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Local Highlight - The Fitness Branch

Functional Training With Kettlebells

By Hanna Kim - June 25, 2018

In the last five years, Denver has seen many changes, including the introduction of the RiNo neighborhood. What was once a sea of empty warehouses has rebooted as one of the trendiest parts of Denver, now bustling with breweries, boutiques, and wellness centers.
 

We’re so happy to share our neighborhood with other local businesses that strive to bring the very best for their customers! As a locally owned and operated business, we want to support our neighbors like The Fitness Branch, which is nestled in Backyard on Blake, a charming new community center and workspace a block away from our own studio.
 

Functional Movement Feels Good for Your Body
 

If you’re like me, it’s easier to take a fitness class instead of going into a gym and being overwhelmed by all the equipment and uncertainty about their intended use. I’ve mostly stuck to yoga and the occasional barre class if I'm feeling feisty, so I was nervous about going to my first weight training class.
 

Us massage therapists will often tell you to stretch more after a massage session, but it’s equally as important to add strength work to your self-care regimen. Most of us have common movement patterns that we go through each day, leaving some muscles stronger than others, so it is important to correct these imbalances to feel our very best.
 

Kettlebells have gained recent popularity with research coming out about the benefits of the added challenge of this type of weight versus dumbbells. Kettlebells shift the center of gravity further away from your body, so it requires more effort to lift and stabilize the weights. Because of the added instability, it is important to get proper training before training with kettlebells.

 

Meet Our Neighbor, Leandra of The Fitness Branch
 

I met Leandra last week for the Skills Lab, which is an introduction to the safe use of kettlebells. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was very pleased with how helpful and motivating she is as a teacher. I had trouble timing the “swing,” which is the basis of many kettlebell exercises. Leandra was very patient; she explained and demoed the basics as much as I needed get comfortable and safely understand proper body mechanics.
 

Leandra was first introduced to kettlebells by her sister seven years ago, and has been smitten with this style of workout ever since. She ties her past experience as a physical therapy aide to optimize functional movement for her students.
 

She ties her past experience as a physical therapy aide to optimize functional movement for her students.

There is a focus on the posterior chain of muscles, including our glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae (long spinal muscles), which are often weaker than the anterior chain (quads, core, pecs) on the average person. These workouts also strengthen your lateralis, aka “lats” which wrap around, and therefore stabilize our torso, as well as our transverse abdominals, which are the deepest “abs” in our bodies that stabilizing our lower back and hips.
 

She says her gym is for everyday people whose aim is to be healthy, not just models and bodybuilders. It’s an amazing opportunity to have someone so experienced guide you through your workout, especially if you have injuries and limitations. It can make a workout far less daunting when you know someone is looking out for your well-being with the right modifications to suit you.

For my first actual class, I participated in Sam’s Tuesday 10AM “GRIND,” which has a focus on heavier lifting. The group classes are capped at 15 people, making individual attention still possible. The very reason I like to go to classes instead of working out on my own is so that I have someone to give me some guidance.

Everyone did the same set of exercises, but using different sized weights. Part of the appeal of kettlebells for Leandra, Sam, and their students is that you can start where you start and keep “leveling up” to a new personal best.

Each class starts with a well-rounded warm up to mobilize your joints (neck, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles), and class ends with about five minutes of stretching and foam rolling. These exercises target your stabilizer muscles hard. I most feel the workout in my hamstrings and left side lats after yesterday’s class.
 

Each class starts with a well-rounded warm up to mobilize your joints (neck, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles), and class ends with about five minutes of stretching and foam rolling.

Sam recommended starting with 3 classes a week. She said that most people see changes in just two months of regular kettlebell training. I’d have to say, even with just the skills lab (which was a workout itself) and my first full class, I notice a difference in my own strength. I feel like I’m not working as hard when I’m at work doing deep tissue sessions.
 

You can try your hand at kettlebells at The Fitness Branch for just $15. This includes the skills lab and a whole week to try out the different classes they offer.

Adding more self care, like visiting LoDo Massage Studio for a session can help ease the muscular tension as you strengthen. Leandra and Sam are both happy regular clients of our studio and I’m definitely looking forward to getting on the table myself at the end of this week!


 

 



About The Author

Hanna Kim has been practicing massage therapy at LoDo Massage Studio since 2016. She ventured into the world of complementary healthcare through massage, after studying Advertising and Intercultural Communications in college. She enjoys combining her passions for writing and wellness, and loves sharing what she learns with others.