Just like one of my other loves, Hip Hop, New York City is the epicenter of the calisthenics community that is quickly growing across the globe. Calisthenics "comes from the ancient Greek words kalós (καλός), which means "beauty", and sthénos (σθένος), meaning "strength". It is “the art of using one’s body weight and qualities of inertia as a means to develop one’s physique” and consists of exercises such as push ups, pull-ups, dips, sit-ups, and air squats. It has probably been around since the dawn of mankind, but it was in New York City that it developed into a culture complete with various competitions, crews, creative artists and athletes, fashion, music, and more. For many it’s a way of life that influences everything they do similar to how hip hop influences its community of emcees, djs, bboys, and graf artists.
I recently traveled to NYC to compete in an event called the Pull Up Park Jam. The event is organized by Pull Up Park Jam Inc. which is a nonprofit organization formed for the charitable purpose of promoting healthy, fit, and strong lifestyles. Every year people gather from all over the world to compete in calisthenics events. The events are organized by weight classes, age and gender. Winners are determined by who can complete the most reps (with good form) within the allotted time of two minutes. The top three from each event receive trophies and are considered to be the best in the world.
The Message of the Pull Up Park Jam
It’s not just about the physical aspect of performing a pull-up, let me break down what I believe is the message delivered by the event:
1. Pull Up - The pull up is an exercise performed in which you pull your body up. This is symbolic for what the calisthenics community is all about. First you must pull yourself up which means improving your body, mind and spirit. Then, pass the knowledge on to others and motivate them do the same.
2. Park - The park represents a free place for the community to go and Pull Up. It is essentially an outdoor gym with free membership for all. It is a place to learn, grow, and evolve.
3. Jam - The jam is a gathering of spirits. People coming together for a common purpose. A celebration that inspires and motivates everyone in attendance to strive for greatness and also have fun while doing it.
When you combine the 3 elements of Pull Up, Park, and Jam it synthesizes into a pure example what I believe the human spirit is about: continuous movement, community involvement and infinite progress.
I was lucky enough to meet and connect with so many amazing people and hear their story. Similar to my journey, I talked to many who said calisthenics and its uplifting community was the light that guided them out of a dark period of their life. It's no wonder why this culture is quickly spreading around the world and making positive changes to the community. It was an amazing experience and definitely something I will take compete in again in next year's event.
Go Infinite Training