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Running Sucks. Kettlebells Are the Answer

May 29, 2024

Scott Gilbertson

The old adage "Use your body or you'll lose it" becomes increasingly true as I age. But what's also true is that the older I get, the harder it is to find an activity I'll enjoy.

I hate running. If I am running, it's because I'm being chased. Or I am chasing something. Neither of those scenarios come up much, though. Every now and then, I might run on a trail to get to a particular location by sunrise, or to track a bird through the woods. But running for fun? There is no fun in running. Have you ever watched someone running? Do they look like they're having fun? (Ed. note: I am having fun, though, Scott!) No, they look miserable. Because they are.

I hate running so much that back in high school, when told I had to choose a sport, I picked rowing because it seemed unlikely to involve any running. I was right, mostly. Rowing turned out to be its own special kind of physical hell far worse than running, but at least it wasn't running. I don't mind enduring hell, so long as it isn't running.

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What to do? I'd go back to rowing, but boats are expensive and hard to transport when you live in an RV. I like to lift heavy things, but weights are also out for those us in RVs or apartments. I know what you're thinking: Go to the gym, you moron. I hate gyms. I might hate gyms more than running. It's a toss-up.

For years I got by with push-ups and sit-ups, and pull-ups whenever there was an opportune tree nearby. It worked, mostly. A little lacking in cardio perhaps, but I'm not trying to win a marathon. I just want to age with a modicum of grace. Then I discovered GoRuck's Sand Kettlebells.

Photograph: GoRuck

Now I can lift heavy things and pack them away in a tiny bundle when I'm done. I also get what I've heard described (accurately) as a stealth cardio workout. GoRuck Sand Kettlebells hit the sweet spot between price, size, and efficacy.

I should probably note here that my idea of a workout is very simple: work as many muscles as you can with the minimum number of exercises. After a bit of experimenting, I found what I've been looking for ever since I stopped rowing, which is a brutally hard workout that doesn't take hours. The kettlebell swing combined with the Turkish get-up give me a very well-rounded workout (I still do push-ups and pull-ups as well).

I've never really liked sand weights. They tend to be poorly made. But GoRuck's Sand Kettlebells are an exception to this rule. They're well made and incredibly durable. They're made of heavy-duty (1000D) Cordura nylon and use a zipper system with a Velcro flap that rolls down like a dry bag to make sure no sand leaks out. In months of testing, I have yet to see any sand leak out. Oh, and if you don't happen to live near any free sand, you can always grab a bag of play sand from your nearest hardware store.

Adrienne So

Julian Chokkattu

Brenda Stolyar

Boone Ashworth

I started with the 35-pound Sand Kettlebell, which I think is a good option if you're in decent shape. While GoRuck doesn't endorse it (and it won't work for some exercises), you can underfill these if you buy a size that doesn't work for you. After a couple of months with the 35-pounder, I ordered the 44-pounder as well, and I find that between the two I can create all sorts of complex, well-rounded workouts. That said, I mostly stick to swings and Turkish get-ups. I am not a sophisticated person. Me swing heavy thing. Me happy.

Even if you have plenty of space for iron kettlebells, there's a lot to like about sand. I've dropped the 35-pounder from about waist height on my foot and didn't injure myself. Don't try that with an iron kettlebell. These also don't hurt when you stub your toe on them. I have three kids, and there are enough Lego pieces strewn across the floor; I don't need an iron kettlebell out to get me too.

Then there's the beginner-friendly aspect. Sand is more forgiving than iron. I can't tell you how many times I dropped this thing trying to figure out how to do the Turkish get-up. I'm pretty sure I'd have some cracked ribs if I'd been trying to learn with an iron kettlebell.

If you're curious about kettlebells or are looking for some home workout gear that doesn't cost a fortune, and packs up small when you need it to, GoRuck's Sand Kettlebells are hard to beat. That said, be warned: Swinging a kettlebell looks easy enough, but do it a few hundred times and you'll be breathing hard—and you'll be sore as heck the next day. As GoRuck would say, embrace the suck. Just don't run, because running sucks even worse.