banner photo by Simonz Grizon from Wikimedia Commons
The photo above is an example of something I have yet to witness here in the American Midwest. In case you can't tell, it's a group of people ranging from children to adults, all having fun exercising at a fitness park in Slovenia.
Exercising with calisthenics at fitness parks and other outdoor locations is now common practice in Europe. It's a fitness movement that has a lot of momentum and is continuing to grow with rapid speed. From what I hear, the popular name for it is "street workout" in the European countries, while over here in the States we've given it the simple name of "calisthenics," with other variations like "extreme calisthenics" and "progressive calisthenics" used here and there as well.
But unfortunately, the movement here in the States seems to be lagging a little behind in comparison to our good friends overseas. There are fitness parks in New York that get a lot of attention, as well as one park I've found near me in Chicago, but for the most part, these fitness parks are pretty scarce here from what I've seen.
And I can't help but wonder.... why is that? Why is this movement not spreading like wildfire?
So let me start off the No Gym Necessary blog with a first post that's more or less a prophecy: My Top 5 Reasons Why Calisthenics Will Take Over Fitness.
Reason #5: No Gym Fees!
Yep. Money is important. We work hard for it so we can pay for our rent, utility bills, groceries and more, so why spend some of that hard-earned cash on a monthly membership when you could be exercising for free? Especially when you consider that a simple one-time investment in a doorway pull-up bar and a nice set of parallel bars is all you need. With calisthenics you rely on little-to-no equipment, so save that extra money in the bank!
Reason #4: Save Time!
While money is obviously important, spare time is quickly becoming just as sparse of a commodity in our lives these days. So why would anyone want to spend the extra 20+ minutes driving out of their way to go the gym? And what about the time wasted signing in, changing in the locker room, waiting for that incline bench to free up and so on? It's all a waste. Once you learn that you can work out in your very own home without needing to go to a special facility, you can start saving time while improving your fitness.
Reason #3: Double the Results!
Calisthenics can literally double your results compared to normal "gym fitness." Think about it: gym workouts are focused on traditional exercises like biceps curls, weighted squats, bench press and so on. Those same movements are done over and over. The only thing that changes is the amount of weight on the bar as you gain strength. Calisthenics, on the other hand, gives you strength gains as well, but there's a whole new benefit on top of it - you develop skills. So while the weight lifters are still doing the same old movements over and over, you're consistently developing new neuromuscular pathways (hence, new movements) that allow you to defy gravity and challenge yourself like never before. And hey, let's be honest - it's damn fun to show off those newfound skills and impress people!
Reason #2: Talk About Well-Rounded!
The specialized equipment in gyms actually works against you in many ways because it restricts the freedom of your movement. But calisthenics works in the opposite fashion; with your body moving freely through space, it keeps your exercise functional at all times so you incorporate many of the various domains of fitness. For example, consider handstand training and its impressive versatility. It requires strength, flexibility, coordination, balance and agility to achieve a solid, straight handstand. And many of the intermediate and advanced skills are just as versatile as the handstand. For this reason, calisthenics makes you a well-rounded athlete who doesn't ignore certain aspects of fitness.
And now, my top reason why calisthenics will take over...
Reason #1: Work Out Anytime, Anywhere!
This is my absolute favorite thing about calisthenics and the main reason why I believe it will eventually dominate fitness.
Need to travel for work and the hotel doesn't have a fitness center? No problem! Just do some jumping jacks, mountain climbers, push-ups and handstand training in your hotel room. Sounds like a good workout to me.
Need to watch your baby daughter while the wife goes to work? Awesome! Just hold that little munchkin in your arms while you do various types of squats and lunges to squeeze in a leg workout.
Going on a hike with the family? Perfect! Drop and do a set of push-ups every mile or so to grease the groove.
Having a picnic in the park with your girlfriend? Nice! See that low tree branch over there? Jump up and bust out a set of pull-ups on it. She'll be impressed!
Thanks For Reading
Hopefully now that No Gym Necessary has officially launched, it's only a matter of time before calisthenics is in the mainstream.