This is an article on a form of exercise that most of you would probably be unfamiliar with. I tried it from a DVD called “Callanetics: 10 Years Younger In 10 Hours.” Yes, I know that it poses a lot of questions.
Why did I begin an exercise routine with a shoddy-sounding name like that? Why did I get a DVD with a woman’s annoyingly well-toned back on its cover? Why did I want to try something which promised to knock ten years off my frame? Did I wish to be that skinny-and-hyperactive 11 year-old again learning about coniferous forests and drawing diagrams of amoeba? Or did I simply wish to give Callanetics a try because of the same reason that I do a lot of things – boredom?
I will begin the explanation with a confession which will expose me to both ridicule as well as resentment of a lot of people. I am a 5’2″ short dwarf-midget mutant who has never crossed 45 kilos in her life and looks like a waif, but definitely NOT in the Kate Moss or Twiggy type of fashionable waif sense. At first, my sole reason for exercising was to set my posture right. Later, I realised that it also made me more energetic and helped me look toned. Since cardio will practically turn me into a skeleton (and hence open avenues for employment in ‘Aahat’ or in medical colleges), I’ve always avoided it and preferred workouts which involve less fat burning and more toning.
That brings me back to Callanetics. It came highly recommended from a cousin who is neither skinny nor hunchbacked, but loved it nonetheless.
What is Callanetics?
According to the Wikipedia page, the Callanetics exercise programme was created by Callan Pinckney in 1980s to help ease a back problem that she was born with. The theory of Callanetics is that the surface muscles of the body are supported by deeper muscles, but popular exercise programmes often exercise only the surface muscles. Callanetics isolates muscle groups and works on targeted areas of the body. It involves repetitive contractions in a very small range of motion which work deep down into the muscles thus producing dramatic results in a very short duration of time. In frivolous terms, Callanetics can be called the love-child of Ballet and Yoga with the grace and fluidity of the former and the mind-body synergy of the latter.
When I first watched the video, I gave a cocky grin and thought, “Hah! This is easy-peasy!” However, after my first hour of the routine, I was staggering around like a drunken sailor and swearing like one too (apologies to any sailors reading this; here, have some rum). Half my body was busy soothing the other half which was crying in exhaustion at the work I had put it through. I was also pretty sure there was a rebellion brewing against me amongst hundreds of muscles whose existence I had hitherto been unaware of. Overall, according to my highly logical brain, it was a successful workout whatever obscenities my mouth and rest of the body may be uttering against it.
The brain was not wrong. From the first hour itself, my back was whipped into straightening up for more than its usual 10 minutes and I felt more energetic and less tired. Also, my core wasn’t wailing at its plight and attempting suicide as it sometimes does after a round of Pilates but still felt stronger instead. Perhaps because of the controlled breathing, it also made my face all pink just as if I’d got massage done. I decided to continue with it and see if it could tone me up into looking less like a kid from Somalia and at least remotely like a healthy foodie Punjabi girl. I incorporated it into my exercise routine and stuck with it till it gave me results that made me want to track down Callan Pinckney and kiss her hands sobbing with tears of joy.
The video that I used is the most basic form of Callanetics and targets almost the entire body. It includes waist trimming exercises, core strengthening, exercises for legs, and finally exercises for the lower area and the back. Overall, the chatter of exercise videos bores me and I just tend to memorise the routine and understand the form in a few days, and then prefer doing it on my own without taking cues from a TV screen.
Here’s a breakdown of the miracles it performed for me:
• Decreased my imagination in matters of scripting excuses to dodge exercising.
• Gave me the semblance of what crazy fitness mags call a “bubble butt.”
• Freed my legs of the little flab they had gained because of my sinful relationship with all sorts of cheese.
• Made me akin to rubber bands in matters of flexibility thus leading to a healthier affair between me and Yoga.
• Improved my posture to the extent that my mother has practically lost her favourite hobby of slapping my back and yelling, “Straighten up, kid!”
• Given me the appearance of length perhaps because of the improved posture (tall people have NO idea what this means to shorties).
• Flattened my tummy completely and toned it well.
• Toned my arms.
• Added more definition and shape to my body.
• Reduced the occasional back pain.
• Although I am still about as graceful as a bull in a china shop, it has given me the APPEARANCE of grace and elegance – and let’s admit it, life is all about appearances, folks. 😛
Benefits For Other Body Types:
People with a little extra flab, please don’t turn your face away muttering in anger. Callanetics is a miracle for everyone and not just the waif-types. The cousin who recommended it to me said that combined with mild cardio, it helped her lose many inches, tone up wonderfully well and reduced her tummy drastically. Callanetics also reduces that ugly looking cellulite and it is one of the best ways to tackle the nightmarish thigh fat. If it helps lean people look more toned, it can tighten the bodies of – ahem– “big boned” people. Personally, I find it as good as Yoga in terms of relaxation and stress-relief as well as in benefits for the skin. An hour of regular Callanetics tones up more muscles than doing jumping jacks around in an aerobics studio and sweating enough to fill up two buckets. Also, ladies who are fighting time, take note – Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow do Callanetics to maintain their age-defying figures. So, you may think about giving this a try.
I have not felt this enthusiastic about anything since I learnt how to whistle and kept blowing that crass “ladki chhedne wali seeti” for the next few weeks. I’ve been doing Callanetics regularly for six months
now and the miracles have been consistent. I am even planning to send the DVD to the Pope and request him to allow us to call it “St. Callanetics.”
So, whether you have Dunlap tyres on your belly or you look like a close relative of Popeye’s beloved Olive Oyl, you need to give Callanetics a try. The exercises are easy to understand and if you don’t want to buy the DVD (I didn’t but either but nicked it from my cousin instead), check out the videos on YouTube or look for a downloadable version somewhere online.
This YouTube link plays the first clip from the hour-long routine. You can click on other links on the page and check out all other exercises of Callanetics:
Also, all those bright leotards, frizzy perms, shoulder pads and garishly made-up faces which may make you feel like snickering were actually VERY fashionable in the ’80s. Don’t let it cloud your judgement. After all, Madhuri Dixit spent most of her career in ill-fitting, ridiculously frilly frocks and horrible make-up but that does not lower her worth as a great actress. Treat Callanetics with that attitude and you’ll be able to easily tune out the fashion disasters in the video.
Give Callanetics a few weeks, and you will see results. No, unlike cardio, it will not exhaust you and make you feel like one of the poor, exploited labourers at some construction site. No, you won’t need to sell your soul to the Devil and act like a character from a Marlowe play to get what you want and most importantly, you won’t need to huff and puff in the gym like the Big Bad Wolf from the story of Three Little Pigs in order to lose weight. Callanetics is not a cure-all for weight problems and body image, but it does provide pretty wonderful results when combined with a healthy lifestyle.
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