I am Harry Bird, a personal trainer specialising in bodyweight training and I am also Brand Ambassador for Botanic Lab. Distancing myself from gyms which I find to be slightly monotonous, I have always found greater physical rewards in calisthenics, gymnastics and anything using the weight of the body to build functional strength. Hugely passionate about nutrition, I fell for Botanic Lab thanks to their DELICIOUS and nutrient dense drinks and their pioneering approach to the industry!
-Can you explain calisthenics to me in your own words? How would you sell it to a beginner?
Kalos (beauty) sthenos (strength) or calisthenics in its true form consists of compound bodyweight movements ie pull ups, dips, press ups, lunges, squats. The idea is that you can train anywhere with no equipment. So NO gym membership required. You start at one weight and work with it. It’s all very well being able to bench press 100kg but have you tried holding your body horizontal off the floor with just your hands? Rather than just looking good you can create an amazing relationship with your body and become incredibly strong!
-What are the benefits compared to other exercises?
Calisthenics is a great way to get fit anywhere and at no expense. With outdoor gyms popping up everywhere it has never been easier to get involved. It’s also ideal for girls who are looking to get strong and stay lean. It is much more practical for you do a press up than lift a 2kg weight and expect results. It is an amazing compliment for any sport, making you run faster, hit harder and jump higher. It also provides a sense of freedom that you don’t get in the gym!
-How do you best combine it with other work outs?
For me strength and flexibility work in harmony. Without one there is an imbalance. I would say to the yogis and dancers out there that if they aren’t already doing it they certainly should. I would also say that those ‘cali’ people should start doing yoga or dancing. These types of exercises complement each other perfectly and should be seriously considered about taking their athleticism to the next level.
-Who is it particularly good for? People looking to improve their core? People with back problems?
Anyone who is looking for better connection with their body should consider giving it a go. Your core will become phenomenal. The hanging and inverting will do wonders for your back, lengthening and stretching out the spine. If you struggle to sit down, it's for you. If you’re a runner, it's for you. At the end of the day this is a type of training everyone should be doing daily to develop a strong healthy body!
-If I want to have a go, how can I get started?
There are plenty of beginners classes out there to break you into it. Once you are competent with the pull up, dip, press up and squat then you can start to look at other moves! As I said before there is an abundance of information online to help you get started. If you don’t want to spend any cash get down to one of the outdoor gyms in Kennington or Clapham for example and you’re bound to find someone competent who will give you some pointers. That’s what I love about calisthenics is the sense of community and the willingness of practitioners to help anyone!
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