Bodyweight Badassery Meets the Sideshow at the Seashore

by Danny Kavadlo on September 19, 2017

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Al Danny Kavadlo Coney Island

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 we are left with is our memories. And there is one summer memory stands above all as the freakiest!

This past Labor Day weekend, my brother Al Kavadlo and I had the tremendous honor of serving on a panel of judges at the 10th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Contest. It was our job to see which whiskers reign supreme in New York City and beyond. But there’s more: We were enlisted not only as judges… but also as performers!

The contest took place at the Coney Island Sideshow, home to circus showmen and human oddities throughout history. Hosted by performing strongman Adam Realman and “Handsome” Dick Manitoba (from legendary punk band The Dictators), the night was a celebration of classic New York, wacky and wild, in all its glory. The energy was infectious.

Adam Realman and Dick Manitoba

About halfway through the show, we had already viewed the hirsute contestants of several categories, including “Man or Beast” (best natural beard) and “Coney Island Curl” (best styled moustache). Now it was time for our act.

I can’t express what a remarkable experience it was to perform our bodyweight strongman act on this legendary stage. It warmed our hearts to be part of such a special history. From the sideshow performers of yesteryear, to modern day bodybuilders, to the pro-wrestlers we all admired as kids, there’s nothing like a strongman show!

In fact, as a kid growing up in South Brooklyn, it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to one day take the stage at the hallowed freakshow. Now I had my chance!

Al and Danny Kavadlo Partner Front Lever

We really wanted to do something special for the show, so we made it a point to feature only partner calisthenics in our act. Al and I demonstrated our signature partner front lever from the cover of Street Workout and the two-man human flag from Convict Conditioning 2. I even stood upon his back bridge as seen in Pushing The Limits. Most of the exercises we performed are detailed in our book Get Strong.

It was also a great thrill to serve as an ambassador of sorts, introducing the word of progressive calisthenics to a whole, new audience. The posse’s getting bigger!

Like the summer itself, our set seemed to fly by. Back to the facial hair! Soon, we were onto judge the “Dog and Pony” (best partial beard/chops) and “Carny Trash” (worst in show) awards. Bring it on!

Of course, the night ended with the coveted Brass Ring (best in show) and several other fantastic performances. Congratulations to all the winners and competitors of this amazing competition! The facial hair game is STRONG in Brooklyn!

Coney Island Beard and Moustache group photo

But for me, even more than the facial hair, keeping the strongman dream alive—bodyweight style—in Coney Island, Brooklyn is what made this night magic. Truly, this is one summer memory I want to hold onto. Fugeddaboutit!

Photos: Eliza Rinn and Norman Blake

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Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s leading authorities on calisthenics, nutrition and personal training. He is the author of several best-selling Dragon Door titles including GET STRONG and STRENGTH RULES. Danny has been featured in the New York Times, Men’s Fitness, and the Huffington Post. He is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding .com and TRAIN magazine. When not working one-on-one with clients in his native New York City, Danny travels the world as a Master Instructor in Dragon Door’s internationally acclaimed Progressive Calisthenics Certification. Find out more about Danny at www.DannyTheTrainer.com

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Progressive Calisthenics Returns To Beijing

by Danny Kavadlo on August 29, 2017

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China PCC 2017 Partner Human Flag

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!

Based on the teachings of Paul “Coach” Wade’s best-selling Convict Conditioning series, the PCC is a three day, experiential course that not only teaches all the bodyweight basics like push-ups, pull-ups and squats, but also the more elite moves like muscle-ups, human flags, bar levers and more!

The course also details a magnitude of progressions, regressions, teaching methodologies, principles and programming, which can be employed for a lifetime of personal practice and shared instruction. We don’t just show you the moves—we give you the tools!

China PCC 2017 push-ups

The incredible group in attendance included calisthenics die-hards hailing from China, Taiwan, Korea, South Africa, Italy and even the good old USA! One of my favorite aspects about calisthenics is that it unites and celebrates people from different cities, countries and continents. There’s nothing quite like traveling half-way around the world and meeting new people who feel like old friends.

Beyond geographic boundaries and cultural divides, the bodyweight brother- and sisterhood prevails. It’s very much a family affair.

China PCC 2017 Straight Bridges

This team of Beijing bad-asses was a particularly strong group. On the very first day, history was made when four of the attendees performed a one-arm pull-up! It’s been said that only one in 10,000 people can pull off this incredible feat of strength. Indeed, Beijing was host to a fantastic crew of calisthenic killers!

China PCC 2017 One-Arm-Pullup

One arm pull-up at PCC.

In fact, I’m always blown away by what I see at the Progressive Calisthenics Certification. It’s a place where new life experiences are made, shared and celebrated. The personal records set (and the personal bonds born) live on, even after the workshop has commenced.

China PCC 2017 squats

When all is said and done, it went by too fast. The three days we spent in Beijing were magnificent and I’ll never forget them. I look forward to PCC’s return to the Forbidden City. Until then, I’d like to thank our partners at Beijing Science and Technology Publishing for organizing this event, the University of Physical Education for the use of their phenomenal facility, and of course—and most of all—everyone who made the voyage to train with me, dare with me and become a certified PCC Instructor! Congratulations to you all!

Keep the dream alive. The posse’s getting bigger!
-DK

China PCC 2017 Group Photo

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Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s leading authorities on calisthenics, nutrition and personal training. He is the author of several best-selling Dragon Door titles including GET STRONG and STRENGTH RULES. Danny has been featured in the New York Times, Men’s Fitness, and the Huffington Post. He is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding .com and TRAIN magazine. When not working one-on-one with clients in his native New York City, Danny travels the world as a Master Instructor in Dragon Door’s internationally acclaimed Progressive Calisthenics Certification. Find out more about Danny at www.DannyTheTrainer.com

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Take Hold Of The Flame

July 18, 2017

Recently I received an email from a friendly fitness follower. This is what he asked: “Hey, Danny, how do you stay so motivated?” Well thanks for asking! But the truth is: I don’t! That’s right. I don’t. There is a fire burning deep within me. It’s in you too! This fire makes me move, helps […]

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Ask Al: GET STRONG Edition

July 11, 2017

Since the release of our latest book, GET STRONG, my brother Danny and I have gotten a lot of feedback on our new program. It seems that you guys are loving the book! Even though the program takes 16 weeks to complete – and it’s barely been two months since the release – many of […]

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Let’s Get High! How To Do A Muscle-Up

June 13, 2017

One of the things I love most about Progressive Calisthenics is the fact that it is a multi-faceted discipline. You see, we human beings have a tendency to over-categorize and compartmentalize just about everything. Sadly, this can lead to an improper representation of concepts that can often be better expressed with blurred lines. In other […]

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Internal Martial Arts and Calisthenics

May 30, 2017

A long time ago, before I became a trainer (and after a long hiatus in my own fitness and martial art training), I decided to get back on the scene. I began training a martial art called Taijiquan, also known as Tai Chi. To be perfectly honest, I chose this after watching late night Kung […]

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PCC Goes Commando

May 23, 2017

I’d heard big things about the Commando Temple gym in London from Al and Danny after the previous Progressive Calisthenics Certification there, so I had high expectations going into last weekend’s event. This would be the third time the PCC was happening in Great Britain, but it was my first time visiting the legendary Commando […]

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Taking The GET STRONG Transformation Challenge

May 16, 2017

What mechanism acts as both the Great Protector of our health and well-being—while often acting as the Great Saboteur of our attempts at physical transformation? That mechanism would be Homeostasis: “The tendency of a system, especially the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus that would tend to disturb its normal condition or function.” “A state of psychological equilibrium obtained when tension or a drive has been reduced or eliminated.” As the cliché goes, we […]

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How to Restore Desk-Damaged Physiques with Calisthenics

May 9, 2017

Years ago, well before the PCC, and just after Convict Conditioning began to get extremely popular, I heard Andrea Du Cane say that we shouldn’t live in the posture of our sport. In many cases, we should also not live in the posture of our work. It seems as though many of our clients (and […]

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Progressive Calisthenics Comes To Boston!

May 2, 2017

In 1858, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. famously referred to the city of Boston as “the hub of the solar system.” This past weekend, Boston could have been called “the hub of the calisthenics system,” as this historic American city hosted the first Progressive Calisthenics Certification ever held in the New England area. I was […]

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