With the rapid rise of the Omicron variant and the seemingly ever-increasing number of cases in the UK, the chance of another lockdown soon cannot be dismissed so easily, which also possibly means that your local gyms might close down too. The new year has just begun, and it is incredibly common for more people to want to join a gym at the beginning of the year, in hopes of sticking to this year’s resolutions. However, because of Omicron, some people may be more reluctant to join a public gym this January. That being said, there are still plenty of ways to stay fit and healthy while sticking to those new year’s resolutions, from the comfort of your own home. 

Without access to specific gym equipment, many people might think it is difficult to put on muscle or lose weight, but it is entirely possible to do these things by only using your bodyweight. This is called calisthenics - strength training incorporated with bodyweight exercises. Calisthenics is a much older concept than you may think, originating from Ancient Greece, where they came up with the name from the words kallos, meaning ‘beauty’ and sthenos, meaning strength. Soldiers of Ancient Greece were often trained in calisthenics, which goes to show how effective the exercises can be. People commonly associate calisthenics with exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats, which are important given that they form the bases of most movements, but the exercises can range to mind-blowing feats such as the human flag hold, which you might want to work towards as your goal for the end of this year. 

Calisthenics also has many benefits, some of which are used to argue that it is is better than conventional weightlifting at the gym. Firstly, calisthenics exercises require little to no equipment, as it uses body mass as resistance as opposed to dumbbells and other weights at the gym. This also means that it is absolutely free - there is no need to pay for a gym membership as it is easily possible to train at home or go to a calisthenics park close to you. As well as this, on a more physical note, most exercises you do when doing calisthenics target more muscles in your body, whereas conventional weightlifting exercises are more limited. For example, a common exercise you can do at the gym is a bench press, which targets your chest, tricep and shoulder muscles. A push up (the most basic calisthenics exercise) also targets the same muscles, but unlike the bench press also strengthens your abdominal muscles on top of the others. There are more advanced exercises such as handstands and 90 degree holds which can also be used to strengthen the same muscles to a higher degree. 

To get started with calisthenics, it is often recommended to master the basics before moving on to more advanced techniques:

  • Push Ups (if you cannot do your first push up, work up to it by trying one on your knees or off of a window sill)
  • Pull Ups (to get to your first pull up, try inverted rows or Australian pull ups by raising your feet with a chair to eliminate some of the bodyweight resistance)
  • Pistol Squat/One-legged squat
  • L-Sit Hold

So, even with the possibility of gyms closing soon, it is possible to stay fit and healthy, while also learning some amazing new skills. Now you have read to the end of this article, do as many push ups (or work up to your first) as you can, and begin your calisthenics journey.