Calisthenics: The Fountain Of Youth

by Dan Earthquake on September 11, 2018

Dan Earthquake progress photos

I’ve always had a vivid imagination. I’ve heard that anorexics always see themselves as fat, but I saw the opposite with my physique. Like Michelangelo saw the sculpture of David he would release from a block of stone, I saw my muscles and strength beneath. I only think I look fat in old photos. For instance, I was “as fat as a fool” when I swam the English Channel. But, that kept me warm, helped me float, and fed my muscles.

I was very happy with my long term physique for long distance swimming and strength.  I saw myself as a small sumo wrestler with a considerable amount of muscle mass covered with a protective layer of fat. It worked very well for the things I wanted to achieve. I’ve swam over a mile (2000m) in 1.9° Celcius (34° F) and three miles at 40°F. Not to mention, six hour swims every two weeks or so for a year with plenty of physical work—cycling in high gears, carrying the bike whilst jogging and rowing a boat were part of my program. I felt strong and healthy for the most part and rarely cold.

Now in my 40s, it’s wiser to be lighter. The trophies of the heavy work remind me that the daily minimum is the way to go and the desire to lift heavy weights and cover very long distances has waned along with my mass. I now feel the cold more.

I celebrate improvisation: I participated in the UK Strongest Man heats by training in my garden with scrap metal and old tires and tree trunks. Recently I ran my portions of a relay triathlon between London and Paris wearing normal clothes and my usual Dr. Marten boots. I used a steel bicycle made in 1963 for the cycle stage. “Did you find that at the roadside or in a museum?” joked a team mate. In the poem “If,” Rudyard Kipling challenged the individual to see their work destroyed and to rebuild again “with worn out tools.” I realise that I’m railing against convention. To me, the veneer of professionalism which demands branding and uniformity ignores the individual art of survival and practicality. Improvisation is not fashionable, a bit like calisthenics in some quarters. The poster boys and girls of conventional fashion wear makeup, have suntans, clean clothes, and operate in perfect conditions which do not exist in reality.

At the Louvre in Paris the other week, I photographed a bearded statue with a big arm. “That’s me,” I declared to myself, that perfection visible to me beneath an imperfect form. “It’s what you are becoming,” said a voice from the future. I didn’t realize until relatively recently (the last decade or so) that I am a time traveler. I’ve often imagined my future self returning to give advice. Sometimes the advice felt unhelpful, but I took comfort that the future me cared enough to try and help. Sometimes sneering at the elder know-it-all version of myself, I resolved to do it my way. “Stick to the basics,” he said, but I clamored for the cheer of the crowd, the wow of friends and colleagues. Vanity lifting and trophy hunting were (and are) very seductive.

“Calisthenics is both the fountain of youth and the quick route to old age,” my future self advised. “I’m curious about it being the quick route to old age,” I commented. “Time flies when you have fun,” he replied, “Especially given your habit of doing things unconventionally. Don’t worry,” he regularly assures me at opportune moments: “Everything will turn out fine, but the work has to be done.”

Dan Earthquake Tree Pullup

I remember these inner conversations and revisit my younger self to reiterate the message. Sometimes I didn’t listen—I remember that too. There’s still more to do, always more to do. Each day is a new start, a bit more revealed from the block.

Winston Churchill had the right idea: “Live dangerously, take things as they come. Dread naught: all will be well.”

Dan Earthquake English Channel Swim


Dan Earthquake is involved in event safety and hosts winter swimming training camps for Channel Swimmers. In 2013 the Channel Swimming Association awarded him the trophy for “Greatest Feat of Endurance” for his 21hr 25 minute crossing of the English Channel. In August 2018 Dan was part of the 4 person relay team that set a new record for the Enduroman Arch to Arc triathlon between London and Paris. For more info, visit

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PCC London: Rise Of The Underground

by Al Kavadlo and Danny Kavadlo on May 15, 2018

Al and Danny Kavadlo at the London PCC 2018

This was one for the record books.

For our fourth foray into the UK, we revisited The Commando Temple in the Deptford section of Southeast London. In many ways, Deptford reminds us of our hometown Brooklyn, New York.

You see, like people, landscapes and neighborhoods change. The first time we visited Deptford, it was rough and sketchy, with only a few businesses and seemingly endless dirty streets. But that was a few years ago.

Now, in 2018, once-abandoned buildings have given way to specialty shops selling artisanal cheeses, craft beer or pricey handmade trinkets. People who used to be scared to visit Deptford (and Brooklyn, for that matter) now flock downtown for street fairs, festivals and fancy espressos. Things change.

That said, there is one venue in this “up-and-coming” neighborhood that kept its underground roots, remaining brutally intense and completely hardcore: The Commando Temple.

“The Temple,” as its members call it, is a sanctuary of positive energy and fearless training. It’s also the perfect home for the Progressive Calisthenics Certification!

Al Danny Teaching London PCC 2018

Yet as amazing as “The Temple” is, the group of calisthenics freaks in attendance was even more impressive! Bodyweight warriors, yoga practitioners, fitness professionals and street workout enthusiasts from a total of seven countries—even as far as India—showed up to share in the experience, train their hearts out, and learn a thing or two along the way.

Dragon Flag London PCC 2018

It is always a mind-blowing affair to behold, as we explored bodyweight progressions encompassing the most fundamentally basic, to the most extremely advanced. Human flags flew, muscle-ups soared and pistols prevailed as we all drew in from this epic training session.

It should come as no surprise that the Progressive Calisthenics Certification always attracts a group of particularly strong females. This time was no exception!

Whoever said women can’t do pull-ups has never met these ladies!

The strong ladies of PCC.

The strong ladies of PCC.

At the end of each PCC, when the Century testing is finished and the certificates have been handed out, we like to give everyone one more chance to jump on the pull-up bar if there is something they’ve been wanting to give another shot. Inevitably, someone hits a move for the first time that eluded them all weekend. Once again, the PRs continued late into the final day.

Back Lever London PCC 2018

Neighborhoods change, things come and go, but experiences like this make people stronger and provide lasting inspiration.

Speaking of changes, this was our final three-day event. The PCC will be switching to a two-day format beginning with our next workshop in Beijing this summer. Two-day events in Austin, NYC and Holland are all on the books as well in the months ahead.

We hope to see you there!

PCC London May 2018

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Career Day

April 24, 2018

emailFacebookGoogle+LinkedinPinterestTwitter It was 7:45am as I walked down the hallways of I.S. 99 in South Brooklyn. I was excited at having been invited to speak to the students about potential careers in fitness. The night before, I asked my son if he was looking forward to hearing me speak. He said, “Well, I’m looking forward […]

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The Pursuit of the Daily Minimum

February 6, 2018

emailFacebookGoogle+LinkedinPinterestTwitter Coach Wade regularly encourages keeping a training log. It’s not a new idea to me: I’d had several periods of doing this over the years, but stopped completely in 2008. It was due to one of his articles that I eventually restarted counting in November 2014. I realized that I needed to establish a […]

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Strength for Life

January 30, 2018

emailFacebookGoogle+LinkedinPinterestTwitter It’s a new year, and gyms across the country are flooded with folks who’ve made the decision to change their lives. Unfortunately, these pursuits often start off well, but end up gradually fading away – often, before February even begins. There are myriad possibilities for why so many of these efforts don’t achieve their […]

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Time Goes By: The Top Ten PCC Blogs of 2017

December 26, 2017

emailFacebookGoogle+LinkedinPinterestTwitter 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 […]

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Finding Strength in Strength

December 5, 2017

emailFacebookGoogle+LinkedinPinterestTwitter 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 […]

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How to Build Your Own Suspension Trainer

November 28, 2017

emailFacebookGoogle+LinkedinPinterestTwitter 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 […]

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Borrow These Calisthenics Cues From the Recent NYC PCC

November 21, 2017

emailFacebookGoogle+LinkedinPinterestTwitter 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, […]

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My Get Strong Transformation Challenge Story

November 11, 2017

emailFacebookGoogle+LinkedinPinterestTwitter “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 […]

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