Old School Calisthenics The New CrossFit?

Merrell Outdoor Boot Camp

Calisthenics are nothing new. We all had to do them in grade school, seeing who could crank out the most push-ups or remain the longest in the flex armed hang during the President's Physical Fitness Challenge each year. Recently, body weight exercises have been cast aside for more popular weight based programs such as CrossFit, but it appears the tide may now be turning and the good old push-up is making a comeback.

Jumping on the outdoor calisthenic trend, Merrell has teamed up with Life Time Fitness to host free outdoor classes at more than 100 locations nationwide (sadly none in California). Dubbed Outside Fitness Powered by Merrell, each class will be led by Life Time’s certified personal trainers and will focus on body weight exercises in a boot camp class format. 

“We see a growing movement of people looking for venues to cross train outside – from city playgrounds to trail heads doing pull ups on branches,” said Meg Hammond, director of global marketing at Merrell. Outdoor classes are offered three times per week between June 4 and August 24, 2013. You can find schedules, locations, and registration on the Outside Fitness Powered By Merrell site.

Last week, the NY Times published an article about progressive calisthenics featuring Al Kavadlo, a trainer who holds classes outdoor every Saturday in Tompkins Square Park in the city. “In body weight strength training, the idea is to engage the whole body; progress is made by moving on to more difficult exercises, not by adding weight," Al Kavadlo said. 

In both the Merrell Outside Fitness and Al's classes, new participants start with basic moves such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats. As your strength improves, you can move on to more challenging versions of basic calisthenic exercises. Al posts tons of videos and workout suggestions on his website and YouTube channel to get you started. 

So what do you think? Do you prefer weight lifting or are you into gaining strength through simple body weight exercises, a bit like yoga?

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