I started callisthenics when I was 27 years old (4 years ago). I fell in love with the sport and just wanted to get better at it. 3 years into my training, I decided to leave my desk job and become a coach. I wanted to focus on women because callisthenics is misconceived as a male sport and most women get intimidated to start. That’s when I decided to open a small studio (The Grip) and have ladies-only classes. I became the first woman to get WSWCF certified in Jordan and the only woman in Jordan who has her own callisthenics studio.
Toronto, Ontario & Amman, Jordan
Can you tell us more about callisthenics?
Callisthenics is a form of strength & resistance training using your own body weight. It consists of different movements that exercise large muscle groups. Callisthenics dates back centuries ago and is now incorporated in many pieces of training including military training.
What are the benefits and principles of callisthenics?
The benefits of callisthenics include – but are not limited to engaging the entire body during every exercise, increasing strength and endurance, improving mind-muscle connection, increasing mobility, and building lean muscle. In callisthenics, we aim for strength by focusing on overall form, high-quality sleep, eating well, and proper recovery.
What training would you recommend for first beginners training with callisthenics?
Callisthenics can look intimidating for beginners from the outside, but with a proper program to follow, you will be amazed at the strength your body can develop. There are modified exercises for all moves and for all levels. Pull-ups can be regressed to assisted pull-ups or Australian pull-ups, push-ups can be done on the knees, moving onto incline push-ups until you progress to the floor, and so on. I recommend all beginners start with mastering the basics; pull-ups, push-ups, chin-ups, squats, knee raises, dips, and hollow back holds and then continue to build on from there.
What were the challenges you faced on your journey?
When I first started callisthenics, I had extremely weak upper body strength. I was about 27 years old, and I hadn’t worked out for as long as I could remember. There were many times I felt demotivated because it took me longer than the average to master certain skills, but I remained committed to staying consistent. Another issue I faced was my gender. As a female, building upper body strength doesn’t come as easily as it does to a male. Callisthenics training is usually misconstrued as a male sport and many female callisthenics athletes worldwide are put down because of the calluses, the shoulders, the arms etc. I’ve had friends and family tell me that my body is now very manly, and my hands are horrid. The trick is to block out all outside noise and focus on the goal.
Share your unique training/coaching methods?
I have trained with multiple different coaches and mentors who have taught me various methods and techniques, so I like to borrow different pieces I’ve learned along the way and incorporate those into my own methods. Callisthenics is so vast, and therefore there is no one specific way of training. The most important thing is having a clear understanding of the athlete’s goals and tailoring my approach to that. I think as a coach; you learn to adjust your methods according to your client and their unique needs. There is no single right answer.
30% protein, 20% fat, 50% carbs. This is a very rough estimate, and it is important to note that different bodies require different eating habits, so a one-size fits all diet plan is not possible.
I supplement with protein shakes on days when I don’t have enough time to eat my macros.
Do you prefer to take and recommend all-natural (no sugar, no artificial colours/flavours/sweeteners) supplements or supplements with artificial flavours and sweeteners? And Why?
I prefer to take and solely recommend all-natural supplements. The body is a beautiful thing, and it was made to digest and process natural ingredients. Once I began taking all-natural supplements, I realized how much better my entire body was functioning. Having spent my early 20s in the business world, I didn’t end up transitioning to a health-focused lifestyle until my late 20s. Once I began prioritizing my health and cutting out sugar and artificial foods, I noticed a dramatic difference. I stopped having mid-afternoon crashes, began feeling much more energetic overall, and have noticed my body is much healthier.
Please describe the importance of mental health?
Mental health is of the utmost importance and something that many of us struggle with daily. We all have our good days and bad, and it is so important to push through those bad days and remind ourselves they are not permanent. It’s also extremely important to reach out to others to talk when things get challenging and remind yourself, that you’re never alone. Daily exercise has been proven as one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health, and it’s something that can give us a great sense of accomplishment as well. Exercise is a great way to keep yourself mentally healthy and has been essential to have a positive impact on my own mental health as well.
Take us through a typical day in your life for you?
I wake up around 7:00 am, drink water, have a cup of coffee, listen to a book, review the progress of my online clients, and go over my goals for the day. Once I finish my morning tasks, I start my own training, which I like to do on an empty stomach, and then it’s time to eat! After that, I go on with my day-to-day life before I start my afternoon classes, and usually spend my evening watching a movie, scrolling through Instagram, and preparing for the next day.
What does it mean to you to help others?
Helping others means the world to me! I am someone who has doubted myself since as long as I can remember, and callisthenics has helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. EVERYONE has potential, and this is where the importance of mental health really comes into play. Seeing people happy makes me giddy and if I can motivate even one person, I know I am doing something right.
What separates Status from other fitness magazines?
Status Fitness Magazine includes a wide range of content from athletes in different sports and at different levels making it very intriguing to the average reader.
If you could ask Status Fitness Magazine Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang any industry question, what would that be?
What does Status magazine mean to you? And also if he’s ever tried callisthenics?
Status Fitness Magazine runs model searches across North America including the largest one at the Arnold Classic for the Status cover. As part of the Status family, you will receive a special participation invite. How excited are you about this opportunity?
Oh, my goodness! Very excited!
Describe your coaches and the impact they have on you?
Coaches are extremely important; their words, their motivation, and their support mean everything. Thankfully, I’ve had some amazing coaches throughout my journey and each one of my coaches came from a different background, which provided me with the benefit of experiencing different approaches to training. Their belief in me was the most motivational attribute and essential to helping me get to where I am today.
Can you share with us your goals for fitness and life?
My main goal is to influence those people who doubt their strength, all genders, and all ages! I have been extremely hard on myself throughout my entire life, and I understand the struggle. But despite the struggles we are up against, I want people to understand that if they put their mind to it (whatever “it” is) they can do it! I also want to shatter the stigma that callisthenics is masculine (hence why I post workouts in heels), or that you must be a certain age to start. I want to inspire people to believe in themselves and encourage everyone to reach their full potential within callisthenics and beyond.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Discipline, consistency, and dedication can take you to places you could have never imagined, even when you’re starting with only 20 minutes per day working towards your goal. I’ve also learned self-doubt is the worst thing you can do to yourself.
If you could inspire one person, who would that be? And why?
I know that may sound selfish, but we are our biggest critics, so if you can inspire yourself, there is nothing you can’t do!
Who inspires you? And why?
There isn’t one person as I have been inspired by so many amazing callisthenics trainers since starting my journey. I have been so privileged to have received great support from so many people throughout my journey from around the world, and those people have inspired me to keep pushing forward even on the days when I felt most alone.
What is your number one tip for people on their fitness journey?
Stop waiting for the perfect time or moment to begin investing in yourself. Just start.
What does success look like for you?
Success looks like one of my clients shattering their goals.
What is your favourite quote to live by?
Consistency is key!
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