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Fitness expert Al Kavadlo preaches the gospel of progressive calisthenics

Exercise guru Al Kavadlo is a firm believer that you don't need an expensive gym membership to get a great workout. Kavadlo, one of the world's top experts in bodyweight strength training, is spreading the gospel of progressive calisthenics, leading workshops across the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

Al Kavadlo talks progressive calisthenics: Bodyweight strength training is foundation of fitness
Fitness experts and brothers Al and Danny Kavadlo

In an exclusive interview, Kavadlo said calisthenics can dramatically improve your power-to-weight ratio and sculpt your body into lean, mean functional machine.

"In bodyweight strength training, the idea is to engage the whole body," said Al, whose tattooed exterior belies a charming demeanor. "Progress is made by moving on to more difficult exercises, not by adding weight.”

Kavadlo, who started off lifting weights as a teen, eventually graduated to bodyweight strength training and has never looked back. Not only is he ripped to shreds, but he's able to perform gravity-defying moves that require unbelievable strength — all without lifting a single dumbbell. You can't master that kind of functional movement by lifting weights at a gym. It can only be done through practice.

Since June 2013, Al has been sharing his knowledge with bodyweight athletes and fitness enthusiasts through PCC workshops (Progressive Calisthenics Certification) done in conjunction with Dragon Door, the group that made kettlebells mainstream.

The PCC movement was started by Paul Wade, author of Convict Conditioning, a hardcore, no-frills, ultimate resistance training workout. The Progressive Calisthenics community began as a grassroots movement but has picked up a lot of momentum, especially among Alpha-male, He-Man types who can lift their own body weight (and yours) without breaking a sweat.

Al leads the PCC workshops with his brother, fitness trainer Danny Kavadlo. Together, they have certified more than 200 trainers on three different continents. New instructors then share their knowledge with others and spread the word about calisthenics.

"The reaction to the PCC workshops has been overwhelmingly positive," said Al, a New York City Marathon veteran and author of Pushing the Limits! and Stretching Your Boundaries.

"A PCC certification adds tremendous value to coaches and personal trainers. Not only are the movements cool — and adjustable to any skill level — they are also amongst the most effective, functional techniques on Earth. Plus, they require no expensive equipment."

No Gym? No Problem!

The Kavadlo brothers are popular fixtures in New York's East Village, where they lead outdoor classes in progressive calisthenics. Their jaw-dropping YouTube tutorials have garnered more than three million views, and Al's minimalist fitness approach was detailed in a New York Times article trumpeting progressive calisthenics as the wave of the future.

Kavadlo clearly enjoys what he does, and it shows. "My workouts are very informal most of the time, and that’s why they're fun," he said. "There's a lot of interest in this kind of training. There’s some backlash against the idea that high-end, expensive gyms are required to get in shape."

Kavadlo travels to Munich next month to lead a PCC workshop, and in September heads to Cairo. In October, he teaches in Holland and Sweden. For more information on upcoming PCC workshops, check out DragonDoor.

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