Healing Powers

by Danny Kavadlo on March 3, 2015

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Danny Kavadlo Wolvie

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had healing powers? Think about it. If the perils of injury were non-existent? If the chances of maiming, straining or spraining any particular body part were a work of fiction, best suited for the comic books? What if the words “pain” and “gain” were not so frequently associated?

Marvel at a universe where getting hurt is not a major concern.

Well here’s the thing, bub: It’s NOT a major concern. Not much of one anyway. Now before you start freaking out, try hearing me out. Yes I acknowledge that it is possible that one can get injured doing a pull-up (or lifting weights, running, jumping, or even walking down the street). But it’s also possible to get hurt while cleaning your garage, giving birth, or driving a car. You can even choke while eating an organic kale salad. Does that mean we shouldn’t do these things?

Despite what some say, I’m a true believer that the chances of getting injured if you work out are much lower than if you don’t work out. Makes sense, right?

We are constantly subjected to fear-mongering tactics perpetrated by the media, even (especially?) the fitness industry itself. That’s right, my people: Most of the commercial fitness industry does not actually want you to work out! That’s why there is equipment (abs machines for example) that’s built to isolate muscles that are not made to be isolated! Or why treadmills are designed to give the illusion of exertion (fat burning zone???) but not get you in shape.

Ab Machine treadmill

These machines are not built to get you in shape.

It’s also why gyms sign up new members every day but never get any more crowded week to week. They’d go out of business if all their members actually got results. Better to sign you up, feed you some bullshit and send you on your way. Thank you, DON’T come again.

The real deal is that people respond to fear. When it snows, the news tells you to go out and stock up on groceries and shovels or you’re gonna die an icy death. (Conversely when it’s hot out–and a slow news day–similar threats are made about the perils of heat.) For shame.

Danny Kavadlo Snowy Pull-up

I’m not dead yet.

Ultimately, it’s the individual’s choice what to accept, inspiration or fear. The truth is that it’s very unlikely you will inflict bodily harm while calisthenics training. A plane can crash, but flying is still the safest way to travel. I’ve even fallen off my bicycle, but I still ride it every day. It’s still good for me. Don’t hate. Appreciate.

Danny Kavadlo One Arm Pull Up

Don’t hate. Appreciate.

Sure, a day (or even a week) off can be a good thing. But you don’t necessarily have to plan for it or measure it with a slide rule. And you certainly don’t need to be afraid to work out intensely or frequently. Let your body, life and experience dictate. Simply put, if your legs are aching, then train your arms. Listen to your body. It’s wiser than you think.

We all need to recover at times; I’d never deny it. As far as healing goes, respect your level. Though I sometimes feel like I have an adamantium skeleton, I don’t. So when those moments arise when I need to back off, I do. No biggie. Common sense prevails yet again.

Danny Kavadlo hmm

Hmmm… Try some common sense.

In fact, I’ve been practicing calisthenics for over 25 years and I’ve never suffered more than a few nicks and dings (mostly from bumping my head on the pull-up bar or other such carelessness). Some tendonitis is the worst injury I’ve ever gotten, which is relatively minor on the grand scale.

And if we do get injured, no we don’t have supernatural healing powers, so pay attention to what you’re experiencing. Embrace every moment with care. Be aware of what’s around you. These practices are helpful in all aspects of life, not just fitness. Living in the present goes a long way, my friends. Every body needs training!

Keep the dream alive,



Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s foremost authorities on calisthenics, nutrition and personal training. He is the author of the Dragon Door titles Diamond-Cut Abs and Everybody Needs Training. Danny is known for his minimalist philosophy, simple approach and motivational talents.

A true in-person experience, Danny is a Master Instructor for Dragon Door’s Progressive Calisthenics Certification. He has been featured in the NY Times, TRAIN, Men’s Fitness and is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com. Learn more about Danny at www.DannyTheTrainer.com

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Big Man Calisthenics

by Forest Vance on February 24, 2015

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Forest Vance  with Al and Danny Kavadlo at the Encinitas PCC

Forest Vance with Al and Danny Kavadlo at the Encinitas PCC

A couple of years ago, cumulative injuries, less time to hit the gym, and just wanting a break from hard lifting motivated me to explore other modes of training to gain functional, healthy strength. I’d been lifting weights for almost 20 years and needed to try something different. The simplicity and practicality of bodyweight training appealed to me, but I always thought that at my size (6’4″ / 245 pounds) advanced calisthenics were out of my reach. If you look around YouTube, I’m a lot bigger than the typical people you see doing this stuff!

Back in my football days (I played college ball and had a short stint in the NFL), bodyweight work WAS a big part of our routine. However, it was mostly conditioning – stuff like jumping jacks and running in place. I had NO idea of how to use bodyweight training for any other type of goals (strength, muscle gain, etc).

I remember searching around on the internet one day and running across one of Al’s YouTube videos. It featured him doing human flags, muscle-ups, and a bunch of other stuff and that’s what led me down the “rabbit hole” of bodyweight exercise.

I went in to PCC Encinitas not knowing what to expect. Watching videos and practicing on your own is one thing, but going to an event like this with dozens of other calisthenics enthusiasts is another. I went in not knowing if I could even DO any of the exercises taught, let alone hang with the gymnast-types I expected to see at the event.

The certification weekend turned out to be one of the best fitness events I’ve EVER attended – and I’ve been to dozens over the 10 years I’ve been in the fitness business full time!

Forest Vance Muscle-Up

We learned and trained bodyweight exercise for three full days, including:

Human flags
Muscle ups
Back bridges
Ab work (everything from L-sits to dragon flags to hanging leg raises)
Front and back levers
Floor levers

And MUCH more.

From the staggering amount of new exercises, technique tips, and coaching cues I came away with, to the top-notch instruction from Al and Danny and the rest of the PCC team, to the positive attitude and energy of every single attendee, it was truly an amazing experience.

And my worries about fitting in and being able to hang were gone almost as soon as the event started. Being able to try “basic” versions of exercises like the human flag, muscle-up, dragon flags, floor levers, and many more showed me that these movements ARE possible for a big man. The huge amount of progressions presented showed me that if I put my mind to them, and work consistently on getting better over time, I can make a lot of progress!

Forest Vance Assisted Pistol

Add to that the accepting, positive, encouraging approach of the instructors, and you have probably the most universally applicable training course for a fitness professional that exists. Master this bodyweight stuff and you can train any client, anytime, anyplace, with zero equipment.

I feel a new enthusiasm for training that I haven’t felt in quite a while, really since I discovered kettlebells six or seven years ago. That alone is worth the cost and time of the trip 10x over.

It turns out my fear about my size was really just an excuse I made up in my mind! YOU can do this progressive calisthenics stuff – big or small, young or old, fit pro or just calisthenics enthusiast … make it happen! You’ll be glad you did.

Keep training hard!

Forest Vance At PCC


Forest Vance, PCC, RKC II, is a Master of Science in Human Movement, former professional football player, and currently runs a fitness boot camp and personal training facility in the Sacramento, CA area. Find years worth of free kettlebell and body weight – related articles, videos, and training courses at Forest’s personal blog at http://forestvance.com

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3 Steps to Getting “In the Zone” for EVERY Workout

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Want to know what it feels like to explode? No, I’m not referring to those whack pre-workout supplements. I’m referring to what it feels like to get “in the zone,” which naturally occurs during your superhero-like workouts. These are the moments when you look and feel deceptively stronger to the naked eye. These are the […]

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Increasing Frequency: How to Work Out More Without Overtraining

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If you are anything like me (which means people call you crazy, but that’s another story) you love to work out. You cannot go a day without training and you feel itchy when you miss a workout. I’ve certainly been there while traveling or when I was stretched thin from work and social commitments. I […]

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Since the very first PCC workshop in St. Paul, MN in June 2013, Al, Danny, and I have continually been impressed by the people who are attracted to the PCC. It may sound like a cliché, but even though we are the instructors, we always learn tons from the attendees. This PCC in Encinitas, California […]

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Technical Convergence

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Like many modern fitness enthusiasts, I first approached fitness in a very fragmented way. I used many exercises and different pieces of equipment to work on each separate muscle group with an individual focus. I also had a fragmented approach to conditioning. I had exercises for strength, exercises for endurance, exercises for flexibility, exercises for […]

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Aspiration, Inspiration—And The Quest For Enlightenment Through Calisthenics

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Back in the day, I practiced Zazen for a period, including a painfully exquisite five-day retreat. The beginning meditative practice was to count the soft inhales and exhales, with attention at the nostrils. Counting up to ten breaths. Then starting over. When you failed to stay fully attentive to ten breaths in a row, you […]

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The “Diesel 20”: Add Twenty Pounds of Muscle in One Year —Using Only Bodyweight

January 6, 2015

Okay. It’s the New Year. It’s 2015—that means another year just slipped by you. Another ****ing year. That vague image you had of your ideal self: of jacking up to a dangerous, bone-shattering level of strength, and bulking up some serious muscle…you got there yet? Huh? Or are you still running around on a low […]

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The Top Ten PCC Blog Posts of 2014

December 30, 2014

As the year comes to an end, it’s fun to take a look back and reflect. 2014 was a big year for the Progressive Calisthenics Certification! The PCC community continues to grow and many of you may have only discovered us recently. With a new post running every week, it’s all too common for great […]

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