Calisthenics

Calisthenics 3

 

Shrouded in the obscuring mists of time, Grecian athletes, Shaolin monks, Spartan warriors and Indian yoga guru’s alike have honed their minds and enhanced their skills by learning to control their bodies.

The word Calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek Kallos (κάλλος), which means beauty, and Sthénos (σθένος) meaning strength.

While the Greeks are often credited with developing Calisthenics during 600 – 400 BC, it is difficult to pinpoint their origins. It would be fairer to say that for as long as man has needed to improve himself for any task, he has used some form of calisthenics to do so.

Recent times have seen resurgence in the popularity of pure bodyweight exercise as a preferred means of fitness.  Groups such as BarStarzz and Athletes like Hannibal For King, Frank Medrano and Antoinette Pacheco as well as various other “Street Workout” groups have been at the fore front of the growing interest.

What is Calisthenics?

It is defined most easily as bodyweight exercise, Calisthenics include bodyweight staples such as:

  • Calisthenics 4Push Ups
  • Pull Ups
  • Sit ups
  • Crunches
  • Squats
  • Dips
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Pistol Squats
  • Planking
  • Planche
  • The list goes on!

There is an emphasis on building core strength, from which to lever all other movements. Basic movements can be performed in order to set a baseline or rehabilitate injuries.

Why Calisthenics?

There are degrees to which any exercise can be performed, depending on age or fitness/skill level, therefore, making it accessible to all.

Regressions and progressions can be built into most movements as required.

Eg. Push ups with knees down until sufficient strength and core stability is gained to perform regular Push ups.

Calisthenics 5Importantly Calisthenics incorporates primal movements, Pushing, pulling, rotating, squatting, lunging. The biomechanical benefits include massive strength gains, improved joint integrity and protection, enhanced balance and coordination and overall muscle mass gains with the added benefit of phenomenal fat burning potential.

Where can you practice Calisthenics?

Anywhere you like.  The limited need for equipment means that you can train anywhere anytime using purely bodyweight or incorporating your environment in order to train.

  • Stairs for Squats and Lunges
  • Pull ups from door frames or lintels
  • Incline or decline push ups
  • The limit is your own creativity

More and more outdoor facilities are being made available by public works, which are ideal for those who wish to start or already practicing.

Groups are springing up all over with enthusiasts, newbies, experts and everything in between working together to learn, encourage, teach and support each other.

Calisthenics 6

Cape Calisthenics and Cali Krew are two Cape Town based groups that meet regularly to train together

 Yours in Training,
Wesley Adriaanse

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