By Tom Held Special to Published Jul 06, 2012 at 3:04 PM
Tom Held produces the blog,, powered by The new Web site covers "silent sports," including running, biking, skiing and more.

Like most ambitious athletes trying a new training technique, I was set to hoist some serious weight in my first venture in the Superb Health "Saved by the Bell" Class.

Not so fast.

Trainer Nick Lynch imposes a precise and go-slow approach that seems counter to the whole circus strongman visions inspired by the steel balls with handles.

Rookies in his six-week classes may not even lift a kettlebell during their first few sessions. They focus instead on dynamic stretching, proper alignment and perfecting the movements that will build core strength and flexibility.

The value became clear instantly.

The Turkish Get-Up, one of the two primary lifts Lynch teaches, is a 12-step exercise, with each step requiring intense concentration for proper execution. I struggled with each step.

Lynch developed his approach through two years of study and practice to incorporate a centuries-old technique into a new training program.

"You have to build a strong foundation," Lynch explained. "A lot of times, in the weight-lifting approach, people try to build a house without a foundation. They never learn to attach their minds to their bodies.

"Going slow will teach you how to think properly to align your whole body, get your bones and muscles in the right position."

With advocates like Lance Armstrong and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, kettlebell training has become one of the growing fads in studios and gyms. Lynch has found that many instructors utilize the kettlebells as they would free weights, and only repeat the posture mistakes that contribute to injury and undermine the benefits.

A kettlebell workout isn't designed to create show-off arm and chest muscles, but strong hips and core.

"Athletes such as runners, bikers, cross country skiers and so on can greatly benefit from correct kettlebell training," Lynch said.

"All our strength comes from our center of gravity which is approximately two inches below the navel," he said. "If you have tight hips you have all the above ailments listed in the first paragraph in addition to unused levels of oxygenation, blood flow and therefore strength/endurance.

"When you can breathe deep into your center of gravity and increase flexibility through your core you can decrease cortisol (stress hormone) and increase pain threshold. If only I knew about these things when playing semi-pro hockey."

Lynch said he found the kettlebell workouts helped him overcome the shoulder and back injuries lingering from his days on the ice. A key to that was training his body to move in different directions and planes of motion.

"Since most of our world consists of forward motions, such as running in a straight line, sitting at a desk, sitting in a car, walking down the street etc., the other two planes go unused," he explained. "No wonder so many of us have balance issues, tight hips, sore knees, aching shoulders and stiff necks."

Lynch offers the "Saved by the Bell" classes over six weeks, with two sessions per week. The classes cost $120 during early registration, and $240 for the latecomers.

Tom Held Special to

Memories of running cross-country for the Slinger Owls motivated Tom Held to get his body moving again when he turned 30. Almost two decades later, he's still on the move. The 49-year-old bikes, runs and skis, and covers news for similarly active people as a freelance writer and blogger.

He spent 26 years as a daily news reporter, and applies that experience to dig out stories about athletes, races, endurance sports, fitness and self-propelled transportation. His work has appeared in Silent Sports Magazine, Wisconsin Trails and Cross-Country Skier.

Held lives in the Bay View neighborhood, where he counts being Dad to twin daughters part of his daily workout.