First Place Kettlebell by Perform Better Reviewed
Kettlebells are quite popular in the functional fitness and CrossFit world nowadays. Part of the reason is that they open up new ranges and planes of motion, which you can’t access with traditional dumbbells. They can also be easier on the wrists and joints, and they lend themselves to the fast pace of a CrossFit WOD. Groups of people swinging kettlebells around by the handle are an everyday sight at many gyms. There are plenty of workout videos, online and otherwise, to teach you the intricacies of the kettlebell.
Here’s a tip: if you decide to use a kettlebell, for any purpose, look into a wrist guard with a curved plastic insert. The inserts are similar to shin guards for soccer. We suggest this because a kettlebell can lean into your wrist and cause fatigue or even bruising.
Today’s focus is on the Perform Better First Place Kettlebell, one of three in the product line. It is made by long-running fitness behemoth Perform Better. Their simple website offers a vast array of functional fitness offerings for home and gym use, as well as training and consultation for aspiring gym owners. The company does an amazing job with customer support, too.
Cast iron construction is super durable
The flat bottom makes kettlebell easier to store
One-piece construction, so handle is not welded and there are no potential weak spots
Perform Better has a long history and solid reputation as gym suppliers
Grip is universal and will fit most hands/wrists with no constriction
Weight stamped on the side for easy reference
The handle is textured, making it easier to hold
Some users may prefer a rubber-coated handle
Red paint (logo and weight) comes off easily after a bit of use
Perform Better has several kettlebells with a similar name, which can get confusing
A good strategy would be to buy one Perform Better in your working weight, and one in your max weight or what you aspire to lift. If you are going to do farmer carries, the Perform Better First Place Kettlebell is ideal. But you will need to buy two in the same weight, and size up when you inevitably get stronger. All of Perform Better's products encourage progression because they are comfortable, reliable, and easy to keep close by. There is a range of compact equipment, like the bells and resistance tubing, as well as larger squat racks, power racks, and dumbbell sets. When we chatted with a customer service agent, she said "we have 1000s of products" and she's right. Perform Better has an enthusiastic and proactive staff who will assist you with any problems.
Quick note: our review is of the Perform Better First Place Competition kettlebell. Perform Better also offers the First Place neoprene and gravity kettlebells. Each one has slightly different features and is aimed at different user groups. Typing "kettlebell" into the Perform Better search box will lead you to all three, as well as a First Place storage rack that you can use with any brand or make of fixed kettlebell.
There is also a vinyl-coated version of the First Place. When our agent told us there were a lot of products to choose from, she wasn't kidding.
The First Place kettlebell is being phased out in favor of the upgraded First Place Gravity kettlebell. This means you can still get the basic First Place at a discount, at the time of this writing. We imagine they will haunt used and auction sites for years to come because they are so economical and reliable. The First Place base model kettlebell is available new in a weight of 2 kilograms to 60 kilograms (4.5 to 132 pounds).
But Why A Kettlebell?
For one thing, a kettlebell will work all or most of your body in a single exercise, often eliminating the need for more exercises. You can effectively get two dumbbell sets with one kettlebell set, cutting down your time in the gym. Since weight is fixed, there is no transition time and no collars or screws to adjust. Like any resistance exercise, a kettlebell workout will build endurance and power along with strength. The ability to move at different angles is part of that efficiency. Since the design and balance are different from a dumbbell, too, your trunk and core muscles will come into play more often. This makes you more stable, flexible, and nimble.
Kettlebells will also help with something called proprioception. This hard-to-measure variable is your ability to place your body in space and be aware of your surroundings. It ties in with balance and coordination. Since there aren't easy numbers to describe proprioception, it often gets overlooked in weight training programs. But it is an important part of fitness and daily life, and using a kettlebell will help you improve it without putting too much thought into it. Exercises you can do with kettlebells include swings, snatches, jerks, squats, cleans, and throws. You read that last part right--you can pick up a kettlebell and throw it for a full-body workout. It's much more aerodynamic than tossing a dumbbell and looks graceful even when a strongman does it.
Throwing the Perform Better First Place Kettlebell won't damage it. We insist that you do your throws either outside or in a padded, sparsely populated area of the gym, though. You could always grab some friends, go to the park, and see who can pitch a kettlebell all the way across a wide-open grassy area.
Who Needs It?
Finally, if you are new to kettlebells, Perform Better has plenty of resources. There are training videos you can buy, but much of the knowledge is freely available on the website. When you visit the First Place product page, you will find a link to a video that helps you select the proper size. Different athletes, with different goals and experience levels, will have different needs. Perform Better goes out of their way to make the process easier, even if you buy your kettlebell somewhere else.
What People Are Saying
Reviews of the First Place, on Perform Better, Amazon, and commercial review sites, praise the durability and comfort of the product. Kettlebell guards are still a good idea, but we didn't find much mention of bruising. If you prefer something with more give, the neoprene version is easy to find. Perform Better makes shipping easy, too, and the product will arrive when they say it will.