HYDERABAD: It’s cost-effective, doesn’t need much space, is easy to learn and best of all, makes you strong. Welcome to the world of calisthenics. Hyderabadis are slowly warming up to this kind of strength training which consists of a variety of movements that require little to no equipment and relies purely on one’s bodyweight to build muscle.
Mohd Aaqib Ihraz was a regular gym-goer till 2013. After completing his BTech in 2012, he went on to pursue his masters, due to which, he could not go to the gym as often. But Aaqib didn’t want to stop working out. Two things happened in 2013: Vidyut Jammwal-starrer Commando released and Aaqib got in touch with a gymnast friend.
Both these incidents introduced him to calisthenics. Ever since Aaqib has not gone to a traditional gym. “The best thing about calisthenics is that you need minimal equipment, making it very cost-effective. All you need is proper guidance. It makes your body stronger and gives you the confidence to overcome obstacles,” says Aaqib, who runs the Facebook page Hyderabad Calisthenics.
Much like Aaqib in 2013, many of us don’t get the time to go to a gym due to the Covid-induced lockdowns and emergence of the work-from-home culture. In such a scenario, calisthenics provides the perfect alternative. Parkour trainer Abhinav Kumar Singh, who runs the Abhinav Parkour Academy, says due to the lockdowns, people have been at home and many are discovering calisthenics. “They open up YouTube and search for body-weight exercises to get fit. We also have got many people who wanted to learn calisthenics through online classes,” he says.
The allure of calisthenics is that it is exciting as opposed to a gym that is usually boring, says Abhinav. “There are so many variations -- from beginners’ level to an advanced stage. There’s something for everyone. Apart from the traditional calisthenics, you have freestyle calisthenics where you can perform a variety of tricks and turns. Getting stronger just becomes a by-product,” he says.
But that does not mean that going to a gym is bad, Abhinav clarifies. “It all depends upon your end goal. Some people want an aesthetic body or want to bulk up or become professional bodybuilders. There’s nothing wrong if they want to work out in a gym. While others want to do perform various tricks by using just their body, so they get into calisthenics. There’s nothing wrong in doing either. Both are good in their own ways,” says Abhinav.
However, Abhinav stresses the importance of guidance in progressing in calisthenics. “There is a lot of misinformation about it on the Internet. You might end up hurting yourself if you don’t follow the right steps. You will experience injuries, muscle fatigue. Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low is a great book to start if you want to get the right information about calisthenics,” he says.
This advice holds true in the case of actor and athlete Likith Kumar, who has been hurt many times. “My body type is such that I get hurt very easily. After I joined Abhinav’s academy, I got a lot of knowledge about calisthenics,” he says.