Despite my love of pizza and IPAs, I always thought exercise was so inextricably built into my life that I would never gain too much weight. I test outdoor gear for a living, for crying out loud. But I had no idea how hard it would be to stay fit after my daughter was born and now find myself fighting off the dreaded dad bod.
A year in, I’m more than 20 pounds heavier and much happier. I’ve also learned to stop reading fitness headlines on this website. (“Wanna Lose Weight? Sleep More!” Gee, thanks.) And I’ve come to terms with buying my shirts in size large. But it sucks to get gassed on the first climb of a mountain bike ride, or to have to tell my trail running buddies to go on ahead while I walk up hills, or to get dropped on the skin track. I’m determined to not be left in the dust anymore, so I’m turning to my secret weapon to get back in shape: the Kettlebells USA Paradigm Pro Elite Precision Steel Kettlebell ($120).
Getting in a kettlebell workout at home is much easier than taking time for a long run or heading to the gym. I have plenty of opportunities to pop out for the 30-minute routine of squats, lunges, Turkish get-ups, one-legged deadlifts, and swings to prep my legs for the first powder day of the season. The Paradigm has a hollow core, so the weight is distributed around the exterior to help balance my sometimes unwieldy swings. The 35-millimeter-thick handle is easy to grip even as I tire. The large flat bottom allows it to rest sturdily without falling over on my garage floor or back patio between sets.
And there’s plenty of form to go along with that function. The mango-hued exterior doesn’t look out of place amid the furniture and potted plants if I leave it on the patio after a workout. Yes, you can get into ski shape using a dumbbell, sandbags, or even just your body weight if you’re motivated enough, but the convenience and versatility of a kettlebell is unmatched. It’s too much to ask it to turn me into a muscled Adonis or even put much of a dent in my dad bod, though with the strength I’m building, I won’t mind carrying these extra pounds up the mountain this winter.