Kettlebells Transforming Bainbridge Island

By Coach Izzy

October 2008. Kettlebell training was still mysterious in Bainbridge Island and I was taking my team to their first ever Olympic Weightlifting Meet.

Word was spreading.  An Olympic Weightlifting Team in Bainbridge Island? And they lift kettlebells too? Probing minds wanted to know:

-So you guys are from Bainbridge Island?
– Really?
-Yeah, why?
-I just cannot imagine Kettlebells or Olympic Weightlifting in Bainbridge Island


Is that what you really think?

The inquisitiveness was no surprise since I knew Bainbridge Island harbored an ugly stereotype and many wanted to know if this was for real. One quick look into the discussion forums of the local papers always brought up the same label ad-nauseam. The Islanders had the dubious reputation of caring more about the flashiness of their gear rather than their physical fitness. How could the proletarian kettlebell or the Olympic Lifts be part of such mentality? It was all about having the latest most expensive toys while putting discipline, sweat, and guts at the very bottom of the list. Something so modest looking and demanding high levels of effort and mental discipline was completely out of place.

Living in the Island and interacting with their amazing people has shown me that such stereotype could not further from the truth. When it comes to putting effort and an open mind, Bainbridge Islanders come second to none, and their potential to become power houses is as high as anyone who possessed the desire and commitment.

Granted, there are a few rotten apples who through overuse, poor strategies, and pride develop overuse injuries, detrimental postural fixations, and a physique that reflects anything but health. Sadly, they are the main focal point and even though they exist everywhere, many act as if such people were a Bainbridge Island occurrence only. Not a fair or objective focal point in my humble opinion.

The problem was not that Islanders lacked the desire, heart, or commitment to cultivate their strength. Those components were present in great abundance and I seriously doubt they will ever fade. The problem was they have not had exposure to Technical Olympic Weightlifting, Technical Kettlebell lifting, and other productive modalities that defy the traditional norms of fitness training.

Bainbridge Islanders gladly embraced the crude iron and the hilariously misnomered “hardcore training” methods with a gusto worthy of the ancient strongmen. Now with Bainbridge Island making an impression in the competitive strength arena and the Islanders reaching once-thought-impossible levels of fitness through kettlebell training, it was time to clarify a few things:

-How come?
-It just does not seem the kind of place where you find this type of training
-Well, I guess things are changing now huh?

For the Record

Setting it straight

Indeed! And the change continues as many formerly curious onlookers transform their bodies and health with training methods once unknown to them.

The place with the reputation for caring more about the trinkets and whistles of their shiny equipment has received the crude and humble Kettlebell with open arms.

Many who thought exercise was another mindless chore and had lost hope came to discover a whole new world with tremendous potential and promise.

Many started seeing improvements in their performance, changes on their bodies, and started discovering what they were capable of achieving.

Many who discovered the joys of explosive training and saw how much it transformed them, wanted more and began their path into technical Olympic Weightlifting.

Sweet Redemption

Let results speak with their power

And how welcome the change in the perception is! Now those who think of Bainbridge Island as the place where people are afraid of the iron and tuck-tail back to their candy-hued weights are the exception. Very few now believe that Bainbridge Island is stuck in 1980s fitness where achieving “the pump” and the “fat burning zone” were the credos. Now kettlebell Lifters and Olympic Lifters are mesmerizing their former critics with their physiques and performance. Now everyone is seeing how Bainbridge Island is a serious contender in the strength arena and their people don’t need flashy equipment to achieve tremendous results and new levels.

It is my goal not only to get Bainbridge Island the respect it deserves in the performance arena, but also to turn it into the role model of fitness and health and the destination for those who seek and admire strength. I say good riddance to that unmerited stereotype and hello liberating reality.

Coach Izzy

About The Author


Coach Izzy has been part of the Strength and Conditioning field for over 25 years. He speaks of the advantages of self-sufficiency and the drawbacks of relying on the liner approaches the health world seems fond of.