Callanetics: Perfect at Home Workout!

For those of you that enjoy the convenience of working out at home, here is a good one for you:  Callanetics.  You may have not heard of Callanetics, but it is an older program from the 80’s and is not widely-known in an exercise world where people are more likely to talk about Yoga, Pilates and Zumba. Callanetics was designed by a woman named Callan Pinckney as a way to exercise while circumventing a back injury that she had incurred. Callan was trained as a classical ballet dancer and her ballet roots are evident in the exercises.

I have actually done Callanetics and like it very much!  I liked the ballet style moves as I had taken ballet in high school.  Callanetics is easy on the joints and on your back.  The exercises are isometric and work very deeply to tone the muscles, and it does work! Callan Pinckney is an amazing woman and I enjoy her soft spoken gracefulness that she displays in the video.  If you have joint problems or are concerned about your back and/or your knees, this is a good program for you.

This exercise program has lots and lots of reps for many of the exercises. You may not be able to do 100 of each in the beginning, but do what you can.  Her workouts are safe and she even has a 70 year old woman as well as a man in one of the videos that does just fine. So as you can see, this program is good for just about everybody.

Some of the other reviewers have described this exercise as “boring when I was in my 20’s, but I appreciate it now that I’m in my 40’s”.   This makes sense to me, because it wasn’t all that interesting when I did it 20 years ago, but it does work.  The background music in the first video is soft and peaceful and is a far cry from that pulsating music that is played in some aerobic classes.  I like this aspect also.  It is a peaceful and nonabrasisve way to get some good exercise that works.

Another thing that I like about this program is that there are no mats, medicine balls, yoga blocks, stability balls, or any extraneous equipment required.  She demonstates some exercises using a ballet barre in her studio, but not to worry, you can use a table, chair or other piece of furniture or even a stair railing to do the same thing at home.  She does have one exercise where you hang from an overhead bar, but since I didn’t have anything remotely close to substitute, I never did that particular exercise.

Callanetics does work deeply and you will start noticing results quickly. This is a good thing!  My one big footnote on this is: This is not a weight-loss program, it is a toning program.  If you want to lose and tone, you will need to diet and add some cardio to get there.  Otherwise, you will merely tone up what you have now, whether you are at the perfect weight or 30 pounds overweight.  You will look better and more toned, but will get not smaller unless you add cardio and caloric reduction to the equation.

Again, to use this as an at home program, I would definitely supplement it with some cardio. Also if you need to lose weight as well as tone, then you would need to reduce your calorie intake.  She has a low-impact cardio DVD which I have not tried that looks very good that I would like to try at some point.  She also has a DVD that is an “AM/PM” work out whereby you do 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.  I wouldn’t mind trying that also.  This would be good for those of you starting out that are doing 15 minutes worth.  I don’t own this DVD, although most reviewers on Amazon seemed to like it, many were mortified that there was no chapter delineation between the AM & PM parts.  With technology where it is today, I don’t understand this either as I can do this myself at home on my MacBook.

Why don’t I do Callanetics now?  A couple of reasons, the biggest one being space.  Where I live now, I have 120 SF and simply don’t have the room. That being said, when circumstances change, I would definitely like to do Callanetics again as a change-up exercise, to alternate with the workout that I do at my gym.  I would also buy the DVD with the Callanetics cardio to augment the basic Callanetics.

The other reason is that I am a walker.  I love the feeling of empowerment with the motion while listening to my upbeat 60s, 70s and 80s music on my iPod.  I go to a gym with an indoor track which is great in both the summer and winter.  I don’t have to fight the weather and the huge amount of unruly traffic in the city in which I live.  My gym also has hard and clay tennis courts and that is big for me.

If you are 20 or 30 years old, then you may be bored with this, especially with Zumba being all the rage.  If you are 40, 50, 60, or 70, or have tender joints or back, and don’t want to exercise to the loud, pulsating music, then this might be exactly what you are looking for!


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31 Responses to Callanetics: Perfect at Home Workout!

  1. Marianne says:

    Great information. I’ve never heard of Callanetics.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Marianne, you are welcome. Hope that works for you!

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  12. Smiling eyes says:

    Thanks for the great post. Just curious to know. Do callanetics help in toning the upper arms as well. I’m overweight and have flabby arms.My arms have never been in a shape to wear short sleeves or sleeveless.Also I recently injured my knee (4 months back); a partial tear in my lateral collateral ligament.So in this state will it be safe for me to start with callanetics?

    • Fit Girl says:

      Callanetics has some good exercises for the upper arms. Callanetics uses gentle yet concentrated moves for toning as the creator of Callanetics, Callan Pinckney had sciatica in her back and after many years of hiking, etc., her body was in pretty bad shape as she described in her book. The exercises work very deep and I don’t think that it would hurt your knee.

      Flabby upper arms has been my obstacle for most of my life so I understand about not being able to wear short sleeves or sleeveless. My arms have made me very self-conscious ever since high school! When I had done Callanetics in the past, I was a little over weight. As a result, I toned up my fat, but didn’t lose weight. There is no cardio in this program. To lose weight, tone and reshape, I would recommend reducing caloric intake and portion size and getting some daily cardio to supplement. I found that the best way to lose the flabby arms is not only to tone them by working out, but to diet as well as that flab in the upper arms is fat and it needs to be burned off as you tone. If I were doing Callanetics now, I would likely supplement the arm exercises with light weights as well as cardio. Currently I do the treadmill for cardio as I have to work around my right knee which has osteoarthritis since my cartilage is all but gone. Now, that I’ve finally gotten down to the size I have wanted to be and burned most of the fat, the arm fat is gone and at age 55, I feel very confident about my upper arms.

      Thank you for your comments, and thank you for writing and let me know if I can be of further assistance. Best of luck to you with your exercise program.

  13. Ana says:

    thanks for the post.I tried to do callanetics .I know that ballet dancers use to contract the mussels during the exericeses.Yoga is to relax the whole body.Callanetics says I should tighten the behind and relax the other mussels.I am a bit confused as it is not possible to contract one part of the body and keep onother totaly relaxed.Is there something i don’t understand?
    Thanks a lot in advance.

    • Hi Ana,
      Callanetics is a tough, I admit that, as it is focused deeply on each muscle. Yoga is probably just as focused, it just works the muscles differently. When I did Callanetics, I would go slowly through the exercises focusing on the exercise at hand and not become tense in the rest of my body. You have to remember to breathe and try to relax. Now I only do some of the Callanetics exercises with 20 repetitions since I also do a gym workout as well. Just go through them slowly and start with doing 10 or 20 repetitions at a time until you get used to it and then work your way up to 100. Hope this helps. Hang in there!

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