Competitor Stacy Weaver catches her breath following her effort at the third annual North Okanagan Kettlebell Open/Canadian Championship event Saturday, May 22, at Armstong’s Swanson Mountain Fitness. (Photo submitted)

Competitor Stacy Weaver catches her breath following her effort at the third annual North Okanagan Kettlebell Open/Canadian Championship event Saturday, May 22, at Armstong’s Swanson Mountain Fitness. (Photo submitted)

Kettlebell ringing in popularity at Armstrong gym

Swanson Mountain Fitness hosts third North Okanagan Open, which also serves as Canadian championships

The word ‘Pain’ is ingrained on the back of her weight belt.

While it’s also the first four letters of her last name, it’s a reminder to Armstrong’s Swanson Mountain Fitness co-owner Lorraine Painchaud to bring the pain all day when she’s competing in kettlebell competitions.

Looking like a teapot without the spout (hence the name), a kettlebell is a type of dumbbell or free weight that is round with a flat base and an arched handle. Painchaud and gym business partner Todd Schweb, of Armstrong, were among the 70 competitors from around the world in the third annual North Okanagan Kettlebell Open held at Swanson Mountain Fitness on the May long weekend.

The event also served as the Canadian kettlebell championships.

“I started doing it because I saw Todd doing it and I thought I’d be able to do it because I thought I was strong but I had my butt handed to me by eight-kilogram bells and I thought, ‘This is dumb,’” laughed Painchaud, called “Lorraine No Gain” by Schweb. “When Todd got the gym, and the first year we decided to host (North Okanagan Open), I thought I could compete, too. I’ve only been serious since we got the gym.

“This is my third year of competing. I can’t imagine not ever lifting bells. It’s terrible and it’s awesome.”

Kettlebells can be swung, thrown, juggled, pressed, held, moved and manipulated in hundreds of ways. They are a highly efficient way to lose weight, tone your body, increase your cardiovascular fitness and strength and maintain joint health, mobility and flexibility.

At the North Okanagan Kettlebell Open, the 70 lifters completed 120 different lifts, some doing more than one.

Competitors were able to do live videos of them competing in their hometowns. Painchaud and Schweb spent nearly a week perusing the videos as judges.

The goal for a kettlebell lifter is to go 10 minutes.

“You can put the bells down early and have your reps counted up. It’s an endurance strength-based lift,” said Schweb, who owns a logging company away from the gym business. “When you’re first starting out, you do shorter segments of time and use lighter bells, but there are certain bell weights that we get to that you’ll be calledamateur or pro.”

On the world kettlebell scene, 16 kilogram bells are considered amateur for women and 24 kg is considered pro. For men, 24 kilos is amateur and 32 kg is pro.

The North Okanagan event featured one professional woman and two pro men.

In 2019, the U.S. military took part and did its lifting via video in Iraq.

Kettlebell is an old Russian sport that has been around for centuries.

Schweb has been involved in it for years. He has represented Canada at three World Championships in Korea, Latvia and Ireland, winning a gold, silver and two bronze medals.

“I got into it because the gym I was working out at the time had kettlebells,” said Schweb.

“I started lifting, then started watching YouTube videos then connected with my coach, Charlie Fornelli, of Penticton, who is one of the best male lifters in Canada. I started hitting local competitions and some in the U.S.”

If nothing else over the past year, the pandemic has helped kettlebell grow in popularity.

“It’s the ultimate social distancing sport,” said Painchaud.

“You can do it anywhere with just two bells.”

If you want to learn more about kettlebell, there is a Facebook page called Kettlebell Sport Hangout, or you can visit Painchaud or Schweb at the Armstrong gym which also offers yoga, personal training and strength training.

Local Sports

 

Three-time Team Canada member and gym co-owner Todd Schweb of Armstrong completes a lift at the third annual North Okanagan Kettlebell Open/Canadian Championship event Saturday, May 22, at Armstong’s Swanson Mountain Fitness. (Photo submitted)

Three-time Team Canada member and gym co-owner Todd Schweb of Armstrong completes a lift at the third annual North Okanagan Kettlebell Open/Canadian Championship event Saturday, May 22, at Armstong’s Swanson Mountain Fitness. (Photo submitted)

Competitor and gym co-owner Lorraine Painchaud completes a lift at the third annual North Okanagan Kettlebell Open/Canadian Championship event Saturday, May 22, at Armstong’s Swanson Mountain Fitness. (Photo submitted)

Competitor and gym co-owner Lorraine Painchaud completes a lift at the third annual North Okanagan Kettlebell Open/Canadian Championship event Saturday, May 22, at Armstong’s Swanson Mountain Fitness. (Photo submitted)

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