30 Day Kettlebell Swing Challenge Round Up: Lessons Learned

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30 day kettlebell challenge roundupOh boy. Time does fly doesn’t it?

July 25th marked the beginning of the first ever Bloom to Fit challenge.

And, after 30 incredible days, I’m more than happy to say that the challenge has been a huge success.

Dozens of people around the world participated. Some started early. Others started late. But we all did something unique. Something special…

We found a way to complete 100 kettlebell swings every single day for 30 days.

This post is dedicated to all of the participants who fought and persevered through some difficult days. Congratulations to all of you!

Here are some cool lessons, photos, revelations, and words of inspiration from some of the participants. Enjoy!

The Purpose of this Challenge

If you’d like to know the details of how the challenge was set up, you can read all about it here.

The idea was simple: perform 100 kettlebell swings every single day for 30 days straight, no matter what the situation or circumstance.

But it wasn’t until a week or so into the challenge that we all realized what the purpose of this challenge really was.

It had nothing to do with weight loss or improving the look of your body. It went way beyond the superficial. In fact, this challenge had nothing to do with your body at all.

What participants soon discovered was that this challenge was, more than anything, a mental one.

The challenge was designed to teach you how to build a positive habit.

How to persevere and fight in moments when you feel like your are at your weakest.

To help you understand what it takes to do something when you think you can’t.

To force you to make time to do something when time is of the utmost limitation.

The challenge was about conquering obstacles – both physical and mental ones – and surpassing the borders of your comfort zone.

If implemented correctly, this challenge revealed some powerful lessons that can be applied to different areas in life.

This was the true purpose of this challenge. 

What I Learned from this Challenge

When I first embarked on this challenge, I had no idea what to expect.

Kettlebells were nothing new to me. I’ve been working with them for a while now.

But never to this extent.

For myself, the challenge was a mix of exhilaration and fatigue. There were days when I couldn’t wait to get swinging and there were days I couldn’t even fathom the thought of looking at a kettlebell (for example, the day of the Tough Mudder event).

But I persevered. I enjoyed the good days and fought through the tough ones. For this, I feel stronger. I feel like I can accomplish any challenge that’s placed in front of me.

One cool thing I picked up from this challenge was the idea of just getting started.

It was a really effective trick for getting through the tough days. Merely warming up and doing one set of swings was enough to get my juices flowing and turn a tough day into an amazing day.

I now use this trick on days when I don’t feel like training. I just have to find a way to get started, to let the juices start flowing and I’m good to go. Sometimes even just putting stuff into your gym bag, getting into your car and driving towards the gym is enough to get you going.

Lessons and Stories from Participants

After the challenge was done, I asked some of the participants to give me some feedback.

I wanted to know what they learned. What they found most challenging. What surprised them. What challenged them. I wanted to give them an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas.

Here are there stories:

What did you learn from the challenge?

There were a lot of lessons to be learned throughout this challenge and for every person they were a little different. Here’s what they had to say:

“First, is just a reminder of how effective the swing is as an exercise. Recently I had relegated it to warm-ups and sometimes as a finisher, but this has reminded me of how powerful it is in it’s own rite.

Secondly, it has shown me what can be achieved with a little perseverance and gentle increases in intensity. Weights and rep ranges which were hard initially are now ‘easy’, and things that seemed impossible initially are now merely ‘hard’. My goal at the start was to do 100 swings with a 24kg(53pound) without stopping and I achieved that after about 3 weeks.” – Jerry

“I learned a long time ago that if you want to change a habit or getting into a good habit, you must do it for 30 days. No excuses. If you miss a day, then back to square one and do it again for 30 days. This challenge reminded me of that good habit.” – Thanh

“Weight lifting is not the “be all & end all” to building muscle… I also felt the complete strength AND cardio effects of using kettlebells. I finished my workouts completely drenched, and sweat pouring out of me during the workouts…better than any 60 minute treadmill torture, or weight lifting workouts.” – Paul

“Even when we think we are TOO BUSY, we can find time to fit in exercise WHEN and IF we make it a priority, 5 minutes to do 100 kb swings is very doable, and we can all fit that in ( despite demanding schedules, children, work, etc etc). I now LOVE kettlebells, I had never used them before your challenge but now am a huge fan and love their versatility.” – Heather

“What I learned is that i do in fact have enough discipline to sustain a habit for 30 days (and indefinitely after that). Now in my head there’s a preset mindset that the exercise helped me to develop that I believe can be easily adapted to other good exercises/habits (even reading a few pages every day!).” – Dennis

“I barely touched another form of weights, machines, or Cardio equipment during the challenge. I primarily stuck to kettlebells ONLY to see if I would get results using them as my only form of exercise…. This was a great experience for me. I agree with you that they are the only piece of equipment you really need to own.” – Paul

What did you gain from this challenge?

I wanted to know what changes (both bad or good) that the participants noted over the course of the 30 days. Some were very interesting.

“Since starting the challenge my cardio has improved, evidenced by other activities such as running so I know it’s not just that I’ve adapted to the swing itself. Also, the muscles in my lower back have thickened up. It’s not something that I think is visible, but I can feel a distinct difference when I bend over or put my hands on my back and arch it. I also get less lower back pain after, say, a long drive.” – Jerry

“See where you took me!!!! You gave me a taste for working harder, moved me into a non-comfort zone that’s continually changing and I’m even helping other people with their workouts. My entire body is so much stronger!!!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!” – Beth

“What I have to say is this: The benefits of Swinging a Kettlebell, to Deadlifts and Squats were quite impressive for me! Not only because of the better hip-mobility but also because of more explosive force/power I can produce. That’s why I could add 40 Pounds to my Deadlift and 20 pounds to my Squats! Just because of swinging that nice Ball of iron!” – Robert

“It gave me a new, exciting outlook on working out. I was feeling a big plateau before I began this Challenge. I also actually felt less pain in my sore Rotator Cuff (injured from heavy Dumbell presses) and Knees as the days passed. I was also suprised how much better I feel after 30 days…and I can see/feel the difference in my body.” – Paul

What did you find most challenging?

I wanted to know what participants found most difficult about the challenge. My guess was time management (and I was kind of right).

“The toughest thing for me (given my work and party schedule) was finding time to do the exercise and having the diligence to actually do it). Most of the time I did it at night after coming home. Sometimes as late as 12pm. Once I passed out when i got home and woke up at 3am in cold sweat from the fear that I forgot to do something!.. and then did 100 swings!” – Dennis

“The most difficult part was trying to curtail other activities on what would have been a rest day. Many times I would pop to the gym, or home gym, with the intention of warming up and just doing the swings. But I generally ended up doing a few sets of pull-ups, Dips & press-ups, then maybe a few snatches and cleans. Before I knew it I wasn’t getting any effective rest days. It took me nearly 3 weeks to get a handle on things and tone it down when I needed the rest.” – Jerry

What strategies did you use?

Let’s face it. There were days when doing 100 kettlebell swings was the last thing on your mind. You just didn’t feel like doing them. But you had to find a way to get through it. Here were some of my favorite strategies used by participants to get through the tough days:

“No matter what time of day or night it was, I made sure 100 swings got done, along with the rest of my Kettlebell circuit. I promised myself that I would complete this challenge..no matter how tired I may have been, or how late it was some nights. NO EXCUSES.” – Paul

“It was not stressful , or required enormous motivations. Just need to make sure that I do it. So the #tag on twitter was a great idea for someone like me to keep tap of my progress. I traveled for 3 days during the period, and ended up using makeshift KB to ensure I get at least 100 swings/day in.” – Thanh

One of my favorite strategies was by one participant who used pictures to keep himself accountable. Every single day he took a creative photo (with a clever caption) of the kettlebell and uploaded it on facebook for his friends to see. Here’s what he said about it:

“This is why i posted the pics every day:
-It helped me know that my friends are expecting a new pic every day. I am best motivated by external motivators
-In between sets I would take a pic and upload it, which gave me extra motivation to do the swings
-It was fun :)”
– Dennis

Here were some of his photos:

Gotta love that creativity!!

Any interesting stories to share?

Here were some of the more “interesting” days of the challenge for some of our participants:

“In the entire time, there was only 1 day out of 30 when I did not do the swings. That day I went to climb mt fuji with my friend visiting from Canada and decided to take the kettle bell with me. THAT WAS A BAD IDEA! 20kg was super heavy and i had to have a bit of a battle with myself while we climbed for 20km (from evening until morning). It was in my back pack on the way up, and in my hands on the way down. Of course I had to take frequent breaks. I didn’t do the kettle bell swings at the top because i was exhausted beyond my mind (and didn’t want to sweat any more, because it was near freezing at the top and i was underdressed). That made me appreciate how heavy 20k really is, but after it was all over it gave me a pleasant sense of “ownership” over the bell.” – Dennis

One of the most interesting parts of the kettlebell challenge was to see the impact participants had on others. Here’s what I mean:

“When I finish 3 rounds of the machines with increasing weights along with the kettlebells, my shirt is soaked. Every woman who comes into the room gets really excited about what I’m doing and they all want to try. I have fun with them by getting them to just try it and then I explain the correct form…..they are hooked when they feel what happens to their bodies!!!!” -Beth

This all ties back to the idea of spreading the virus. By taking action, your are inspiring others to do the same.

Going forward

So there you have it.

The first ever Bloom to Fit challenge has been a huge success.

Those who participated learned how to step outside of their comfort zones. They learned how to persevere and conquer both physical and mental challenges. Some of them even fell in love with the kettlebell:

“I am totally hooked now… Kettlebells are going to be part of my workouts for life.” – Paul

And others are looking for more:

“I am now so used to getting up early and doing my workout or specifically my swings so I know that I have done it for the day … I need to have something else?” – Thanh

I want to send a HUGE thank you to all of those who participated and an even BIGGER thank you to all of those who took the time to send me their feedback. Much appreciated!

I’m already brewing up some new ideas for a new challenge so I’ll keep you all posted.

Cheers!

Srdjan Popovic

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Comments

  1. Srdjan,

    Congrats on hosting your first challenge! This is a really great idea. I think the biggest take away is that forming positive habits is definitely more of a mental challenge than anything else. It’s easy to workout when you feel like it. It’s those times you can barely stomach the thought of working out but still do it that reflect your drive and determination.

    Alykhan

  2. Hey,

    Am based out of India, and honestly Kettlebells really haven’t picked up as aggressively here (even though one can easily purchase a Kettlebell). I’m talking more on the lines of RKC establishments etc. Now considering i really found the idea of a kettlbell appealing, i was searching online for training videos, but none has been simpler or easy to implement as yours. Thanks a ton for the plethora of articles and the Kettlebell 1.0 training guide. Its been really really helpful for a beginner like me.

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