FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT PRACTICE USING KETTLEBELL
Kettlebells in the Holy Land
Kettlebells in the Holy Land
KETTLEBELL SPORT & FITNESS MAGAZINE (2011)
Five years ago, if someone had said to Uri Hirsch that he is going to be the owner of the biggest and most active sports club in Israel for Kettlebell training, he would have probably asked, "what is Kettlebells?" Yet since then, quite a few weights have passed between Hirsch's toned arms and today he is the proud owner of "Eitanim – Kettlebells" training dozens of students each year spreading the Kettlebell doctrine throughout Israel. Members include the young and the old, athletic instructors and even IDF commando soldiers.
Prior to 2006, Uri Hirsch (41) the son of the owners of one of the most renowned sports clubs in Ramat Hasharon, a town on the outskirts of Tel Aviv – was known for his expertise in various forms of athletic training : functional training, Olympic weight lifting, martial arts (black belt Dan 2), gym instructor, and a Pilates and yoga instructor. That same year, Hirsch participated in the Perform Better Functional Training Summit in Los Angeles. During a workshop with Garry Cook, Hirsch was introduced to Kettlebells for the very first time – and was awe-struck. "I became a Kettlebell fan immediately – its strength reminded me of martial arts which I know very well, combined with movement that stems from Pilates and yoga. I was curious, and all I wanted to do was learn more about the method."
In Israel, no one had yet heard about Kettlebells, so Hirsch started looking for training centers closer to Europe where he could study the method in-depth. "I traveled to London a number of times where I participated in EKla – Advanced Extreme Kettlebell courses led by BJ Rule and Tommy Matthews, where I only become more and more infatuated. I started off by integrating certain elements from Kettlebells in my yoga and Pilates classes."
Despite Hirsch's desire to integrate the method in the studio, he was met with quite a bit of resistance led by veteran members of the gym owned and managed by Hirsch and his family for two generations. "Many members found it difficult to swallow the change that was taking place in the classes. Many were used to conventional gym training and could not adapt to exercises that were based on standing rather than sitting or lying down and move in ways that were previously considered "wrong" such as the dead-lift and the swing," says Hirsch. "But it was much stronger than me – I believed that functional training, and specifically kettlebells, was the right way to go…"
Eventually, as a result of the resistance exhibited by many members, Hirsch decided to close the traditional gym and open up an exclusive studio for functional training that would focus on methods such as yoga, Pilates, feldenkrais, Tai-Chi, and of course, Kettlebells as the club's flagship class. By doing so, Hirsch took the risk of losing hundreds of members in order to focus on a training method he truly believed in. Simultaneously, Hirsch organized and led introductory Kettlebell courses and workshops for athletic instructors and trainers. "It was not always easy – those who came from the world of traditional gym training had a difficult time getting used to the new method. On the other hand, those who came from the world of dance and martial arts found the method very natural."
Around the same time, Hirsch participated in Pavel Tsatsouline's RKC Russian Kettlebell Challenge. "The RKC course clarified the method further, taught me new things, reinforced what I already learned and strengthened my belief in Kettlebells." Hirsch, an avid and curious student, continued to take part in classes and workshops, including a workshop with Valery Fedorenko at the WKC Kettlebell Lifting Coach. "I participated in a course in Greece, and learned of a whole new side to Kettlebells – the sport. Although there are two schools of thought, the one associated with Pavel, which is more aggressive, and Fedorenko which is based upon softer and flowing movement, I adapted both methods in a way that I believe enriches the workout and the trainees."
Within time, "Eitanim Kettlebells" became home to a group of dedicated (and addicted) individuals. "It started off as a small group of 'pioneers', which grew by word-of-mouth. Some of the older participants left as they found the method too aggressive and the movement too difficult, but instead we were blessed by a group of young and energetic trainees," says Hirsch.
Today, four years down the road, there are many dedicated Kettlebell trainees in the israeli club, which is. "You could definitely say that our members are unique – they aren't part of the "mainstream" 'gym goers,' they don't come to see and be seen, rather, to learn and improve their movement and mental capabilities. At some point in our lives Each and every one of us has gone through a cultural change, toward functional training methods that are more suited for daily life. We have discovered a holistic world of flexibility, balance, movement, and of course – improved physical competence."
Later, Hirsch participated in the advanced workshop IKFF Level 2 Fitness and Movement Dynamics with Steve Cotter. Taking what he learned in this workshop and others, Hirsch enhanced his training methods using the knowledge he had gained from various training methods. "I tried various methods; I made mistakes and learned from them, and eventually filtered out elements from each method that created a synergy between WKC and RKC, alongside elements from yoga, Pilates and martial arts. As an athletic trainer, you have to know how to overcome certain aspects mentally as a trainer and a trainee, guiding individuals from the beginning that have difficulty grasping the method, teaching them not to give in, getting through the challenges with them, until they finally get it – it's a fascinating challenge and I enjoy it each and every day."
Dozens of athletic trainers have been trained at "Eitanim Kettlebells," spreading the doctrine eagerly to new students. Increased exposure has intrigued even the most elite units of the IDF. "With the help of Adel, a physiotherapist from one of the elite commando units, who has experienced the advantages of the method, I started to train instructors and soldiers from various commando units. A recent follow-up on units who are training using Kettlebells have shown a lower susceptibility to injury in army training."
The success was followed by the media interest – Hirsch is often interviewed in newspapers and on television, and recently launched a series of three DVDs as well as a book. "The Kettlebell Book" is the first book written in Hebrew that explains functional training and the Kettlebell method, including examples for exercises and sets. In addition, Hirsch is the director of I.K.O – Israeli Kettlebells Organization and the only Kettlebell importer in Israel. "We do not do any advertising or sales promotion other than on Facebook where an active and dynamic community of followers has been established. I am not looking to constantly increase the size of my studio. It is more important to me that current members understand to the fullest extent possible the basis and basics of the method."
At "Eitanim Kettlebells" there are now young and old, men and women trainees, who come to workout persistently with joy and passion (including workshops outside of the studio such as at parks and on the beach that are followed by picnics). "There is no doubt that the studio has turned into a community and not just a place where people come to work out," concludes Hirsch. "Because it's not only a workout – but rather – an outlook and a whole way of life."
And speaking of a holistic outlook – when his daughter was born a year ago, she was photographed at the hospital next to a 4KG kettlebell… a big hit among "Eitanim" members on its Facebook page. The grandparents lifted an eye brow, "but I told them that's just living example of that's what happens when Kettlebells becomes a way of life." smiles Hirsch.
Note for the Land of Israel map (p. 120)
Palestine was the English name used to describe the Land of Israel until 1947
The map of Israel on page 120 is based on the League of Nations document “The Mandate for Palestine” (1923), which details the legal left of the Jewish people in Palestine*
The Council of the League of Nations: "Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made
on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, … Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country;"
(Mandate for Palestine – 1923)
The “Mandate for Palestine” establishes the connection of the Jewish national to Palestine (Land of Israel) from the Balfour Declaration (1917): "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object" (The Balfour Declaration – 1917)
In addition, archaeological and theological findings exclusively connect the Jewish people to the Land of Israel:
"And the God said unto Abram, … : 'Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever" (Genesis Chapter 13, 14-15)
"And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession" (Genesis Chapter 177-8 ,)
“No foreign land and no foreign property did we take but rather the
patrimony of our ancestor, which from time to time was conquered by our enemies without legal recourse. And we, when we had the opportunity, returned the patrimony of our ancestors." (Book of Maccabees I, 15: 33-34)
* Palestine was the English name used to describe the Land of Israel until 1947.