First the disclaimer for those that don't know me: I'm not a kettlebell professional yet. That will change when I get the money saved, and I feel I'm in good enough shape. I've been using Kettlebells since March 2007, and I wrote this in December of 2008. While I'm not a professional, I have taken classes with 3 different RKCs, studied kettlebells fairly in depth, and used them to rehab from lingering physical defects of being a pedestrian hit by a car. This review might sound negative, but my goal was to be critical of it.
So I haven't ran the deck / workout yet... But when I looked through the cards yesterday, I saw some that disappointed me with their instruction, and some that just made me say what the hell is this guy smoking.
The first thing that troubled me about these cards, was the "Using FitDeck Kettlebell" card, one of the 6 information cards. Under equipment needed: "Kettlebell(s) (from 5-50 lbs.)". Maybe I'm just being picky, but I think the weight range is too light. If you look at either the Dragon Door site, or the Art of Strength site, you'll find how to pick the right size weight. They usually say 8kg (about 18lbs) for women just starting. The upper weight range is higher. Personally, as my heavy weight, I have a 32kg, about 72lbs, Kettlebell. My normal workout weights, depending on what I'm doing, are 16kg (36lbs) and 24kg (53lbs). Personally I think anything under 4kg (about 9lbs), the weight I would use for teaching kids only, is just a marketing gimmick. Adults, unless special circumstances, shouldn't use anything less than 8kg to start (for the record, with my limp and bad hip, I still started off at a higher weight than that).
Next was the "Warm Up" Card, again an information card, covers how to warm up, cool down, and stretch. Those 3 items didn't bother me at all, what did was the last item on the card. The Rack position. The image of the person holding it, shows the wrist bent back instead of locked straight from the arm. If you're not familiar with the rack, it is one of the basic holds for a kettlebell. The handle is in your hand, at about shoulder level, the elbow is close to the side, and the bell rests on the back of your forearm, with your wrist locked. If you want to see a locked wrist, take and arm and hold it straight out in front of you with your hand in a fist. If you're doing it right (like you're throwing a punch) it is one straight line. The wrist isn't bent at all. Another way to see what a locked wrist is, is to do knuckle push-ups. Like I said, the card is not showing that.
The cards that I have the what the hell attitude towards are these, and I said what I'd do different or switch them with:
"CRUNCH" - put the kettlebell between your feet in a sit-up position, then do straight arm crunches. you go back down when your hands pass your knees. When this one comes up, I'll do Turkish Sit Ups (press kettlebell, sit straight up).
"LEG SWAY" - Hold the kettlebell by the horns directly over your chest. Bring your knees up, to a 90 degree, then lower them to the side. Go back and forth. The kettlebell stays over your chest, and your shoulder blades stay flat on the floor. I'm going to swap this card for a Russian Twist.
"RENEGADE LUNGE"renegade lunge - hold the kettlebell at the naval by the horns. Side lunge right and left. Actually the only problem I have with this card, is how they hold the bell. I'll be doing bottom-up at the chest thanks.
"GOOD MORNINGS" - Stand with both feet together hold the bell 2 handed in front of you, then bend over and touch your toes. Looks really like a legs together, straight legged dead lift. Going to replace this one with Wave Squats.
I think the following are bad instructions, nothing wrong wit the exercise itself, just not explained very well:
On all the clean cards, they say to start from the rack position and then drop the bell and do a clean. I think his point was so people wouldn't do dead cleans each time, but could have been said better.
On the swing cards, except "alternating swing" aka hand to hand, he tells you to swing too high. He says to Swing to eye level. The alternating swing card, he says chest level.
The one arm swing is listed as an upper body exercise. To me that sounds like they expect you to lift with your arms (ie bad form).
And lastly the funniest card in the batch, Swing Catch Squat. Swing bell up, catch it, and do a squat. The card just looks funny, because the way it's drawn it looks like the guy has to reach out to grab the bell. It also says to swing bell up, let go and catch it. That's great, but that means I'll have to lean forward to catch it. Thankfully I know Flip-n-Squat.
Things I would have liked included in the deck:
Snatches, High-Pulls, Windmills, full Turkish Get Ups (closest they came was the "Get Up Sit Up" which was only half the TGU.), Thrusters, and chest presses.
Don't get me wrong. I think the cards are great concept, and I appreciate the work that Mr. Black did on them, but I think he should have have ran them past some certified Kettlebell instructors first. I do think that these cards will give you a hell of a work out, especially with the proper weight at the higher levels. I do not think however that all the cards are good for you, meaning a few of them might hurt you (Leg Sway, Renegade Lunge, Good Morning). These cards in my opinion are for people that have experience in kettlebells and not just starting out.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go grab 24kg and hit the deck (after changing the 3 cards I really do not like).
Go here for my follow up, after workout review