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Calisthenics & Autonomy
Calisthenics is an autonomous exercise system. It can be done anywhere, at any time, without having to pay for access to expensive equipment or being dependent on a professional trainer or coach. For this reason, I believe calisthenics promotes an ethic of personal responsibility and autonomous action. In my view, a good calisthenics club or society takes this ethic and applies it in the context of a group, where additional principles such as mutual aid (assisting your friends with exercises and letting them assist you – working together to get better) and cooperation (organized sharing of space and resources) become important. Together, this collection of principles provides a useful guide for how we should interact with the world and those around us. We are individuals, but must recognize our role in the collective and the responsibilities it implies. I attempt to bring these principles to all areas of my life, including Modern Calisthenics.
Calisthenics & Climate Change
In an age of climate change, when corporations and states are systematically destroying the ecology we depend on, calisthenics becomes a relevant tool for preparing our bodies for the possibility of a social collapse (or serious reorganization!). By using an autonomous exercise system to get fit, such as calisthenics, we can learn how to build strength and fitness without depending on gyms, expensive exercise equipment created and powered by fossil fuels, industrially produced diet supplements and other capitalist created, profit-motivated exercise commodities.
Why do you need to be fit in order to deal with the consequences of climate change? Well, the ecological impacts of anthropogenic climate change will be far reaching and severe. These impacts will have numerous consequences; in particular, they will likely bring an end to the import/export industrial food system we’ve come to depend on. This will mean people returning to the fields and producing their own food once again. Farming without fossil fuels is not easy. It requires holistic strength. The kind of strength that comes from bodyweight training.
History of Calisthenics
In this introductory section I will try to give you an overview of calisthenics as an exercise discipline. Where and how it originated; what the word actually means; how the discipline has developed and matured overtime and other details.
The word ‘Calisthenics’ actually comes from the combination of two Greek words. The first word, kallos, means beauty while the second, sthénos, is Greek for strength. Calisthenics means beautiful strength.
Some consider it an art form. Using ones body weight and physical qualities to perform impressive feats. Others see calisthenics as a craft, discipline or practice. In this sense, calisthenics is something one can work at in order to improve and develop, just as with cooking, carpentry or yoga.
The exercises preformed when practicing calisthenics are mostly derived from the gymnastics tradition. The German Friedrich Ludwig Jahn is generally credited as the creator of gymnastics and it was his followers that brought gymnastics to America. It was in the United States that calisthenics began to be used in schools, and also in the military, during the 19th century. It was viewed as a good way of improving individual performance while creating a sense to group cohesion. The latter being achieved by the presence of a group leader who ensured exercising was undertaken in synchrony.
Thankfully, modern calisthenics has developed beyond the school playground and military training yard. Today, calisthenics more often promotes individual self-improvement. It offers people a way of exercising without having to purchase lots of expensive equipment or join a gym. It can be done outside or inside and most exercises can be performed anywhere, anytime.
The results that contemporary calisthenics can deliver are striking. People everywhere are turning themselves into muscle bound athletes simply using body weight exercises. Its simplicity and effectiveness has lead to a great surge in the popularity of calisthenics. More and more people are ditching the weights bench in favor of a simple pull up bar and some space to do push ups.
Practicing calisthenics leads to holistic strength. Pumping iron everyday in a sweaty, poorly air-conditioned gym might give you bulging muscles and protruding veins, but calisthenics will give you natural, beautiful strength.
The Pedagogic Method of Modern Calisthenics
Non-hierarchical | Learning by Doing | Skill Sharing (Cooperation)
The Modern Calisthenics No “Assholes” Policy
Modern Calisthenics accepts no discrimination of any kind. Comments that are racist, sexist, homophobic, or in any other way discriminatory will not be tolerated.
Many sports and exercise disciplines are characterized by a culture of excessive machismo. Modern Calisthenics aims to avoid macho and create a more inclusive approach. Everyone is welcome here (except assholes) and modern calisthenics is for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or any other attribute.