Now is, give or take a couple of weeks, the anniversary of my first year doing calisthenics. My first experience of strength training after seven years of karate and other martial arts, it’s fair to say it’s been a big change and taken me on a journey I never expected to go on.
Adapting from something that’s predominately skill-based to something that’s primarily strength-based has been “interesting”. By which I mean “hard”, “frustrating” and “paved with lessons learnt”. After hours of karate I was used to feeling exhausted, pushing myself hard, being focussed, practising and so on, but strength training is a totally different beast. I am still learning so much – about how to structure my training, recovery, when to stop, how to progress and so on – but the level of challenge it offers, with an almost unlimited series of progressions ahead of me (one of the advantages of being a girl in this sport is that there is so much you could – although probably won’t – do) is incredible.
Although I do most of my training on my own, develop my own program, set my own goals and motivate myself, there is absolutely no way that I would be where I am today had I not been lucky enough to meet up and train with the most talented people in the country. I’ll never forget my first time training with the Bar-barians and the other guys at Primrose – I was absolutely shitting myself when I went over, but left feeling like I’d made some firm friends and feeling certain I’d be back. And of course I was, and so were they, and over the weeks and months many people shared their time and knowledge with me, helping me work through progressions, giving advice, and just being there as a friendly face to see in the park after a long day at work. Seeing the guys, their progress and their level of skill has been a massive inspiration to me, and is an on-going reminder about what consistent smart training can get you.
The other great source of inspiration are all the people I haven’t met – the guys on the Bar-barian forums, people who I have “met” through YouTube and now communicate with on an almost daily basis via Facebook, and the creators of the videos on that show up on my feed every day. Like karate (and indeed most sports) calisthenics is a great leveller – it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or even whether you speak English – it’s all about your willingness to learn, progress and share your skills. Seeing what others get up to, several thousand miles away in different weather and seasons, is always awesome.