronger, leaner and more stoked about training in general.

Lisa and Josh

Photo-Lisa and Josh at Agatsu’s Joint Mobility and Movement Certification, Halifax 2012]

Agatsu’s Kettlebell and Joint Mobility certification programs introduced us to more couples into kettlebells.

Shawn Mozen and Sara-Clare Lajeunesse represent the monarchy of kettlebell couples. Masters of movement, their training inspires others to strive for self-betterment.

Shawn and SC

Their example causes a trickle-down effect to Agatsu certified trainers and their clients.

Meet three kettlebell pairs who answer “Why Kettlebells?” and share their tips for maintaining training harmony.

Alison and Shawn

Alison and Shawn Ross
“There is never a drawback from being stronger”

Shawn is a short and stocky arm-wrestling champion with impossibly large forearms and the gaze of a porbeagle shark. His good-natured wife Alison jokes about the photo below, “I always look as if I’m about to kill someone!”

Despite somewhat imposing first impressions, they are lighthearted and thoughtful, providing all equipment for their group kettlebell class participants, and often accepting locally grown zucchini in lieu of payment.

Shawn explains, “this is our new truck, we broke the last car hauling too much weight,” without skipping a beat, Alison adds, “it was time for an upgrade.”

In addition to having full-time jobs, Alison and Shawn co-teach eight classes per week in the Annapolis Valley as the Kettlebell Krushers.

“It allows us to spend quality time together, which can also be a drawback if we are getting on each other’s nerves,” he laughs, and continues, “but I do think that it takes a special kind of relationship to be able to spend as much time together as we do.”
Alison agrees that partner training works for her: “Shawn is extremely knowledgeable and motivating, and being able to bounce ideas off each other, either about my own training or developing class workouts, is a huge bonus.”

This easygoing teamwork has expanded into their clients’ worlds. Inspiring those around them to pick up the bells to train hard and work towards a goal, such as the group adventure races they participate in with clients and friends.

“We love to train and to be able to pass on our passion for kettlebells is a real gift for us.”

Couples Counseling from Alison and Shawn:
Too busy to train? Try kettlebells. Shawn explains that this will allow you to have a “quality workout in a short amount of time”
The kettlebell exercise named the “snatch” might make you giggle, until you learn it, and realize it’s no joke
To build a proper foundation, always learn kettlebells from a certified trainer

Julie and Steve Dinn
“I always want to win”

Julie double-jerks 16 kg bells overhead like they’re made out of Styrofoam instead of steel, while Steve practices 100 lb. get-ups in the corner. This pair is impressively strong, which one can credit to their competitive natures. When they train together, they drive each other to plank a little longer, or do a few more burpees. Steve may be twice as tall as Julie, but they both want to win at their workouts.
This healthy competition stems from their decision in 2009 to get fitter together.
They lost 200 lbs over the span of 15 months. They found kettlebell training fun and effective, and from there grew a business, Halifax’s Julie Mac Fitness. Julie became Agatsu certified. Later Steve did too, to lead Julie’s training clients during her maternity leave.

Steve believes this, “has brought us closer, having to go through the process together.” Julie agrees, but notes that, “now that we’re parents it’s harder to train as a couple. I’m missing my partner during solo workouts and I don’t push as hard as I should.”

Julie and Steve

Couples Counseling from Julie and Steve:
To keep your workouts fresh and help time fly, set up circuits with kettlebells, slamballs, box jumps, rowing and bodyweight exercises
Plan your workouts in advance or you will waste time talking it out
Workout gear snags easily on calluses, so keep them filed down and moisturized

Kat Frick Miller and Lucas Doran
“We motivate each other to push”

Lucas is an outdoor adventure enthusiast, facial hair aficionado and longtime blogger. Active pursuits include surfing, cross country skiing and kite-buggying. His main squeeze, Kat, is an accomplished artist and illustrator, who enjoys skiing, skating and ocean frolicking. Both active, but not that into group exercise until recently.

Kat and Lucas

Bit by bit they were drawn to more focused training techniques. Lucas was attracted to a group kettlebell class to improve his surfing endurance. Kat enjoyed an outdoor bootcamp exercise class for fun and fitness. Now they have dedicated themselves to Project Kettlebell. Kat and Lucas find this an ideal way to train with kettlebells together, online at home instead of braving icy Nova Scotia roads.

While their oceanside, wood-stove heated home is quaint and teensy, they manage to rearrange furniture, distance themselves from the fire, and make space to train.

“It’s kind of surprising how little room you need for two people, basically the length of a yoga mat per person,” Lucas explains. He adds, “it’s a lot more fun to train with someone than by myself.  I like encouraging my partner during our workouts and watching her progress.  It’s also nice to share your experiences with someone too, both good and bad.”

Kat elaborates, “it’s really nice to be working towards something together.  We motivate each other to push, especially on lazy days, but Lucas is also good at telling me when to rest if I’m compromising my form.” Although on some days, Kat admits jokingly, she does not want to know if her form is bad.

Still, Kat finds the workouts “satisfying and energizing.” An added bonus of training together is they get to “catch up on each other’s day during the post workout stretch.”

Couples Counseling from Kat and Lucas:
Schedule your workouts in advance to make time to train together
Invest in two foam rollers
When training indoors, be mindful of ceilings to avoid smacking a light fixture

Partner Chrissy

Josh and I like to play around with different workout formats. This one is perfect for two people with one kettlebell and limited time.

Featuring the same movements as Agatsu’s “Chrissy” workout, you and your partner alternate between kettlebell swings and push-up burpees.

Set a timer for 10 minutes. Begin with partner one doing the swings, and partner two doing push-up burpees. As soon as partner two tires, breaks form or slows pace, you trade places.

Repeat, alternating these exercises until your technique breaks or the 10 minutes are up (whichever comes first).

This training structure works for all different kettlebell and bodyweight exercise movements. Just decide beforehand which movement is more challenging, and let that partner dictate when it is time to trade.

**Author-Lisa Avramenko is an Agatsu Certified Instructor and the owner of Happy Fit Group Fitness

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