Kettlebody By Brook

kettlebodyKettlebody by Brook is a collection of 3 workouts created by Brook Benten. It is actually a very cool little fitness program. In her intro to the workouts, she gives you a rotation schedule to follow: Cardio on Monday, Yoga on Tuesday and Toning on Wednesday. Repeat for a total of 6 days, take a rest day, then start over. The workouts are all short (all around 30 minutes), so it’s a great program for someone short on time.  I have Brook’s other workouts: Cardio Pump Fusion and Butts & Guts (which will be reviewed here in the next month–or so that is my plan) so I knew that she could give you a great workout in a short amount of time. However, I do not plan to use these workouts as she created them to be used. They will be doubles workouts that I do after work. None of these workouts are beginner level workouts, though you can use a light kettlebell and modify some of the moves to make it easier. I would classify them as high intermediate and Yoga Fusion as advanced. All of the workouts use music with a tribal drum beat and I really liked it. It fit the pace of the workouts. The menu on each DVD contains the same intro that breaks down how to use the program, kettlebell form tips, the workout and the cool down. Each workout is less than 30 minutes, but they can go up to 35 minutes if you use the cool down–which isn’t essential in any of the workouts as you will see. Cardio Kettlebell and Bell Body Sculpt have the same cool down. Before I get into the break down of each workout, I want to highlight some things about Brook and her workouts. First, she likes repetition–a lot. I had already learned this from doing Cardio Pump Fusion and Butts & Guts. You will do many reps of an exercise. That is evident in these workouts, too, but due to their length it is more bearable and, in some instances, not possible to do thousands of reps like she does in her longer workouts. Also, overall I really like Brook. She is professional and does every single exercise (she doesn’t stop to point out form like a lot of trainers do). She cues well, too. However, sometimes she says silly things like “More cardio, less lardio.” Ok… but whatever. She is not an overly chatty, silly trainer, so making silly comments every so often isn’t a big deal to me. Overall, she puts out strong, solid workouts that really deliver.

Cardio Kettlebell is set up in two parts. The first part is 24:30. You have a 3:30 minute warm up, the cardio is approx 18:30, then you move into a “post aerobic cool down,” which consists of some ballistic stretching followed by static stretching for another 2:30 minutes. But that’s not all! There is another, longer, very relaxing cool down and stretch that is 7 minutes long (this is the same cool down that is included on Bell Body Sculpt). So you can either have a short and intense 25 minute workout, or you can do something a little longer (but still pretty short), that relaxes and stretches you out even more at the end, and clocks in at approx. 33 minutes. If you follow Brook, you will get an almost entirely low impact workout. There is an advanced modifier who adds in some jumps, but even without the jumps, this workout really gets your heart rate up (I only added the jumps half the time). It is metabolic weight training and it really made me sweat. Brook likes a lot of repetition in her other workouts, so there was a part of me that was relieved this was short–because, once again, there is a lot of repetition!  I used a 10 pound kettlebell and I felt that was appropriate for this workout. The workout starts with a lot of halos, squats and lunges, followed by kettlebell swings. Next you will do a lot of side and front lunges with woodchops. You’ll do lunges forward and back, passing the kettlebell under the front leg. Then suitcase squats which is preparing you for the only move in this workout with any impact–mountain climbers (unless you are following the advanced modifier–then there is a bit more jumping). You will keep your hands on the kettlebell to perform the mountain climbers as low jump lunges. Alternate these with suitcase squats. The final moves are plie squats and leg abductions combined with kettlebell swings. You have your “post aerobic” cool down and stretch. You can stop it here for an excellent 25 minute metabolic cardio workout or continue on with the 7 minute stretch. The long stretch is actually very nice and relaxing. It does have inversion poses, which aren’t all easy! Brook did a headstand, one of the women did a hand stand and the third woman did shoulder stand into the plow (this is the one I did btw).

Yoga Burn is no joke! Even though it is part of the Kettlebody collection, no kettlebell is used in this workout. And just like Cardio Kettlebell and Bell Body Sculpt it is also set up in two parts. The first part is the main workout which is 28 minutes long and then there is Savasana which is 5 minutes long. This workout really surprised me. When I did Jillian Michael’s Yoga Inferno, I was really impressed (and worn out!) by her yoga/cardio/strength fusion/hybrid. I thought she invented it. Well, I was wrong, because Kettlebody came out before Yoga Inferno! So Brook had it going on before Jillian! Nevertheless, Brook’s version is different from Jillian’s. In fact, I felt there was more strength work in Brook’s version–and there is a lot in Jillian’s btw. Yoga Burn is a very powerful workout; the poses are performed slower, with purpose and you do actually hold poses. I will break the workout down, but before I do, I cannot stress how much I liked this workout. I found it very challenging. I feel like I got it all from this workout–strength, flexibility and cardio. After discovering this workout and Jillian’s Yoga Inferno, I really feel it is important to incorporate these types of workouts into my rotations much more frequently than I do. I lift weights regularly, but this type of strength training challenges me in new ways and highlights weaknesses I wasn’t aware of when my strength training consists primarily of dumbbells and barbells. The workout starts with swan dive into high plank, tricep push up, down dog, jump feet forward, rise to chair pose, step out right and left while in chair pose. You repeat this sequence several times and it serves as your warm up I suppose because next, you take this same sequence up a notch. The tricep push turns into an excruciatingly slow chatarrunga in which you hover forever at the bottom before going into updog. Transition into down dog then bring one foot forward and do screamer lunges. End in chair pose, then do power jacks in chair pose. Bring the other leg back and do screamer lunges on that leg. Repeat this 4 times “ladder style”–8 reps the first time, then 6, then 4, then 2. For the next sequence you do the slow chatarrunga into updog, then downdog. The change is that when you bring one leg forward you do three powerful (explosive) mountain climbers. You will go into crescent lunge then warrior 3; after holding warrior 3 you will bring the back leg forward (foot never touching the ground) and kick it slowly forward. You will do that several times (warrior 3 to front kick, foot never touching the ground and always slowly, with purpose), then return to crescent lunge. Do the 3 powerful mountain climbers and repeat on the other side. You will do this sequence several times on each side of the body. On to the next sequence. It is the same as the last sequence all the way up to the powerful mountain climbers (you keep those btw), after the mountain climbers you do 3 legged dog. Come forward into plank–still keeping one leg in the air and do 3 tricep push ups, then three legged upward dog, back to three legged downdog. Do this sequence 3 times on each side of the body. There is a slightly different sequence inserted here where you slowly alternate from down dog to plank. I guess it’s some kind of recovery move, but it was pretty strenuous, too. For the next sequence you do everything the same  as the  sequence before the recovery move all the way up to 3 legged dog. From 3 legged dog, bring the back leg under your body to the nose 3 times, then under the body to the opposite tricep 3 times and finally to the outside of the body to the same side elbow 3 times. Once again, these moves are done slowly. This ends with a long pigeon pose. Repeat on the other side of the body. This ends the main part of the workout. You can stop here or go on to the Savasana, which is just 5 minutes of lying in corpse pose. 28 minutes is a great length for me and, since I will do this workout as a doubles workout, I really don’t have 5 minutes to be lying on the floor, so in the future I will probably skip the Savansana.

Bell Body Sculpt is 28 minutes and uses the same 7 minute cool down as Cardio Kettlebell, for a total of 35 minutes if you do both.  For such a short workout I was impressed. I used a 15 pound kettlebell for this workout and felt I got a pretty decent total body strength workout in such a short amount of time. In fact, you could do Bell Body Sculpt + Cardio Kettlebell + the 7 minute stretch for an excellent cardio + strength / metabolic strength training workout that clocks in at exactly 60 minutes.  Bell Body Sculpt has lots of reps for lower body, biceps and triceps. For the rest of the muscle groups she keeps the rep range around 8. The workout starts with deep squats, stiff leg deadlifts, one leg deadlifts. Then get onto the floor for push ups, renegade rows (one arm row in plank), the turn to side plank and do one arm overhead press. More push ups, repeat on other side of body and end with more push ups. Get into a deep lunge and do horizontal one arm rows. Bring feet together in hinge position and do one arm reverse flies (you swing the kettlebell side to side for this). Next is upright rows, overhead tricep extensions, then front raises holding the bell by the horn, then alternate front raises with upright rows. Bicep curls with lots of reps and end with ab work. The ab work consists of basic crunches with bell held by horns at chest. Next, holding the bell by the horn, reach bell over/behind head while bringing legs out straight then bring knees in and touch bell to knees. Set the bell on the floor behind your head because the next move is done sans bell: bicycle crunch, but excruciatingly slow–you hold elbow to knee for approx 20 seconds each side! Grab your kettlebell again and hold it in one hand, legs laying straight out; sit up and raise the kettlebell while raising opposite leg and bringing bell to touch opposite foot (this gives some shoulder work as well as oblique work). The workout ends with basic crunches with kettlebell at chest. You can stop there or do the 7 minute cool down (for a description of the cool down scroll up to Cardio Kettlebell review).

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