From injured weight-lifter to calisthenics athlete

the value of starting over

Braden

Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athletes – people just like you that are working with their own body weight to get strength, lose fat build muscle, recover from injuries and live their best lives!

This is story of Philippe – Calisthenics Academy

Braden is an army officer and former weight-lifter, whose injuries caused him pain and problems for years, until the day he found calisthenics.

“A journey of a thousand miles start with the first step”

The path from weight-lifting to calisthenics

Braden started his fitness journey weight-lifting and relay racing in high school, until joint pain and a shoulder injury caused him to rethink his view of exercise and movement.

“When I was in high school, prior to my injury I was 169lbs benching 300lbs, squatting 2 x 325lbs, and deadlifting 475lbs. I was one of the strongest kids pound for pound. I was very successful with weight lifting and was showing more progress as the weeks went on. I was weight strong but not body strong.”

While in full sprint during a relay race, he made a wrong movement, which caused his hip to pop. This resulted in disparity and imbalance in his entire body, particularly affecting one of his shoulders. His form changed, and weight-lifting was putting extra stress on one side.

“I injured my shoulder from heavy lifting. I was at my strongest, and from then on, I haven’t gotten back to that strength. I didn’t plan to rehab, because I loved the gym so much, and didn’t want to step away. My stubbornness kept me from getting it fixed. Not a smart move. It didn’t get better until I started calisthenics…I realized the benefit of having less stress put on my joints, ligaments, and tendons.”

– “I found that with calisthenics I was able to still workout hard and also have my shoulder heal.”

“My workouts are sometimes 20-30 minutes. That’s the beauty of bodyweight. Just keep moving.”

The 3 main benefits Braden experienced with calisthenics

He’s able to train his body intensively without aggravating his shoulder injury

Calisthenics was a challenge to him and his expectations; progress in calisthenics just isn’t the same as in weightlifting. “It isn’t an ego builder. You do not put on size as fast and it takes a while to master moves.” But he discovered the long-term benefits that came as a result of his calisthenics journey;

“I found that with calisthenics I was able to still work out hard and also have my shoulder heal…My body has become more proportioned and I am much more mobile than I was as a weight lifter.”

He’s still interested and committed to using calisthenics years later

Braden considers himself to be a ‘wherever the wind takes me’ kind of person. When something became boring to him, he’d simply move on. And yet, two years later, Calisthenics Academy has helped him stay focused, interested and constantly improving.

“It is simple. It has good descriptions in the video and the progressions are realistic…The majority of the moves in calisthenics I cannot do yet. I am starting at square one.”

He’s learned to pace himself

Calisthenics Academy seems to have helped Braden immensely in his overall training habits, and what he’s now capable of, mentally and physically. He’s experienced first-hand the benefits of periodization; he’s no longer too rigid in his training and appreciates the importance of allowing his body to rest and recover.

What his workouts look like

His workout routine now is just naturally built into his everyday life:

“first thing when I get home, I make a pre-workout cappuccino and get to my garage, get some music going and jump some rope to warm up. Then I am ready to rock and roll. My workouts are sometimes 20-30 minutes.”

Training as a Family

His workouts don’t take over his life, but they’re a valuable part of it.

“That’s the beauty of bodyweight. Just keep moving. Go through the circuit quickly. Do not take a rest if you don’t need it.”

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Training as a family

Nowadays, Braden regularly works out with his wife Tawnee. She too is a calisthenics athlete, who loves acroyoga and was recently accepted to the ninth season of American Ninja Warrior! Check out her awesome Instagram account @tawneeleo.

“That’s the beauty of bodyweight. Just keep moving. Go through the circuit quickly. Do not take a rest if you don’t need it.”

“Calisthenics is great when it comes to the Army because you need to be mobile and strong in all positions.”

“I am much more mobile than when I was as a weight lifter.”

Here’s Braden’s advice to anyone wondering if Calisthenics Academy is for them

“Just go for it. You won’t regret it. A journey of a thousand miles start with the first step.”

“I was weight strong but not body strong. I am very glad I switched to calisthenics because my body has become more proportioned and I am much more mobile.”

Keep on climbing

How Philippe rediscovered an old passion thanks to calisthenics

Philippe

Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athletes – people just like you that are working with their own body weight to get strength, lose fat build muscle, recover from injuries and live their best lives!

This is story of Philippe – Calisthenics Academy

Philippe is an independent coach and author of several blogs, articles and books. Between work, his family (including two young children) and his hobby of music, he doesn’t have much time to dedicate to exercise.

Although he was active in his youth, Philippe lost most of those habits as life got in the way.In particular, he was finding he didn’t have the time, energy or strength for rock climbing, a passion of his.

“I relate in a different way to my body and its intelligence. I feel more confidence to move on and start dreaming of my time as a rock climber.”

But that running caused him more and more issues in his knees and tendons, which then entirely killed his enjoyment of sports. And so as he became less and less active, he began to gain weight.

He decided to research some alternatives, and started with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) via Freeletics, realizing after some time that the exercises kept repeating themselves.

“I missed having a logical progression.”

“Start where you are and don’t force yourself to go faster…the program will carry you along the way. Trust it.”

The 3 main benefits Philippe has gained with calisthenics

He’s fully recovering from long-standing injuries

By pairing a gymnastics training with calisthenics, Philippe is slowly recovering from problems he’s had for a long time.

“That’s a really, really great part of your program…you don’t have to push or force your body toward injuries.”

He’s integrated movement and exercise into his daily life

Exercise used to be an obligation. It’s now become a key part of Philippe’s lifestyle. “I’m much more aware of the movement of my body, I do much more stretching and flexibility exercises and feel – for the first time – that this is a real part of the journey.”

The principles of calisthenics correlate to his profession

Philippe (along with fellow Calisthenics Academy athlete Hans whose story you can find here), is an organisational coach. The ideas of calisthenics, where working holistically is key, can be found echoed through the core principles of his business. “Most of the companies we work for are not always working as an integrated whole. Departments do not always collaborate. Due to that, a lot of energy is wasted, a lot of frustration is created and a lot of potential is untapped.”

“A great part of our work is helping companies outgrow this silo-stage. The link with calisthenics is clear to us. Body-building is more oriented on training isolated muscles. Due to that, the interplay, or coordination between muscles isn’t trained, which makes a bodybuilder look very strong, but at the same time not that mobile, agile or flexible. Calisthenics is more oriented on the interplay between muscles, body parts, etc. It’s not about looking good, it’s about moving in an integrated way.”

Calisthenics inspired Philippe to start climbing again

Philippe Back to Rock Climbing

Philippe has a long-lost love of rock climbing and thanks to calisthenics, it’s something that his body is always ready to get back into, with the future possibility of his children joining him.

“From time to time I do some bouldering with my son and hope he’ll enjoy training with me. Once he has enough weight, we could go climbing together.”

It’s been 15 years since Philippe regularly rock climbed but calisthenics has allowed him to get back to it. “I feel more confidence to move on and start dreaming of my time as a rock climber.” As he goes from strength to strength in his calisthenics journey, it won’t be long before he’s doing more than just dreaming.

“This feeling of progress, even in small steps, and ability to see it motivates me to keep on going every day”

“Start where you are and don’t force yourself to go faster…the program will carry you along the way. Trust it.”

Philippe’s advice to anyone who is curious about calisthenics

“What I liked was the ‘science’ of [the] approach., the way you created small steps to make progress.”

“I liked the way the progressions were built and I like the easy way to connect with the people developing the program. This gives a feeling of connection or community.”

From injured athlete to motivated mover

Ryan’s calisthenics story

Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athletes – people just like you that are working with their own body weight to get strength, lose fat build muscle, recover from injuries and live their best lives!

This is story of Ryan – Calisthenics Academy

Ryan is an independent analyst. He spends his time traveling to and working in remote places all around the world, sometimes bartending in his free time.

“Fitness has definitely become less of a thing I do, and more of a way I live”

Staying in shape as a traveler is always a big challenge, and one Ryan struggled with.

He’s always been an athlete, playing American football and rugby at university. At the time, he focused mainly on weight training and cardio. A work injury involving abdominal tears made him unable to do usual workouts, and in search of an alternative that would keep him moving without making the problem any worse.

“I was immobile for a few weeks and not much more mobile for a good quarter of the year. It pretty much ended my regular regimen, and put off serious weight training for a solid six months, so I needed to find some kind of workout I could scale to my limitations.”

His father had been training for a while, and is the one who introduced Ryan to new approaches to training.

Pre-injury, weight training

Post-injury

He tried calisthenics out for himself, and struggled with the lack of progress he first experienced.

“When I first got started with calisthenics, it was difficult to measure progress and I wasn’t seeing the familiar gains I expected.”

More than that, though, calisthenics challenged his views of what exercise was meant to look like.

“The hardest part of calisthenics has been the patience it requires me to have with myself. With weights or cardio I could just power through plateaus or problem areas: add more weight, run faster.”

“At the end of the day I’d just be more sore or nauseous, but with calisthenics I’m identifying really functional performance errors in myself, that can’t be overcome by more weight or gutting it out – corrections take patience and acceptance.”

“My dad had recently recovered really well from back surgery and he recommended Pilates and calisthenics – so I listened to the old man.“

“You only need the will to do [calisthenics]. You don’t need workout clothes, equipment, or to go to a gym full of people watching you. Find a quiet spot where you feel comfortable,, pull up a workout and see how rad it is to be honest with yourself. Then just go from there.”

The 4 benefits Ryan has gained since joining Calisthenics Academy

A changed mindset which introduced a new way to deal with injury

Calisthenics helped Ryan recover much faster than he imagined he could. In fact, he barely lost any of his base-fitness level,

“because of the scalability and regularity of the workouts. I was also able to identify new areas to improve.”

More than just recovering, calisthenics seems to have taught him to cope with injury differently. The steps he took to recover involved both taking action and understanding his own mind better than he had before.

“I’ve learned to deal with injury by doing something – anything – that lets me see even the smallest growth. My most recent injury required me to have a substantial amount of metal removed from my leg, so at 32 that meant I was off my feet for weeks.”

“So I looked up any small moves I could do with my legs propped up or on one leg (as I got healthier) and just went from there. The work spent planning out sessions and even the smallest bit of gain were enough to keep from falling into a mental grave of sorts.”

Freedom in movement

Since starting calisthenics, Ryan has experienced an openness and a flexibility in his training routine that never really had before.

“Life used to be governed by hard and fast gym times, but now I’m free to build my days around workouts but all the while listening to how I feel that day and responding appropriately in my regimen.”

Calisthenics Academy has offered him a safe structure in which he has the freedom to explore and play. “Fitness has definitely become less of a thing I do, and more of a way I live…I always built my days around workouts but now I build workouts into my days.”

His progress has taken him so far from where he started, which is a huge motivator for him: calisthenics is about progress and evolution.

“I started out looking to recover and maintain but I’ve become a bit more obsessed with movement and functional performance so my workouts are much more form/performance focused now than they were when I started.”

Learn to listen to your body

The results an athlete might expect with weight training just don’t happen at the same speed in calisthenics. For anyone who’s transitioning from weight training to calisthenics, Ryan’s experience shows that you’ll need patience…and a lot of it.

“Be patient and observant. If you’re like me and are used to seeing the types of gains that come from weight/sport training, you need to let yourself learn the language of calisthenics. Gains come but they’re different, your body’s language is different. So don’t give up, invest and listen, because it really is like learning a new language.”

He can play ANYWHERE

Ryan has had a lot of fun exploring the spaces that would allow for a workout. “I’ve trained anywhere from large chain gyms, beaches, freight containers, the back of a cargo plane and a semi truck, hotel rooms and my kitchen. I’ve been pretty creative sometimes – doing vertical pulls on truck axles was a greasy favorite.”

Ryan’s advice to you, if you’re considering starting calisthenics

“Start with one round, or one exercise even. Build that into your day and commit to it, even if just that one day. After that, I like to use the tag #dontgotobedlazy on my more inactive friends, because if all you do is pull up the app and do some push-ups or planks before bed, then you’ve started something you can work with.”

Follow the hashtag #dontgotobedlazy on Instagram!

“Life used to be governed by hard and fast gym times, but now I’m free to build my days around workouts but all the while listening to how I feel that day and responding appropriately in my regimen.”

“Be patient and observant. If you’re like me and used to seeing the types of gains that come from weight/sport training, you need to let yourself learn the language of calisthenics. Gains come but they’re different, your body’s language is different. So don’t give up, invest and listen, because it really is like learning a new language.”

“Fitness has definitely become less of a thing I do, and more of a way I live”

Being healthy is a personal journey

Being healthy is a personal journey

Why Tyler’s journey led him to calisthenics

Tyler

Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athletes – people just like you that are working with their own body weight to get strength, lose fat build muscle, recover from injuries and live their best lives!

This is story of Tyler – Calisthenics Academy Athlete

Tyler is a physical therapist who discovered calisthenics as a student. He’d weight trained for a decade before that. His view of what health and fitness meant changed drastically upon discovering calisthenics

“Being healthy is a personal journey. No one can force it upon you, nor can you force anyone into it.”

Tyler and his wife

Tyler realized that his take on fitness and health needed to change during his school years. After spending almost a decade lifting weights, he saw calisthenics as a healthier alternative for himself.

“I would rather have mastery over my own body than be able to bench-press X amount of weight.”

He joined the Calisthenics Academy community because he saw the chance to master skills that aren’t found in the Convict Conditioning book. Calisthenics Academy has also offered him structure and brought out a dedication that he didn’t have before.

“I can say that I have been much more consistent with my workouts since joining the program since (a) I paid for it with my hard-earned money and (b) I don’t have to worry about programming since it takes care of that for me.”

He’s dealt with obstacles along the way, and his journey is still an ongoing challenge. But Calisthenics Academy has provided him the tools to help him grow and train without being held back by having to worry about issues such as consistency, and planning and programming his workouts. By using a program that automates those things, he’s able to focus completely on the training itself.

“It is also nice to see what percentage of each skill I have mastered – it makes it much like a game, which adds an element of fun and enjoyment to completing each workout.”

The 2 main benefits Tyler has gained from calisthenics

A new mindset about fitness and health

Thanks to calisthenics, Tyler’s take on what it means to be fit and healthy has changed for the better. Weight-lifting is an amazing way to obtain quick results, but is focused on isolated muscles. Calisthenics develops functional, all-around strength by training muscle groups instead. “My perspective on fitness has evolved into one of body mastery – not an obsession over calories burned and minutes spent getting my heart rate elevated every week.”

A new relationship to food

“This isn’t to say that Tyler had bad eating habits before! But he’s now more conscious of his food choices, favoring a mostly raw, whole foods diet. “[I eat] what makes me feel most alive. If I have to pull it out of a package, I won’t eat it. If it grew from the earth and was not tampered with, I eat it. Simple.”

“Would you rather have the ability to boast of bench pressing 300 pounds or to do a one-arm pull-up? To me, pulling my entire body up with one arm is much more impressive.”

“Stick with it! It is hard at first, especially if you are stuck on a lower-level, high rep exercise. But persevering is worth it! Finally reaching each goal is so exciting.”

“make it a part of your daily routine, no exceptions. I do something active every day, even if it is not calisthenics training.” – Tyler

Tyler’s advice to anyone who is curious about calisthenics

“Just jump in! Here’s a silly, yet relevant scenario: don’t be that person who hates bananas but has never actually eaten one.”

“My perspective on fitness has evolved into one of body mastery – not an obsession over calories burned and minutes spent getting my heart rate elevated every week. ”

Using negativity to your advantage

how Kon become a calisthenics beast

Kon

Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athletes – people just like you that are working with their own body weight to get strength, lose fat build muscle, recover from injuries and live their best lives!

This is story of Kon – Calisthenics Academy

Mohammed, nicknamed Kon, is a flight cabin crew member from Egypt. When he’s not taking care of his elderly parents, he’s traveling the world on one of the most challenging work schedules you’ll encounter. It’s completely unpredictable, changing from one month to the next.

“We never stop learning. We never stop growing. Time passes anyway so let it pass while you do something you love and enjoy the benefits sooner than if you keep pushing your dreams till tomorrow comes.”

Kon at work

Kon’s story is one of personal challenge and tremendous growth.

“I started out as an obese kid with bad habits in regards to food or activity.”

At a young age, he knew that he wasn’t happy with his body. He began extreme dieting, walking and moving more, and successfully lost a lot of weight.

As he learned more about fitness and health, he adapted his program. He chose to focus on bodyweight training as an affordable alternative to a gym membership. In the beginning, he trained anywhere he could.

“I didn’t have a bar and was using a tree instead.”

“I have one of the most random life schedules there is with no fixed working days or days off. Flights early in the morning – midday – or late at night. Staying in the aircraft for 12 hours plus. Yet I still find time. Why? because it’s a priority to me.”

The 3 main obstacles Kon faced and how he overcame them

“The hardest part in my journey was the negative comments I got from those around me.”

For a long time, he compared his body, his looks, and his fitness to others around him. This caused dissatisfaction, self-criticism and demoralization. He internalized many negative comments.

“It got to me and made me lose heart many times.”

But the stronger he grew, the more he was able to ignore the discouraging voices. Instead, his physical strength also became a mental one.

“I decided that the only person I need to beat is me. As long as I am better, stronger, fitter than me in the past then I am on the right path.”

More than that, he now motivates himself by turning negativity into something positive.

"Like anything new in our life, our bodies will resist change"

“So if it’s something you have not been doing before, you will not adapt overnight. That seems to be the case for the majority of us. We weren’t born into the gym room. So we all have to start somewhere.”

"The discipline acquired from following such a journey is amazing and has benefited me in many aspects in my life. "

“I have improved both physically and mentally and enjoy the freedom of movement my body has to offer and believe that much more is coming!”

It’s helped him get and stay motivated about his workouts. “My results are good but I will never be satisfied until I achieve mastery of skills. It is a long process and requires a lot of patience and hard work. I will get there no matter how long it takes.”

He believes that everyone should experience the appeal of bodyweight training and calisthenics.

He doesn’t let his busy schedule make him lose focus

There’s always time

His work schedule makes any kind of commitment hard to maintain. “If you really want something then you need to be extremely flexible and manage your time wisely. Set your priorities and that is exactly what I did.”

As a flight cabin crew member, his schedule changes completely from one month to another.

“I have one of the most random life schedules there is with no fixed working days or days off. Flights early in the morning – midday – or late at night. Staying in the aircraft for 12 hours plus. Yet I still find time. Why? because it’s a priority to me.”

Calisthenics Academy helps him to always find the time to exercise. “I like how everything is broken down and explained in detail with no guesswork necessary, the workout rating system which allows you to adjust the exercises as you go and lastly, the freedom to workout offline and input the results later making it ideal for everyday use.”

Even when pressed for time, Kon knows that regular mini-workouts will be just as valuable as the longer sessions he can schedule.

“I seize any opportunity I have and I believe that even a little effort if I am completely squeezed for time is better than no effort….any effort you do still counts. If you are really struggling with time then a little effort every day will do the job. It’s not just about how much time in a day you have for working out. More importantly its how many days how many weeks how many years can you be consistent with that effort. The more effort you give the quicker you get results. If it’s tough in the beginning, learn that your body will adapt.”

“I fell in love with it and watching all these skills being performed and the freedom these people had controlling their bodies was amazing.”

Kon’s advice to anyone who’s not sure that calisthenics is good for them

“You need to ask yourself, why am I doing this in the first place. Not what you want from it but WHY? After answering this you should work on developing training from an interest into a passion. Once you get to that stage it naturally becomes a part of your new life where if you go without it for a long period you start feeling that something is missing.”

Kon and a friend run a YouTube Channel focused on Motivational/Personal Development, designed to help those in need of guidance or assistance in their path towards a goal or a dream. Click here to find out more.

“I have improved both physically and mentally and enjoy the freedom of movement my body has to offer.”

Follow Kon on Instagram

How Mark built his own dip station to master calisthenics skills

How Mark built his own dip station to master calisthenics skills

A while back, I wanted to buy a set of Horizontal bars. But in Canada, their price can be anywhere between CAD $100 and $300.

For example, I looked at the Lebert Equalizer. You can see it in Frank Medrano’s Youtube videos, and boy did I want them! There are other brands and whatnot, but these were the ones I wanted the most.

I priced out how much it would cost to buy them. And because of their price, I started to think, “Hey…Maybe I can make my own!”

And so my adventure to build my own horizontal bar started.

I wrote out a rough plan on how I wanted to build it, inspired by my doorway pull-up bar. The handle is roughly 30 inches for pull-ups, which I figured would be a good size for a horizontal bar.

My goal with my new bar is to get better at pull-ups and horizontal rows, so I used the measurements of my pull-up bar.

The idea was simple.

I wanted to keep it light and movable, while still being strong and solid. I knew I wanted the parts I’d hold to be round.

I played with the idea of making the base out of wood, but that would make it bulky and heavy. So I ended up deciding to use some kind of plumbing pipe instead.

And I was off to the plumbing store!

I went exploring and found some fencing poles, but I could neither find 90s or T-shaped poles here. It was sad, because Fence poles are dirt-cheap (CAD $3 for 8 FEET)

I thought of using copper because it’d look nice, but it was too expensive and way too soft a metal for what I wanted to do. I settled for a black pipe in the end. Many people have used black pipes for their DIY pull-up bars.

I still didn’t know if it’d be stable enough to be a stand, but hey, nothing tried, nothing gained, right?

Also, they were very affordable for me. Not even CAD $2/foot!

Apparently, black pipes are normally used for gas lines. So it’s pretty solid stuff.

As I was shopping at the store, my idea became clearer and clearer. I knew I wanted a bar about 30 inches across, but how high should it be?

I figured 30 inches in height would also be good.

So here’s the list of materials I used after all my deep thinking:

Three  30-inch length black pipes, threaded both sides

Four  8-inch length black pipes, threaded one side

Two  90s

Two  Ts

All 1 inch-wide pipes.

Once you’ve bought the material, have all the ends of the pipe threaded, if it isn’t already.

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This is a threaded screw. The striations on the screw were made by a machine to connect it to the different parts.

When you buy plumbing pipes in a store, they’re not always threaded. So you can pay to have it done in the store, or you can just buy pipes that are pre-threaded.

All that’s left after that is fitting the different parts together! Here’s mine:

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You might be asking, “But Mark, what’s that white tape on it?”

Well! glad you asked.

Lucky for me the local sporting store was closing down, so that tape is Hockey Tape! I got a bunch for less than CAD $5.

The Ts on the feet were making the bar rock back and forth, so I bought caps for the ends, which made them more stable.

Although I didn’t like the idea of adding more weight to it or it being able to stretch floors, metal on a wooden floor doesn’t normally do well…for the floor. So I wrapped the bottom legs to get some grip and stability, with great results.

After a few uses, the tape kind of flattens out and becomes a perfect landing for the bar. I’m sure any kind of grip tape would work just the same.

It was super simple and cost me CAD $50 for all the parts. I’d have saved $15 had I wanted to thread the pipes myself, but I chose to pay for it instead.

Just so you know, most big box stores do that for free.

I chose to make 30×30”, but next time I make them myself, I’ll be fitting them to my height of 5’5” – it’d be nicer if I could reach the bar while laying on the ground, flat on my back.

If you want to custom tailor your horizontal bar, I suggest that you measure your arm length and add 1-2 inches to get a perfect fit in height.

I’d also suggest you use 10-inch pipes for the “feet”. It’ll be a bit more stable than my first creation.

With that said, I love it!

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So that’s my custom built Horizontal Bar.

I’m probably not done making my own custom fitness equipment after this first one! So keep your eyes open, you’ll be seeing more from me.

Also – if you make a second horizontal bar, BAM! you have your own dip station. 

If you want to try building your own horizontal bar and have questions, leave a comment or shoot me a message in the Facebook group!

Make sure you follow Mark on his Instagram and check out his personal site 

 

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Mark is a fitness professional and the owner of Phase 2 Fitness with over 10 years of experience. He lives in a small Canadian town called Prince Rupert. In his own words: “I loved the gym, spent years weightlifting, until a while ago I injured my lower back pretty badly. And now, because I can’t lift more than 15 pounds, I’ve had to go back to the basics. I’ve been learning lots about balance training and the effects of using one’s own body, which brought me to the Calisthenics Academy.”

I’d love to share more of my story, so reach out to me in the Calisthenics Academy Facebook Group! Feel free to message me if you’d like to learn more.

Follow me on Instagram @WestCoastZarvie