Kettlebells are gaining momentum as one of the most essential gym accessories. They are commonly used in CrossFit training. As a commercial gym owner, you must have kettlebells in your gym even if you do not have CrossFit training clients in your gym because you never know who might come looking for them.
Are you already looking to buy them? Do not worry, this kettlebell buying guide will walk you through each step essential to make the best purchase for your gym. A few of the many aspects covered in this article are:
- Types of kettlebells
- Important features of a kettlebell
- Buying mistakes that you should avoid
This kettlebell buying guide is written after consulting multiple gym equipment experts. So, we are sure that you will find answers to all your questions related to kettlebells. We have exerted maximum efforts to write this article which makes us confident that this kettlebell buying guide is the best you can find on the internet.
Please note that kettlebells are also known as girya and cowbell weights. However, we will call them kettlebells only. Besides, adjustable kettlebells are not used in a commercial gym, so we have not discussed them in this article.
Now that you know all the prerequisites, let’s get into the world’s best kettlebell buying guide!
Table of Contents
Best places to buy Kettlebells in China
When it comes to buying wholesale gym equipment, China is the go-to place for gym owners all around the globe. The most famous kettlebell industry regions in China are:
- Nantong city in Jiangsu province
- Qingdao city in Shandong province
- Hebei province
You can find the best quality kettlebells in Nantong city. However, the product quality differs according to the manufacturer’s standards as well. In Hebei province, you will find cast iron kettlebells. They are cheaper but the quality is low.
Types of kettlebells
- By material
Cast iron kettlebells are manufactured using one piece of cast iron. They offer a great balance between quality and price. The size of the kettlebell and its handle varies according to its weight. Similar to dumbbells, the higher the weight of the kettlebell, the greater will be its size and handle.
- A wide handle that can be held by both hands
- Cheaper as compared to steel kettlebells
- Manufactured in a variety of sizes and shapes
- Stable and balanced weight distribution
- Not recommended to be used in commercial gyms because of their non-uniform size
Steel kettlebells are better than cast iron kettlebells. They are commonly used in competitions. Professional kettlebells have a standard shape and size no matter how heavy it is. It means that the handle and bell size of a 5kg kettlebell will be the same as that of a 15kg kettlebell.
This uniformity of size provides consistency in training. Therefore, they are widely used in all commercial gyms. Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of steel kettlebells:
- The handle grip will be consistent in all sizes and weights
- Have a wide base which makes placing them on the floor easier
- More durable as compared to cast iron kettlebells
- Not possible to hold them with both hands
- Expensive than cast iron kettlebells
- By finish and coating
Kettlebells have a variety of finishing and coating that can largely affect their price. This coating and finishing protect the kettlebell from wear and tear and strengthens the connection between the bell and handle.
Painted kettlebells are usually manufactured using cast iron. Although paint is efficient in preventing rust, it peels off very quickly in a commercial setting where kettlebells are used a lot. Therefore, you will rarely find them in a commercial gym.
Chrome kettlebells have chrome electroplating that gives them a shining and professional appearance. They are more durable as compared to painted kettlebells. The chrome finishing gives the handle a smooth texture that provides an efficient and comfortable grip.
The only drawback of chrome kettlebells is that they are prone to scratches after some use. So you should use floor mats where kettlebells are used.
The demand for vinyl kettlebells has been increasing over the past years. They are available in a variety of colors that increase their aesthetic appearance. Besides protecting the metal from rust, the vinyl coating also protects the floor by reducing the impact of the kettlebell. Different colors can also serve as a means to distinguish the kettlebells according to weight.
Despite all the benefits, vinyl-coated kettlebells are not very durable. This is because the coating breaks after some usage. Due to this drawback, vinyl-coated are only manufactured by low-quality brands. They are not recommended for use in commercial gyms.
The cracks in the vinyl coating can also catch users’ skin causing an injury. You can not check the inner core quality of the vinyl-coated kettlebells so there are chances that they might be manufactured using low-quality materials. If that is the case, the weight calibration of the kettlebell will also be affected.
Polyurethane is a versatile form of plastic. It is the most advanced and the safest method for kettlebell coating. As compared to rubber, PU is durable, safer, and does not produce a smell.
PU coated kettlebells are more expensive than all other types of kettlebells, however, their durability is worth the price you pay for them.
PU kettlebells are of the following two types:
CPU is melted in a mold, whereas, TPU is made by injection method under high temperature. CPU is twice as long-lasting as TPU, having a life span of approximately 8 years. Due to its durability, the CPU is more expensive than TPU, however, it is not recyclable.
One of the best options for commercial-grade kettlebells is rubber kettlebells. They do not make as much noise as the cast iron ones do. They do not affect the gym floor and are comfortable to hold. The rubber used to manufacture kettlebells is usually scratch-resistant and durable. Rubber kettlebells cannot be exposed to sunlight, otherwise, their quality will quickly deteriorate.
The following are the three types of rubber used to manufacture kettlebells:
- Pure rubber
- Synthetic rubber (Styrene-butadiene)
- Recycled rubber
The rubbers are not the only material used to make kettlebells. They are mixed with some other components to increase durability. The ratio of the rubber to the other raw materials determines the quality of kettlebells. The most commonly used raw material other than rubber is calcium carbonate powder.
You will never have information related to the ratio of rubber to powder from any manufacturer. Even if a manufacturer claims to use 100% rubber, it is highly unlikely that they actually do that.
Sole rubber and tire rubber are the most common options when it comes to recycled rubbers. Among these two types, tire rubber gives a better quality product. You can estimate the quality of the rubber by the smell it produces. The higher the smell, the lower is the quality of the rubber.
Physical Structure of Kettlebells
The structure of the modern-day kettlebell is completely different from its original shape that was created in the 1800s. As compared to the clanky strongman equipment created in Russia, the modern kettlebells resemble a cannonball. It has the following three components:
- Kettlebell base
Kettlebells can have two types of handles.
- Stainless steel handles welded to the cast iron bell
- Poured in one piece with the bell
If you are buying a kettlebell with welded handles, make sure that it is strong and intact. Analyze this factor very carefully because if the handle detaches during exercise, it can cause serious injuries.
Make sure that the handles are smooth. Some manufacturers do not care to grind the sharp protrusions that may form during manufacturing. It can cause scratches on the hands of the user during exercise.
The handles of the kettlebell should be ergonomically designed for an efficient and comfortable grip.
Flashing usually occurs when kettlebells are cast. This seam is visible in the center of the underside of the handle. Make sure that the flash is grinded to smoothen the surface. If it is not done, the pointy surface will cause discomfort to the user.
The handle diameter plays an important role in providing efficient grip. You can find this information in the product description section. An optimum diameter of the kettlebell handles ranges from 30mm to 38mm. In cast iron kettlebells, the diameter of the handle increases with the increase in size and weight. However, in the competition kettlebell, the handle diameter remains consistent. Cheaper kettlebells usually have thin handles that are weak and uncomfortable to hold.
To estimate if the handle diameter is optimum or not, grip the handles tightly and notice the distance between your fingers and palm. If your finger touches your palm, the handle is too thin. Whereas, if your fingers are more than a few inches away from your palm, the handle is too thick. Ideally, your fingers should be 1 and a half inches away from your palm and should be comfortable to grip.
In some exercises, you need to lift the kettlebell with both hands. In that case, the handle should be wide enough to accommodate both hands. Quality manufacturers make a V shape handle of the kettlebell that makes it easier to lift.
If you want to estimate how comfortable the kettlebell will be, analyze the distance between the handle and the bell. If the distance is too short, you will not be able to comfortably lift the kettlebell and it will not rest on the right spot on your wrist. The same is the case if the distance is too long. Therefore, the distance between the handle and the bell should be optimized to provide you the best experience.
A distance of 2 ½ inches between the center of the bell and the lower part of the handle is considered optimal.
The major bulky portion of the kettlebell that resembles a cannonball is known as the bell. The factors that you should analyze about the bell are the manufacturing material and its structure i-e whether it is solid or hollow. For a commercial gym, hollow kettlebells are recommended because their size is uniform, even if the weight increases.
- Kettlebell base
The bottom part of the kettlebell that is placed on the floor is known as the base. The kettlebells that are used to perform exercises such as handstands, renegade rows, and mounted pistol squats, have a flat bottom. Generally, all kettlebells have a flat button that can be placed on the floor without any support. However, you will also find low-quality kettlebells in the market that are wobbly and cannot sit straight without support. Therefore, always check this feature and avoid buying wobbly kettlebells.
Rubber kettlebells have the best base because of the presence of a 1 cm thick rubber pad. This padding reduces noise and the impact of weight on the floor.
Physical properties of Kettlebells
Cheaper kettlebells have poor calibration which means that the difference between their actual weight and printed weight will be high. This difference in weight, although negligible in smaller weights, makes a huge difference in the usage of heavier weights. To avoid this issue, spend some extra money and buy kettlebells from a reputable manufacturer whose calibration difference is low.
The commonly used weight of kettlebells is as follows:
- Men start with using 12kg to 16kg kettlebell
- Women start with using 8kg to 12kg kettlebell
The following are the two methods used to manufacture kettlebells:
- One-piece casting
- Two-piece assembly
One-piece casting is stronger than two-piece assembly. Although assembled kettlebells are cheaper, they should not be bought for a commercial gym because they are weak and cannot stand continuous usage and heavy exercises such as push-ups.
- Grip feeling
Grip feeling plays an important role in the overall experience of the exercise. Most of the exercises performed using kettlebells involve swinging them in the air. So, if the grip is strong, it will save everyone from injuries that might result if someone loses their grip in the middle of their exercise. It can hurt not only the nearby members but also the gym equipment.
To check the grip feeling of the kettlebell, normally hold it. If you feel comfortable, your gym members will most likely feel the same. If you are not sure if you can analyze this yourself, ask someone else to do it on your behalf.
Please note that a handle that is too smooth should also be avoided because it makes the surface slippery. For a strong grip, some roughness is desirable in the handle.
- Shape and size
Competition kettlebells have a uniform size that does not change according to the weight. They are color-coded so you can recognize the weight just by looking at them. On the other hand, the shape and size of all other types of kettlebells differ according to weight. They get bigger with the increase in weight. The diameter of their handles also increases with the increase in weight which makes the heaviest kettlebells difficult to grip.
Quick Buying Tips
While buying kettlebells for your commercial gym, here are a few things that you should keep in mind:
- Make sure that there is no flashing on the underside of the handle
- The diameter of the handle should not be too narrow or too broad.
- The handle should be strongly welded
- The handle should have a comfortable level of smoothness and roughness
- Steel kettlebells are more durable than cast iron kettlebells, so do not hesitate to spend some extra money on them.
- The calibration difference should not be more than 3%
- The weight in the kettlebell should be evenly distributed
As a gym owner, it’s your duty to provide top-notch equipment to your clients and kettlebells are no exception. Remember, it is not something that you buy frequently, so make sure to invest in a product that can last a long time. We hope that after reading our buying guide, you now have answers to all your questions related to kettlebells. If you are ready to make a purchase, contact us to get a custom price quote.
If you still have any confusion, please feel free to ask us and we would be delighted to clear them for you!