Kicking Ass & Calisthenics


This week’s training has been a lot of fun.  Infact I would say it’s actually been epic!

I have really been enjoying training the last few months after a temporary bad patch where I had completely lost my mojo after having a bad experience with a cookie cutter training plan that I had been following.   Since I made the decision to join a MMA gym so I could go back to my first love of martial arts, it has really ignited my passion and love for training again.

Infact, this week I went back to the first martial arts that I had ever learnt which was kick boxing.  I haven’t done kick boxing for 12 years as I had moved on to other combat sports since then so it was nice to go back to the style that first set me off on my martial arts journey.  Now that I have gone back I would definitely like to start doing it regularly again.  Straight after kick boxing I decided to stay on for the boxing class. Needless to say I was pretty pooped after that.

This weekend I went to a bodyweight training workshop held by Sally Moss of Strength Ambassadors that was run by guest coach Fi Silk who is the UK’s female bar calisthenics champion. Unfortunately I got hit by the lergy towards the end of the week and was battling to be well enough to attend.  I almost pulled out but thanks to the power of vegetable juices, positive thinking and multi vitamins I was okay to rock and roll.

I have seen some of Fi’s videos on YouTube and I was really looking forward to training with her and Sally.  I really love meeting women who train and compete in sports that are traditionally male dominated, I find them hugely inspirational and they go to show that no matter your age, sex or background anything is possible with hard work and dedication.  Fi also has a collection of really funky gym tights which I also have a fondness for.

There are three calisthenics workshops I have signed up to.  The first one was an introduction to pull ups (my arch nemesis), push ups, L sits and pistol squats.  After a warm up we went into learning the progressions needed for pull ups.  I have been working on these for 15 months and my progress has been very slow, infact it has frustrated me on a few occasions as I don’t think I seem to be improving so it was really great for me to get some expert coaching in this area.  Sally and Fi made us do some drills for scapular retraction which involved hanging onto the bar and retracting our shoulders back whilst pulling ourselves up slightly.  When Fi showed us how to do it I was totally in awe of her awesome back definition, she was built like a super hero! 

We then did a negative time under tension drill which I can only describe as EVIL.  Fi instructed us to do 10 single reps of negative holds.  We had 10 seconds to lower ourselves until our arms were straight, would have a 10 second rest and then have to go again.  I managed to do the first one, the other 9 were truly pathetic and so I will definitely be working on these before the next workshop as I need to train my body to be able to hold my bodyweight.  We then did some pull ups with different hand grips, I had to use resistance bands but I am determined to be able to do full pull ups before the end of the year. 

Next up were press ups.  Again, press ups are something that I have been working on for a long time.  Sally has a great way of teaching people how to do full press ups by teaching two progressions.  She even put a water bottle on our backs to make sure we were doing one of the drills properly, I was glad to say no one’s bottle dropped to the floor.  Once we had done the standard press ups we then went into some variations.

To finish the first half of the workshop we were split into two teams and played a game which involved each team having to do 50 pull ups, 50 press ups and 100 squats.  I really enjoyed this because this is how the conditioning sessions at my MMA gym are sometimes done.  The pull ups and press ups were combined for each team but we all had to do the squats together, not half squats either – ass to grass squats.   I was trying to ignore the fact that I had to do 3 minutes worth of squats in boxing earlier in the week, what’s another 100 squats amongst friends?  Well after about 60 squats my butt and my legs were starting to feel the pain and I dug deep and just went into beast mode and smashed them out.  The team I was in were first to finish (damn my competitive streak!).

The second half of the workshop consisted of Sally showing us pistol squats.  We were all in awe of how easily Sally showed us how to do them, when we tried we all struggled.  That’s something else I need to work on too!  Fi then spent some time showing us how to do L sits.  I don’t have the strength yet to do full L sits so Fi showed us progressions which I will definitely be incorporating.  Once we had been shown the techniques we were then given a circuit to do which consisted of pull ups, press ups and pistol squats or full squats.  We had to do as many full circuits as possible in a set time.  It was awesome and I was really happy that my press ups were a lot better.

After the workshop we all sat down for a Q&A session with Fi and Sally.  I had a brilliant afternoon and I am really looking forward to the next two workshops where we will be working on other bodyweight exercises.  In the meantime I will be incorporating the progressions that Fi showed us into my current training. 

Thank you to Fi and Sally for an awesome workshop.  Today I have DOMS in every single muscle fibre and unfortunately my lergy kicked back in so I have been taking it easy.  I am really inspired by the workshops that I’ve been attending, the coaches and people that I meet at them and the other members at my MMA gym. I have been training hard but also having a lot of fun in my sessions. Hard work is good for you 🙂

If you would like to find out more information about Fi and her super human abilities you can go to her website.   


  1. *blushing* Thank you for the awesome write-up! Looking forward to the next one! – Fi

    1. My pleasure! 🙂

  2. […] they do, and Rosie, below, who attended all three workshops, did a great write up of two of them here and here. Rosie is the epitome of someone who will become strong and skilled at calisthenics: […]

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