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The School of Calisthenics

Episode 54- Calisthenics for Dads with The School of Calisthenics


Episode Highlights

00:00:53 Introductions
00:01:32 Guests Background
00:10:17 Getting into Calisthenics
00:13:22 Calisthenics over the years
00:18:23 Keep Training Fun
00:29:04 Working Back on Mobility
00:32:52 Being Extra Aware of your Own Body
00:35:58 Sense of Achievement
00:38:09 The Human Flag!
00:45:03 Try Something Different
00:51:41 What’s New

Links

Transcript

Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast, where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way without spending hours in the gym is your host Darren Kirby.

Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for dads in their 40s who want to improve their health and fitness. This is Episode 54. And joining me on today’s show is Tim and Jacko from the School of Calisthenics. Tim is the co-founder of the School of Calisthenics and has been a professional strength and conditioning coach working in elite sport since 2008. David Jacko Jackson was a professional rugby player for 14 years until unfortunately his career was cut short due to a head injury. Hi, guys. Thanks very much for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?

Tim: Yeah, very good. Thank you, thank you for having us. This is the voice of Tim for anybody who’s not come across as before. And Jacko, you want to introduce yourself.

Jacko: So I think we’re both being more polite. The only way that this is the awkward silence as each guy that I first. But, yeah, it’s this that was a slightly higher pitched tone of Jacko. Yeah. This is me Jacko David.

Darren: Excellent. All right, guys, well, for the for the listeners, the people that perhaps haven’t come across school of calisthenics before and calisthenics itself, can you kind of give us a bit of background in Tim and Jacko and how you come to create the School of Calisthenics?

Tim:  Well, the first thing is we’ve got to correct the pronunciation. Everybody always gets right. 

Jacko: In the right order. Read them left to right.

Tim: I think it’s good that people get people panic around the end run, get the E in the end. But it’s calisthenics. But it is actually an interesting background of where it comes from. If you say calisthenics to an Australian, I think you doing aerobics and it’s I’m not quite sure where the variations come from, but ultimately what we’re talking about is progressive bodyweight training that might stem from anything around push ups, pull ups, dips, body weight squats, versions of those kind of things.

And as we scale it, they become more complex through things like muscle ups, handstands, human flags, back levers, and if you want to get done, advanced route’s punches and front levers. So it looks a lot like strength based gymnastics training, but without the kind of artistic flair, leotards and pointy toes.

Darren: Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s kind of where I kind of associate with is obviously of the gymnastics. So both you guys have got a long history in, I guess, fitness.And so can you just kind of respectively take us through your background? They’re quite different, aren’t they?

Jacko: Yeah, I’ll go first. And so I played all sports growing up and had a professional rugby player career that was going I was going into the 14th season and had a head injury which had a seizure on the pitch. And that caused me to obviously leave that career. I was that was back in 2013. And it was about that time I met him through a mutual friend of ours, the the same churches that he introduced me to, Tim, because he was an s and c coach that had gone through just the route he’d taken into the strength and conditioning world was something that opened up an opportunity or seemed like it could be an opportunity for me.

So I needed a new career. I’d always been interested in training. And yeah, so I went through the same education system so that he did and effectively became his little understudy.And under his tutelage, we started off that starting point in Tim of a bit more about that, but was in Paralympic sport. And then it was from there that in 2016 we started with the School of calisthenics. Right. That’s him trying to dig in the gaps around that.

Tim: So, yes, it kind of began, as Jackson alluded to. I’ve been to strengthen commission coach for about 12 years. I started 2008 working all levels of the performance pathway, but probably from my specialist in Paralympic sport as part of the British team for Rio 2016, predominantly while I’ve worked in athletics and swimming with athletes who have competed at the highest levels of their sport. So we came into calisthenics a little bit as an experiment, really. I’ve had to shoulder reconstructions from multiple occasions playing rugby, and I’ve done all the rehab stuff in the book and none of it worked.

And I was starting to get into my career as a strength and conditioning coach. By the last time I had a dislocation and it wasn’t I just had no faith or confidence in my shoulders, ability to go and train the way that wants to train and move the way I want to move. And I got to a point where I was fairly desperate and decided on holiday. Once my wife is South African, they’ve got a place out down south of Cape Town by the sea. And I was like, I don’t want to trade doors. It’s beautiful out here and a train outdoors. I’m to teach myself some calisthenics and I start looking around and and thought, handstands, good place places start and leave.

I’m just going to play around with some of this stuff. And some of it was my own sort of experiment of going, well, if I can if I can hands down, that’s going to give me some confidence that my shoulder is stable. But it was also just exploring different modalities that we could use with athletes and how we can bring some variety to a training program. And so we tell this story now. And when I put my hands on the ground for the first time, I didn’t know if my shoulder was going to stay in socket. It was that unstable and fortunately it did. And that sort of set us off on a journey of exploring calisthenics. And just it all began because we were just having a good time.

Both Jacko and I had done a lot of training in the gym over the years and we done hypertrophy training in this gently Jones train in Olympic lifting. And it was all it got to the point of my training career, I guess, where it’s just more of the same. So I was just doing well. I do bench press put 12 reps or I do five. It’s the same thing is just the agitation I was looking for was a bit different. And what calisthenics represented to us was something completely different. It was new novel. We were just having a good time.

And one of our favorite compliments that someone paid us once was a girl who was across the floor in the gym to us and said, What are you boys doing when you’re training? Because it looks like you’re just pissing about. And that is what we were doing. We were just having a good time and seeing what we could bounce on. And we were rubbish. We got no gymnastic background, both broken would players. We if someone’s eye sees what we do now and goes, I could never do that. Like you should have seen where we were six years ago because we were absolutely toilet.

Jacko: I need to get some of the GoPro footage out from back in 2014.

Tim: I’d like to see that locked away. I don’t bring that up we will lose credibility. But as Tim said, you. Yes, but I’ve had this conversation with my wife before, actually, where she you know, she’s working on, like, being able to do an unassisted pull up when she feels like very much a beginner. She was like you said, you were a bit you start as a beginner, but, you know, you could you had a load of strength training and you and you and your bank effectively from all the rugby work that you’ve done, which is, you know, which is true. But in terms of like our hands, I could not we could not kick up and like, hold of flipping sausage.

Absolutely nothing. And there’s a couple of things that, like, it took me a year to run without getting a headache. my head injury. So I was able to get into doing some a bit more of the straight work and things. And initially I thought that I was just going to hit the gym. I love the gym. I was just going to I’m doing weights and just get so that was like it wants to finish playing rugby. And I found that my motivation to train just like dropped off a cliff, I used to pride myself on being the most the hardest working. You know, there’s a lot of other players that were that were better than me, but they wouldn’t outwork me. my motivation to train was always off the charts.

And when I was now just training for the sake of training, I was like looking in the mirror at the gym, doing bicep curls, going, what you didn’t like? I was bored. I needed something. And that’s where that Tim said played around with some of these different movements were like I was looking at myself going, you could do anything with your training right now and you’re choosing to do the same exercises you do when you’re playing rugby. Because I just didn’t I wasn’t that I wasn’t looking outside of the box, but I had a desire to look outside the box. And, yeah, I had a little peek into the casting’s box and never looked back.

Darren: Yes, it’s I think it’s fascinating. And like I said to you just before we started recording, I’ve literally only come across a cross this probably about a month, six weeks ago. And and like you said, it fascinates me because it’s I don’t know whether it’s the time that we’re in, but particularly around acting and idea and playing. You know, I think of men that never comes out of the matter, how old we are. We are still little boys and kids inside, and I think that ability to actually in an adult environment, act like an idiot and play around and not get S.D. is quite good.

So I think the other thing is it’s quite interesting, like your background, because I’ve it seems to be a theme with guys and doing kind of alternative if what I would call Fitness, i.e. away from standard gym type stuff, because I’ve had Ollie Frost on who also ruined himself, I think in rugby or had a hard time in rugby. And also Richie Norton as well, which is, you know, he was on your live podcast. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, it’s interesting what rugby does to guys and make some kind of seek alternative kind of fitness. But as you said, you know, it’s been around for avoiding saying calisthenics. You know, it’s been around for quite some time. But why do you think it is now? I mean, it seems to me it seems to be hugely popular right now and growing in popularity. But why do you think it’s now that it’s slowly coming to the forefront, if you like,

Jacko: Took in something initially like, There’s a bit of a there’s a bit of a shift all round in that. And this has been happening over, let’s think more sort of like decades rather than just in the last few months or in the last couple of years. In the you know, when I was growing up, I did a hundred sit ups every morning and every night I wanted a six pack like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Tim: did it work? 

Jacko: I did. And the problem was I did too many and I grew something. Anyway. I have I have over analysed. My arms are bigger than my chest. And that’s a little bit. But, you know, it’s not like Tim teases me about it and I haven’t got complaints about it. And I don’t talk about it on podcast 

Tim: you got complex about it mate.

Jacko: That’s I think actually I have, you’ve got a complex about it. But the notion, the narrative we were told and I as a kid, I liked all of you, Superman, you, He-Man and all those characters and figures were like big mostly. There’s literally like Arnold Schwarzenegger. And we were Tim’s wrote a beautiful blog about about this actually for the Huffington Post. But we that was what everyone was sort of striving to do. And then you you get to a point where when I was playing rugby, I remember being like an England under 16 trial. And it was like I didn’t get in. And they said I just wasn’t big enough. Like I was tiny as a kid stick. I play my first game professional rugby at 18 and I was, I think ten and a half stone, which is like like went through like nothing. And I was just told you is not big enough. And that was a story I got told my whole life effectively. And I was never a big, big player when I was bigger than either eight kilos now.

But there’s a there’s been a bit of a shift in a lot of people as you get into some of our age bracket, your late 30s and you’ve done, you don’t want to take steroids because that’s just not your bag. And then you realize that what it’s like. And then people have now started to shift around understanding a bit more about, you know, that there’s more of a nice, nice aesthetic look a nice like muscly who doesn’t want you just want to look naturally normal year in men’s health. Cover models look like normal, like normal guys, but like guys, rather, they don’t look like guys that look like the wrong gear. Yeah.

And I think that that’s why I think that and I think that’s a good thing. I think mentally being able to deal with how you want to look compared to how you currently look. Now, we could talk about some of those things. Yeah, a little bit more detail later if you want. But being that being a shift around, I want to achieve something that’s manageable and I want something that is healthy. Like what is me chasing bigger biceps? What’s that doing to my my long term? Like health and longevity? It was a person who got some stuff on on that as well.

Tim: I think I’ve seen a shift in the fitness industry to be honest. And let’s be honest, the fitness industry has moved in directions over the years based on trends that come and go when it comes to looking for something different. And gyms are looking for new ways to attract members. So they put different pieces of equipment in the gym and will have seen functional rigs start to find their place in some mainstream gyms off the back and cross fit and more kind of let’s use in inverted commas, functional way to train because everyone gets a because it’s what we say functional, even though we all know what we mean.

And I think that calisthenics is something which has always been about people have always been doing pull ups and people have always known the pull ups and dips are great upper body exercises like I’ve seen big bodybuilders and strength coaches in the over the years. Go dips are like squats for the body and no one’s going to argue, well, those sorts of people argue that squats are good things to do for lower body strength. So I think they’ve always been around. But I think it’s just I think we may be a little bit sort of skewed.

I would be interested to have this conversation with a sixteen to twenty two year old versus what a lot of people come through to us and probably potentially your audience as well of twenty eight, let’s say twenty seven to fifty five where we’ve been around the block a bit. We know where that training leads. We’ve probably come out and hitting our mid 30s, 40s going you know what, flipping bodies broken and you’ve got forty years left potentially they really want to use to move and I want to ski with my kids and I want to go and play football and just jump in weights in the gym or in like pumping was a bad word then. But you know, we can. Yeah. So and it’s just I, I everyone says that’s what grow.

Growing is massive, is exploding and I’m like we’re in it all the time and we consume our content around it. So to us it’s kind of like we kind of we’re almost. Shouted or immune to that a little bit. So it’s nice to hear that people still look really grow because it’s something that we’re very much a part of, but it just brings something different. It’s fun. And people seem to really embrace that. And before I get on a rabbit hole in this one, I gyms don’t work like they’re not. They’re not gym structure doesn’t like if it were, we wouldn’t have seen an increase in obesity and we wouldn’t have inactivity being the fourth biggest killer in the UK. So you train at home and I don’t know. I mean, so many things are quite complex and people are just there’s something different about it.

Jacko: Yeah, I think it’s not it’s that things go round in circles then and you have like fans of this that the other bands, but literally doing, as Tim said, doing pull ups and dips and push and body weight stuff is always part of people’s programs because it’s so accessible and that and it’s and it’s good stuff.

Yeah, there’s nothing. There’s nothing controversial about whether like like whether a push up performed properly is a good thing, your whole body, and it’s a little bit more inclusive of everything rather than isolating certain muscles. And I think it’s something that is never going to go out of like fashion and that people are never going to turn around. At some point, guys actually know what we shouldn’t bother doing, push ups or push ups or whatever. Yeah, yeah. Whereas some of these other things that come and go a little bit and then they die off and the next thing comes out, whereas it’s, it’s, it’s a steady, sort of a steady player.

But what happened with the likes of you big guys like Frank McGraw knows of this world. You took the pull ups and the dips and things and just took them to a different level where everyone was like, wow, okay. So I say once I’m bored of them, pull up 20 of them now. Like, I can turn those into like muscles and levers and things that just look mad, like it just is defying gravity and that so were the bedrock of of good, good sort of foundation, body weight, strength training. And when there’s some sexy stuff on top as well, it’s really fun, really cool. And I think the people just got excited by that. You’re never going to get bored of seeing, like, a really cool human fly. Like, no, I it’s like it’s just good.

Darren: Yeah. And I think for me, I think that’s the thing, you know, there’s an outcome. So if we go back to what I call the old fashioned gym way, you go to the gym, you do your bicep, you dips and all the pull ups. Why did you do that? Because you want to look good. But then as you kind of get older and in inverted commas, mature, you want to kind of do something a little bit more. And so that’s like doing calisthenics is like, that’s cool, I can do a handstand or I could do a human flag. And it’s it’s I think it’s similar to the cross fit world, in so much as if you do cross fit, you can go to the cross fit games, you know, and it’s going to go on outcomes. You know what I mean, as opposed to just doing it for because it seemed to be healthy. Yeah.

Tim: Yeah, definitely. And that’s one thing we try and encourage people to focus on is let’s let’s work towards something. Let’s have a tangible goal, the end of it. So it might be you do understand or you want to learn if you feel like there’s an end points of that process where the day comes, where you can do a human flag and you feel like a superhero and you have to work hard for it, there’ll be some real skin in the game to get to that point. It’s not easy because if it was, everyone will be able to do it . And actually, if it was easy, we wouldn’t be that bothered about it.

We want it to be hard where you train for in the gym and lifting weights, unless you’ve got a specific outcome like you want to build strength and power lifting or you’re into weightlifting where there is another kind of outcome or avenue to specify down, you become a general fitness enthusiast and you’re surrounded by people who are interested in aesthetics. And that is a we again, you can go down this rabbit hole if you want. See, but that’s a mirage. Like training purely for the outcome will keep you interested for so long. But it gets pretty boring, like there comes a point where. Some people will realize that it’s maybe not as good for the head as it is for the as the wider perspective of training, but that’s a pretty big conversation.

Jacko: And you can ask yourself, what’s the what’s the point in the like at some point you’re not going to look like you did Look. That’s just that’s just what happened. And, you know, let’s be honest, is why you could say the thing about there’s going to be there’s going to be a point in Tim’s life where he’s not strong enough now to do a plan. He’ll probably be eighty five, but it’s going to happen. Yeah, yeah. But that having ties actually in a couple of things that we said before that, you know, when I said I was bored of training and didn’t have the motivation to train when I didn’t have anything to aim for, and it was just purely for the sake of it, that massively changes that.

Right. I’m going to try I wanted to do a human flight. I thought it was Photoshop. Yeah, I never saw it, but that’s my goal. And that gave me motivation to be consistent with my training. It also required me to get strong and flexible slash mobile, the shoulders, which have been battered from rugby for however long of the whole of my life before like it made me address things that I should have addressed anyway. Yeah, around my restrictions, around my body. But I had a reason then to do it.

And that’s why when you said that picked up on that point, that that leaves. And it also then takes our focus away from how our body looks and it makes us focus a bit more on what can I do with my body. And that’s that’s such a that’s it’s freeing mentally compared to being, you know, comparing yourself to others or what you whatever it may be, around the sort of mental health side of things, being actually happy and content with your body because, yeah, at some point it’s all going to change anyway. It’s so.

Darren: Yeah. I think I think the whole mental health thing is a big issue. That’s a bigger conversation. But one of the things the calisthenics represents for me, and it’s like I said to previously, you know, I’ve realized that forty seven years old, I can continue to do Iron Man. But what I’ve realized is the more and more I train, the more and more my I get. So I kind of fixed in certain areas of my ability. So I might get tightness on one side or tightness on the other side, tightness on the bike, tightness when I’m running.

And for me, calisthenics represents a kind of holistic approach to just movement. And and so if we if you may disagree or, you know, correct me with this, but if you kind of remove the outcome, i.e., trying to do a human flag or a handstand, you know, I’ve been going through your your body training program and that is, you know, all of the kind of pre stuff that you get to do, like, you know, my mobility stretching, stuff like that. You now the world’s greatest stretch that you’ve got I flipping hate it because I can’t move in the way you guys can move. And that just really highlights to me how important general movement and mobility is.

Tim: Yeah, I think a thoughts on that one, Wolf, slows as a tissue more along the lines of stress. So you’ve effectively what that means is we get good at what we do regularly. So if you take iron man, for example, we’ve done a lot of work athletics and we do a lot of work in swimming. I’ve trained some cyclists over the years and they are all sagittal plane front back movements. Typically, we’re going to if we take the range of positions, if we when we go on the bike, we’re going to be in a flat, hunched over position.

But we’ve run typically a lot of people when they get tired of the sorts of distances we’re talking about. And I’m not going to find themselves in that flex position. And then when we go to swim, we’re doing a lot of freestyle works. The shoulder comes into round a position as well. So, yeah, you’re just starting to tell your body that I really get now I need to get really good in these kind of shapes. So the brain goes sweet survival mode, let’s get really good at those shapes.

And then what calisthenics is going to do is all of a sudden are going to put you in positions which are completely opposite to that. And you’re going to ask yourself now, am I strong, a mobile in the shape and surprise, surprise, you’re going to find that hard because you just don’t move in those ways. And that’s one of the things that’s really powerful about it. So even if you take something like Jacko’s had a lot of work on his back bridge, so even as a preparation exercise, let’s start getting even some spine extensions of shoulder flexion, overhead positions and stop mobilizing.

And the shapes are the opposite of what you do because you’re from a broader movement perspective. You want access to all of those patterns as you go through life. We don’t we don’t want to become specialist movers if you’re not going to be like an Olympic or world champion Ironman competitor. Even now, I would argue we don’t want to be that super specific. Your body is designed to move. It should be able to move in different ways. And by loading the same patterns, we start to create blocks and inhibitions through the chain.

The brain finds a path of least resistance. We don’t move so well. So calisthenics, it kind of doubles as an opportunity to move in those different ways, get out of the norm of just this front about patterns that we find ourselves so often in in a lot of. If forms of fitness, I’m not picking on Ironman by any stretch of the imagination, no, and but it also one of the great things about it is it forces you to manage your ego. So you found, for example, that the world’s greatest stretch is something that some people would find quite straightforward. You look at, I should be able to do that. Why can’t I do that? Yeah, and that’s annoying.

But you never get that better unless you humble yourself and go, you know what? I’ve got to put some work into this. I need to change the way that I move. I’ve got to introduce some practices because I should be able to get my elbows of Florida lunge position. And if I can’t. Yeah. What is that doing from a spinal patterns? What’s that going to do for swimming positions and a rotation that I need through my freestyle technique and this sort of stuff. And that’s where the value comes of it is giving your self-improvement options. And the more options you’ve got, the easier it is to move globally.

Jacko: And what we found with with those things is when you give yourself a reason to do those, you’ll then more likely to be motivated towards doing it consistently. So rather than go in and spend less, if the reason you spend ,we spend loads of time sat down in a flex pull position, even if even everyday life isn’t because I want to sit in this position, it’s just that the tasks that I’ve got to do in terms of driving, in terms of being in front of my laptop like that put me into that position. So I’ve got to find some stuff that’s going to put me into those of the shapes Tim was talking about.

And I just find personally, if I just do like some some mobility work or stretching work, whatever you choose to do, you choose to do to change that. If it’s just for the sake of doing it, it doesn’t. It doesn’t last. It doesn’t stick. I don’t do it consistently enough. Whereas if I choose a movement like Kossak squat, I want to be able to do in some different shapes, like my dragonfish discoveries actually item something that completely felt impossible.

And this is more like a catchphrase or slogan of redefining possible. Those come into play. Everything we tried initially feels impossible, but. I just wanted to be able to do it, but what it required me to do was sit at my doctor’s and flexibility and really deep flexion, so a deep squat positions. And that’s what deep flexion. Now, if you just said to me, improve your strength, I just wouldn’t have done it now. Yeah, yeah. It was because I wanted to do this thing, this movement.

Give ourselves that. go back that for me is is a game changer for me, has been a game changer for my training. I think it resonates with what a lot of people rather than just stretch your hamstrings when I find something. Yeah. Thank you. And there’s there’s a bigger conversation around the what the brain wants to do anyway. Brain is more interested in life outcomes and and task focused movements rather than just stretching for the sake of stretching. It’s not it doesn’t have the same effect.

Darren: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s what was great about your course, is that, you know, you’re doing it for an outcome. So I think I’m in week three or four now and we’re starting to do the is it the frog and the frog stand? So I nearly smashed my face onto the floor on Saturday trying to do it. But it it’s it’s exactly like you say, well, I can’t do that. And I feel I should be able to do that, so why can’t I do it? And obviously we can go back to the stretches and stuff them through your course. And you can then understand. And and I think for guys, more than anything, we love the technical element of of of most things.

And if you can’t do something, obviously depends on which way you’re inclined. But generally, most guys want to say, why can’t I do that? And then they start to dig into why. And I find it fascinating, you know, the various different areas and mobility and stuff and how you how you become conditioned, because I’ve been sitting in the car working a desk for eight hours a day. And what you need to do to reverse that. And I think the important thing for me is that you do have the ability to you may not be able to get 100 percent out of it, but you do have the ability to reverse where you are and improve mobility and stuff like that.

And I think for guys that are 40, I think it’s really important that we start to age that we recognize that, because from what I see with older people in the gym, what happens is, you know, you just get fixed in a state, don’t they? And then they just kind of just, you know, snowballs really from there. And, you know, they end up in all kinds of, you know, immobile ways, if you like. So, I mean, what’s your kind of views on, you know, guys that are in their 40s that do have the mobility challenges just because of the way that we’ve evolved in order to start reversing that?

Tim: Well, I think from my perspective, just on one point that you make, I think if most people take a bird’s eye view of their movement, history is becoming far more narrow as they go through life. And we start moving in ways which are more comfortable for us and expose us to less challenge because it’s easy. So when we go to the gym, if you go and watch, if you go to a general gym and you go and watch somebody who is the average 65 year old who’s in there, they’ll typically be using machines and they’ll typically be doing push, push buttons, because actually that’s the only pattern that they’ve really got left. Yeah. And I think that’s that’s just because we start it’s a real simple principle.

I mean, you can apply it’s almost all physiology, but use it or lose it. If you don’t move in certain ways, you’re going to lose it. So for most 40 year olds where we’ve probably passed the peak of our athletic careers in most sports, unless you’re in archery or something like that, Snooke, maybe most people, yes, we can still go out and try and crush it. Right. That’s not an excuse and not be take the mindset of a performer. Like we take that with our training. You do with your Ironman training. There’s loads of people out there that are doing really high level master’s baseball. The whole point is, how do you want to move when you’re 60 or 70 and we talk about investing in your physical pension, no one’s got an issue with put money aside financially because, you know, in later life, you might want to rely on that a little bit.

Yeah, one of the most important things in my life is how well I can move, because everything that I enjoy in life is based around movement. And people might look at what we do and go, okay, well, yeah, you did your job well. I enjoy snowboarding and I enjoy running and I want to go and play football with my little boy Jack. And all of that stuff is movement based. And when you spend time with people who can’t move because they’ve had a safe, a safe, their movement quality has deteriorated, life is miserable, like it’s not fun anymore.

Yeah. So if I with my advice to 40 or 50 year olds that are listening to this and don’t be put off or intimidated by what you see, that you’re doing calisthenics, pick something, but just start. And even if it’s not calisthenics, if he if it’s something else which excites you, if it’s if it’s more yoga based movement or something, but just teach yourself to move and the body will adapt. It will change. It’s not too late. Don’t kind of just take it easy option. Good old for that. Now it’s not really for me. Yeah. I’ve got a dodgy knee or whatever. That’s just a really, really bad excuse.

Darren: Yeah, I agree with that, and I think I think it comes about I think, Jacko, you said earlier on, ego, you know, us guys are terrible to let our ego run wild with us and be all macho and honor to do that and to do that. But you’re right in a sense that I always use this analogy with the guys I work with that I would argue that most people spend more time and effort on making sure their car is serviced every year than they do, actually making sure that their body is serviced and can move in ways that it should be able to. Because I think, you know, it also comes back to longevity as well. And I personally want to live a long and healthy life.

I definitely don’t want to get to my 80s, and I’m intended on living a lot longer than that and being in this position where I can only move in a certain way or certain range of moments because, you know, your muscles deteriorate and then things just start to tear out and it just you just on a downward slide on you. So, you know, why not wake up now and start the little niggles in the ways that you can’t necessarily move or it’s difficult to move. Address that now and then later on in life, you’re not going to have as as many issues. So I think it is important that you don’t have to, obviously. But I think people it’s important that people recognize that, particularly dads and guys. 

Tim: Do get to make one point real quick. If you’re in pain when you move, that’s a bad thing. You should not be in pain. That’s a brain telling you there’s something wrong. So anybody who’s listening to this, who’s in pain when they move, you need to get that sorted because it is the system telling you that there’s a problem.

Jacko: Yeah, I just I love the car analogy and it’s like you can be I, I was blissfully unaware that I got an old camper van. And a few years ago on Christmas Eve, the timing belt snapped and it blew. And then that was like I had to drive a brand new engine reconstructed and that time about should have been changed and that would have been no problem. But and as I was driving along until it snapped, I was like blissfully unaware that, like, everything with my van is absolutely fine.

And that’s one of the things that I love about the analogy with calisthenics, is that when you start to challenge yourself to move into some of these shapes, you see some of those things, you should be able to do that and you try and you can then actually a bit of it’s telling you is feedback is telling you something about your body and going, You know what , rather than being blissfully unaware that I can’t get into the shape, I’m now trying to get into that position and know that I can’t do that. And you go, well, gee, maybe my hips are a bit tighter than I thought my legs are because I thought, like, we want to be like 50, 60, 70, 80 years old and still being able to do the things that make you happy.

And a lot of those things come down to are physical and mental health. And those two things go hand in hand. And I think the calisthenics can be a great tool because there’s no hiding place that then talks about it. And it was temperamental about ego. I still struggle to manage my ego every single time I go into a training session, but it teaches you about your body and it tells you about your body. And if you listen to it, you will be able to then. And it’s about making small progressive changes over time rather than being put off or like when you find something difficult that actually really good thing, because you’ll get really good.

You’ll get much you’ll see much bigger improvements at the very start of anything, which is not yet motivating and encouraging rather than if you find everything easy to try to do super hard stuff. That then is a much, much longer journey. So any time you find something really difficult, that’s great. Think of it that way around. It’s great. I’m going to make some really fast improvements in those early stages.

Darren: Yeah, and I think the other thing is what I use a lot my analogies by using the analogy of we live now in an Amazon economy. And what I mean by that is you want to click and you want to get the result in twenty four hours. And with health and fitness, if if you want it to be long and sustainable, it doesn’t work like that. And I think people get frustrated and give up if they don’t get six pack abs in five minutes or you know, or they, you know, they can’t run a marathon after training for two weeks and everything else like that. And I think it is you have to accept that it just takes time. And like you say, it’s progression and working through it. But the best time to start is is now really. And just.

Jacko: I get passionate about that. So I’ve just because we think we want it quick and I like that about your analogy as well and you like your own. And I like the fact that you like your own analogies. We think we want it quick. Where is the where on earth is a sense of achievement? If I go like I can’t do a plank. True. Where is the sense of achievement? I can finally do what is going to be off the charts. I’m going to go absolutely bonkers because it’s taking me like years and years and years and years and years to be able to do, whereas. If I if I if I, I can’t tell you the things that I’ve learned in five minutes because they don’t resonate with you because they don’t have a sense of achievement, is not they said there’s this like pole.

We want the easy and the world gives us that environment where things come quick and we think we want that. Actually, we don’t we don’t want that because what we want is we want to feel happy. We want a sense of achievement. We want to feel that like intrinsic that nice sense of like I’ve worked hard for that. And that makes me feel good. But that cost of life or it just comes in, that’s that it’s almost like a tug of war we’ve got on one side. We want to easy. We want it on the other side we don’t, because when we get it easy and quick, we don’t celebrate that maybe two times what you know.

But, you know, I mean, like, well, there is. My Wife has order some stuff come to America. It’s been six weeks to come when that baby drops through the door. We were like, yes, it’s gonna be right. Well, the thing from Amazon that comes the next day, you realize you expect it to come. If Amazon said it may in two days, I’m like fuming.

Darren: Yeah, no, that is a very good point. I do agree the sense of achievement is very important. So. Jacko, you are the human flag guy, you love doing him a flag, so you guys teach people how to do a human flag for people that perhaps don’t know what the human flag is. Can you just explain what that is and how you managed to do it in seven weeks? What kind of process does that entail?

Jacko: So the human flag is is essentially you as a human trying to look like a flag. So you can’t use the words to explain something with the face of your body is out horizontally. You see your hands on a bar or on like a ladder and over arms stretched out over your body and its full length and your feet somehow staying horizontal in line with the rest of your body. And it looks the same when I first saw when you like some real people.

Yeah. How how on earth that that can’t be real. Anyway, it turns out that like it’s not as Tim explains it workshops when he says it’s actually not that difficult or it’s not that complicated because in essence it isn’t when we break it down. But it’s still OK because it’s like it’s still hard to get perspective on the bottom arm effectively as pushy and is like an anchor.

The arm is pulling and those two opposite forces, great torque, so torque is a rotational force that helps to provide that rotational leverage to pull the hips up, to get the hips in line with the rest of your trunk. We then need to make a connection to that top pulling arm towards the hip on that top side so that we can grow up basically becomes three components, the bottom arm pushing the top and pulling and then making a lateral connection between the hip on that top side to that pulling up.

You do those three things with like with enough force, then you will be able to defy gravity. Right. And become the human flag. And it’s no surprise that we learn very poorly because in the early days, we were literally, as people said to us in the gym, we were effectively just messing around. We will find our process. We teach people in we teach people in a half or a third of the time to do stuff that it did take us like. Well, yeah, I think you’re referencing there’s a YouTube video where we had three guys that learned it in seven weeks. It took us way longer than that. And when they don’t, I almost Pavi as a coach, like brilliant, look how fast you taught them the same time.

You know, you don’t know how long it took me to do it, but it just shows that the coaching process works when when we break it down for people who work on the individual components, then we build it back up. People can learn to do that. Redefining possible. Those those guys on my YouTube video, it felt impossible for them when they first started as well.

Darren: Yeah. So so if we can talk about the elements involved in that now, if you explain the technique. But if we’re thinking about going back to what we talked about earlier about movement and strength, my assumption obviously is that you need a good core strength. What about your movement? And what are the various elements that ensure that you can do something like that in the first place. 

Tim:  It’s breaking the pattern down. So something like an over like a human flag you have to be you have to have full range of movements, do it well, at least in the shoulder. Right. And typically and ranges through joints, range of movement at the end range, we are typically weaker and less stable because we don’t trade in those positions very often. We don’t move those positions positions enough with enough intensity.

So what happens is because we spend so much time in positions like bench presses and rows and that sort of thing, or even the shoulder presses, we don’t really expose ourselves to end range position the brain if it senses instability, just whines back mobility and it says, right. You’re not you’re not strong and you’re unstable, that backhand range of movement. So I’m just going to give you less range of movement so you can’t go there and therefore compromise the system. That’s the conversations going on.

So things like human flags and handstands, and it depends on the movement requirements change based on the exercise that we’re looking at doing. But a human flag is a good example is if nobody is really in a standard gym or often any sort of training environment, trained, full range of movement with hands overhead, maximal effort, push and pull and isometric pattern. So a big part of all of these movements is just a skill acquisition.

We’ve got to teach you to move in a new way. And everyone can do that because we can all lay down a lot more or additional neural circuitry to connect joints, muscles, movement patterns together so that we can teach ourselves to move in new ways. That principle of neuroplasticity, which is super exciting so people can look at anything he can see, you know what he looks like. That’s me. I’m all over that.

I’ve won best Tommaseo collegially to understand the process and you’ve got to understand the physical. That you need in order to learn that movement successfully, and that’s the biggest thing that we try to do with the school of calisthenics, is make what stuff which looks super complicated and super difficult, as accessible, as easy as possible. So hopefully you’ll find that with the training programs that you’re going through. But if someone can do five pull ups, they can start a human flight training program and they’ll have success if they brought him in and and the patient enough to go through and sort of be diligent with the process.

Darren: Yeah, and I think that’s that’s the attractive part about it, particularly for me, is that, you know, this is achievable. whilst, when you look at it, you know, wow, I could never do something like that. But actually, like you say, once you break it down and you look at it is completely achievable.

Jacko: I remember like when we started this show, the more times remember, I, I, I broke my scapula coracoid process, a process in two places and have a separate AC joint that still separated like we started with enough injuries. That proves that even if you’re injured, you can still redefine it. Impossible. You have to get over injuries and manage those both. Yeah, we are living proof and I think that’s one of the things that has resonated with people.

If we were gymnast’s and had always been just retired gymnast’s. I would even buy the question myself. Well, you’ve always known as advanced and like, that’s no big deal. I think that’s one of the I think that’s one of the things that is that has resonated with our audience, with a community. They can see that. They’ve seen that those of watch from the beginning, they saw her back at the start. Yeah, they’ve seen that journey.

Darren: But I think also as well, it’s a mindset, isn’t it? It’s kind of putting yourself in that mindset that you are willing to to kind of fail in the early stages and you’re willing to make mistakes. And I think, you know, providing you have that right mindset and I can’t remember which one of you said it. Now, it’s not you don’t use the excuse that I won’t get this age, so I can’t do this anymore and all that kind of stuff. You know, if you’re in the right mindset, you can still pretty much with the right, you know, amount of time and effort and skill, you can achieve it.

Tim: Yeah, and what’s your other option in that situation, if you look at it, cause it’s not really for me, but, you know, you’ve got some stuff to deal with. Like you you’ve made a decision about the course that you want to go on for the rest of your life. And I think the good things in life happen in whatever context you want to apply in when we start to kind of not accept the path of least resistance and we go for promotions that we maybe think are a little bit of a stretch or we move to a different country, we change our family dynamics, whatever it might be.

Growth comes through doing something different than what we’re currently doing and being okay with the risk that we might struggle. We might find it hard. But I mean, how many sports cliches are there about failure? You could probably have a good conversation with really some of those off, but ultimately, like Fail Fast and learn is the is the upshot. And yeah, if it doesn’t work, I just try something else. And and that’s where the values got to come in and then you start growing that conversation around.

Well, OK, you can have more success if you’re part of a community, you can have more success if you surround yourself with people who can do what you want to do, that all of that sort of comes in and it’s all true. So there’s a number of different things that you can do to to put on your to to sort of stack the deck in your favor. But my big thing around all of this is if I don’t sit and complain about it and or be feeling negative about it, like you’ve got to go out there and go and get it.

I don’t want people to feel that as me being, like, insensitive, but I just think when it comes to movement, if we take the brains, three major concerns or prime objectives is survival movement and a prediction of threat perception. If we don’t move like that’s a massive issue for survival. So you’re not going have a good time. And that’s how important we think it is. So, yes, we do some cool stuff and there’s some really fun things to play around with.

But what we’re really passionate about movement. I’m being strong and being stable and having a human movement system, which is all of those things together, because through having some fun with calisthenics, I get a human body which can really enable me to enjoy my life. So this kind of when we started out in calisthenics, we actually just want to do a human flag we thought was cool. And the more we’ve done it , the more we’ve laid on it. You know what?

This is actually way more way more impactful, powerful than what we originally set out to do. But it was a massive shift change in how we saw training and movement. We haven’t done a full body weight based session for seven years. I haven’t touched a bench press or anything like that since we started. Calisthenics is done. It’s that enjoyable to me. I don’t need to do it. Yeah, and what happened with that?

Jacko: That the guy was like, oh, the crisis question right here is that it is like completely we would do like hands down surveys. Do you guys do any way since it was just so it’s like, well, really you guys do anyway. And they just we just you know, it’s a question we just struggle to get people’s heads around that. Like resistance training can be in the form of your body weight as the resistance.

Tim: Yeah, I can still get these shoulders by doing it like. Yeah. Know I think you know.

Darren: Yeah, I think that’s what I love about it, you know. Is it I don’t know whether it’s some kind of primal thing where it’s using your own body against you. If that, if that kind of makes sense, you’re morally correct me. But but it’s kind of like using what you already have to to make yourself better. And there’s some kind of. Well, for me anyway, I might sound a bit weird, but some kind of attraction to me around that.

You know, you don’t need all these massive machines and you can you’ve got your own body and you can create you create yourself into this kind of human flag, if you like. But, yeah, that that’s what’s really attractive for me, for me personally. So in terms of you mentioned there about the classes and stuff you do, obviously, you guys you’ve got your online workshops, you’ve got when obviously when knockdowns not here, you’ve got classes and stuff.So what kind of things can people get involved in?

Tim: If they want to start and get explore an introduction to calisthenics, then there’s probably two main options. We’ve got our online training programs we call our virtual classroom. And it’s an online system where we’ve got the course that you’re working through at the moment. Bodyweight basics is movement specifics in there. So if you want to learn a handstand, we’ve got one of what we think is one of the best processes and evidence based approaches to learn to do a handstand based around sort of the skill acquisition process and really streamlining it down to the essential components that people need to learn that skill or movement pattern.

We’ve got things that we did, a partnership with Ollie Frost Movement, Mobility Masterclass. So if we want to move, better invest in their physical pension, we’ve got something for them in there. So it’s really kind of an online platform which provides everything that someone’s going to need to sort of get into calisthenics and then also to progress through to be able to just change the way they train and have some fun with it.

Our kind of three sort of three key pillars of what we want people to do is think about moving better, getting strong and having fun is. That’s simple, and that’s that’s how we present calisthenics, you you’ll find us some serious tutorials and there’s also some fun stuff where it’s just Jacko and I the rest of cogency playing with movement and having a good time, because that’s how you should train, because we enjoy it.

Right. Like if we’re going to the gym and hating it, what is the point of forcing ourselves through that? You brazened having a good time and that has an impact on how you move. And then the other option is like as as you say, we’re actually running an online handstand workshop this weekend and we do do face to face, a lot of face to face workshops around the country when we’re allowed to sort of occupy the same space as people outside of lockdown.

And we’re hopefully getting those back up and running as soon as we’re able and we retreat. We’re going to Sri Lanka in December for international retreat. We’ve got a retreat in the UK in an incredible estate open in Yorkshire. So we’ve got loads of stuff going on and people can find out about all of it on our website or find us on social scorecards, saints dot com or search across any of those social channels and you’ll find a load of this. We’ve got so much free stuff on YouTube as well if people just want to get started and dip the toe in.

Darren: Yeah, definitely, I would highly encourage all listeners to go over and have a look at your website. Yeah, your free course is amazing. Quite frankly, there’s so much content in their YouTube channel is great. And also your podcast guys as well, which is school of calisthenics as well, right?

Jacko: Yeah, you nailed it as well. Right at the end of the.

Darren: Here we go. That was a tense moment. And so are there any other ways that you guys can connect where you’ve got any books coming out, any new products or stuff that you’re working on?

Jacko: We have got we’ve got we’re adding to sort of adding to the online members get all the time. So we have got new programs coming out. We’ve got a nutrition course that we’ve teamed up with a sports nutritionist and dietician that works in pro sports in America, shares the same ethos of us. That sort of health should be first and then you’ll get good performance off the back of good health. So that’s coming in the next few months. And then we’re revamping most of the programs. We’re also developing like the strength conditioning.

So there’s a ton of stuff that we’re effectively always trying to take feedback from, from our audience, from our customers or the community. And in providing for them, it’s about them. And so we’re trying to provide for them what they what they want. So there’s been the online handstand workshop that we’re doing this weekend is obviously come off the back of this situation. But it’s something that people have asked for and that we will be delivering.

And then we’re looking at more. We don’t know how long this phase is going to go on for some sort of more workshops like that, more live sessions where people can still get that coaching feedback as well as as well as once we can do stuff face to face. Will we get those workshops back up and running as well?

Darren: Yeah, amazing. So before we wrap up then, guys, is there anything I didn’t ask that you feel I should have asked you which would benefit listeners?

Tim: I think now know we’ve covered the major bases. I think hopefully people got a understanding of how we see movement. And it’s yeah, we again, there’s a tendency for the level of, I don’t know, his passion or his passion, but we get passionate about a movement side of things and encouraging people to take action. But as I said, we started out and we did it because we had we were having a good time. And I thought that handstand push ups were cool and they are still cool because we we don’t find that people regret trying it.

So a lot of people will come to us if they’ve got bored of the gym or they’re looking for something different. They want to try and change things for whatever their own personal reasons are, is extremely addictive in a positive way. And a lot of people will come to calisthenics. And they were like, this has changed my life. So the impact there is is huge. And hopefully we’ve encouraged people giving people enough reasons to explore it.

Darren: Yeah, absolutely, and it’s been amazing to have you on today. I really appreciate your time and coming on to talk to us. And like I said, you guys go and check out school, school can’t even pronounce school of calesthenics dot com. Yeah, don’t use my pronunciation. Just Google it. It will come up. But yeah. Thanks very much, guys, for coming on today. And I look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Jacko: A pleasure. thanks for having us.

Darren: Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe. And I would really appreciate if you could leave a review on iTunes all the things mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes and a full transcription is over at fitterhealthierdad.com

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