Once again, I’m flabbergasted. There’s no better word to describe it.
Each and every time I run one of these Bloom to Fit challenges, I am completely and utterly amazed at what takes place.
This time was no different.
The 21 Day Kettlebell Swing Challenge was the first challenge of the year and let’s just say that if any of our upcoming challenges show even a trace of similarity, 2014 is going to be one heck of a year!
To celebrate the incredible accomplishments that have been made this past month, I would like to dedicate this post to the 200 + participants of the 21 day swing challenge. You guys absolutely crushed it and I’m proud of all the effort you’ve put in to make this happen.
In this post, I would like to showcase some of the incredible results our participants had, some stories they shared, and obstacles they faced.
Let’s get to it.
The 21 Day Kettlebell Swing Challenge
The 21 day kettlebell swing challenge took place January 8th, 2014.
The objective was to help as many people get a head start with their health and fitness goals as possible by having them perform 3,000 kettlebell swings in 21 days.
Yes, that’s right. 3,000 kettlebell swings in 21 days. Or roughly 142 swings a day. All the details of the challenge can be found here (feel free to go through it yourself).
We had over 250 participants sign up from all over the world!
Canada, US, Australia, United Kingdom, Spain, Poland, Argentina, Malaysia, Netherlands, Iraq, Singapore, France, Slovenia, South Africa, Iceland, Croatia, Denmark, Italy, Germany, India.
Like one of our participants said: “A true global effort.”
Why the Kettlebell Swing?
Well, because it’s one of the most bad ass exercises on the planet.
Yea, I said it. And I’m sure all 200+ participants would agree with me on this. Feel free to back me up on this in the comments below.
Instead of going over all the powerful benefits that a simple kettlebell swing can offer (again), let me share what my good friend Pat Flynn from Chronicles of Strength had to say about it:
“The swing is more than just a great exercise. It’s a tool to develop better movement. It has many teensy weensy nuances, but it’s by mastering these nuances that you learn to move safely, gracefully, and powerfully.” – Pat Flynn
Well said, Pat. Well said.
And many of these teensy weensy nuances came to surface throughout the challenge. When I asked participants what the most challenging thing about the swing was, the answer was overwhelmingly the same: getting the form right.
Many of our participants, who were new to kettlebell training, struggled to get the form down from the very get-go. And that’s understandable. The swing is a very technical exercise. It takes many many hours to get right.
But the determination of our participants could not be matched.
Some of the participants took my advice and filmed/shared videos of themselves swinging and and practically demanded feedback on their technique. The advice they received seemed to be invaluable because every follow up video that was posted showed such drastic improvement in form. It was definitely my favorite part of the challenge.
And I hope you guys will keep working on all the teensy weensy nuances.
In my opinion, there is no such thing as a perfect swing. Once you have the fundamentals in place – good hip hinge, neutral spine, solid hip snap, etc. – it really just comes down to finding what works best for you.
When I was first putting this challenge together, I was a little worried that 3,000 swings in 21 days was somewhat far-fetched. It thought I was asking for way too much. I was going to change it, but something in my gut told me to stick to it.
And I’m happy I did.
Nearly all our participants fully completed the 3,000 swings in 21 days (you can see all the exact numbers here). And a good number of them went above and beyond what they were asked of.
Harshad hit 4,265 reps. Pieter managed 6,500. Both Theodore and Barefoot Wendy finished with 4,001. Vaughaun crushed it with 5,002. Miranda hit 6,000!
Teresa, after a bet with her boyfriend, pushed her number up to 5,000 on the final day. Gotta love the relationship bets!
And then, of course, we have our swing ninja Papa Rich who hit a ridiculous 13,031 swings in 21 days! Yes, you read that right. For those who don’t have a calculator at hand, that’s roughly 620 swings a day!
But, as I’ve mentioned many times to the participants over the course of the 21 days, the challenge was never about the numbers. It was about taking action.
It was about taking small steps towards a bigger goal. It was about getting uncomfortable. It was about learning how to be persistent and patient when developing new positive habits.
My goal was to get the ball rolling for this new year and I think we’ve done fairly well.
Lessons and Stories
Near the end of the challenge, I asked our participants to share some of their stories and lessons learned. Here’s what some of them had to say:
Love that last one.
Thank you to all of you who shared your progress, struggles, stories, and knowledge with the group over the course of the challenge. You guys made this challenge what it was.
What to Bring to the Next Challenge
This is the fourth challenge I’ve run here at Bloom to Fit and every time I try to introduce something new to the mix. If it works, I’ll carry it over to the next challenge. If it doesn’t, I’ll scrap it.
In our previous challenge, the 30 day double under challenge, I created a private Facebook group to give people an opportunity to share and interact with each other over the course of the challenge.
It was magical.
So I decided to create a new private Facebook group this time and was amazed at the constant interaction that was taking place. Over the 21 days, the group was buzzing and my newsfeed was constantly flooded with amazing updates. My plan is to use this new group for all upcoming challenges so we can keep record of all the stuff we’ve done in the past. Let me know if you don’t think that’s a good idea or not.
One new element I introduced during this challenge was the idea of the “special task”. Here’s what’s interesting (and this is something I discussed in more detail in my wave crash theory post): when you’re asked to do something over and over again – as with the kettlebell swing – things can start feeling kind of…mundane. That’s normal. I saw this with the double under challenge as well.
So I wanted to try something different.
Sporadically, I sent out “special tasks” for participants to complete. These special tasks would typically be unique (often challenging) workouts that include the exercise at hand – in this case the swing. So while they were still adding to their running total, participants were given something fresh to work with on a regular basis.
I thought it made a big difference and I plan to incorporate more of these in upcoming challenges (where I see fit, of course).
Sorry to ruin your rest days!
So that’s a wrap on the 21 day kettlebell swing challenge.
Again, I want to send out a HUGE thank you to all our participants. You guys absolutely rocked the swing and I feel so fortunate to have played a small part in it.
With that being said, I’m excited to announce a brand new challenge in the coming weeks. I’m thinking of trying something completely new. Something we haven’t done here before. I’m not really sure if it’s going to work, but it’s all about taking action and making changes as you go, right?
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