Friday, July 04, 2008

What Kettlebell Brands do you own?

I've tried a number of kettlebells on the market. My personal arsenal has the following bells & brands:
  • 1 x 9kg Power Systems
  • 1 x 12kg Power Systems (gave this one away)
  • 2 x 12kg Dragon Door
  • 1x12kg AOS (with a kettlebell buddy)
  • 1 x 16kg Ader
  • 1 x 16kg Perform Better
  • 1 x 16kg AOS (I sold this one)
  • 1 x 20kg Ader
  • 1 x 8kg Lifeline
  • 1x 24kg Lifeline
  • I've also tried a Go Fit bell at Target/Academy and a Muscle Driver bell at Play It Again Sports.
Now, please note that my comments/reviews are only my personal opinion and reflect my individual experiences with different kettlebell brands. This is just me writing out loud my thoughts/preferences in a bell. Your experiences will be different than mine; thanks in advance for letting me express my thoughts and opinions. My advice is to try different brands and find the best one that works for you; it may be a combination of different brands that is your ultimate fit.

Power Systems: These two kettlebells (9kg & 12kg) were my first two and least favorite bells. I bought them in Dec 2005 when I was just starting out with kettlebells. Power Systems was one of the cheapest on the market and had relatively reasonable shipping. Overall, these bells are not molded smoothly and have very wide handles. It's a rough bell. However, for me, these bells served their initial purpose, which was to test the waters out with kettlebells. I found a cost effective solution to trying the sport, and decided to upgrade to better bells as I got more serious with my training. I still use my 9kg (yes, Power Systems sells a 9kg and not an 8kg bell, with weight being marked in pounds on the bell). I have since given my 12kg Power Systems bell to a friend who wanted to learn kettlebells. I didn't experience better kettlebells until June 2006 when I trained at Punch Gym in Rhode Island and attended a KB workshop with Lisa Shaffer in Dallas, TX. When I tried the Go Fit bells at Target (also sold at Academy, Dicks, Sports Authority), they were quite similar in construction and handle width to Power Systems, which is why I suspect they can sell them so cheaply.
Ader: I bought 2 Ader kettlebells (16kg, 20kg) in June 2006 when I took a workshop by Lisa Shaffer. I really like the shape of the Ader, the size of the handle and the overall feel. I was told that they were very similar in construction to Dragon Door kettlebells, which I think is very true. I love my Ader kettlebells and would purchase them again in the future.
Dragon Door: DD is often known as the "big daddy" of kettlebells and for good reason. I have two 12-kg DD bells, and I have been very pleased with them. The Ader kettlebells are very similar in shape and construction. The DD bell's handle seems to fit my hand the best and the overall bell has a smooth exterior finish (at times can feel slick). I would purchase DD bells again, even though they are the most expensive. However, I would likely be frugal and content stocking my gym with Ader kettlebells as well.
Perform Better: I currently own one Perform Better kettlebell (16kg). The bulbous portion and base felt a bit small to me. I had a difficult time doing Renegade Rows with the PB bell, as the base felt small and unstable to me. It could have been difficult because I paired it with a different brand 16kg to execute the Renegade Row. I do think that I think that I will try again after removing the rubber base from the bell . Muscle driver bells reminded me of PB bells. I also did not go with the vinyl covered bell b/c I was afraid that the vinyl would just be slippery, especially since my hands and forearms sweat quite a bit when I'm working out. I bought my PB bell when PB was having their fall sale, so the price (and shipping) were reasonable.
Lifeline: When adding another bell to my collection, I was torn about adding another Ader or trying Lifeline. When I was at a workshop in 2007 with Lisa Shaffer & Mike Mahler, some of the participants had Lifeline bells and others had Ader. Although I didn't try the Lifeline bells first hand during the workshop, I did look closely at the bells construction; they reminded me quite a bit of DD. Anyway, I eventually added both a 9kg and 24kg Lifeline to my collection.  I really like the feel of the Lifeline kettlebell. It is similiar in construction to Dragon Door & Ader. The handles weren't as slick as either DD or Ader. I liked the size of the "bulb" of the bell, as well as the thickness and feel of the handle overall. I am very pleased with my smaller Lifeline bell and the 24kg bell.  I will definitely add another Lifeline bell to my collection, either another 24kg or a 28kg. The price point of Lifeline was very reasonable, and so was the shipping.
AOS: I usually love everything that AOS makes. When I attended the AOS KB Certification in June 2009, I tried the AOS bells (of course) and loved them.  When I needed a few new bells for the gym due to more having clients, I ordered three AOS bells (9kg, 12kg, and 16kg, along with a buddy).  However, when I received them, I was kind of disappointed.  The bells had gone through a redesign from the ones I used during the certification class. Instead of being unfinished, they had been powder coated with a silver finish.  It's just an aesthetic thing, but I don't like it. I was also disappointed with the 16kg bell particularly. The handle was so thick compared to my other bells. Neither myself nor my clients liked that bell, so I sold it.  I only kept the two smaller bells so that I could use them with the KB Buddy. I did find it useful when helping some of my female clients transition from the 12kg to the 16kg bell for their snatches/cleans and from the 9kg to the 12kg; it provided a good incremental step.  The handles on the smaller bells seemd okay, but the heavier bell was disappointing.  I'm not sure if the AOS bells are still this way (i.e. slightly thicker than average handles), but I probably won't buy them again.


On A Thousand Hills said...

Thanks for the KB review, FitGirl! I am hoping to add a KB to my lonely GoFit and have been leaning toward a Lifeline one. Good luck on your goals posted here too!!

Fitgirl-ATX said...

Hi On A Thousand Hills,
I'm so glad that you found this post useful. I think that you'll really like the LifeLine brand. I'm actually planning to add another 16kg to my library, and it will be a Lifeline.

Let me know if I can be of any assistance in the future.