By Rebecca Smith Contributing author, full-time calisthenics instructor with a Management Degree and a Diploma in Nutrition.
Many people interchange the term “calisthenics” and “street workouts”, thinking that they are exactly the same thing. While both workouts share many elements, there are notable factors that differentiate the two.
Calisthenics is a form of exercise that uses body weight as resistance. It comes from the ancient Greek words kálos which means “beauty”, and sthénos, meaning “strength”. Calisthenics is considered as the art of using your own bodyweight as a method to develop your physique. You can do these exercises anytime and anywhere because you do not need any additional piece of equipment to practice it.
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Street workouts follow a similar concept of only using bodyweight exercises, however, as the name suggests, the main difference is that these workouts are performed on the streets or in a public place. Street workout athletes often use public parks that have parallel bars, monkey bars, pull-up bars and other outdoor equipment to perform extreme calisthenics workout routines. To put it simply, Street Workout routines are considered as calisthenics exercises but not all calisthenics exercises should be performed in the streets.
So is one better than the other? Technically, since street workouts can be considered a subcategory of calisthenics, you are getting the same benefits but there are some advantages in practicing calisthenics over street workouts. Let’s have a look at what these are.
1. You can perform calisthenics anywhere
Unlike street workouts that are typically performed outdoors, there’s no limitation when it comes to where you can perform calisthenics exercises. You can perform it inside your living room, in your garage, in a gym, or anywhere you prefer.
The space required to perform calisthenics workouts is very minimal. Even if you are travelling, you can even perform select exercises in your hotel room or even inside a bathroom! Because you only need yourself, you basically take your own gym with you when practicing calisthenics.
2. You can perform it anytime
How many times have you missed a workout because of your busy schedule? Or maybe you woke up 10 minutes too late to catch your 6AM appointment with your gym trainer? Time is one of the topmost excuses for why people get waylaid from their fitness goals. Excuses like “I got too busy” or “I don’t have time” are commonly heard from millions of people every day when they are asked why they are not more focused on their fitness.
But do you know that if you practice calisthenics, you don’t need to worry about fitting exercise in your schedule. With calisthenics, it can adapt to when you are free instead of the other way around!
Because of the flexibility of the calisthenics practice, you can perform it anytime you want. Even if it is in the middle of winter and it’s freezing outside, you can still perform calisthenics. Street workouts are not as forgiving unless you have access to an indoor gym. You don’t have to chase a class schedule or a gym timetable to work out. You work out whenever you can!
You can also choose the duration of your workout. There is no set time you have to perform calisthenics exercises. This means that even if you have a tight schedule, you can squeeze in 15-minute calisthenics sessions whenever you are free.
3. It’s very practical and affordable
Many people find the expense of fitness something they cannot afford. Signing up for a gym membership or attending a fitness class is not cheap. Add in the cost of buying decent gym clothes, shoes, to-go snacks, and transportation costs.
You don’t really have to think about these costs when starting a calisthenics practice. You can work out in the comforts of your own home by using clothes and shoes that you already have. Of course, while it is safer to exercise in proper workout shoes, you don’t need to buy flashy, expensive ones. You don’t even have to buy home gym equipment because you don’t need them to begin your calisthenics workout.
4. The degree of difficulty is wide-ranging
Street workouts are more identified with difficult calisthenics moves. This is potentially brought about by the public setting. There is a showmanship element in street workouts that is not necessary when it comes to calisthenics. Admit it, it would be weird for a street workout athlete to start performing jumping jacks all of a sudden, right?
In a street workout, you are more likely to see muscle-ups, chin-ups, and handstands. While these exercises are all considered as calisthenics exercises, they are for more advanced athletes and would require intensive training and dedication.
However, with calisthenics, you can choose the type of exercises – whether easy or difficult – depending on your fitness goals. Even beginner exercises such as squats, planks, and jumping jacks are part of the calisthenics practice. This makes calisthenics more accessible whatever your level of fitness is. This means that even if you are a kid, a teenager, an adult, or a senior citizen, you can find a calisthenics workout that is perfect for you!
5. It’s good for your overall fitness, health, and well-being
Unlike other gym exercises that only train isolated muscles, calisthenics exercises mainly consist of compound exercises that train multiple large muscle groups in the body. For example, when doing push-ups, this classic calisthenics exercise is training the muscles in your chest, arms, shoulder, back, and abdominals. It ultimately your entire upper body in one effective exercise. What this means is that it is building your overall strength in a balanced way while developing your form. You won’t end up having an unbalance or disproportionate physique.
A calisthenics workout also lends many other benefits. It is a good exercise to improve your flexibility, mobility or range of movement, balance, and coordination. A consistent calisthenics practice will also help you move better in a functional manner. This will help you avoid muscle pain and injuries when you’re performing other sports, or even in your day to day life.
Rebecca Smith started calisthenics at age 26 as a means to lose weight and tone her body. After completing her first successful muscle up, the amazing feeling inspired her to train further and become a full-time calisthenics instructor. Rebecca also holds a Management Degree and a Diploma in Nutrition.
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