Essay On Calisthenics

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From the very first caveman to scale a tree or hang from a cliff face, to the mighty armies of the Greco-Roman empires and the gymnasiums of modern American high schools, calisthenics has endured and thrived because of its simplicity and utility. Unlike strength training which involves weights, machines or resistance bands, calisthenics uses only the body’s own weight for physical development.
(B) Calisthenics enters the historical record at around 480 B.C., with Herodotus’ account of the Battle of Thermopolylae. Herodotus reported that, prior to the battle, the god-king Xerxes sent a scout party to spy on his Spartan enemies. The scouts informed Xerxes that the Spartans, under the leadership of King Leonidas, were practicing some kind of bizarre, synchronised movements akin to a tribal dance. Xerxes was greatly amused. His own army was comprised of over 120,000 men, while the Spartans had just
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Leonidas was informed that he must retreat or face annihilation. The Spartans did not retreat, however, and in the ensuing battle they managed to hold Xerxes’ enormous army at bay for some time until reinforcements arrived. It turns out their tribal dance was not a superstitious ritual but a form of calisthenics by which they were building awe-inspiring physical strength and endurance.
(C) The Greeks took calisthenics seriously not only as a form of military discipline and strength, but also as an artistic expression of movement and an aesthetically ideal physique. Indeed, the term calisthenics itself is derived from the Greek words for beauty and strength. We know from historical records and images from pottery, mosaics and sculptures of the period that the ancient Olympians took calisthenics training seriously.
They were greatly admired – and still are, today – for their combination of athleticism and physical beauty. You may have heard a friend whimsically sigh and mention that someone ‘has the body of a Greek god’. This expression has travelled through
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