Fitness Report 2021 – Kettlebells Barcelona, HIIT training and rucking

December 12, 2021

On the first day of 2021, I was down at the beach contemplating.

I’m always trying to make this year a bit better than the last – but, of course, 2020 was a rough sort of year.

Lots of stupid government regulations had kept me at home for a lot more time than I was used to. Everything was on lockdown at 5 PM, travel was mostly impossible, I was depressed.

And the worst thing was, I’d been slacking off on my fitness, which wasn’t helping my state of mind at all.

Going to the gym, taking a walk or a jog at the beach, doing pushups in the park – all were illegal for large parts of 2020. Since those were my basic fitness routines that I’d do a few times a week, the lockdowns had really gotten me off my game.

There on the beach I decided to get back on track: I was going to work out every day.

Even if “working out” was some stretching and a few minutes of bodyweight squats in the morning on my living room rug, I was going to work out.

Systems, not goals, as Scott Adams says.

Plus, I was giving myself an easy victory to create momentum.

“Do it every day” is a great rule, I’ve found, because then you don’t have to get up in the morning and decide whether or not you’re going to do it today. Because of course you are.

So I went home, drew up a calendar on a page in my notebook, and started checking off the days.

When I made this decision I figured one of two things would happen:

  1. I’d actually work out at home for 365 days in a row. Or…
  2. I’d get so sick of doing squats on my living room rug that I’d end up looking for something harder to do.

So what happened?

Well, after about four months of marking off workout days on the calendar, I’d gotten so sick of doing squats on my living room rug that I signed up at Kettlebells Barcelona, a few minutes’ walk from my house in the glamorous Dreta de l’Eixample neighborhood.

That’s me, sweaty and swinging an unimpressive weight, in one of the recent sessions.

Kettlebells, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, are a form of functional training involving a large weight with a handle on it. You can do all kinds of exercises for strength training, cardio and more.

If you want to sign up for classes – or even buy some kettlebells to use at home – you can check out their website: Kettlebells Barcelona, or find them on Instagram. Or you can visit them in “real life” at Carrer d’Ausiàs Marc, 147.

So what’s the deal with Kettlebells Barcelona?

A typical session at Kettlebells BCN is about 50 minutes long: a short warm-up and 40 to 45 minutes of intervals.

The intervals can be different things, but they’re generally a mix of kettlebell exercises and bodyweight. It’s usually something like 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest, then repeat, repeat, repeat with a variety of exercises for upper body, lower body and core.

Other days, Leo, who’s apparently one of Spain’s kettlebell pioneers, adds Battle Ropes, dumbbells, weight plates, pullups, or any number of other exercises that’ll get your blood pumping and your muscles flexing.

As far as I know, this is what the kids are calling HIIT training – or High-Intensity Interval Training, if you’re an old guy like me.

(Completely unrelated: when I was a teenager and running on the cross country team, my grandfather, who even in his 80s was a great swimmer, would ask me “Danny, do you ever do LSD?” Turns out, for him, LSD was Long Slow Distance. You know, just conditioning work. A bit confusing, I know.)

Anyway, if you’re into fitness, check out Kettlebells Barcelona. It’s a friendly vibe, not intimidating, not full of dude-bros or wacky fitness weirdos – just people of all kinds doing hard things.

Turns out, working out in a group has a lot of benefits for me – mostly because it motivates me to do a lot more than I’d do alone at home.

In conclusion, to sum up, etc…

Around the time I started at Kettlebells Barcelona, I also read the book The Comfort Crisis, by Michael Easter.

There are a lot of good takeaways in that one, but my favorite is this quote, which I already mentioned in another article:

“Being out of shape is the new smoking, only worse. Research suggests that smoking takes 10 years off a person’s life, while the combined effects of being unfit may take as many as 23.”

Michael Easter

Keep that in mind next time you’ve decided to spend a day lying around eating Cheetos and “bingeing” on Netflix.

Anyway, after reading The Comfort Crisis, I also took up rucking – walking with a weighted backpack. And let me tell you: hiking up hills with nothing but a water bottle is a lot easier once you’ve tried doing it with 30lbs in your pack. I’m doing a lot more hikes, and feel more energetic than I have in a while.

The rucking definitely helps, and I’m sure the kettlebells have something to do with it as well. Try moving around a 20 kilo weight for part of your morning and see if you don’t feel a bit lighter the rest of the day.

So all in all this 2021 has been a pretty good year for fitness.

Maybe some day I’ll even get to see my own abs again.

Crush it,

Daniel (AKA Mr Chorizo).

P.S. Incidentally, Morena got into the daily workouts as well, back at the beginning of the year, and after a few months she’d gone and signed up for Pilates at a local studio. I guess the system worked for both of us. If you want to know a lot more about the systems vs goals approach, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. It just might change your life.

P.P.S Here’s a follow-up about rucking in Barcelona. And one about jiu jitsu, my newest hobby. Enjoy!

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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