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Melanie Driessen

Calisthenics. Maybe you heard of it, maybe not. Anyway, for most people it’s hard to pronounce. At least to my experience. “Callanatics? Calis-what”? Calisthenics. A sport based upon one’s own bodyweight. Ranging from simple push-ups to lifting your own body with two fingers. Nothing is too much, which has a deterrent effect on most people. “Well, but I will never succeed”. Fortunately we didn’t have to run before we could walk at the start and it is the same with this sport more or less. Any extreme exercise shown, is preceded by long extending practices. This sport is suitable for every individual, the only thing you need is your own body and the right knowledge and/or coaching.

I myself started with Calisthenics in 2014. It was a low entry with an eleven year background in gymnastics. Despite I had to develop my physical strength very much, having that background was an advantage. I made the move to Calisthenics because I was fed up with gymnastics. This new sport delivered much more space for your own creativity and I prefer the Calisthenics vibe more than gymnastics could offer anyway.

Looking at the level back in 2014 there is no longer comparison with the level nowadays. It is great to see how the sport develops and how certain movements and tricks extended, by means of difficulty. It took a lot of training efforts to reach the top and stay there. I have seen many athletes come and go, it is a real challenge, mentally as well as physically, to be part of the best on a permanent base.

I became a world champion in 2016 for the first time. Of course it was a big victory for me because my aim had come true. The next year I was troubled by a back injury for 5 months so I had to cancel the national- as  well as the World championship. A big disappointment of course, because the previous year I had acted so well. I remember I was mentally troubled mostly because I saw hardly any progression of my injury. Finally I got rid of it and found the motivation to do better in 2018. That year I won the national title for the third time and got qualified for the World championship. This would be the year of my comeback! At least that is what I thought! My preparation for the World championship was far from ideal. In hindsight I should have done things differently. As it showed on the game itself. After two falls I didn’t even reach to the finals. It made me completely sick. First a year not able to participate, then a year I screwed it up myself. I had all kind of reasons to let my head hang down, losing motivation, but I did the opposite. I was so motivated to approach it all much better in 2019. I consulted a nutrition coach and organized my workouts better, got myself more than ready for the game. I won that year both championships. It felt like a mental rollercoaster, but it was all worth it. And yes, it would be great though if I could win the title once more, I surely go for it, although it is questionable if the World championship will happen in these corona virus tinged times. On the other hand, we will definitely try it again in 2021!

Calisthenics changed my life completely. When I just started I put videos on social media and kept doing this, which now gives me a wide range. That’s why I am invited now and then to be present at games, being part of a jury or giving a seminar. In recent years I travelled all over the World to see that Calisthenics is alive and kickin’ in many different countries. It’s wonderful to see the vibe is similar everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you come from, or whatever your background is, if you love this beautiful sport, feel welcome to our community.

It is great to hear that lots of women started with Calisthenics after they saw me do my tricks. I’d love to show the world this sport is as suitable for women as for men. Muscled males on horizontal bars may scare some females, but that’s absolutely unnecessary. Often the men are willing to help you out when you really show interest. One thing is for sure: it is completely addictive and if one is catched by the Calisthenics virus, progression will follow soon!   

Melanie Driessen

Author: Maurits P.