Introducing Calisthenics

22 Dec 2023 11:30AM by David McDermott - Athletic Training Activist

Athletic Training in Virgin Active Calisthenics class

Stay in the loop and join the Virgin Active mailing list



Bodyweight training has been a top fitness trend for the past decade, but now more than ever it seems to be growing in popularity. Social media has opened our eyes to what is humanly and physically possible, leading to more and more everyday gym-goers showing an interest in Calisthenics training and taking on a new fitness journey to gain control of their own bodyweight.

Ready for 2024, we’re introducing Calisthenics. Never heard of it? No problem. We’re here to explain…

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a form of strength training that uses only bodyweight exercises to develop strength and flexibility. The term ‘Calisthenics’ is derived from the Greek words for “beauty” and “strength” and is arguably one of the most technically challenging and physically demanding forms of fitness.

Many aspire to train this way but only very few manage to master all of the iconic moves because of the level of strength, flexibility and control needed. (But that doesn’t mean that you can’t.)

Like on any journey, all Calisthenics experts had to start somewhere. They weren’t born capable of muscle ups, planches or standing on their hands. They had a goal, a vision, a passion, the tools, and they worked hard for it. Their starting point may have simply been hanging on a bar and working towards their first pull up.

Perhaps that’s where you are today or maybe you are further along in your journey. Or, quite simply, you may have never thought about Calisthenics training at all, until now…

What are Calisthenics classes like at Virgin Active?

Many people strive for their first pull up, want to refine their push up technique or take their dips from the bench to the bars and rings. Others may look to build on existing skills and take their Calisthenics to the next level. Perhaps you’ve got your heart set on learning to handstand, achieving your first muscle up or working towards holding a lever.

It can be hard to know where to begin and easy to feel like you’re a long way from achieving anything notable. It’s easy to give up or never even start your journey. So, our goal at Virgin Active is to make you feel like you can achieve the impossible. By introducing these classes and following expertly curated programming, we’re making Calisthenics more accessible to everyone.

We’re providing you with a structured training programme that ensures you will make progress in your training and towards your goals.

Calisthenics is a unique class, designed to help you learn and develop skills, build functional strength, develop flexibility and become more capable using just your bodyweight. This class provides you with a place to start, a programme to follow and a tangible way to measure your progress.

In our Calisthenics programme, there is a hierarchy of movement for each exercise, which outlines the various stages of progress required to achieve the main exercise. Our coaches will guide and support you to personalise your experience and make your workout accessible and suitably challenging.

Why should I do Calisthenics?

The aim of these classes is to develop skills, strength and competence with some of the more advanced Calisthenics movements. These classes will train the specific skill and strength components needed to achieve these movements.

Whatever your goal, there’s a place for you to start your journey and the ceiling is very high for what you can achieve. So even if you are quite advanced in calisthenics, your journey is far from over.

Calisthenics offers many benefits that allow you to move more freely and efficiently:

  • Improved joint mobility and stability
  • Improved flexibility
  • Increased core strength
  • Improved body awareness
  • Greater confidence
  • Better range of motion and end range conditioning of joints
  • Improved functional strength
  • More robust and resilient joints, better prevention of injuries

Our Calisthenics Foundations classes aim to develop the foundational skills and strength needed to access the more advanced and complex calisthenics movements. For example, to achieve a muscle up, you must first be able to perform pull ups and dips for repetitions. These classes will train endurance in these simpler movements, with a focus on refining technique, core engagement and body position, all of which are transferable to the iconic calisthenics movements.

Whilst these classes are the perfect place for a beginner to start their Calisthenics journey, even advanced or intermediate Calisthenics athletes can benefit from these classes, using them to condition their muscles and build a stronger foundation for the advanced movements.

How long will it take to see progress?

Ultimately, you define your own progress. Strength progress could be achieving a pull up with the support of a lighter resistance band or having the confidence to hold a handstand in a more inclined position against the wall. Skills development could be learning to hang with the correct grip or how to engage your core to improve your body position.

In Calisthenics, there are lots of elements that can signify progress. Much like lifting weights, progress can take shape with visible improvements in range of motion, strength, control, confidence, speed of execution, time under tension, technique, movement efficiency and muscular adaptation.

Whilst it takes a long time to master the iconic movements, you’ll notice improvements every step of the way, which will make your Calisthenics journey equally fun and rewarding.

Here’s what some of our members are saying about our Calisthenics workshops…

  • “I love the challenge of using your own body weight.”
  • “I found the workshop to be well-structured and helpful. I learnt a lot in this one session and would happily return for future workshops.”
  • “Great experience, good information and very inclusive. The instructor was also enthusiastic and super engaging.”
  • “A lesson quite unusual for a gym and so interesting! Well done, has been amazing”
  • “Absolutely loved the class. I can’t wait for the next - I will be a regular. Thank you for introducing this new and much needed class in the gym. It was great to learn something new.”

Calisthenics is launching in Swiss Cottage in 2024. And look out for more classes coming your way soon…

Ready for your next workout? Check out all the group exercise classes available at Virgin Active.

Not yet a member? Find your nearest club and start your membership today.

Back To Top