Throw your weight around

Nupur Pradhan
Sunday, 29 April 2018

Sally Jones Kapoor, founder, Street Workout and Calisthenics Foundation Indian Chapter (SWCFI), explains the concept of calisthenics which is considered to be one of the most natural ways to exercise

Stay healthy, stay fit’ is the current mantra of the people.

Lifestyle diseases and health concerns among the young and old alike are on the increase and people are now moving away from an unhealthy and ‘instant’ lifestyle towards a better and healthy living. There has been a drastic growth in the fitness industry as more and more people are being aware of the importance of staying fit. Gymming, weightlifting, aerobics, and zumba are some of the many workout routines that have become popular among the masses. Here we find out more about one such fitness regime – calisthenics. Considered as one of the earliest forms of exercise, calisthenics is claimed to be the most natural way of exercising. To understand more about it, we spoke to Sally Jones Kapoor, founder, Street Workout and Calisthenics Foundation Indian Chapter (SWCFI).

What is calisthenics?
Calisthenics is a compound workout that involves exercises performed without using any added weight, except your own body weight. It is hence, also known as body-weight training.

Calisthenics is an excellent substitute to machine workouts and can be done as a stand-alone routine, or designed into any weight loss, bodybuilding or fitness workout. It is also associated with the sport of street workout. Calisthenics adopts parts of the Gymnastics’ principles with less specialised and fewer pieces of equipment required.

Which exercises come under calisthenics?
Some basic calisthenics exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, dips, squats, etc. Advance level exercises are muscle-ups, human flag, front/back lever among others. 

Why should one take up calisthenics?
Calisthenics is a mixture of different compound exercises. So, compared to other workout styles, where the focus is on either muscles, or a particular body part, calisthenics has several muscle groups that work together. Due to this, the body tends to burn more calories.

The workout regime has many benefits and is convenient, and it can be tailored to suit beginner, intermediate or advanced trainees.

What is the difference between calisthenics and other fitness activities like zumba, acrobatics or gymming?
Calisthenics is a part of functional training as pull-ups and push-ups help you increase your grip and focuses immensely on core strength.  It improves strength, stamina, and endurance. Aerobic exercises/zumba focus on weight loss and improving your cardiovascular health whereas calisthenics focuses more on strengthening your muscles. Acrobatics and calisthenics share similar skill sets, however, the difference of execution lies in the transition of movements. Calisthenics is a form of training and acrobatics is an art. A calisthenics performer usually uses equipment like beams and bars whereas in acrobatics, the performer/dancer is the equipment. However, they do overlap their focuses as some zumba/aerobic routines can build muscles, and calisthenics can also burn some calories.

Gymming on the other hand basically focuses on a particular body part at a time. It’s not a compound exercise, so stamina needed is comparatively less. Weightlifting is all about developing strong muscles, healthier bones and better stamina, using free weights or specialised weight-training machines for resistance.

The awareness to remain healthy and fit has increased among people. With so many gyms and health centres, how to zero in on the perfect way and the perfect place to exercise?
The best workout routine is the one that would suit your body type, the one that you would follow sincerely, and the one that refreshes your mind, body and soul. It is about that mental encouragement to push yourself every single time your body tries to give up. The questions to be asked to yourself for deciding on your workout plan - 
l What are your fitness goals?
l What kind of training you need, as in whole body or only muscles?
l What is fitness to you? What makes you jump in exhilaration? 
l Can you balance your training schedule and your life schedule?
l Does your exercise programme incorporate more than one training benefit?
It is with the answers that you will be able to choose the right kind of workout for yourself.

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