Ten years ago, Muscatine resident Matt Kurz started having recurring issues with his shoulders and lower back from his construction job. When one of his friends learned of Kurz troubles, he suggested he try working out with kettlebells.
Kurz did a little research to find out more about the sport and some of the biggest names in kettlebell lifting, and then agreed to try it for himself. What started as a workout routine to help solve his back problems grew into something much larger. Now, Kurz lifts kettlebells competitively in contests around the nation. After earning the rank of Candidate Master of Sport at the United States Kettlebell Sport Lifting National Championship in Ann Arbor, Michigan this year, Kurz qualified to compete with the USA National Team. From November 6th through 10th, Kurz and his teammates will compete at the International Union of Kettlebell Lifters (IUKL)World Championship in Novi Sad, Serbia.
When Kurz first took up kettlebell lifting, he found the activity helped with his work-related injuries tremendously. “The movements of the kettlebell mimicked a lot of the movements of the labor I did, and the bell has a shifting center of gravity, so it strengthened my weak areas and increased my workload capacity,” he recalls. Thrilled with these results, Kurz kept lifting kettlebells long after his shoulders and lower back healed, and he stopped having difficulties at work.
In more recent years, Kurz began training with Ken Blackburn, co-founder of the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation (IKFF). After Kurz earned his IKFF teaching certification under Blackburn’s guidance, Blackburn suggested he try competitive kettlebell lifting. In the sport, individuals go against each other to see who can lift their kettlebell correctly the most times in ten minutes without setting it down. Kurz took his suggestion and began entering competitions. Kurz took to it immediately. “I enjoy the camaraderie from the lifters, the mental tenacity to be under a load for ten minutes, and the benefits of training for a sport,” he explained.
Over the past year and a half, he has competed in numerous events in many locations across the country. Kurz has earned first place in his weight class at several competitions but considers making the USA National Team his greatest accomplishment so far. “I feel proud to be able to represent the US internationally,” he stated.
With the IUKL World Championship less than a month away, Kurz looks forward to this new opportunity to compete, as well as the chance to travel internationally. “My goal is to do the best I can against the best in the world and experience the local culture,” he elaborated. As Kurz takes his kettlebell lifting on the world stage, his many fans in Muscatine will root for him as he continues to give his all in this up and coming sport. They will also celebrate his inspiring story of how a commonplace workout routine led to international fame for one of their very own.