Hi Jason, from what I know you’ve been in the dutch calisthenics game for quite a long time. Tell us a bit about how the scene in Netherlands got started, when you got involved and a little bit more about you as a person?
Hey there, I’m Jason Calisthenics, 23 year old & I’m a “hardcore” Calisthenics lover born and raised in the Netherlands. I’m the founder of Calisthenics team “BAR-VISION”. I have 4 passions in life: Calisthenics / Sports, singing, rapping & dancing. I did some singing / rap & actors work. In the future i’ll put more time into this.
My biggest passion at the moment is Calisthenics. I eat, sleep & breathe Calisthenics for about 8 years now. As a young child I was always interested and active in all kinds of sports. Somewhere in 2003 at the age of 11 I read in a martial arts book that push-ups make you strong and builds muscle.
That same evening I started doing push-ups every day. Before all of this I already did 100 sit ups a day and endless sets of laying leg raises, inspired by martial arts movies from actors like Jackie Chan, Jet li, Jean Claud Van Damme etc.
Years later while scrolling through martial arts videos on youtube I found videos of Ruff Ryders workout team on Youtube. This was somewhere between the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008. I kept looking at the videos as they were inspiring me and from that moment I knew Calisthenics was the way to train for me. After a while I found videos from Bar-Masters X-treme, Bartendaz, Beastmode, Bar-barians just to name a few.
Those videos and the exercises those guys were doing motivated me alot and I was eager to do the same stuff! There was no Calisthenics equipment in my city that I was aware of, so I started with pull ups on the doorframes at home (beside the ab work and the push-ups I was already doing). After a while my mom forbid me to continue with my pull ups on the doorframe, because my thumbs peeled of the paint.
So I was forced to look for other options. I went to kids playgrounds to do my pull ups. As time passed I tried to motivate friends by showing them the videos that inspired me too and eventually there were a few friends to train with. After some time I realised that we needed more Calisthenics equipment.
That’s where my mission started. I asked my mom to contact the municipality to build us a Calisthenics park. 7 months after the request for a Calisthenics park, there it was, our First official Calisthenics Park was finally opened on the 7th of march 2012. From then on the craziness started. Many long Sunday Calisthenics meetings at the park.
Lots of people from other city joined us to train with us. It was like a dream come true. I found out that a lot of people through the Netherlands also wanted to train through Calisthenics. Ofcourse they also wanted a Calisthenics Park in their city. So I continued my mission along with my mother, to promote the healthy Calisthenics lifestyle around my country.
Along the way we met some awesome people that helped us to make this mission possible.
Now after so many years we organise Calisthenics events in different cities in collaboration with other calisthenics athletes and organisations. This affects the Calisthenics community in the Netherlands that keeps growing bigger and bigger.
You spoke about you and your mom helping people out organising new parks in the Netherlands. What are the reasons for her to put so much dedication into this?
From day one (july 2011) I asked my mom to call the people of the municipality to build us a park. From that moment she was involved with the project. She was our spokesperson & contact for building the park. Me and my mom did everything together and in that stage it was good for us to have a grown up handling some of these things.
She was also excited for us, so she helped us out. She is still involved with helping people out with advice to build parks in my country because people are asking us many questions about how to build a park. It’s fun to work with my mom & she is very creative organizing Calisthenics events in my country. We do everything together. If she has an idea, she runs it through me and then we organize it together.
There’s so much going on with my project. It’s a big project and I can’t do this on my own so it’s better to work with someone who I can trust. Her dedication to this is more than some athletes who say they love Calisthenics.
My mom loves to see the change Calisthenics makes in our society and the role we play to help people out. She was always involved in social work. We feel blessed to do this together. We will continue to work together as a team in the future. More great events and new projects to come. Stay tuned for more if you can keep up with us.
How do you and your mom approach and convince the city council, mayor, municipality etc. to build calisthenics parks for their community? What would you advise to young people which want a park in their own city?
In my city we didn’t need to put a lot of effort in convincing the municipality. We just wrote a plan to introduce Calisthenics, set up a meeting with some friends and the people of the municipality. The people of the municipality were very enthusiastic and agreed to build us a Calisthenics park.
We advise people that want a Calisthenics park in their city to contact the people of their city council. First they have to introduce the city council to Calisthenics and tell them all about the healthy Calisthenics lifestyle. They can use photo’s and videos about Calisthenics etc. Then they should present their plan, what kind of Calisthenics equipment they want, where they should locate the Calisthenics Park etc.
Another advice is that if the people of the municipality can’t finance the park, there is also the possibility to involve sponsors to finance the park. For more information, people can always contact us at “Calisthenics Project”.
Let’s talk about your workout style. I have the impression calisthenics in the Netherlands is a lot about bar hopping and bar jumping? What kind of workout do you follow and why?
It’s true that a lot of guys in the Netherlands, and also all over the world do a lot of bar hopping and bar jumping stuff. I have nothing against it, some of those things blow me away. I especially like to watch it when it’s performed clean and with nice combinations of jumps and holds. That a lot of guys post their bar hopping and that kinda stuff in videos doesn’t mean they don’t get their reps in. I know guys that do a lot of reps, but never film that kinda stuff because they think it’s boring to post that.
As for my own style I’m more interested in reps and sets, weighted Calisthenics, long power move holds like it’s nothing, air walking through moves like (flag, front lever etc.). With all the different styles named above I’m especially hard on myself to perform it clean.
I’m the type of guy to say a front lever that’s off angle just even a little bit wasn’t good enough. That should tell you how strict I am to myself when it comes to performing Calisthenics exercises the right way.
Especially the last few months I became more strict to myself when it comes to 100% full range of motion. For example I had to complete the last rep of my set and the form was off , so I had to get back up to the pull up bar for 5 times struggling to get that last rep with 100% range of motion.
In the future I will learn a few cool bar hopping / jumping moves to combine them with holds and of course in my vision, CLEAN!!
Give us some insight, what does a workout session look like in the life of Jason Calisthenics?
I love to do my workouts in the Calisthenics Park. During the trainings I prefer to listen to Music that pumps me up to complete my workout schedule. After a light warm up with a resistance band and some scapula work, I continue with my “Warm Up Set” (10 muscle ups, 15 – 20 straight bar dips, 10 pull ups & 3 different 10 second holds). After this 30 minutes of handstand balancing work.
I continue with reps and sets of handstand push-ups, pike push-ups, front lever holds / pull ups, one arm pull ups and some dragon flag, victorian and human flag work. Following with basic reps & sets, either with or without extra weight. A training takes about 2 – 3 hours, I train Calisthenics 3 times a week. I stretch on a daily basis especially to keep my shoulders flexible.
Monday is my leg day, which I do at the gym with weights. I’d rather love to do sprinting and explosive bodyweight leg work outs, but I have bad knees due to an accident when I was younger. So that’s why I do legs at the gym.
My main focus in training is to build crazy endurance with basics and clean static hold, to build more strength, flexibility and ofcourse to have a good looking body. I combine all of the above with healthy and natural food. I don’t use supplements, protein shakes or that kinda stuff.
What does a good calisthenics park need? And where in the Netherlands can i find the best park?
Well a good Calisthenics park in my opinion depends on which training style you have. For example a freestyler prefers bars connected together so they can swing from 1 bar to another and that kinda stuff.
To me a good Calisthenics park needs atleast pull up bars, a monkey bar, dip bars, push-up bars, flag ladders and ab benches. To me it doesn’t really matter if the bars are connected to eachother or not aslong as I can get my workout in.
What’s the public image of calisthenics / street workout in the Netherlands? (in media, press, tv…)
I started to promote Calisthenics on a national level in 2012. Not many people were familiar with Calisthenics, so the media attention in the Netherlands for this sport was quite small. Eventually the popularity of Calisthenics started growing because more Calisthenics events were organised. The popularity also increased because myself and some bar-brothers were in a short documentary about my life, including Calisthenics.
After that many things followed like magazines, news papers, tv programs, radio etc. Our goal is to promote Calisthenics through the media and to spread the word about Calisthenics all over the country. A part of the media did a great job with the interviews, while others created a negative image with the way they described Calisthenics. They would write things like ghetto fitness or the way we train is just to show off our muscles, instead of recognizing Calisthenics as a real sport!
I think it’s a lack of knowledge because some of these reporters didn’t know much about Calisthenics. They just googled some info and put the wrong things together. It’s also about writing BS to create more attention for their story. In general most of the articles were positive.
I would say the public image of Calisthenics is quite positive based on the responses from some of the reporters aswell as the people that read the articles.
What does the future of calisthenics in the Netherlands/world hold for you?
It was my dream to build a Calisthenics Park in my city. When this dream came true, it became my mission to spread the Calisthenics lifestyle around my country and help others to build Calisthenics Parks in their city.
We now have 21 Calisthenics Parks in the Netherlands and I hope the community continues to grow & that people will live a more healthy lifestyle through Calisthenics.
That’s also my wish for Calisthenics around the world. I love to connect with all my bar-brothers abroad and I hope we continue to spread love and Calisthenics all over the globe.
Where can get people more information about you and your projects? Any last words?
For more info and to keep up with my projects you can follow me on Facebook at “Calisthenics Project” or “Jason Calisthenics”. I’m also active on Youtube: Jason Calisthenics & Instagram: Jasoncalisthenics. My newest project is “Calisthenics Foundation” on Facebook.
It’s been a long ride for 4 years now since I started my first Calisthenics park in my city. I fully enjoy the benefits and opportunities that this sport brought to me since i came in contact with Calisthenics. Shout out and thanks to all the founders / people that put in hard work to spread the Calisthenics lifestyle all over the world, because Calisthenics is not only about showing skills & your body but for me it’s also sharing the knowledge about Calisthenics with others.
Keep working hard on that healthy body and mind. Motivate and inspire others to change the world! Like I said in my Calisthenics rap: “Remember this, Calisthenics is the name of the game, one body, one spirit, one love”. Peace!!