The rich history of Russian kettlebells

The first written reference to the kettlebell appeared in a Russian dictionary published in 1704. So foundational was the kettlebell to the old-time Russian athlete’s training regimen that there’s even a word in the Russian language for a kettlebell practitioner:girevoy. For centuries, the kettlebell was the secret weapon in the arsenals of Russian strong men, Olympic athletes and Soviet soldiers. And then Spetznaz physical trainer Pavel Tastsouline traded in his sickle and hammer for the stars and stripes, bringing his kettlebells with him.

And soon the Soviets’ secret weapon was out of the bag in the USA.

The evolution of kettlebell training in the United States
In 2002, publisher John DuCane of Dragon Door Publications offered to team up with Pavel to manufacture kettlebells in the United States. He also encouraged Pavel to write a book and produce a video. And with that, the former Soviet military trainer’s conversion from communism to capitalism was sealed.

Partnering with Dragon Door, Pavel gained a fast following with his hard-core, special forces style of training. Special ops soldiers, federal agents, SWAT team members and firefighters—professionals whose very lives depended on the quality of their conditioning—immediately recognized the kettlebell as a versatile, transportable, no-nonsense tool that delivered powerful results in short order.

Short on fluff and long on results, kettlebell training became a tour de force in the U.S. military and law enforcement training arena. Before long, serious martial artists and professional athletes were singing its praises as well.

By the turn of the century, kettlebells had crossed over to the mainstream fitness circuit. First they started popping up in hard-core iron gyms, and then in select high-end athletic clubs across the country. It wasn’t long before they gained a following among serious athletes and earned the attention of the media. Now kettlebells have begun to show up on the radar of everyday fitness enthusiasts in search of a practical, time-efficient way to stay fit, healthy and strong.

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