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Jed North Nation

Train Like A Pro Athlete

by Yvonne Napier 04 Mar 2022 0 Comments

Calisthenics is the popular sport of using bodyweight to exercise with minimal equipment. In today's era, this sport has evolved into competitive calisthenics and we are all for it! Sometimes called street workout or street-sport calisthenics, is a rapidly growing international sport that includes elements of dance, acrobatics, and gymnastics. One such competition is "The Call Out Competition", an international Freestyle Calisthenics Competition with intense underground and raw battles. 

Today, we are in conversation with Jess John, a Jed North Athlete with a passion for Calisthenics. Jess, has many years of experience in the sport and competes in several competitions, The Call Out Comp being one of her most recent. 

1. What role does cardio play in a calisthenics event?

Cardio is huge! When you watch someone complete even one big skill on the bars, you don’t realize how easy it is to get winded from it. Even just swinging on the bar requires a baseline of cardiovascular endurance. I train both intervals and steady state so that I am able to string together back to back big skills and incorporate them into minute-long flows. Intervals help a lot in being able to recover my heartrate quickly, which is crucial during the statics portion of my flows.

2. What role does weightlifting play in a calisthenics event?

In my opinion, weightlifting leading up to an event isn’t as important. I love weightlifting and typically program it based on developing muscular endurance, minimizing muscular imbalances, and building strength for new skills. However, when prepping for a competition, it’s more so about perfecting the skills I already have as opposed to building new strength. Because of this I shift my training more towards skill-based practices and ease up on the weights to prevent overtraining. That said, muscular endurance is crucial for competing, but I think that can be developed with skills on the bar just as much as it can with weights

3. What separates the great calisthenics competitors from the good ones?

When I think of some of the best calisthenics athletes in the world, the things that make the great ones stand out is style and power. A 720 is a huge skill and I’ve seen a lot of athletes catch it, clean and consistently. But in my mind the great athletes are the ones that send it with so much power they appear as if they’re floating. And in terms of style, it’s the creative flows that no one sees coming. It’s making connections between two skills that no one else thought of, and seamlessly stringing together dynamics and statics with that unique style. You just know those athletes fall asleep at night imagining what seemingly impossible combos they could do next.

4. Do you have a coach for the event?

I did not have a coach for the competition! That concept was wild to me! I’ve competed in sports my whole life and I’ve always had a coach to know the inside details like how things are scored, what skills to put in a routine, what to expect during a competition, and what competitions to attend. I jumped into the Callout Comp almost completely blind in that sense. One of my mentors suggested it for me and I was like “okay!” having no idea just how big of a deal it was or what to expect. I think not having a coach was ultimately the biggest learning experience for me. I was a sponge for information about how competitions work, how they’re judged, and how athletes train for them. I learned so much about calisthenics, and about myself, by having to be my own coach.

5. What is your diet like leading into the competition?

I do adjust my diet slightly about a month leading into the competition. I typically have a healthy diet as is. I am 100% vegan and focus on whole foods that make me feel good. While I usually eat intuitively and don’t place any restrictions on what I eat, leading up to the competition I did track calories and protein intake to make sure I wasn’t over or under eating. I wanted an optimal balance of energy so that I would be performing at my best.

6. What is training like the week before the event?

Training the week before the event is chill. By this point in my prep, I know exactly what I am capable of and what skills and flows I’ll be competing. My focus is making sure my body is completely recovered before the competition so training hard right up to the date is not my style. Early in the week leading into the event I plan a big practice with lots of friends and lots of hype in which I hit my flows a few times and go home. Otherwise, I have a light practice planned just to go over any skills or combos that would put my mind at ease. I also partake in a bit of light cardio as per usual.

7. What is your go to “gameday” outfit?

My gameday outfit is definitely Jed North. For the top, the Aria Strappy Back Sports Bra. It’s such an easy choice because it’s a crop that fits like a sports bra so it’s a one and done deal. It’s very supportive and the back is feminine and really shows off my muscles, which I love. I have it in so many colours but White is a classic! For bottoms, I love the Crossover Mid-Rise V-waist Short Shorts in the Black Brush. I love how they fit at the waist and the legs, the material is so comfortable, and the black brush pattern makes me feel like a baddie. 

8. What comparisons can you make between calisthenics and Olympic gymnastics?

One of the biggest differences between Olympic gymnastics and calisthenics is that calisthenics doesn’t discriminate between male or female. In gymnastics you can clearly see a difference in the events and types of skills thrown between the sexes. In calisthenics, while there are male and female categories, everyone competes on the same equipment and is scored on the same page. I absolutely love that. I also think there are very different goals within the two sports. Gymnastics is more so about perfecting a skill and it isn’t deemed acceptable until you can do it with perfectly pointed toes every time. Calisthenics is more so about raw ability. It doesn’t have to be perfect to count. I also think calisthenics is a lot less structured and so there is more room for creative freedom. There are a lot more rules in gymnastics which can be limiting to what skills you put in a routine or how you move around in a flow. In calisthenics you can stop mid flow, stand on the bar, do a backflip off, catch the bar, and carry on. In gymnastics you’d get in so much trouble for that.

There’s also a difference in the bars themselves. Gymnastics bars, whether wooden or metal, have much more give and bounce to them. Calisthenics bars are hard and therefore much less forgiving on catches. Gymnasts use grips on their hands during routines, whereas calisthenics athletes do not. 

I have worlds of respect for athletes in both sports and I think a common goal we all have is just our passion for movement. We love flipping and spinning. We love the rush of catching the bar on big release moves and getting new skills. We love competing with our old selves. And we love making the impossible, possible, and seeing what the human body is capable of. 

Follow @jessstjohn on IG for more tips and calisthenics inspo.

For more movement inspired sports, follow @jednorthmove on Instagram.

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