Whether you are trying to build muscle, lose weight or gain stamina, kettlebells are always a viable option. Kettlebells are similar to free weights; they are handheld ball-shaped masses that come in a variety of weights and sizes. While all Kettlebells can be used in a similar fashion, knowing the difference between cast-iron and vinyl kettlebells is important when making a purchase or deciding which set to use at your local gym.
That Rings a Bell
Kettlebells, or the “Russian hand weight,” have been around since the 1700s, but only recently have they gained media attention and substantial popularity within the global fitness industry. While kettlebells have been viewed as an object of pride in Russia, it wasn’t until 1998 that they began being manufactured and used in North America. Kettlebell was declared a sport in Russia in 1985, with established rules and regulations. Today, both men and women take part in the power and strength endurance sport on a global scale, both for recreation and competitively.
Not all kettlebells are crafted from the same material. The cast-iron kettlebell, often referred to as the “original” kettlebell, is made of just that, cast-iron. The handle and weight are consistent in material and design. The vinyl kettlebell is generally similar to the cast-iron, but has an added vinyl coating that covers the weight and sometimes the handle. Sarah Lurie, a certified kettlebell instructor, warns that “after a kettlebell is covered with a vinyl coating, you can’t see whether holes from the mold were filled with a material other than iron.” This means that if it isn’t 100 percent iron, the kettlebell may not be the exact size it indicates on the label. The added vinyl coating can increase material manufacturing costs, which can lead to higher pricing.
Cast-iron and vinyl kettlebells are both suitable for in-home, gym and group fitness use; however, most kettlebell competitions require steel weights. Generally, vinyl coating is thin and does little to change the standard shape and size of a kettlebell. This leads to minimal difference in equipment performance when it comes to lifting. Sarah Lurie mentions that a vinyl coating can “uncomfortably grab your skin in certain exercises and positions.” Vinyl kettlebells often advertise their ability to "protect the floor" due to their extra layer, but any heavy free weight has the potential to damage a surface. Kettlebell can be a dangerous but beneficial sport and requires coordination, technique and education no matter what the material.
The cast-iron kettlebell is original in every sense of the word; it comes in black and black only -- simple and standard. For those who might be looking to attract new gym members or group class participants or who just have a more colorful personality, the vinyl kettlebell could be a more suitable option. The vinyl-coated kettlebells can be found in almost any color -- from pink to gold -- and vary in brightness.