Yoga has been part of my life for a long time, but I’m relatively new to Calisthenics
So what made me try it and why does it work so well for me alongside my yoga practice? In all honesty, I started yoga because I was in pain! But this is not unusual – many of my students either suffer from injuries or just have achy bodies from the lives we lead in cars and in front of computers. Mine was a snowboarding injury and I took up yoga to relieve back pain and build up some core strength to help keep my back healthy. That was over 20 years ago, but once my back was feeling better, I still attended class because I’d started to enjoy the calm of that hour on the mat – no competition, no one else to talk to, no loud music – just my thoughts and one hour to let the mind recover, as well as give my body whatever it needed that day, be that a restful practice or an energising one.
After many years of practice, I began a teacher training course which, due to various life-changing events, I was unable to complete and it wasn’t until my second son was at school that I had the time and headspace to go back to achieving that ambition of teaching. Since then, it’s been my absolute pleasure to share my love of yoga with others. As a massage therapist, my teaching style reflects my understanding of the body and how it works and I get immense satisfaction from seeing people slump into class and leave with a spring in their step and a smile on their faces. And I always make sure there’s time in class for students to do whatever form of meditation they need, but to me this is intensely private. I create the space, the student fills it.
So what does this have to do with calisthenics and how did I become part of the team? Well, I have never really been much of a team sports person – preferring cycling and working out in the gym at a time that works for me than having to commit every week to a team sport. I love a good HiiT work out – the feeling of the heart racing and working up a sweat. But, I wanted to be strong – not for anything in particular, but just for the pleasure of feeling it. And to know that I was investing in myself for the longer term and that if anyone asked me if I fancied a challenge (“fancy doing a Tough Mudder?”) then the answer would always be a resounding “YES!”. As many of you will know, working out in the gym can get a bit boring, and my husband, who had been to an School of Calisthenics workshop, booked me on one where I had the pleasure of meeting Tim and Jacko.
It would be untrue to say I hadn’t been nervous about attending the workshop – I’d had a look on social media about what Tim and Jacko could do and I felt a little intimidated. But there was no need. It was a super-friendly group and before long, I was skinning the cat, hanging off bars and generally having a great time.
I was hooked and I could see the parallels with yoga – this was a sport that I could do in my own time, to my own agenda.
Some days training would feel good and I’d feel like wonderwoman, other days I’d feel weak as a kitten and I’d need to recognise I needed rest. Or a coffee. Probably both. But most of all, I recognised the immense strength I would need to build to be able to handstand or back lever. I recognised this would be a new challenge for my brain as I acquired new skills. It would improve my awareness of my physical being, how it worked and what it was capable of and all of this I could share with my students, both yoga and calisthenics.
So like many of you reading this blog, I’m on a journey and it’s one that I suspect doesn’t have a destination, but I’m ok with that. I’m enjoying the training, the variety, the strength and new skills I’ve gained and I can see how Calisthenics translates into my yoga teaching and vice versa, with improved proprioception and anatomical cues a big part of my teaching. Most of all, I’ve enjoyed becoming part of a supportive community.
Perhaps the thing I missed out on by not being a team sports player was that sense of community, but that exists very strongly in calisthenics – whether online or as part of our local classes.
There’s always someone further along the path than you are, keen to encourage and support and who can recognise the small but monumental gains you make in your training. So, if you’re nervous about taking the first steps in calisthenics training like I was, or might be doubting your ability, then please rest assured that if you can take that first step, you definitely won’t regret it!
It’s a great place to start you calisthenics journey. We introduce you to some foundational exercises to help you move better, get strong and have more fun with your training.
Take a look at Bodyweight Basics is designed specifically for beginners and those wanting to build the foundations for more advanced calisthenics movements. With it comes our Principles for Movemwent, Strength and Play training programme for free. It’s a perfect follow-on from our free beginners training programme!