Calisthenics has allowed me to push my body to its limits – Kumar Bissoondyal
By Lakhram Bhagirat
Calisthenics – derived from the Greek works “kalos” which means beauty and “stenos” meaning strength – was developed in ancient Greece.
Men’s Health website says, “calisthenics is a form of fitness which utilises gravity and bodyweight leverage to challenge your fitness level.”
Initially, calisthenics was a method of promoting health in school children but has since transformed into a something that has allowed fitness training for any person. The method of working out can quite often be miscategorised as gymnastics/acrobatics since they share a lot of similarities.
However, unlike gymnastics, calisthenics can be practiced outdoors and is often dubbed as the “street workout” according to Men’s Health.
“The 2017 study, ‘The effects of a calisthenics training intervention on posture, strength and body composition’, by scientists from the Sport and Exercise Sciences research unit at the University of Palermo, Italy, found that calisthenics training is an effective training solution to improve posture, strength and body composition without the use of any major training equipment.
The study took 28 men and divided them into two groups. One group practised calisthenics for eight weeks, while the other group continued with their normal workout routines. After eight weeks, all of the participants underwent a body composition analysis, a postural assessment, a handgrip test and a press-up and pull-up test.
The researchers discovered that the men who trained calisthenics had improved their posture and lowered their fat mass, while the number of press-ups and pull-ups they were able to do had increased, even though their calisthenics training didn’t include these specific exercises. In contrast, the group who continued with their normal training routines didn’t really improve on what they could do before they eight weeks had begun,” Men’s Health wrote in a 2020 report.
With the world in a pandemic at this time and large gatherings advised against, there are numerous persons turning to calisthenics to stay fit.
In Guyana, though, a limited mumber of persons dedicate their workout routines to calisthenics but it was not an uphill task to find one.
If you are an avid social media user then you sure would have come across videos of Veda Kumar Bissoondyal, or “Akash Lee” as he is known, doing extraordinary workouts. His videos are daring and many compare him to martial art actor Jet Li because of the sheer grace and “daredevil-ness” of his moves.
The 22-year-old hails from Vigilance on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) and has always had a passion for fitness. At the age of 16, he got into juggling, martial arts and acrobatics.
Like many, he did not just wake up one day and start doing advanced calisthenics. Rather it has been a long and hard journey for him.
“For me, some of the techniques was difficult for me but other than that it was easy for me but practice makes perfect. If you like something then you try to do it and that has been how it is for me. I have learned everything for me and it is now fun.
The more I train, the better I get at it. It was fun taking challenges and I got my secret is that before I get anything done is to visualise the technique and go with a positive mindset and do it and get it done. I am more excited to do more difficult techniques so I am never out of training and my growth is not stunted. Calisthenics have allowed me to push my body to its limits,” Bissoondyal said.
The young man trains at least three times per week and incorporates a number of disciplines. He would, from time to time, pull his little brother in on his workouts as well. Bissoondyal hopes to one day open his own gym so that he can impart the knowledge he has gained on his journey to others.
To keep fit, he not only works out his body but also his mind as well. He also maintains a strict vegetarian diet.
“My advice to persons who want to learn calisthenics is to have a positive mindset, discipline, concentrations, inner strength and always be yourself. You have to express yourself, have faith in yourself and work hard to achieve what you want.”