To start with, what are kettlebells? They’re iron balls with a handle on them. You move them through the air and lift them against gravity. If you’d like more info along those lines, please read the post linked to below.
I have gotten several questions lately from people who are giving me advice about which kettlebells are wonderful, which are even more wondrous than that, and which are crap. It seems that I’m always wrong, and my inbox proves it. But today I want to try to answer the question about what I consider “cheap kettlebells.” I’ve never made it a secret that I think there are many kettlebell limitations–but those shortcomings are rarely things that are determined by price.
I hear people complain about cheap kettlebell handles. To me, this means that when you start to do swings, the bell itself flies away from you and buries itself in someone’s head. Or when you do snatches, the handle breaks and suddenly you have to dive for cover because there is an iron ball zooming at your face from up above.
When I hear about cheap coating, I think that I don’t care about that at all. If the paint chips, I’m okay with it. If there are dents and dings and rust, I’m okay with that as well. I understand that a lot of people want their things to look nice once they’ve spent money on them, but for me, the more dinged up my kettlebells are, the more use I know they have gotten–that and the divets in my lawn.
Honestly, even the complaints I myself have made about the crappy bells I see in the sporting goods store–I’m looking at you, Everlast–are that the dimensions of many of them make it difficult for certain body types to do certain movements.
For instance, one of my kettlebell clients, who I started working with back in January, bought a 10 pounder, and then found out that its handle was so wide she could not pass it through her legs on the backswing for swings and snatches and cleans.
That is the only caveat I would make to someone who is about to start buying kettlebells. Find out what movements you want to perform–see an instructor before you go shopping so you know if you like the exercises–and then perform them in the store if you can get away with it. Lure the workers away with a diversion and then do a bunch of swings and snatches. If it doesn’t bother you or cause you undue discomfort, then that kettlebell is going to be just fine.
As far as cheap, meaning inexpensive, goes when talking about kettlebells, I don’t think it’s a relevant term. Kettlebells are not inexpensive. They just aren’t. If you are telling yourself that the price is the only thing stopping you, then you’re probably going to enjoy using something else more anyways.
Do what makes you happy, and whenever possible, try not to pretend that price is the issue. I’m a fanatic about this stuff, I know that, but I do not ever feel bad about spending money on my health and quality of life. But of course, I actually use my bells;)