Extreme Calisthenics: From the Playground to the Silver Screen

Pete Hitzeman

Managing Editor and Coach

CrossFit, Cycling, Endurance Sports, Running

A decade ago on YouTube, one of the very first viral videos was of an impossibly muscled man who called himself “Hannibal for King.” In that video, he does equally impossible things on pull up bars and playground equipment in a park in Harlem. Five hundred miles away in North Carolina, a young, aspiring filmmaker watched in awe at the power, fluidity, and control on display.

 

Rain Bennett knew this was a story that the world should hear, so armed with just a backpack and a camera, he began traveling the globe. His feature-length documentary Raise Up uncovered a sport in its infancy, just as it began to coalesce into an international sensation. He sat down with me for today’s show to tell the story of how he discovered a movement that was about more than fitness; it was the engine of positive social change in every city and town where it sprang up.

 

 

We talk about how boredom with traditional gym routines has led to the resurgence of calisthenics, and the challenges faced by the community as it struggles to get off the ground as a commercial enterprise. We also cover what the discipline of calisthenics can bring to anyone seeking physical improvement, as well as the perils and pitfalls of the democratization of fitness, which has an increasing number of people learning new sports through social media.

 

 

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