Callanetics: Seeing is Believing

Callanetics – the low-impact exercise phenomenon of the 80’s – has begun to regain popularity worldwide.

A far cry from the jarring, high energy, kick-punch exercise programs marketed on today’s infomercials, Callanetics appears deceptively simple and even ineffective. The routine consists of a series of small, controlled movements intended to isolate, condition and tone specific muscle groups.   In fact, some movements are so small they are almost imperceptible, but visible results can be achieved within a matter of hours.

Callan Pinckney, the creator of Callanetics, first marketed her exercise program in a book entitled 10 Years Younger in 10 Hours. In the book, Callan backs up her claims of a tighter, slimmer figure in ten one-hour sessions with before-and-after photographs of her students’ incredible transformations. An appearance on Oprah helped launch the book to bestseller status and continues to be rediscovered by new and former devotees.

Searching for the Callanetics workout on DVD? Find it on Amazon.

Many of the exercises are meant to be performed on a barre, the handrail used in ballet studios during warm up. Since few of us have ballet equipment installed in our homes, Callan suggests common household alternatives such as tables, countertops, chairs, sofas and even windowsills. Just about anything that is sturdy and of a comfortable height can be substituted.

Some of the benefits described by Callanetics practitioners include better posture, flatter stomachs, and overall inch loss. From personal experience over ten sessions of Callanetics, I can vouch for those claims and add a few of my own: deep relaxation and better sleep, a stronger core and increased control. The movements were surprisingly challenging at first, but persistence proved successful and, as Callan promised, my body perfected the movements at its own pace. Rather than force yourself into a difficult or painful position, you’re encouraged to do only what your body will allow, even if it means settling for less than perfect form. Eventually, you will be able to guide your body into the correct position.

During the first two sessions at least, you can bet on feeling your workout the next day. Odd as it may seem, I was pleased to find that I could barely climb the stairs. Who knew such tiny movements could work such a broad area so deeply? I felt muscles I hadn’t realize I’d used.

Although it’s not specifically intended for weight loss, Callanetics can easily help one drop several sizes through the toning and tightening effect alone.  However, for maximum weight loss potential a cardio program (such as walking 3-4 days a week) should be implemented.

Callan has also produced an advanced program for those who’ve mastered Callanetics and are seeking a greater challenge and an even more effective routine: Super Callanetics. The exercises in the advanced program are generally the same, but employ minor changes which make them far more potent. Callan repeatedly stresses that Super Callanetics should not be attempted until the one-hour program has been mastered. The ability to make drastic improvements to one’s body within days just might be motivation enough.

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