The gym. All those machines with strangers’ sweat stains barely dried up, the crowded weights section where you can’t find a spot for yourself - not to mention the fog of testosterone hanging over you - where every move seems to be a competition. All within a four walls, and some windows if you’re lucky.
Yes, not all of us particularly enjoy going to the gym.
We at Rojak Daily
are here to tell you that there is another alternative: a form of gymnastic exercise called calisthenics.
Meet Narresh Paramanathan, an up and coming calisthenics junkie who doesn’t believe in any form of supplements.
Oh, and he doesn't go to the gym.
What exactly is calisthenics?
Basically, calisthenics can be defined as a form of body-weight training which consists of a variety of gross motor movements such as running, standing, grasping and pushing, often performed rhythmically and generally without any equipment or apparatus.
"These exercises build muscle stamina, strength and flexibility, as well as improve one’s coordination and balance," Narresh told us.
Narresh first started practising calisthenics back in 2010, and in the beginning, he treated it as just a workout to keep fit.
He realised, five years down the road, that he was getting more ripped and gaining more muscle by practising calisthenics.
"With different exercises, I started to gain more weight - muscle weight, that is. I began to see changes on my chest by doing push ups alone!
"That was a turning point for me, I then decided that I don’t need to lift weights to attain a good physique," he said.
It all starts with your diet
You've probably heard a thousand times that the key to getting a good physique is to mind what you eat. To a certain extent, it is true, but unlike your usual gym junkies who would advise you to ditch the carbs if you want to get a six-pack, Narresh doesn't believe in that.
In fact, he told us that he had "nasi lemak goreng kambing, tambah kambing" for his recent cheat meal.
"I neither have a fixed diet, nor do I count my calories. The key is to making sure you have adequate proportions of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in your diet.
"I would recommend a ¼ portion of carbohydrates, ¼ portion of vegetables and ½ portion of protein at every meal.
"Of course, the portions could change but, never exceed ¼ portion of carbohydrates for every meal. That is usually more than sufficient for our daily energy needs," he revealed, adding that he usually orders tandoori chicken from the nearby mamak because it is a healthy meal option.
But that doesn't mean that you can stuff anything inside your mouth though.
"What I would recommend to anyone wanting a cleaner diet is the cardinal rule to avoid sugar and oily food. Always eat your protein, fats and carbohydrates in proportion," he told us.
It's peanut butter time!
If there was a secret ingredient in Narresh's daily diet, it's peanut butter. Yup, that's right; the same peanut butter spread you use on your bread every morning.
Contrary to popular belief, peanut butter doesn't make you fat and there's a whole world of good that comes from it, according to Narresh.
"To be honest, peanut butter is underrated. It is loaded with protein and carbohydrates that are essential for my pre and post workout snacks."
But he noted that it's important to consume peanut butter that is sugar free, and there are a couple of affordable brands out there that are totally devoid of sugar.
So, all you need to do is to choose your brand wisely.
It's not always that easy
Getting your dream physique is not easy, and for someone as seasoned as Narresh, he, too, sometimes find it hard to find the motivation to keep going.
Narresh mentioned that his biggest challenge is hitting a plateu, and there are days when he's extremely frustrated.
"Many of us have experienced this, when we stop seeing changes physically after several weeks of working out. As a consequence of this, I need to continuously experiment with new ways to push my body to its limit," he said.
So, where does he find the motivation to keep going?
"In my opinion, motivation doesn’t last very long. You can be motivated to start working out. You can be motivated by looking at someone better than you but if you depend on motivation to exercise on a regular basis, it won’t last very long. Unless you keep motivating yourself with different sources, the novelty of it will eventually wear off," he said.
What keeps him going, he revealed, is his dedication to the craft.
"Make exercising a daily routine, like brushing your teeth or eating. Then, you wouldn’t need to ‘make the time’ to work out."
Calisthenics is for everyone
Wanted to pick up weight lifting but you're afraid that you get it wrong? Or you find spin classes a little bit too boring? Or you find yourself a little bit too old for muay thai classes?
The beauty of calisthenics, according to Narresh, is that it's suitable for everyone, regardless of age and gender.
"No matter what your fitness goals are, calisthenics can get you there.
"The exercises can be tweaked to fit your limitations, and there are plenty of workout options for each muscle group.
"There are also plenty of challenges that are available online."
The most important thing is getting your mindset right and just go for it.
BONUS: If you're thinking of picking up calisthenics, Narresh has devised a simple workout for you:
You can follow Narresh's journey on Instagram (@narresh_paramanathan), or you can also check out his workout videos on his YouTube channel.
- Chest & triceps: Push ups (Regular push ups, diamond push ups)
- Back & biceps: Body weight rows and inverted rows
- Legs & buttocks: Squats & lunges
- Abs: Lying leg raises, Russian twists, planks