It looks like a cannonball with a handle, and the Soviets considered it something of a secret weapon during the Cold War, but it’s not nuclear arms—though it may well provide the solution to your flabby arms. It’s called a kettlebell, and if Jessica Mott has her way, the kettlebell workout is about to be the next big thing in Bloomington’s fitness scene.

The kettlebell regimen involves performing large movements while holding a cast-iron weight. In Russia, the kettlebell, or girya, has been a weightlifting staple for 300 years. It was popularized in the United States by Pavel Tsatsouline, who originally used it to train officers in Spetsnaz, the Soviet Special Forces. When Tsatsouline emigrated to America, he brought his kettlebell technique with him and has since trained Marines, SWAT teams, and U.S. Marshals.

Jessica Mott

Instructor Jessica Mott. Photo by Shannon Zahnle

Mott, a longtime local massage therapist, now leads kettlebell fitness classes at Thrive, a fitness center at 412 W. 4th St., and says it’s one of the few workouts that simultaneously achieves the coveted trinity of strength, flexibility, and cardio. “The fact that you get all three at once really appealed to me,” says Mott, 42. “I can do it for ten or fifteen minutes and it feels like I’ve been at the gym for an hour.”

While this hardworking mother of two has no plans to use her new fitness skills in the service of international espionage, Mott was thrilled to discover that the kettlebell workout has enabled her to handle more mundane (but no less important) tasks, “like carrying the recycling bin away from my body without getting dirty,” she says. The regimen focuses on strengthening core muscles and has resolved her own lower back and shoulder problems, not to mention the sagging tush she says she has struggled with since seventh grade. “I do this because I don’t want to get osteoporosis and I’d like to look good in a swimsuit.”

Kettlebell classes run for seven weeks, 5:15 pm and 6:15 pm on Tuesday and 1 pm on Saturday at Thrive. Mott also offers private training.

Updated April 20, 2012: Mott and Ross Gay are teaching a new class, Kettle Bell Intensive, Saturday May 5 from 2 to 6 pm. For more information on class prices or to reserve a space, call  345-4088.