In ancient martial arts, colored belts weren’t given to practitioners, they were earned over years of practice. The student would wash their uniform but not their belt, then, over many years the belt would turn green, brown and eventually black. This paved the way for today’s conventional belt system for ranking abilities of martial arts practitioners. In my time, I have noticed my kettlebells starting to look a little shabby. It started with a 24 KG (53lb) Kettlebell. This was my first bell I used for regular practice. After about a year of use, the rubber base had deteriorated and now a lonely bolt adorned the bottom of the bell. The handle was worn smooth, and the writing “Apollo” had become hard to read as it blended with the other colors and scratches that had appeared on the bell over time. I graduated to the 32 KG (70lbs) Kettlebell, I couldn’t believe how shiny and new it looked compared to my old 24 KG bell. I wore that bell down with sweat, grip, hip snapping strength and determination – determined to take myself to the level I knew I have to reach in order to take my clients where I knew they could get. I wore that 2 pood bell down for three years. It wore me down too, but built me up in a way I couldn’t have imagined.
I recently began training with a 3 pood “Beast” bell. 48KG (106 lbs) of cold, hard gravity hanging directly off my hand. I can see the scratches on the surface already, the writing becoming obscured. The only thing better than a brand new shiny kettlebell? An old, worn down one with sweat and the energy of thousands of cleans and snatches still vibrating within its cold metal. A kettlebell with stories to tell, one that seems as alive as the practitioner who wields it. As a yoga practitioner considers their mat to be a personal sacred place of energy and effort, so do I see the kettlebell that has helped define my physique and character for years. As a karateka wears a black belt to hint at their dedication, I wield a worn out kettlebell with stains and scratches from years of practice.