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What Is Callanetics®?

By N.M. Shanley
Updated Jan 31, 2024
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Callanetics® is a method of exercise created by Callan Pinckney in the mid-1980s. Unlike other exercise fads that debuted at the same time, it is not an aerobic workout. Callanetics® uses a series of low-impact, fluid movements designed to increase muscle strength and flexibility.

People do not need any special equipment to practice Callanetics®, and it can easily be done at home. Fitness enthusiasts use only their own bodies to create tension and resistance and build muscle. Isometric and plyometric exercises make up the core of Callanetics®.

Isometric exercises involve squeezing the muscle. Muscles are not lengthened during isometrics. Making a fist and holding it for a few seconds is an example of isometric exercise. Lengthening a muscle and then shortening it very quickly is plyometric exercise. Bending down, standing up, and reaching the arms up into the air; then coming back down and lowering the arms quickly is a good illustration of plyometrics.

Callan Pickney created the first Callanetics® workout to try to correct her own physical problems and alleviate muscle pain. Pickney used her ballet experience to create the exercises that make up her strength-training methods. After experiencing positive results, Pickney began teaching her exercises to others in her apartment in the mid-1980s. Books and videos of the workouts soon followed.

Pickney’s first workout video called Callanetics® 10 Years Younger in 10 Hours was released in 1988. Updates to the workout and new videos followed throughout the 1990s. More recent workouts include Cardio Callanetics®, a hybrid cardio and strength training workout.

The Lotte Berk Method® is a similar low-impact workout. This method was created by German-born ballet dancer Lotte Berk. She began teaching her stretching and toning exercises on London in the 1950s.

American Lydia Bach trained with Berk in London. Bach then bought the rights to bring The Lotte Berk Method® to the United States in 1970. Although Berk died in 2003, videos and classes using her training exercises remain available due to Bach’s dedication to that exercise method. Berk's family members also still teach this method in Europe.

People who want a more strenuous cardiovascular workout may try aerobic workouts instead of Callanetics®. Similar to energetic dancing, aerobics involves more movement of the body, at much faster pace. Aerobics workouts can be done at home or in a fitness class.

To combine both cardiovascular and strength training in a single workout, interval training may be a good choice. Interval training involves short bursts of cardiovascular exercise followed by strength-training movements. Like other methods, interval workouts are offered through videos and live classes.

What Is Callanetics?

Callanetics is an exercise program that originated with a woman named Callan Pinckney in the 1980s. Her exercises were originally sold on VHS tapes, similar to other aerobic workouts of the time, and they gained popularity as being able to develop "deep muscle" strength.

The theory behind this is that most workout programs of the time focused only on the surface muscles of the body and that the deeper muscles needed to be strengthened as well. Pinckney went on to write dozens of books and assist in the creation of many VHS Callanetics workouts through the 1990s.

Does Callanetics Get Rid of Cellulite?

Many practitioners, as well as professionals, recommend Callanetics for erasing extra cellulite. Though many workouts only target overall weight loss goals or strengthening specific muscles, Callanetics focuses on using certain postures and smaller, more intentional movements to tighten deeper muscles and erase the appearance of cellulite on the hips and thighs.

Though many first-time practitioners assume that Callanetics will be an easy workout due to its lack of heavy weights or jogging, it is actually difficult to hold these postures for a long time. The more you practice, the more accomplished you will feel — and you may see your body toning up right before your eyes in the process!

How To Remove Side Fat Using Callanetics

Weight loss professionals typically advise that you eat a healthy diet and aim to get a certain amount of exercise each week when you are trying to remove areas of fat from your body. It is often difficult (if not impossible) to target specific areas like love handles, hips, or the stomach area and reduce them without losing weight overall; however, if you work these specific muscle groups, you may notice an overall "toned" look that will appear to reduce the fat in these areas.

If you search through Callanetics catalog of videos, you will likely be able to find material that promotes the toning of the sides of your abdomen as well as strengthening your core. Additionally, attending a modern Callanetics class (yes, they still exist) can put you in contact with an instructor who can help modify activities to your preferences and goals.

How Often Should You Do Callanetics?

This is entirely up to you. In the beginning, as with all new workouts, you will likely feel tired and achy the day after you do Callanetics. The more you practice this workout regime, the more improvement you will see — both in your strength conditioning as well as the appearance of your body. It can be exciting to see changes in your body, especially if you just had a baby, have been overweight for a long time, or have experienced a long period of inactivity following surgery or an illness.

Many professionals agree that doing Callanetics about three to five times over the course of the first few weeks when you begin is a good goal. As you progress with Callanetics, you will be able to do more workouts in a shorter span of time. Don't overdo it when starting Callanetics: Even though you are not jogging five miles every day, your body is still working very hard. Give it time and you will begin to see results.

Attending a Callanetics class regularly, if you have access to one in person or virtually, can help you develop a practice that successfully tones your body and puts you in the room with other people who are trying to do the same thing. According to research, working out with friends can increase your ability to stick with your chosen workout — and you may have more fun in class when you bring a friend, sibling, or even a parent!

What Else Should I Do To Increase My Chances of Success With Callanetics?

For a full-body reboot, it's important to address other issues that may get in the way of truly succeeding with Callanetics. Make sure you're drinking enough water and eating a healthy diet that focuses on whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats in addition to lots of fruits and vegetables. Ensure that you get enough sleep every night (some adults can get away with seven, but some need more than eight) and try to keep your stress level to a minimum.

Remember to resist the urge to overexercise and do not push your body to its breaking point just to see results. Callanetics is a time-tested, fun program that can help you meet your fitness goals when you focus on maintaining good health in all areas of your life.

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