Louis and I met at a recent product launch party up town. Bearing in mind that the fitness blogging world is heavily dominated by women we gravitated towards each other pretty sharpish as we were the only blokes there! It turns out we had far more in common than just our sex…Louis has also been a Personal Trainer for a decade AND Louis is also an awesome guy (lols, totes jokes ha ha sorry couldn’t help myself) … but seriously we are both great coaches and we are both awesome guys. Anyway…
I’m just starting a new series in which I spend ‘an afternoon with fitness empresarios and learn from their knowledge and skillset that will often be very different from my own. The whole concept here is that no matter how experienced you are in fitness there is always something new to learn which challenges you and in turn broadens your horizons. Everyone benefits from engaging with a quality coach…including us coaches! The important thing is to leave your ego at the door and soak up every drop of knowledge that comes your way…I encourage you to get out there and see what endless possibilities are on offer! #FitnessTourist
I took some time to think about areas of the fitness world that I am weakest in and callisthenics was the first training discipline that came to mind. I come from a sports conditioning background and my body is a rugby battered and centrally heavy frame with chipped corners in the shape of nerve damage in my left shoulder to name one sporting injury – the result of which means I don’t feel most at home swinging from a high bar. This is something I would like to change in the coming months.
Naturally Louis was the first person I was going to call to show me how it’s done. This is how things played out…
Meeting at the outdoor gym bars on Clapham Common Louis kicked off the session with a demo of all the amazing movements one can produce off of a high bar if you have his ability. Watching with my mouth wide open in ore it was clear that the gulf between Louis’ talent and my fleeting callisthenics experience was going to make for an interesting afternoon.
Away from all the pirouettes and skinned cats on show my challenge for the session was to achieve a muscle up…a calling card signature of a move that I had never attempted before. My doubt in my ability to achieve this, all things considered, was quelled by Louis’ infectious optimism and confidence in his coaching abilities.
As all good coaches attest, to obtain a goal you must incorporate clever use of progressions and regressions accordingly . Louis spent some time doing this with me whilst demonstrating the key principles of the moves as well as discussing the whole lifestyle that surrounds the discipline itself. As he was doing this it became clear to me that with Louis’ passionate approach to callisthenics it is as much an art form as it is a fitness genre.
To watch someone in full flow is to observe a graceful type of strength not regularly seen in gyms where the grunt and grind of shifting heavy loads is too often the prime objective. Callisthenics seems to go deeper than that. The word itself comes from the Greek word ‘kalos’ meaning beauty. If football was ‘the beautiful game’ then perhaps callisthenics can claim its place as the beautiful fitness routine…?!
Between observing and pondering these thoughts I hoisted myself up onto the bar and with the help of a power band and Louis himself I was soon able to start achieving some of the required movements albeit in a heavily assisted capacity. With my ego firmly packed away I was quite happy performing the movements in a regressed manner. If I am to be wise and play the long game with this then focus on the details and not pure brawn is essential. Louis assured me that this is certainly the case – he has plenty of experience coaching many people through the various stages required to achieve competency. One of my main Autumn goals is to get there myself…
Louis is also on a mission to bring callisthenics to a wider audience and make the benefits accessible to all regular fitness goers from all training backgrounds and abilities. With some mad ‘gangsta’ street gym videos online of unbelievable workouts that the rest of us can only gaup in awe over, bar work and callisthenics has perhaps developed a reputation as an elite training disciple reserved for the hardcore outdoor gym crews out there. But this doesn’t have to be the case. We can all benefit from callisthenics, there is a level for everyone and with the buzz of achievement that comes with making progress in this genre of fitness I highly recommend that you give it a try – to help you do that Louis has set up group callisthenics class ‘Bar Jam’ which is one of the best ways to enjoy an introduction or develop current skills, you can book classes via Facebook. Alternatively you can get some one on one action from the man himself at