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This Old-School Workout Is Coming Back (and It’s Totally Badass)

PureWow logo PureWow 5/10/2018 (Alexia Dellner)
a man jumping in the air doing a trick on a skateboard © Brainsil/Getty Images

You’re all about living your healthiest life, but here’s the thing—gym memberships can be pretty pricey (not to mention the fact that your favorite one isn’t even in your neighborhood). If only there were a more convenient—but still challenging—way to get your sweat on. Enter calisthenics: the basic workout that gives anything-but-basic results.

What is it? The word “calisthenics” comes from the Ancient Greek for “beauty” (kallos) and “strength” (sthenos). Calisthenics is almost entirely bodyweight-based and is a combination of strength training and gymnastic movements (but ones you can actually do—no flips or anything). It was a popular workout back in the ’80s but kind of fell off the radar as gyms and fitness technology evolved. But now this stripped-back regime is back in vogue and we’re not at all mad about it. 

Why do it? Calisthenics build strength, endurance and flexibility, with no gym membership or fancy equipment needed. In fact, you can do it right from your living room while catching up on episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale. It also makes a seriously cool party trick when you reach expert level. Have you ever seen those amazing pictures of someone holding onto a pole and lifting their body so that they are parallel to the ground (aka the human flag)? Yep, that’s calisthenics. 

What are some more calisthenic exercises? If you’ve ever done a circuit training or boot-camp class, then you’re probably already familiar with a lot of the exercises (like push-ups, jumping jacks, squats and burpees). Then, there’s the more advanced stuff like a planche, chin-ups or the human flag. How long and in what order you do these calisthenic exercises is kind of up to you (just do it safely, OK?). But don’t worry—there are all kinds of tailored workout plans you can use. For more information about how to start calisthenics, check in with our friends at

Anything else? If you manage to do the human flag, then you’re totally allowed (required, even) to take a #workoutselfie.

Slideshow: 6 surprising things that are actually aging you (Courtesy: PureWow) 


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