No Gym? Find A Calisthenics Park Near You and Understand the Benefits

Calisthenics comes from two Greek words meaning beautiful and strong. If you want to increase your strength, add muscle, and even bulk up, calisthenics is one of the best ways to achieve your goals. Plus, your chance of injury is a lot lower doing calisthenics than when using machines, complex equipment, or heavy weights. If you’re getting bored of your usual gym scene or if you don’t have a traditional gym nearby, try looking for a calisthenics park. Chances are there’s one near you! 

What is Calisthenics?

Man stretching the park before starting his workout

Find a calisthenics park near you to get away and enjoy a good workout (Source: Shutterstock)

 

The ancient Greeks were keenly focused on the importance of exercise. Ancient Greeks believed you could acquire wisdom and beauty through physical exercise. In fact, they thought you could only achieve your full mental potential by maxing out your physical potential at the same time. Come to find out, the ancient Greeks may have been even wiser than we thought. Recent research by the American Psychological Association has confirmed that strength training boosts brain health.

Some believe calisthenics is only about cardio exercise and is intended for people who want to lose weight or build endurance. However, while calisthenics is great for these goals, it also offers so much more. You can target your calisthenics workout to build muscle and increase your strength. It’s even an important part of most injury rehabilitation plans. When properly performed, calisthenics can help you save your thoracic spine from injury, disease, or other issues. But what exactly is calisthenics?

A calisthenic exercise is a form of gymnastics that focuses on developing strength, tone, flexibility, and endurance for the entire body. Pull-up bars, parallel bars, and steps are some of the more common types of calisthenics equipment, but the equipment is unnecessary. You can do calisthenics anywhere you have a little bit of room to move. Even inmates in maximum security prisons can do calisthenics. Many prisoners with bulging, sculpted muscles and amazing tone have calisthenics to thank for their physique. 

Other Types of Calisthenics

Parkour is a calisthenic sport where you run, jump, and climb your way through obstacle courses or man-made landscapes. Breakdancing is another specialized form of calisthenics that targets the totality of your body. Because calisthenics is so versatile, you can do it anywhere and achieve amazing results. Luckily, calisthenics parks have become more popular than ever, and more are popping up every day. With a little planning, calisthenic parks might even become your go-to form of exercise.

Finding Calisthenics Parks Near You

two women working out outside

Working out at a calisthenics park with a friend can keep you motivated (Source: Pexels)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chances are, you’ve already spent some time at a calisthenics park. If you went to public schools or any school with playground equipment, you’re already experienced with the idea. Jungle gyms, bars, swing sets, and even teeter-totters were all designed with calisthenics in mind. A simple Google search may be all you need to find a calisthenics park near you.

If that doesn’t work, visiting several parks in your area will probably help you find what you need. Even if your local parks don’t have a jungle gym you can use, you can still get a full-body workout with simple, equipment-free exercise routines. You can even buy simple, portable equipment like the Lifeline Jungle Gym XT that can be used in almost any park. 

Once you know what kinds of parks are available in your area, you can start crafting your personal calisthenics program. You should start by asking what kind of results you want to achieve and then collect a set of exercises that can help you along your path. I like to visit all the parks in my area on a regular basis, and some parks are more suited to some exercises than others.

I will even plan day trips to try parks that aren’t convenient to my home specifically. I love visiting new places, and I love working out, so combining two of my passions helps me get the most out of my time. When I am on vacation, I still want to exercise. A good outdoor workout is a great way to recover from jet lag and keep your energy levels up. I have met some of the most amazing people while exercising in parks on vacation. I have especially fond memories of parks in Europe and Asia. 

How to Start Calisthenics

How you approach and try something new for the first time can often determine if it’s going to be a success. I recommend the slow and easy approach to practicing calisthenics as you get in shape. If you get familiar with calisthenics by doing simple exercises on easy mode, you will increase your chances of falling in love with this form of movement. 

There are six basic movements in the calisthenics repertoire: 

  • push 
  • pull 
  • flex 
  • extend 
  • balance 
  • stability 

There are dozens of exercises you can learn, from simple push-ups to handstands and ring exercises. I suggest you start with the simple exercises when you first learn calisthenics or return to them after a prolonged absence. The simple exercises will help you strengthen and condition your body and protect you from injury as you progress to more advanced techniques. And no matter how advanced my practice has become, I still love to do push-ups and pull-ups. Just because they’re simple doesn’t mean they aren’t a lot of fun. 

Having a workout buddy can make it easier to get motivated and stay focused on the task at hand. Cooperative calisthenics uses two or more people to perform an exercise. These exercises can be simple, like playing catch with a medicine ball or complicated, like doing a fireman carry or a three-legged race. A tug of war, teeter-totter session, and multi-person jump rope are other cooperative forms of calisthenics. 

Once you get started with calisthenics, you may wonder why you didn’t start sooner!

Create Your Calisthenics Workout Plan

Woman using bands during her workout

Using bands can be an effective piece of equipment during workouts (Source: Flickr)

The best calisthenics workout is one you enjoy. I suggest you try a lot of different types of calisthenics and see where you find the most enjoyable. Craft your workout plan around the exercises you’re good at, but don’t forget to include exercises where you need improvement. Using parks and other outdoor spaces isn’t just a convenient way to get exercise. It is also a great way to help the environment

There are plenty of YouTube videos and blogs that have great instructions and inspiration for your calisthenics workouts. Here is a great video to get you started. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOkCJ57IvNg&ab_channel=HybridCalisthenics

Final Thoughts and Challenge

Calisthenic workouts are often overlooked and completely underrated when it comes to the impact they can make on one’s overall strength, wellness, and mental health. Plus, the added bonus of the availability of calisthenic-friendly parks available in every city and the minimal (or free) cost to get started makes these workouts a no-brainer if you want the best bang for your buck and your physique.

I want to challenge you to take a five-minute break—right now—and start your calisthenics workout plan. Commit to including or increasing the amount of calisthenics you do each week, and pencil it in on your calendar. You may be surprised at just how fun and effective calisthenics can be when incorporated into your health and wellness plan, but you’ll never know until you give it a chance. And don’t forget to take advantage of all your local parks and resources. Who knows, I might even see you there!