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Book Review: Kettlebell Rx

Kettlebell Rx: The Complete Guide for Athletes and Coaches
by Jeff Martone

I found CrossFit back in 2004. Back then it was basically just a website with a message board and a blog of workouts I could barely fathom. I went on the message board and found a few other people living in New York and willing to go to Central Park and work out together.

One of those people, Court Wing, had actually trained in Seattle at a real CrossFit affiliate and was an RKC instructor before moving to New York. He convinced me to get a couple of kettlebells for my apartment and taught me my first kettlebell lessons. When Court, I and a few others started CrossFit NYC back in 2005, we basically brought all our kettlebells from home, moved them into a fourth floor office space in Midtown Manhattan and started training people. By necessity I had to learn and teach a lot of kettlebell techniques.

I didn’t realize how much I knew until I did the CrossFit Kettlebell Trainer Seminar with Jeff Martone in 2008. I was surprised that I was familiar with almost all the exercises that Coach Martone taught at the seminar, and with a few tweaks I was able to improve my form. It dawned on me that I had learned a lot of kettlebell techniques over the years and that those two kettlebells I bought for my apartment were a good investment. After a weekend with Coach Martone I felt that I had really been able to embrace a lot of the finer points of kettlebell technique, and gain some mastery over them. My confidence as an athlete was boosted and I felt that Coach Martone showed me a lot of really excellent progressions to make myself a better coach.

One of the hallmarks of a great coach is that they can simplify the teaching of complex movements. In that regard, Jeff Martone is a master. His teaching style and his progressions unravel complex kettlebell movements and make them simple and attainable. After leaving Coach Martone’s seminar, I could not wait to try to teach kettlebell snatches and turkish get-ups to my athletes using the progressions he showed. I went from liking kettlebells to loving them.

The next few times Coach Martone was in New York he invited me to assist him at his CrossFit Kettlebell Trainer Seminars. I was extremely honored and humbled to work alongside such a brilliant coach. Watching him teach these progressions again to new students solidified how brilliant they are and how good he is. Martone teaches the way he does because it works. I am immensely grateful to him for teaching me to be a better coach and athlete.

Having been around kettlebells for 7 years now, I have seen their popularity rise and fall. At one time they were considered a really badass training tool from Russia and then they became fodder for late night infomercials and get fit quick schemes. The beauty of Coach Martone is that he uses the kettlebell as a fitness tool to develop General Physical Preparedness and really embraces mastery of technique and the development of skill and strength over time. He makes learning the kettlebell fun and attainable without resorting to doing curls or just replacing dumbbells with kettlebells, and makes it challenging without making you feel like you have to do 10 minutes of snatches in order to be worthy.

When I received Kettlebell Rx, I was excited to see that the entire curriculum of the CrossFit Kettlebell Trainer Seminar was contained in the book. After taking Coach Martone’s seminar I would refer back time and again to the section in the manual on effective coaching. For me that was the most valuable part of the seminar. Thankfully, all of Coach Martone’s information on effective coaching made it in to the book. All the progressions and all the tips that he uses to teach are in the book as well as all his fixes for common faults. The pictures are clear, in color and capture all the details of the movements. Additionally, he has added a section on rotational exercises and a section on Kettlebell Sport: two areas that must be included in a book on kettlebells.

Kettlebell Rx is a practical yet extremely detailed and thorough resource for coaches, athletes and enthusiasts looking to polish up their technique and gain mastery. I’m passing this book around to my coaches so that they can brush up on their teaching progressions. I highly recommend Kettlebell Rx to athletes and coaches that want to learn and teach kettlebells.

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