Calisthenics is a form of exercise that does not require any weights; you can use your body weight to carry out multiple workout routines. Unlike traditional workout methods, calisthenics is a technique that can help you to develop your mental health, not just your physique.
Various methods like scribbling, painting, and crying can be used to vent out all the negative energy we absorb every day. Calisthenics could also be used to get rid of the energies that develop stress, anxiety, depression, frustration, and similar states.
A group of fitness enthusiasts - "Calisthenics BD" (CBD) - started using this non-traditional workout method since 2017. This bunch of enthusiasts exercise six days a week at the Fitness Corner in the Lake Park area of Baridhara DOHS. Regardless of how hectic their daily schedule is, all the comrades manage to come together and boost their limits every day.
The Business Standard conversed with some of the members of Calisthenics BD. We asked them how this workout method helps them boost their mental health along with their physique. Here is what they had to say:
"As a species, we all deal with anxiety, stress, frustration as well as depression. These are all common phenomenon these days. Calisthenics compels me to push myself mentally and physically; this helps me deal with mental issues that we all face, such as the ones identified above," said Sayeed Saheeb Ahmed, member of Calisthenics BD.
Saheeb, who used to use the street workout methods, could not resist joining CBD after he caught sight of an on-going session one night during Ramadan in 2019. "I had never seen a battle rope upfront until that moment. I was impressed by what these guys could do," he said.
He added, "I strongly feel that calisthenics can keep us active and about in the world to carry out a modern lifestyle. My thinking process has changed and I feel like my memory has improved. It gives me a better ability to fight stress and other related states. There is nothing like the feeling of a good workout session to flush away my anxiety, depression, and pain. We all have our demons and fears."
Another member - A M Imtiaz Mahbub, a student, on the other hand, would find it very difficult to focus on his studies and other spheres of life. "I always knew this, but I found it difficult to improve my focus and mental discipline." said Imtiaz.
Prior to joining CBD, Imtiaz was more into the physical fitness aspect of training. He said, "It was pretty tough at first, but over time I found that the workout sessions gave me good sleep and mental composure. It made me feel pretty relaxed throughout the day and I could breathe better, feel better."
An everyday calisthenics routine might last for an hour on average, but the workout routine revolves around the activities that you carry out through the whole day. "The program's structure taught me how to better design my everyday life, diet, rest, exercise, and everything else," said Imtiaz.
Mental health is as important as physical health, especially during the teen years when a fragile mindset is on the verge of developing a proficient personality. One of the founders of CBD, Shajidur Rahman used to be unsure of himself which steered him to depression, mental breakdown, frustration, and anxiety.
He said, "I lacked confidence and would get distracted by very small things. This resulted in poor grades and being unable to cope with society. I used to feel weak and fatigued almost every day, and this also affected my mental health a lot."
Since he started calisthenics in 2017, he gradually developed self-confidence and patience, which helped him organise his daily routine, lifestyle, and eating habits (which are also very important to people with or without mental illness) as well.
"When I am under sudden depression or anxiety attack or even if I am angry over something, instead of depending on pills or screaming at someone, I start doing a few pushups or squats or pull-ups, and increase the reps, because it really helps me control my condition," said Shajidur.
Shajidur is an undergraduate student at Independent University, Bangladesh and is learning as well as teaching calisthenics to members of his group. He said, "Starting off with two members, we now have thirteen members and all of us come here every day with the same motif; hope for a brighter tomorrow."
Everyone gets stressed in a chaotic city like Dhaka. Even when there are ways to vent out stress, we can always give exercises a try. Any form of exercise can help us to spurt out the negative energies that we absorb every day.