Why Calisthenic Fitness?

As I said in my first post on this blog, I only began to focus on calisthenic training methods in January of this year, after a period of inactivity when I became a home owner and moved to a new area (Renfrew).

'Calisthenics' was a word I had repeatedly read as part of my subscription to Men's Health (MH) and I was becoming more and more intrigued as to specifically what type of training methods it consisted of.

So what is calisthenics?

The 'Oxford Advanved Learners Dictionary' [online] states that calisthenics are "gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement". The aforementioned online dictionary also states that 'gymnastics' are "exercises developing or displaying physical agility and coordination".

By those definitions, it can be assumed that calisthenic fitness training will allow a participant to develop their physical skills; specifically, agility, balance, coordination, power and speed.

Thanks to my MH subscription, I was beginning to understand how well-known celebrities, athletes and everyday guys were using calisthenic fitness - ie. simple bodyweight movements, with or without simple equipment - to develop visually impressive muscular composition and high fitness levels.

[Men's Health magazine is no cheap subscription depending on your financials - I pay £15/quarter - but it has been really useful for me, as it has enable me to see past weights machines in the gym, in order to broaden my fitness horizons. Even though, as some may tell you, there can be countless contradictions from page-to-page, but using a trial and error process, you can find new training methods and eating habits to support your fitness goals.]

One particular feature in MH, which told the inspiring story of Londoner Terroll Lewis, really stood out for me and I was absolutely determined to take up and begin to learn the basics of this type of exercise.

Lewis, a former promising youth footballer with Stevenage Borough, turned to calisthenics at his local playground in south London after an 11-month spell in prison for drug dealing. On his release from prison, Lewis went to enquire about joining his local gym but was unable to set up a direct debit in order to join as he had never had a bank account, so instead, he went to the local park and started doing pull-ups, dips and handstands, utilising the playpark equipment around him.

Lewis states in the article that he knew he had to keep active and his mind focused in order to avoid falling back in to his old habits with the old friends around him in the area he grew up him; "when everyone else was on the block corners chilling and smoking weed, I'd go to the park".

As time went on, people in Lewis's local comunity began to ask him what he was doing and if they could train with him, and after posting a successful Youtube tutorial showing people how they could train and perform calisthenics without committing money to a gym, he founded a group/club called 'Block Workout'.

Through time, Block Workout has opened its own street gym facility built by members and local volunteers. There is a small charge to use the facility (£10/month) but the benefits to the people who use the facility and the rest of the community are seemingly worth so much more than that, according to Lewis; "we show love to every single workout family out there...it's like gangs, but it's positive gangs.

"You meet someone at the bars, you don't have a clue who they are, you never met them in your life, but you have something in common. At the gym, everyone has groups: we're strong, your weak, don't talk to us. The park is open. It's free. It's anyone's playground."

It was in that last line of the article that I was completely sold on calisthenics, and the culture of street/bar workouts. My attention's immediately turned to finding a space in my local area where I could start working on pull-ups, dips, and so much more...


If you'd like to read the full MH article on Terroll Lewis and Block Workout, click here.

If you'd like to check out Terroll's personal Youtube channel, click here.

...and if you'd like to get inspired by Block Workout, featuring Terroll and others, check out their Youtube channel, here.


  1. Calisthenics are exercises consisting of a variety of gross motor movements; often rhythmical and generally without equipment or apparatus. They are, in essence, body-weight training.

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