Ok, so the image that most people think of (at least those in the "know" about what kettle bells are and what they're all about) is not that of Lance Armstrong doing a swing. However, since he is a popular athlete-particularly in the last few months-it seems appropriate for me to begin this post with a picture of him doing a swing. For the vast population of those people in gyms, kettle bells seem gimmicky...even at one time they did to me. But, and it's a big BUT, there's so much more than meets the eye with these things.
There's a long history that I won't go into here (look it up on wikipedia if you've got the time), but I will say, that they've been around much longer than "traditional" gym equipment, and in my opinion, are a far better option when seeking to get the most from your workouts, and your performance potential.
Speaking of "performance", lets take a moment to talk about that. The number one thing that anyone should expect from any kind of exercise is performance. Most think of performance as being an "athlete only" thing, but in real life, we've got to perform very basic activities day in and day out. When someone talks about quality of life, they're referring to performance and how well you perform the basic functions of everyday life. Nearly everyone is physical in some way. Just to get out of bed in the morning, you've got to perform the actions we mimic with exercise (think crunches and squats). It's of the absolute greatest importance that whether or not you fancy your self as an athlete, you are strong in the fundamental movements you PERFORM on a daily basis.
Going back to kettle bells, the various kettle bell exercises mimic the things we do day in and day out. I'm not going to go onto a long lecture on what specific exercises cover which specific actions, but I assure you, if you're to start a program integrating kettle bells (having learned to use them correctly of course), you're not only going to be stronger swimming, biking, or running, but you're going to cover yourself from injury and imbalance, not to mention making that next session of cleaning up the yard or chopping wood much, much easier.