Time Goes By: The Top Ten PCC Blogs of 2017

by Danny Kavadlo on December 26, 2017

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Danny Kavadlo New Years Blog

What is time? Are our lives just a series of randomly occurring events? Or perhaps our experiences are inter-connected by some odd, invisible thread. Who knows? Maybe any “timeline” at all is purely a human invention—our best attempt at comprehending the way that affairs unfold.

Or not. I sure as Hell don’t know!

In any case, whether the linear tracking of time corresponds to history, the universe or just how good we’re getting at pull-ups, we use calendars every day. We know exactly how much time has gone by. Sometimes it’s good to look back…

2017 was a huge year for the Progressive Calisthenics Certification: we welcomed new PCC instructors at workshops across the US, as well as in England, China, Poland and Australia. PCC has truly become a global phenomenon and we are thrilled at how big the family is getting!

2017 also saw the release of GET STRONG, the very first Kavadlo title to contain a specific, detailed 16-week program. To anyone who’s ever asked where the best place to get started is, or how far you can go, this book is for you. You asked for it. You got it!

Throughout the years, this blog has become more than just a forum for sharing information. It’s also been been a fantastic way for us to connect and grow as a community. As Master PCC, I am well acquainted with every single word that runs on this blog. Here are my Top Ten PCC posts of 2017:

– Brian Stramel wrote about his unbelievable, Grand Prize-winning metamorphosis when he took on the Get Strong Transformation Challenge.

– With his classic, bold simplicity and years of experience, Master PCC Al Kavadlo gave us these 5 reasons to practice pistol squats.

– PCC Team Leader Matt Schifferle explained the advantages of building muscle using the power of calisthenics.

– Drawing upon the connection between Eastern martial arts and progressive calisthenics, PCC Instructor Ray Shonk recounted his fitness journey.

– PCC Team Leader Grace Kavadlo shared her savvy in both strength and flexibility, giving us these 5 tips for training the V-sit.

– Here’s a stellar blueprint for arranging a group fitness calisthenics class by PCC Team Leader Matt Beecroft.

– PCC Instructor Steve “Grizzly” Opalenik demystified breathing, tension and meditation as they relate to the body and mind.

– In her signature fashion, PCC Team Leader Annie Vo explained how people change over time, the pursuit of knowledge deepens and why YOU need to recertify!

– With this masterful post on “chaos-proofing” your workouts, Senior PCC Adrienne Harvey gifts us with a mother-load of information about muscular tension, efficiency, programming and more.

– I contributed quite a few posts in 2017. You guys seemed to like this one. It’s called Take Hold Of The Flame.

I’m grateful to all of you who follow this blog. Thanks for reading, sharing, commenting and contributing. We appreciate it more than you know. The future is big and bright. We hope to see you at the PCC in 2018. Happy New Year!

Keep The Dream Alive!

-DK

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Finding Strength in Strength

by Steve Llewellyn on December 5, 2017

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Steve Llewellyn bridge

It has been well documented that exercise is good for our physical health but more recently the benefits of exercise have shown to have a great impact on our neurological and mental health.

Stress, anxiety and depression are conditions which are incredibly common in modern day western society. Our bodies and brains are susceptible to becoming overawed by the increasingly demanding pace of our lives as we attempt to manage a career, family life and eating healthily while still finding time to exercise. Add to this the fact that a rapidly increasing number of adults spend two hours commuting to their day job and then spend eight hours or more hunched over a desk–we have more than a few reasons that self-care gets neglected.

And while the general populous are well informed of the psychological effects of traditional cardiovascular pursuits (mostly running), it is less well known that strength training can have a profound effect on the human brain and a recent study made a direct link between resistance training and a decreased risk of dementia.

My own story draws lots of parallels with the points already touched upon.

I am someone who has experienced feelings of depression and generalized anxiety since my teens. I won’t delve into the reasons and just keep it relevant to the article, instead I want to share how strength and fitness has given me the tools to deal with it.

For years I masked these overwhelming thoughts and feelings through self-medication and isolation from situations which were uncomfortable, thus compounding those original triggers and behaviors.

I wanted to change my thoughts, behaviors and environment and escape the mental prison I had built for myself. Self-medicating was the only (albeit temporary) way out I knew. I had also been prescribed various medications which did not help and probably even made things worse.

It was then at the age of 25 that I decided I wanted to join a gym. I figured I could find a new outlet, a new, healthy obsession that built me up instead of dismantling my already frail body and mind.

So, with the support of an old school friend who had recently got back in touch, I took the plunge and signed a contract at a local chain gym.

It was tough going for a few months at least, out of my comfort zone and into a neon lit space full of people who very body conscious and (in my paranoid head) judgemental of skinny newbies invading their sacred space. On closer inspection however, I realized that I was not the only one who was unsure of themselves. There were lots of people pushing weights, sweating on running machines who looked like they were not necessarily enjoying what they were doing but still they were there, putting in the graft because somehow, they knew it was important. This inspired me to not quit when the going got tough, when I didn’t feel like driving to the gym to workout, when I wanted to lie in bed and eat junk food instead.

Steve Llewellyn crane hold

But gradually, things began to change. I started to notice an increase in energy levels, my physique was changing, muscles were starting to appear, and my mindset began to shift. My mood was more upbeat and my ‘stress cup’ was bigger. When the dark clouds did gather in my mind, they didn’t stay as long, and I could tell myself that they would pass instead of crumbling under the feelings. I started to give thought to how the weekend binges were having on me and I began to question whether I wanted to stifle my newly acquired gains with the habits I knew so well. The biggest shift was in starting to look forward to working out every other day rather than a thing to fear and dread like some necessary evil that must be endured to feel good about myself.

Over time, I curbed the drinking (no more binges) quit smoking and a new-found sense of belief and confidence took their place thanks to my now fully ingrained ‘gym addiction’. A few years later I discovered the magic of bodyweight calisthenics and from then I knew that I had found something that would keep giving back to me as long as I paid my dues.

As we draw towards the end of another year, men and women everywhere will begin a period of self-reflection, they will question the way they look, the way they perceive themselves and then tell themselves they really ought to start looking after themselves more in the new year. Many will join a gym (not for the first time) and will tell themselves they must go. That’s all good. However, it’s a sad fact that most gyms are full to bursting in January with eager new recruits but by March too many have lost patience or will to succeed and fall off the fitness wagon before repeating the same cycle next year.

The irony is that nobody actually needs a gym membership to improve any part of their health. Part of the beauty of bodyweight calisthenics and all the progressions taught at the PCC require nothing but something to pull on and the floor beneath you. And as Al Kavadlo says, “If you don’t have the floor beneath you then you have much bigger problems”.

Steve Llewellyn dragon flag

Even thirty minutes of brisk walking a day in the fresh air can have a hugely positive effect on both physical and mental wellbeing. These days, my training equipment checklist consists of little more than a skipping rope, a pair of gymnastic rings and a tree in the park to hang them from.

Of course, I am not suggesting that doing a bunch of push ups and pull ups will completely rewire your brain and make the pain of having a mental health difficulty go away. I still have days where I feel low for sure. No, I am saying that training my body gives me the most incredible coping mechanism imaginable, which means I can accept myself, my thoughts and feelings without drowning in them. Strength training has given me self-respect and made me a better husband and father, not to mention a pretty decent body for a guy over 40. I am truly thankful for having found strength in strength. Now, as a coach and personal trainer, my mission is to inspire other men just like me to be the best they can be.

 

****

Steve Llewellyn is a personal trainer and PCC Instructor from Birmingham, UK who specializes in helping men over 40 discover a passion for becoming stronger, healthier and changing mindset around nutrition and recovery. He runs 1:1 and small group training at The Bodyweight Basement. He can be contacted at bodyweightbasement.co.uk or email: stevellewellyn99@hotmail.co.uk Follow him on Facebook facebook.com/trainersteve99/

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How to Build Your Own Suspension Trainer

November 28, 2017
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Suspension trainers are the multi-tool of the calisthenics world. You can do hundreds of exercises with them for almost any goal imaginable. They are ideal for mimicking classic weight machine exercises like chest flys, triceps extensions, and core work. Suspension trainers give you hundreds of exercises that can enhance and supplement your training. Suspending your […]

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Borrow These Calisthenics Cues From the Recent NYC PCC

November 21, 2017
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One of my absolute favorite parts of any teaching situation is the opportunity to troubleshoot and help teach the troubleshooting process. This not only helps the participants with their own workouts, but teaches them how to help their clients make big changes quickly. And whenever there’s a new group of people at a PCC, there […]

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My Get Strong Transformation Challenge Story

November 11, 2017
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“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” -Zen proverb I bought Get Strong when it first came out at the introductory price, and eagerly read it in a day or two. I was no stranger to calisthenics and it looked like a great program… that I would start as soon as I finished […]

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Getting Started with the Freestanding Handstand

October 31, 2017
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I didn’t grow up as a gymnast. As a kid, I played basketball and soccer, but was fairly uncoordinated and had very little body awareness. In fact, handstands didn’t even come on the radar for me until my mid 20’s, and at that time I had just barely built up the strength to do proper […]

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PCC Torrance: Once In A Lifetime

October 17, 2017
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And you may find yourself in another part of the world… That’s what tends to happen when we instruct Dragon Door’s Progressive Calisthenics Certification, the first and best bodyweight training certification on the planet. In fact, in the nearly five years since its inception, the PCC has taken place in dozens of cities and numerous […]

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Embrace the Journey – Lessons from the Pull Up Bar

October 3, 2017
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“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki Too often in life we want to rush ahead. We want to be better, more informed, more polished. What we don’t always want to respect is the process required for getting to that point. Our strength and […]

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Bodyweight Badassery Meets the Sideshow at the Seashore

September 19, 2017
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A few nights ago, as summer was coming to a close, my son and I went to the beach one last time this season. We sat on the sand and looked into the sky. Slowly, I closed my eyes and reflected on the rapidly dwindling summer days of 2017. Times come and times go. All […]

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Progressive Calisthenics Returns To Beijing

August 29, 2017
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Last week, the Progressive Calisthenics Certification made its return to Beijing, China for the third time in just 18 months. Once again, I had the esteemed pleasure and honor of traveling to the Far East to lead a group of forty calisthenics enthusiasts through the school of Street Workout. And what a thrill it was! […]

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