Thursday, May 12, 2011

Calisthenics Makes a Comeback! Is It Right For You?

Spring is here and the weather is beautiful! Weather like we've had recently can really motivate us to increase our physical activity. Now is the time we need to identify what is holding us back. Is it time, lack of knowledge, lack of resources and equipment? I know for many of my clients all three of these often come into play to some degree.
I recently read an article from the NY Times which reports a rise in popularity for calisthenics (Calisthenics Come Back as the Anywhere Workout by John Hanc ). Calisthenics are exercise movements using only one's own body weight for resistance. These exercises can be used for cardio, strength, and stretching and include movements such as jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups, and crunches.

This article talks about the benefits of this type of exercise for "time-pressed business travelers," however I believe this is beneficial for everyone. As the article points out, it's great for people who are short on space and time. However, it should not replace your regular cardio routine and is more likely to maintain your existing muscle than help you gain it (unless, of course, you are currently not doing any strength training at all).

A calisthenics workout can take place in as little as 15 minutes, does not require equipment, and can leave you feeling alert and energized. If you have any limitations such as previous or current injuries or just don't feel confident in your form or exercise choices to meet your goals, I highly suggest you meet with a certified personal trainer to discuss where you're at and where you want to go. While your workouts do not necessarily need the supervision of a trainer (especially if they are under 30 minutes), it would be a good idea to meet with one at least once a month to discuss your progress and ask any questions you may have. This way you have a professional writing out a program or two for you to follow, preferably with progressions, with your best interests in mind.