On Street Workout

by Danny Kavadlo on January 14, 2014

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Danny Kavadlo Performs a Human Flag in the streets of New York City

There is no denying it: The phenomenon known as Street Workout has built a mighty following over the years, a following that grows exponentially every single day.

What started with minimalist calisthenics crews in New York has spread across these great States, and all over the planet. While not exactly the same, Progressive Calisthenics and Street Workout do have a lot in common. Just look at the wild success of PCC Sweden (where participants trained on actual urban scaffolding!) and next month’s sold-out PCC Australia, not to mention upcoming events in Germany, Holland and Ireland. Clearly, the principles of Street Workout have become an international sensation. A movement, if you will.

And we are not slowing down. You can’t ignore us. Street Workout is just so damn fun and good for you! It sometimes seems like the fitness world is nothing more than a bloated bastion of isolated movements and impractical applications. Street Workout is a breath of fresh air.

A variety of exercises demonstrated simultaneously by participants and PCC Instructors at the 2013 PCC in Sweden

Do It Anywhere
To begin, it encourages us to tap into the creative, even artistic, part of our cerebrums. Whereas commercial gym members use multiple thousand-pound machines to train one muscle at a time, we can look at a pole, fence or street sign and come up with a dozen exercises on the spot. The ability to observe and use your surroundings is a human trait that’s dying these days. Free your mind. Further, unlike a gym, there’s no fee for this club. We welcome all comers.

I used to know a guy who would drive 40 minutes each way to a gym to train for 45. He could have ran flights of stairs, done dips on a bench and pull-ups off a ledge in a fraction of the time. Hell, he could have done push-ups right there on the street—that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Al Kavadlo Performs a Push Up on Cobblestones

Real Strength
Street Workout is more than just efficient and visually impressive—it also makes you really freakin’ strong! By encouraging harmonious full body movements over isolation and non-cohesion, this style of training builds real world power! Modern classics like high-altitude pistol squats and scaffolding pull-ups employ more muscle groups and promote greater overall strength than traditional gym exercises like leg extensions or biceps curls. I’m a lot more impressed by someone who can confidently pull his or her body up and over a real object, than somebody who moves a weight straight up and down a machine!

Danny Kavadlo Performs a Pull Up on New York City Scaffolding

It’s Fun
We are born with a primal urge to be outside. We’re animals, not built to sit under florescent lights in climate controlled, window-less rooms all day. It’s bad enough that so many good people have to do this at their jobs. Why do it during your workout?

Have some fun. Breathe the air. Feel the sun. Outdoor training makes you feel like a kid again.

Wilson on the playground

Community
This is the best part of all. Whenever and wherever there is a gathering of Street Workout enthusiasts, it’s like reuniting with old family, even if you’ve never met. The passion and energy are that intense. I can’t explain it, but there is a special kinship in our world, just as there is in the calisthenics community overall. I treasure being a part of it.

In his groundbreaking book, Raising the Bar, my brother and PCC Lead Instructor Al Kavadlo refers to it as “The Bar Brotherhood”.

The Kavadlo Brothers

When all is said and done, working out, like life, should be full of challenges, fun and adventure. No training style embodies these elements quite like Street Workout does. So what are you waiting for? Let’s hit the pavement and train!

 

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Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s most established and respected personal trainers. He is a Master Instructor of Progressive Calisthenics and the author of Everybody Needs Training: Proven Success Secrets for the Professional Fitness Trainer. A true in-person experience, Danny is known globally as a motivator and leader in the body-weight community. Learn more about Danny at: www.DannyTheTrainer.com.

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  • I’d like to pose a challenge to the PCC community. Make a street work out video in an unusual place (you know, wal-mart or something) and find unique places to do your exercises.

    • Love it.

    • Matt Schifferle

      Challenge accepted!

  • What a phenomenal article!

    And that shot of an “urban flag” you lead with…wow man, that is destined to become a future classic. A picture says a thousand words, and more!

    • dannykavadlo

      That’s for the kind word. I’m glad you like the photo, Coach!

  • Matt Schifferle

    Every environment has it’s own resources. When I started to get creative at using urban areas and playground for working out I wonder what took me so long to realize the best gym in the world was always there right in front of my nose!

    Great post Danny! Thank you so much!

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks brother! That means a lot coming from you Matt!

      • Sean

        Good comment Matt, i have recently found out the same myself and an inspiring article Danny. After I read it made me think of a urban park set in a forested area where I live that used to have calisthenics stations that were dispersed along a long looped trail. Pull ups, dips, push up spot, crunch station etc, with plaques that gave an example of what could be done at each station. It was basic examples but that didn’t stop someone from doing their own thing. Now that I’m better educated with CC/Raising the Bar I know now most that stuff probably would have been to advanced for those starting out. Surrounded by woodland with a river that ran beside it made it an awesome and tranquil spot; was the first place I started playing around with pull ups. Unfortunately all the stations were taken down by the city and replaced with park benches. At that time (more than a few years back now) I don’t think outdoor bodyweight exercise was probably that popular and poor maintenence probably created a risk to benefit issue with the city. Anyways to make a long story short after reading your article I sent an email to a friend of mine who works in the city recreation department. Going to see what options I have to maybe get something like it back. Probably a long shot but nothing ventured, nothing gained. If it it goes no where at least I still have my own homemade outdoor pull up station and dip bars to keep playing on, no benches allow! 😉

  • Karen Lee

    Nice article, Danny. I especially noticed the community, when I started meeting other people attracted to this type of movement, it was invigorating! And people who love this are just good, nice, positive people (maybe because of all the playing!). Thanks for sharing what you love with the rest of us!

    • dannykavadlo

      Right on Karen! I agree with you 100%. Thanks for the comment!

  • George Corso

    I have been Body weight enthusiast for 15 years now. My wife and I have owned a large equipmentless studio for 8 years and we preach and practice Bodyweight street style training for our clients. I have to say what you two (and Paul Wade) have given to the strength and conditioning community has not been anything less then amazing! I am extremely excited and proud to add to my PCC to my credentials this coming July in Virginia. I always treat my workouts as a practice, just to able to advance myself to the next level. You constantly raise the bar for all of us with your amazing literature

    • dannykavadlo

      Wow thanks for the kind words George! I am very much looking forward to meeting you in DC. Keep training hard!
      -DK

  • Wow, thank you SO much for validating everything I’ve come to believe about training! I’m serious – I don’t understand why people pay for expensive gym memberships or buy expensive equipment when we can get all we need outside! I’ve been preaching the Convict Conditioning system for a while now, to my own students. My love of it grew out of being into martial arts, where calisthenics are traditionally a major part of the training. Nothing like the functional strength benefits!

    I later discovered this blog and have learned a lot from all of the articles here. Eventually, I felt convinced I needed to go to a workshop one day! I finally signed up for the one coming up in Virginia, in July. I really look forward it!!!

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks for your comment Owen. Like I said in the article, among the many incredible aspects of Street Workout is the sense of COMMUNITY. I’m looking forward to meeting you in July!

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  • Great article Danny, and kind of sums up my strongest feelings about calisthenics. I do all my training in the park, I haven’t owned a gym membership since I first read Convict Conditioning and cancelled my membership after realising I didn’t need it anymore.

    I’ve also met quite a few people through training in the park, the guys and girls who have the same enthusiasm as I do for calisthenics, something I don’t believe you would get training at a gym.

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks for writing David. I’m glad you get it, man. The big box gym and the park have totally different vibes. We got solidarity on those bars!
      -DK

  • Mattias

    Nice reading Danny!

    My first impression is that doing work-outs on the streets is for the experts with a rich arsenal of circus tricks like you and your brother. But then I realized after contemplating my own training I actually did train on the street a few months ago (when the weather was a little more allowing). I was doing leg raises and clutch flag exercises in front of my house.

    At first I was a little shy about it. Making sure no neighbours (or my family) could see me by either training late or going in as someone appeared. But as I progressed I became more and more confident and relaxed. In the end I even enjoyed when I had some spectators… 🙂 I will for sure pick that up in the spring again!

    • dannykavadlo

      What a great story! Thanks for sharing it Mattias! And keep training hard!

  • Saef-Ul Baree

    At my place, some people doesn’t know how fun street workout was. When we were training street workout, they laugh at first just because we were doing some normal pull ups, chin ups, dips, squats and push ups. But then, we slap them in the face with some of the movement and skills. Then who’s laughing now. Even we don’t have a bigger body like the bodybuilder, we are still manage to do something that they can’t.

    And my story was:

    The first I start training on November 2013 cause when I saw on youtube it was Hannibal For King. He has inspired me for doing this calisthenics. After 3 month I training, I’ve gain some weight from 50 kg to 60 kg for doing pull ups, chin ups, dips, push ups and squats only. Then the first person who saw my progression is my best friend. After a couple of days he decide to join me and ask me if I can teach him. And now he also gain some weight from 48 kg to 58 kg. Now I’m 22 y/o and have been training for 11 month and always keep maintained my weight. Now my weight is 64 kg.

    Reason I keep it maintain is because to make it easy for me to pull myself up and do some skills.

    We did meet some people who doing it, but they’re don’t do it constantly and its okay. At least they’re see what we do and make them inspired a bit.

    Thanks for the reading Danny.
    And sorry for the bad English. 🙂

  • Aleks Salkin

    Great read, Danny! And couldn’t agree more. Nothing quite like being around like-minded, creative people engaging in humankind’s most ancient birthright: moving!

    Keep the gold comin’. Hope to see you guys again soon.

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