“Kettlebell sport, also known as girevoy sport (GS), is a highly challenging power-endurance feat of a cyclical nature. Lifters’ success involves technique, flexibility, strength and power, proper breathing patterns, aerobic capacity, stability, and mental focus.” -Lorna Kleidman, kettlebell coach.


Kettlebell training is a unique sport, comprised of a small community, and can be quite fun, according to CHHS staff members, Grace Castaneda and Robert PageSmith, both of whom are counselors in the colleges’ Advising and Career Development Center. Though the actual sport is exceptionally rare in the Central Valley, nontraditional kettlebell training is a bit more common.

Specifically, in Fresno, there are a few gyms that use kettlebells as a lifting tool. However, the Central Valley Strength & Conditioning gym, owned by Michael LoBue, is the only one in Fresno that is involved with kettlebell lifting as a sport.

PageSmith competing in a recent competition.

Castaneda and PageSmith, whom currently attend LoBue’s gym, are involved in kettlebell lifting as a sport and even compete in local and statewide competitions. Competing under their team name, “Team Girevick Gear,” (which means “kettlebell lifter” in Russian), both Castaneda and PageSmith lift 20 kilos or about 44 lbs each.

In the competitions there are different lifting events, such as the long cycle, the jerk or the snatch, and in certain events the lifter can use one or both arms. The objective of the sport is to complete as many repetitions as possible in 10 minutes.

Their affiliation with the kettlebell sport is rather admirable, as it takes hard work, dedication, passion and consistency to train in the sport. Castaneda and PageSmith actually share a collegiate track record in sports, with both involved in track and field while in college, which explains the origins of their athletic mentality.

“I have been an athlete in some fashion since I was about eight,” Castaneda said. “Since I was able to compete competitively in college, it is ingrained in me to want to do a sport of some kind.”

With that in mind, it may come as no surprise that Castaneda has a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology (with an emphasis in Physical Education) from Fresno State, and a Master’s in Counseling from California State University, Northridge. Her sheer dedication to the kettlebell competition is a testament of her passion to the sport.

Castaneda (right) typically lifts about 44 pounds during competitions.

Meanwhile, PageSmith has been on the Fresno State campus for about 20 years and is a fellow alumnus, having obtained both his bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Master’s in Counseling from Fresno State.

“I have done six competitions,” PageSmith said. “Each one I try to learn something new. I always ask Coach LoBue if there is something that I can do better. It is kind of like what Grace said – it is more about competing against yourself and improving your numbers.”

When it comes to competing in kettlebell lifting, there are two different versions of the sport, which are known as “bolt” or “GS.” In “bolt” competitions, the kettlebells can be put down while competing, while in GS, they cannot. For instance, in “bolt” competitions the kettlebells are lifted in intervals, while the “GS” version is continuous.

At a recent competition, held in Costa Mesa, Castaneda placed first in her division, noting that the fast-paced competition was reminiscent of a sprint. She says much preparation is needed in order to train competitively.

PageSmith, far left, takes on the competition.

“I go at least 4-5 times week to the gym,” Castaneda said. “Our daily workout is used for the training. It is a little bit of an athlete mentality of eating better and paying attention to how the body is feeling, not pushing it too far and getting hurt.”

“Coach LoBue has a plan and we follow it,” PageSmith added. “Each week he sets the weight that he thinks we can compete with. Every couple of weeks he does tests to see where we are at and adjust the weights.”

The World Association of Kettlebell Sports Club will be holding their World Championship in Costa Mesa in February 2017. Castaneda and PageSmith, along with their spouses who are also competitors, notes that their ultimate goal is to be prepared for this event, which will come with international competition.

“Yeah this is the big one coming up,” PageSmith remarked. “Myself and Grace also have the Northern California championships in August and the California Long Cycle championship in July.”

Castaneda and PageSmith both note that the kettlebell sport is challenging, but the support they’ve received makes it all worth it.

“You want everyone to win, as well as, yourself. The idea is just to have fun,” Castaneda said.

To learn more, contact Castaneda at gcastaneda@csufresno.edu or PageSmith at rpagesmith@csufresno.edu.

-Written by Sierra Frank, CHHS Communications Student Assistant