Calisthenics: between a trend and a sport

Photo depicting traditional pull-up exercise – by Riccardo Felloni and Antonio Di Noto

Article by Antonio Di Noto and Riccardo Felloni

Calisthenics, the outdoor alternative to gym workouts, has been gaining popularity in the last few years, and shows no signs of slowing down during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Lately there’s been a big increase in personal training, since group classes are not available anymore” says Wesley Kerkhove, a personal trainer working at Calisthenics Amsterdam, an outdoor gym entirely dedicated to this form of strength training. Because gyms are now closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, there is an increase in people looking for alternatives to them. 

Photo depicting Calisthenics equipment and excercises – by Riccardo Felloni and Antonio Di Noto.

“Born as a version of gymnastics, calisthenics is a form of fitness which utilises gravity and bodyweight leverage to challenge your fitness level”, says Kenneth Gallarzo, co-founder of the World Calisthenics Organization and creator of the Instagram page Progressive Calisthenics, which has over 300k followers. It requires very little equipment, and the simplicity of the exercises attracts athletes from all kinds of diverse backgrounds.

“I started doing calisthenics exercises in September 2020, originally because all the gyms were closed, but I will definitely continue after the restrictions will be loosened”, says Francesco Carretta, a 23-year-old american football professional of the Arnhem Eagles. “I use it to improve my conditions and cardio, and it is really helpful to develop several parts of the body and not just one”. 

Although the rise of this sport is quite visible, especially recently, its future is full of uncertainties. “I just use it as an alternative, but I will stop practicing it as soon as gyms are open” says Robin Klomp.

Nevertheless, not all the weight lifters are going to quit calisthenics. “Calisthenics is really good to get your body in a harmonic and sort of classical shape and that’s why I don’t think I’ll give up on it, although it will become accessorial to the weight lifting I wanna do”, says Tommaso Populin, an 18-year-old amateur from Italy.

“Obviously there will be some people that will switch back to the gym, but others won’t be able to give up the peacefulness and simplicity of this sport” says Kerkhove. “Working out needs to give you energy, not to drain your energy like crossfit and lifting weights do. Calisthenics gives me peace and it’s more relaxed”.

No one really knows what might happen after Covid-19 , but as today stands calisthenics is as popular as ever, so much that The Lens journalists could not find an empty bar!

Video taken at three different calithenics parks in Groningen (NL). The video displays the perfect technique for pull-ups, as well as Riccardo’s attempt at it.

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