American Vs. Russian Kettlebell Certification: What's the Difference?

A kettlebell is a round weight with a handle on top that originated in Russia, but it's currently utilized in the U.S. for weight training and exercise therapy. The style of exercise differs slightly between countries, and certifications are available for both.

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When it comes to kettlebell certification, it is important to understand the difference between the American and Russian styles, as well as to get an idea of the certification training programs available for fitness instructors.

Differences between American and Russian Kettlebell Certification

To begin, the difference between American and Russian kettlebell styles is the range of motion with the kettlebell swing. The traditional Russian style swings the weight from between the legs and up to chest height, whereas the American-style modifies the Russian by extending the weight further than chest height. Studies show that this American alteration works different muscle groups than those of the Russian style.

To become a certified kettlebell instructor requires going through a training program, which can be found at colleges, training facilities, or through private vendors. Those who wish to become kettlebell certified, either in the Russian or American style, may need to already work as a fitness instructor or have related training.

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How To Earn Kettlebell Certification

Various fitness companies and related associations offer instructor certification programs in kettlebell. Some programs specifically provide certification training for the American style or the Russian style, and vice versa. Other programs may not specify which style they use, although traditional kettlebell is generally associated with the Russian style.

Certification Course Information

During certification courses, students receive instruction about proper kettlebell techniques, workout regimens, and strategies for instructing clients or classes. Kettlebell techniques included within such programs include:

  • Master Swing
  • Clean
  • Press
  • Push Press
  • Snatch
  • Half Snatch
  • Long Cycle

Some programs are taught by well-known instructors, and receiving training directly from these individuals may prove beneficial later on, especially for attracting clientele. They may also confer continuing education credits for fitness instructors who need to renew their licensure.

To complete the training and become certified, individuals must pay all fees, go through all the courses, and take the necessary tests. Courses may be offered in person or online, and some programs offer hybrid learning where students receive classroom training followed by video instruction and testing. Certification programs may also provide instruction for specific client groups, such as the disabled, young adults, or professional athletes.

Kettlebell Organizations

There are a few well-known organizations that promote kettlebell training and continuing education courses. Two of these organizations include the American Kettlebell Club and the World Kettlebell Club. The names of each club indicate the preferred kettlebell styles, although these organizations may utilize both the American and Russian styles. Another well-known organization that offers specifically Russian certification in kettlebell includes Dragon Door.

Fitness Instructor Career Information

Fitness instructors who specialize in American or Russian kettlebell can offer training services to individuals or groups. They may provide classes solely in kettlebell, or they may integrate it into broader training programs alongside other exercises and wellness strategies, like proper nutrition and hydration.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for all fitness trainers and instructors, including those who specialize in kettlebell, are expected to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024, which is about as fast as the national average. Their mean annual wage was $42,780 in May 2016.

Fitness trainers who specialize in American kettlebell, Russian kettlebell or both can complete training programs and earn certifications so that they can integrate the exercise into their practice.

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