There’s a myriad of workout options in the Center Grove area. One has quietly grown from mostly word of mouth as well as receiving the Indy A-List Award for Best Boot Camp this year. ( It’s the Center Grove School of Strength Kettlebell Boot Camp at Center Grove High School.

KB workout

Working out with Kettlebells.

Marty Mills is a weightlifting and conditioning teacher at Center Grove High School who works before, during, and after school to help people become stronger and healthier. He works with athletes and non-athletes alike. He is passionate about physical fitness and helping people become stronger and healthier.

Mills’ athletic background is in football and wrestling. He attended college on a wrestling scholarship, but when he was done, he missed competition so he began powerlifting. As he started teaching, he was competing in powerlifting where he set state records, won national championships, and made the world team.

Marty Mills, weightlifting and conditioning teacher at Center Grove High School.

Marty Mills, weightlifting and conditioning teacher at Center Grove High School.

Mills felt that there was more to being a great athlete than weightlifting or sport-specific activities. Mills said, “I researched what the best athletes were doing. Russians dominated sports, and it goes back to Russian training systems. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the Russian kettlebell workout was making its way into training programs for weightlifters, U.S. Olympic athletes, and the military as more coaches from Russia and elsewhere were hired to train people here in the U.S.”

“Russian Kettlebell training is a philosophy of big whole body, total body athletic movements on your feet,” Mills said. He has taken this holistic approach and incorporated it into all workouts for the student athletes and the boot camp. With terms like snatch, clean and press, swing, it can be intimidating; and it is a hard workout.
Mills tested this workout himself before gradually adding it to the workout routines from 2004 to full integration in 2007. In his classes, Mills would state, “You can do this the rest of your life; it’s the best training system. There was a great run for about 2 years in a variety of sports at Center Grove with more championships being won than before,” stated Mills. In 2008-09, students would tell Mills he should offer this before school for the community. It took 1 ½ years for Mills to feel ready.

In the summer of 2010, Mills offered a 6 a.m. boot camp via three emails to the CG Staff, Power Club, and a person at Eli Lilly and Company. “If 20 people showed up, it would be worth doing. I had no idea that 40 people would show up for that first class,” Mills said. “Then it doubled until it sold out.”

He started hearing that some people would like to come earlier, but he wasn’t convinced more than five people would show up for a 5:15 a.m. class. He added Tyler Small, a former student and a certified Russian Kettlebell Instructor, to help when the additional class started. “I was surprised at the number of people at the 5:15 a.m. workout; there hardly was room to work out,” states Mills. After six months, both classes were sold out. Recently, four more participants have become certified Russian Kettlebell Instructors.

Mills has a lot of support from the administration, staff, students, and community members. Mills says, “What’s it like before school? It is a whole bunch of really good people that work hard, do their best, get better every day, care about each other; that’s just the culture in here. We have people coming from different backgrounds; they create that small community good feeling within the school. And I like that.”

Mills said, “I am proud that I have more people doing this than anybody. I got way more people doing this stuff than anybody, I have somehow created an environment where people want to come in and do a really hard training system, and I’ve convinced them that it’s fun. And they like it.”

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By Kate Rhoten: Wife, mother of 2 boys, financial coach/owner of 4 Walls Financial, columnist & freelance writer for CG Newsletter, living our dream debt free.