On a quiet dead-end street in Oak Bay Saturday, a driveway was converted into a gym for an in-house weightlifting event that highlights Vancouver Island’s growing presence in the world of kettlebell.
The eclectic community doing repetitive lifts in the carport, or warming up in the sunny backyard before facing the judges and timers, included world champions, world record holders and previous national team members – a testament to the calibre of kettlebellers training on the Island.
An intense competitive vibe would be expected, but instead the atmosphere is one of support and diversity. Mixed in with the world class athletes are beginners.
“We do these in-house events to introduce them to the world of kettlebell competition in a low-stress, more relaxed atmosphere,” said Corissa Sivorot, trainer and owner of Westshore Warehouse. Sivorot has lifted on the world stage.
Multiple clubs were present at the in-house event – hosted by world kettlebell champion Mike Read – which exemplified both the warm community aspect of the sport as well as the sport’s growth over the last few years.
“I ran the first kettlebell competition in Victoria in 2012. I started back then just trying to get education and awareness to Victoria because there wasn’t any kettlebell sport going on here,” said Linda Gilmour, trainer and owner of Iron-Bell Fitness in Victoria.
Gilmour has represented Canada on the world stage and is a director on the board of Canadian Kettlebell Alliance. The community credits her with much of the early growth of the sport on the Island.
“Now it is booming. We have competitions everywhere, we have clubs everywhere up and down the Island. For me to see that flourish has been exciting,” said Gilmour.
Kettlebells are not unfamiliar to the general fitness community, but the sport itself, which originated in Russia, is just picking up traction in Canada.
Using body weight and gender categories, competitors are ranked on kettlebell weight, how many reps they complete in 10 minutes and what lift they perform – a snatch, jerk or long cycle.
In international competition, the kettlebells used are 16 kg, 24 kg or 32 kg.
The range has been expanded in North America to include lower weight options such as 8 kg, 12 kg and 20 kg.
Competitors are lined up on a platform in front of judges who ensure the athletes perform complete repetitions.
“It’s a great sport for all ages. I’m 49 this year. I started late but I’m still able to do it. You can come in and out if you have life things going on. It’s one of those sports that doesn’t matter,” said Gilmour, “you have a community behind you to help you along the way.”
Saturday’s event was to prepare for a competition in Vancouver next weekend.
“This sort of mock competition is a way for our lifters to get a little bit more platform experience to make their experience in Vancouver a little more pleasurable and bring that anxiety down a little bit,” said Solomon Macys, who runs Nanaimo Kettlebell Club out of his garage gym Ballistic Strength in Nanaimo. “We’ve got a lot of great lifters in B.C. We have a lot of talent and we are excited to see where that goes.”
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