Fitness goes gymless with street workout

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People looking to lose weight and gain strength naturally flock to fitness centers to shed off extra fat, but at the cost of gym memberships or personal training fees. Now Barrakos, a group specializing in physical culture, is offering an affordable and equally effective alternative: street workout. It’s price tag? Free.

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Street workout consists of athletics and calisthenics performed outdoors, commonly in parks and playgrounds. “It is a pure bodyweight workout,” said Barrakos coach and co-founder Daryl Paul Agustin, adding that the style was developed by African-Americans who added new variations to common callisthenics such as push-ups, pull-ups, dips, and squats.

Most of these stylized variations found their way to the Internet, particularly in video sharing YouTube, which made them popular. “That’s how we started.We met in YouTube,” Agustin said. After exchanging feedback on each other’s videos, he and a small group of street workout enthusiasts decided to form a training team, Barrakos, in January 2013.

“You are using minimal to no equipment at all to condition your body,” Agustin said when asked about the main benefits of street workout. Apart from the opportunity to gain muscle endurance, strength and stamina, street workouts allow for the freedom to create one’s own style with one’s own number of sets and repetitions.

Agustin said in contrast to isolated movements using weights, bodyweight training uses the whole body regardless of the exercise. “It is more effective than isolation,” he said, adding that it makes all the muscles in the body work together to strengthen physical capabilities. One example Agustin used is the traditional push-up that, when done in proper form, braces the core and engages other muscles, making it a full body workout on its own.

Like weight training, the level of difficulty can also be increased. One way to do that is by increasing the number of sets and repetitions. Another is to progress to more difficult variations, for instance, from pull-ups using both arms to one-arm pull-ups.

Improving cardio is also possible, according to Agustin, by using a circuit training style of workout with the same bodyweight movements. For an athlete’s conditioning routine, he recommends mixing calisthenics and weight training to get the best results from both disciplines.

Street workout competitions are already being held in many parts of the world like NBXA and World Street Workout Championship. Agustin said local street work-out athletes are now doing moves he only saw done by their foreign counterparts, making Filipinos a possible contender for future international tilts.

For beginners, Agustin cautioned against jumping to sophisticated exhibitions found in most YouTube videos to avoid injuries. He advised to start with the basics: push-ups, pull-ups, and squats, and to perform each exercise with proper form. “Your body will not lie. If your body can’t do it, you can’t do it,” Agustin said.

When basic movements start to feel easy, Agustin said that it is time to progress to harder variations like elevating the legs or putting on back weight when doing push-ups or trying one-arm pull-ups and single-leg squats—exercises, he said, even muscle-bound weight lifters are incapable of doing. “It is a beautiful thing to master your own bodyweight,” Agustin said. “You can do so many things.”

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