Another Benefit of Kettlebells!

How can you miss crawling down hallways?

This is more of a personal blog, but there is a fitness element to the story, and what kettlebell lifting has done for me as a person.

I am now 55 years old. I worked for the FDNY for 22 years. That would have been much longer but I got sick, an autoimmune disease known as Graves (completely healed now). It severely impacted my vision, and just like that, no more racing to the scene of raging infernos on the big red fire truck. Ouch! Took a while to accept that reality.

I'd made it to Captain in 12 years, and was the boss of a sweet little firehouse in Park Slope Brooklyn for 3 when the eye problems hit. I lost the thing I loved most in life, the thrill and satisfaction of doing what no one else on earth got to do, unless you were a New York City fireman. I proudly got the chance to serve for 22 years - but it went away in a flash.

Exercise became an even more important part of my life. I took everything I knew about fitness at the time, and helped heal my loss by writing The Firefighter's Workout Book, published in 2000 by Harper Collins. It sold over 60 thousand copies and helped ease the loss of not being able to do what I loved most, battle the red devil.

911 hit. My world exploded, as hundreds of my brothers, including my friend and mentor (as well as blood cousin), and the sole reason I ever became a fireman, lieutenant or captain - Charlie Kasper, were murdered. Charlie was one of the Chiefs of Special Operations Command who made the supreme sacrifice, without question.

It took a while to settle back into normal life, but eventually, fitness came to the rescue once again, in the form of a Russian champion named Valery Fedorenko. Fedorenko, a world champion kettlebell lifter, taught me personally to master this almost ancient art. I coached a talented female athlete to master of sport in 8 months after meeting Valery and embraced the purity of the system I was shown.

I was a true purist, but eventually realized I needed to design progressions that better fit the goals of the people I was working with, not just competitive sport athletes, but the technique was untouchable. You cannot re-invent the wheel, and just like many other disciplines that have traveled from Eastern cultures, the lack of bastardization of the movements is what will keep it around for a very long time.

I began to experience profound results with people I was training, including myself. I was given a second chance to excel at something that fulfilled a part of me that needs to do battle. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not a fighter, but the warrior needs to come out nonetheless. Kettlebells allows me to safely reach such high intensity levels that the physical transformation I've experienced over the last seven years has truly been a new lease on life.

When  I retired from the FDNY in 2004, I was broken. Hips, knees, shoulders, low-back pain, I had it all. Now I am virtually pain-free, with twice the strength (literally), five times the breath, and a resting heart rate under 50. My blood pressure is usually 120 over 70 and I don't take medication. I don't have any aches or pains and I can work with a 36kg kettlebell (79lbs) for about 16 reps per hand, maybe more.

That satisfies my warrior instinct and allows me to not miss the FDNY nearly as much. Some of you won't understand this, yet others will identify tremendously, Visit kbgym.com for more info, on what kettlebells and fitness can do for you.

Thanks for listening...