For those of you who follow me on facebook and instagram, you may have seen some seriously amazing things occur outside of our beloved Burgh. Over the weekend, I had an INCREDIBLE opportunity to meet with and train along side the king of Calisthenics Himself, Al Kavadlo. Al Kavadlo is a Master level Progressive Calisthenics Instructor and he is the head instructor teaching the Progressive Calisthenic Certifications (PCC) through Dragon Door. Our very own Ryan Williams had traveled to the PCC last summer and now is a part of the team here at Primal Fitness Pittsburgh! We got to chatting here in the Big Apple about body weight training and weight training and how these two different fitness modalities are different, yet complimentary to each other. Today, I wanted to give you all the inside scoop on all things calisthenics from the man who made this fitness movement so popular. It’s about to get real here on the blog folks! Here we go!
Me: How did you get into body weight training?
Al Kavadlo: My first introduction to body weight training was pull ups and push ups as a kid. When I got started that was all that was available to me. I tried a lot of different modalities as I grew up but came back to body weight training as my main focus. I was 13 years old when I began body weight training. I didn’t get into the more advanced moves like muscle ups, human flags, etc until I was in my late 20’s. I am glad that I progressively grew into my body weight training as I was much more ready to attempt the harder moves since I was proficient in the basics.
Me: So you used to lift weights when you were younger. When did you decide that Body Weight training was a better fit for you? Why did you decide that? Do you still do any weight lifting today?
Al Kavaldo: As a kid, I fell into the myth that putting on muscle meant I had to lift a lot of weights. Most young men have muscle building as a primary motivating factor to get into fitness. Having a mindset that was focused on aesthetics always caused me to try different fitness routines. I was really focused on getting bigger when I was younger because I was not happy with how I looked. Because I wanted to get bigger I was not really concerned about moving well, being healthy, being “functionally fit”. When i got out of a lot of weight training, my focus shifted. I no longer really cared about wanting to be a huge guy. I found body weight training to be a lot more fun for me. My taste in what I found to be sustainable, healthy, and just aesthetically pleasing shifted. Now, body weight training is all I do.
Me: How long have you been practicing calisthenics?
Al Kavadlo: Honestly, I have been practicing calisthenics for over 20 years. I am 35 now and started when I was 13. Certain moves came into the picture later in my career though. I didn’t start doing muscle ups until about 8 years ago. The human flag I was training for around 2006. So, from start to finish over 20 years, but some of the more extreme calisthenics I have been practicing for a little over 8 years.
Me: What are you currently working on in terms of your own goals when it comes to your calisthenic training?
Al Kavadlo: I am a process oriented guy, but beyond that, teaching the PCC is a huge part of my life now. We have a wide spectrum of things in that curriculum. My main thing now is to be as good as I can now at the skills I teach for PCC. Even once you’re proficient as something, it’s still a continuous process of refining. The better I am at my skills for teaching, the better I can serve people.
Me: What would you say to someone who is interested in body weight training and wants to become as proficient as you?
Al Kavadlo: Spend a lot of time practicing the basics: push ups, squats, hanging knee raises, pull ups. These are the movements you will need to master to have a well rounded foundation. A lot of people overlook the basics in my opinion, but if you can master those moves, you’re well on your way to success!
Me: Anything new on the horizon coming up for you in terms of your own workshops, certifications, publications? I am SUPER curious about this! 😀
Al Kavadlo: Yeah! I have a new book coming out in January to kick start the new year! It’s going to be called “Zen Mind, Strong Body”. It is a collection of my favorite articles I have written over the years as well as a lot of new bonus material. There will be inspirational quotes, new sample workouts, plus lots of my favorite articles I’ve written from my blog and the PCC blog – including some even my most avid followers have probably missed. I am super excited about it!
Me and my brother Danny will also be featured in “Convict Conditioning 3″ which is scheduled for released in February. I am incredibly exited to be a part of that work as well! I have seen the finished pdf and I think it is Coach Wade’s best work! The new CC book covers explosive calisthenics including the muscle-up, kip-up and back flip! It’s going to be awesome!
Hey Pittsburgh! Speaking of calisthenics, Primal Fitness Pittsburgh is the only facility in the city that offers Progressive Calisthenic training. And. ..well. . .word in the Burgh is that we are working on a workshop with Al and his brother Danny later in the summer to offer a crash course in calisthenic training! Once we wrap up the details, I will be sending out the information for you all! In the meantime, be sure to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our calisthenic training and how it can make you a force to be reckoned with!
Until next time. . .
Master your instincts!
I would like to personally thank Al Kavadlo and Grace Mendez for being so kind and showing me around New York City. Thank you both for your time and for helping me refine my own skills when it comes to calisthenic training! You guys mean so much to me! Thank you again for an incredible trip!