Calisthenics are exercises that don’t rely on anything but a person’s own body weight, much like mat based Pilates. These exercises are performed with differing levels of intensity and rhythm, Calisthenics utilises gravity and body weight control to challenge your fitness level. Like Pilates some exercises can be enhanced with the use of equipment.
The benefits of body weight training are that it builds strength and mobility at the same time, so whereas using weighted exercises builds strength and size of muscles, it may inhibit flexibility. Pilates and Calisthenics create a balance between strength and flexibility to help you remain agile and strong.
These exercises allow for the development of strength, endurance, flexibility, and coordination much like Pilates.
Calisthenics comes from the Greek words kallos, meaning beauty and sthenos, which means strength. A lot of movement patterns are like those I use in my Pilates classes.
For example, squats you may have noticed they are almost a staple in my classes, this isn’t just because I like them, they have a great deal of benefits which help you in everyday life whether you are walking up the stairs, running a 5k or cycling the South Downs Way. Squats, done properly, increase the mobility and stability in your knees, hips and ankles as well as getting your heart rate up which is good for your cardiovascular system, which in turn helps to improve your endurance.
I honestly believe that we should exercise our bodies in the way that they work in everyday life. Yes there are some benefits to focused training on certain muscle groups for example if you had a weak left glute you may focus time working this side, but your glute doesn’t work on its own many other supporting muscles in your back and core are working as you perform a single leg squat for example, so it seems daft to just focus on that one muscle when the rest of your body is chipping in.
The other thing with separating out muscle groups is that it can mean your trip to the gym becomes lengthy, for those of us who are time crunched this can be an issue.
Enter Pilates, Pilates like calisthenics aims to work your whole body and mind in a way that builds strength but also maintains and sometimes improves flexibility. Both Calisthenics and Pilates have a mind / body connection both require focus and challenge you to be present when you practice especially at the beginning when you are learning the moves for the first time.
Your brain is a muscle that needs flexing as well and training it with progressively challenging movements is a great way to keep it sharp.
This combination of mental focus and physical challenge make Pilates a stimulating fun workout that enhances your mental and physical wellbeing and keeps you coming back for more.