Last weekend, I had the honor to participate in not only one, but two awesome seminars at Hamburg Kettlebell Club. Frank Delventhal invited me to join his group seminars Enter the Kettlebell and Progressive Calisthenics.
I had a blast being taught by Frank and I thought I’d share my experiences with the rest of the world. Here it goes.
Enter the Kettlebell
If you read some of my articles on this site, then you know I’m not a big advocate of equipment. It’s not that I don’t like using some equipment here and there or that I find it useless, it’s simply not really necessary if you want to improve your fitness.
The kettlebell is actually a pretty neat piece of gear. There is something very simplistic about it – its pure heaviness, the simple black paint and the ultra-functional exercises you can do with it.
Frank, RKC and PCC instructor, did a nice job structuring his kettlebell lesson and introduced the kettlebell with a nice historical background story (in the good ol’ times, kettlebells were used to measure produce and other goods on Russian markets). He has a very entertaining and engaging teaching style, packed with lots of anecdotes, jokes and very illustrative examples (the boa that’s attacking your crown jewels was golden).
The seminar was based on Pavel Tsatsouline’s book with the same title, Enter the Kettlebell. The two fundamental moves he taught were the turkish get-up and the classic kettlebell swing. Because the turkish get-up is a very complex move, it took the lion share of the time we had in the 3 hour seminar.
Frank’s explanations for the turkish get-up and mini-exercises were spot on! I’m sure nobody could have taught me this move any better. He led us through the moves with very illustrative descriptions of the intermediate steps, like the “snow angel”, “shooting range” and, my favorite, the “sexy move”.
He was very patient with everyone and treated everybody according to their level of fitness and coordination. He also did a very fine job introducing the swing. He provided us with lots of different supplemental exercises that really helped improve body awareness, which I think were beneficial beyond kettlebell swings.
After the seminar, all participants had enough knowledge to improve their own technique and were able to use a kettlebell for an effective workout. Frank, in his generous nature, offered everybody to contact him anytime if they needed help finding the right kettlebell or fixing some form issues.
If you’re keen on trying out kettlebells, I urge you to choose quality kettlebells. We tested several kettlebells at Frank’s gym. The ones that “felt” best in my hand and are recommended by Frank are the kettlebells from Dragondoor. These darlings will probably last you a lifetime.
Progressive Calisthenics Seminar
After two bananas and a handful of cashews, we continued to our mutual passion: calisthenics.
All of Frank’s feats of strength are really effin’ impressive to me. He’s a pretty heavy dude, which is probably a good thing when moving heavy kettlebells, but not so advantageous when it comes to bodyweight exercises. He is able to perform some very advanced moves like the back lever, wall bridges, wrestler bridges and shrimp squats. That guy definitely knows what he’s talking about!
Frank divided the Big Six that Paul “Coach” Wade introduced in his book Convict Conditioning (CC) into two seminars. In this first seminar, we did all the moves that require zero equipment: one-arm push-ups, pistol squats and back bridges.
The progressions were mostly inspired by CC. We both agreed that there are many ways to skin a cat. I think there are better alternatives to the CC progressions, but that is such a wide field and you can’t possibly discuss every possible progression and supplemental exercise in a short introductory calisthenics seminar.
We had a lot of fun trying different moves and exercises to improve form and mobility.
I also learned that it is really helpful to have a spotter who knows what he’s doing. We discovered that I am snaking too much when doing the one-arm push-up (meaning I bend too much at the waist). I need to try lighter variations and work my way back up to fix that issue.
I also never tried a wall bridge: walking your hands down along a wall and finally coming into a bridge. I never dared to try that move because I know my bridge is not super good, but with Frank spotting me I could actually do it.
Training with Frank was super fun. He has a very positive and passionate approach to strength training. It’s just fun listening to him because he has a very gripping way of teaching. He doesn’t take himself too seriously but his approach to fitness is always spot on, honest and to the point. Everybody who has the chance to work with Frank should take that opportunity, whether your goals are to become a kettlebell trainee, mastering your own bodyweight or just become the fittest and strongest version of yourself.
So, if you’re ever around Hamburg, Germany, go to Frank Delventhal’s Hamburg Kettlebell Club!