Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my fondness for Indian clubs. I’ve posted on them at several points, published a few academic articles on them and even spent a year in Cambridge doing a thesis on them. Alongside and indeed fuelling this interest, has been my daily use of the Indian clubs.
Every morning without fail, I swing the clubs for 10 to 15 minutes. This has been my morning routine for the past three years and in that time my mornings have become more pleasant, I’ve perked up and perhaps most importantly of all, my previous shoulder problems have become a thing of the past. Like many other lifters, my first forays into the gym resulted in far too much time bench pressing like my life depended on it. The result were very…very beat up shoulders.
Swinging lightweight Indian clubs in a variety of ways has slowly, over time, helped stabilise, solidify and save my creaking joints. I am therefore…. a fan.
You can imagine the childlike giddiness created when Heroic Sport contacted me about reviewing their Pahlavandle Indian clubs. Based in Denmark, this rather clever device allows you to bring your Indian clubs with you wherever you travel. Having trialed the Pahlavandle out for a week, I thought it’d be beneficial to discuss my initial reaction.
How Do They Work?
Beginning with just two handles, the Pahlavandle mark a simple and effective means of progressively increasing the weight of your swings. Each handle contains a small slot capable of holding a plastic bottle. To increase the weight of each club, all you need to do is attach a bottle. After that you can play around with numerous kinds of weights such as bottles filled with water, sand and whatever else you can think of.
The company’s video below shows the club in action below.
What Makes it Different?
Having spent the last few years swinging the clubs, I was surprised at how challenging the Pahlavandle’s could make things. To begin, I started with water bottles filled 1/4 of the way as a trial run last week and let me tell you, it was equal parts fun and difficult. Similar to weight training with resistance bands, the ability to modify the Pahlavandle’s weight makes the lift a lot more unstable than your regular clubs. As the club swings from shoulder level to overhead, you can feel the weight shift from one end of the bottle to the next.
While this can be a little off-putting in the beginning, it forced me to adhere to strict form and concentrate more throughout the lift rather than just aimlessly swinging the things in no dedicated direction, a crime I have been guilty of in the past. It made what should have been a lightweight swing quite challenging. This was the case with a bottle filled 1/4 of the way or indeed all the way up. Thinking ahead several weeks to my next trip abroad, it means that not only can I swing my clubs on holidays which is a rare luxury for me, but I can get quite a good workout in to boot.
Having experimented with water, I next moved on to bottles filled with sand. Unlike my ‘water challenge’, the weight here remained much more stable – akin to my own beaten my Indian clubs pictured below. So for those uncomfortable with the idea of slightly unbalanced clubs, sand is the way to go.
Finally, just for fun I threw a heap of pebbles into the bottles from the front garden to mix things up. Aside from tormenting my poor dog with the noise of rattling clubs, the weight distribution proved a test once more. Since then I’ve been exploring what else I can fit into the bottles – yes it’s childish but without fun in training what is there?
The problem I find many people have with club swinging, even in small doses, is that it can be laborious after some time. Few people have access, or the desire, to swing large weighted clubs, hence they get stuck using 2lb. clubs over and over again. The thing I enjoyed about the Pahlavandle was the ability to lighten or increase the club’s weight depending on what I wanted on a given morning.
The internet has been a godsend for strange Club swingers like myself. Whereas exercisers in the nineteenth-century had to rely on an occasional training manual emerging from the ether, we are blessed to have forums, websites and books all dedicated to club swinging’s various applications. As a taster we’ll return to one of Heroic Sport’s training videos
In my own practice I use the clubs mainly for shoulder strengthening and mobility work. As mentioned previously, shoulder pain has been a reoccurring problem for me owing to some very rash training programmes as a teenager. Swinging Indian clubs has largely resolved my issues and the exercises that I use echo the one’s shown above in the video – albeit I am far less graceful.
Given this was a review however I decided to test the Pahlavandles as best I could. This meant running through arm workouts, squats on my tippy toes and a series of abdominal crunches with the clubs overhead. In this instance, I found the clubs to be a fun way of loosening out following a tough workout in the gym or as a means of alleviating DOMs. In particular lunges and squats with the Pahlavandles proved much more fun than endless rounds of stretching to save my ailing hips (Yes I am slowly getting ready for the scrapyard).
Who is it for?
From my and my friends’ experience (they couldn’t resist trying them), the Pahlavandle and Indian clubs in general are beneficial from anyone with a few years training experience under their belts. Again this is shaped by my own experience but the Clubs really can help with shoulder pain and postural issues.
Slowly getting off my soapbox, I know several golfers, cricketers and baseball players who swear by the clubs to increase hand eye coordination and swing speed. In addition, the few individuals I know happily working in offices find them an easy and effective means of taking a quick exercise break at work.
As an aside, I’m currently training to be a fitness instructor and it’s here I believe that the Pahlavandles may be of immense benefit. Beginning with just the handles, classes of trainees could slowly build up their strength and coordination over a series of months by adding empty and then filled water bottles to the Pahlavandles. This would be a great way of introducing progressive resistance training to novice populations and provide some form of fun and amusement in the classes to boot. Spitballing here but I’m thinking that for any teachers motivated enough, the same principles could be applied to the classroom.
At the moment, one pair of Pahlavandles, such as the ones I used, retail for €23.75. Ten pairs cost €212.50. In a group setting, this would result in each pair costing €21.25 each. So maybe getting people to club in (pun intended) is the best idea for bulk orders.
This price, one hastens to add, must be viewed in the context of the Pahlavandles themselves. Because you can modify the Pahlavandles’ weight with ease, one pair represents several different club weights in one.
Truthfully, I’m very impressed with this product.
Something that provokes the ire of myself and others in the fitness community is continual pushing of gimmicky and ineffective products *cough shake weight cough*
The Pahlavandle is a clever, portable product based upon a centuries old system of physical training. It removes any excuses for not training and it introduces a real element of fun into your own training regime.
The ability to modify the weight, trial new substances like sand or stones and bring these things around with me wherever I travel, has me sold on them. Club swinging has been one of the best additions to my training in the past three years. Not foam rolling, not dynamic stretching, not the Swiss Ball, but the clubs. It hasn’t helped me gain 50 lbs. of muscle in five months or whatever nonsense is usually peddled when selling a product but it has helped me physically and mentally. Each morning, swinging my clubs or Pahlavandles as is now the case, starts me in a good mood and makes sure I can continue to bench press like a man possessed.
For €20, the price most of my friends pay for two drinks, it has been a worthwhile investment. The goal now is to bring them to my soon to be created fitness classes.
If you have any questions about the Pahlavandles or my experiences with them let me know in the comments.
Otherwise get over to Heroic Sport and check them out for yourself.
As always… Happy Lifting! Or swinging in this case!