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Wisdom from 50 years of calisthenics: An interview with Mike Joplin

By February 21, 2017Interviews
navy seal mike joplin calisthenics

Today I have got the privilege to publish an interview of Mike Joplin and I am glad to present it to you. When I started oldschool-calisthenic.ro I was contacted by Winner Nehra  to help us with our website and to learn from us. He then informed me about Mike Joplin who had already been interviewed by famous websites like skinnyfattransformation.com and homemademuscle.com. I quickly discovered that Mike and I share a lot of common training philosophies and I decided to interview him and the result is presented below.

Mike Joplin was born on the 26th of December, 1944. He was skinny from birth and remained skinny all the way through high school. He joined the US Navy in June of 1963. Being called skinny by beautiful women in Puerto Rico (his first duty station) was the ‘trigger’ that turned his desire and intent into passion. After twenty years of being called that way, he had enough and finally pushed himself into taking action. In about 12 months of doing bodyweight training only, he went from 155lbs/70kg to 200lbs/90kg! And he achieved success through trial and error and not from any readymade source!

 

“Imagine life as a musical melody. A melody has high notes and low notes. Without the low notes, there wouldn’t be a melody…” (Mike Joplin)

The word “mindset” means: “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” (The American Heritage® Roget’s Thesaurus)

Here’s what Mike had said about us:

“I visited “oldschool-calisthenic.ro” earlier today. You are doing a great job with your translation project.
I absolutely love the Old School Calisthenic website. The name is perfect. And those guys look amazing!!! They are a credit to the world calisthenics community. I’ve saved their website to my Top 10 Favorites folder.

I found nothing in their website content that I disagree with, and that is unusual for me. They mention one thing that I really like, and that is “…you don’t have to worry about muscle imbalances and aesthetics as calisthenics naturally maximizes your body’s natural potential…” What a profound truth!
With their permission, I would like to add (and credit them with) the following quote (from their website) to my book:  “A ONE HOUR WORKOUT IS 4% OF YOUR DAY.”

And I would also like to add a link to their website in the “Resources” section of my book. There are a lot of men who could benefit from their experience and knowledge.

I joined their email list and I also downloaded their free PDF book. After reviewing their book, I was very pleased to see the following statement: “We always start a routine with the hardest exercises and progressively move to the lighter ones.” I’ve always done the same thing (except in the very beginning when “every” exercise was hard). And when I eventually move into my easier exercises, I start including “partial reps” at the most difficult part of the range of motion, and then move to the middle partial rep range, and finally to the last and easiest partial range. After doing my difficult exercises and then the easier exercises with the partials (plus static holds), my muscles are pumped to the max! And it’s REAL muscle, too.

Also, in their book, they recommend rope jumping as a “warm-up.” That’s excellent advice. That’s what I do, as well as “heavy bag” work. In addition, they also recommend just doing a few exercises. I couldn’t agree more. Keep it simple. There are additional comments that I could make, but to be brief…their FREE book is worth more than many books that I have paid a lot of money for.”


So without further delay let us jump into the interview:

Adorian: Tell us about yourself.

Mike: I’m 72 years old. I was born and raised in a small town (Benton) in Southern Illinois (USA). A year after graduating from high school (June 1963), I joined the US Navy. After boot camp (what fun!) and Medical Corpsman School, I was stationed in Puerto Rico for about two years and then I was transferred to the USS Randolph (a middle-class carrier) for about one and a half years. While aboard the Randolph, I got to visit several countries in Northern Europe: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Belgium.

After my discharge from service, I worked as a riverboat deckhand on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Eventually, I attended Southern Illinois University. I got married before I graduated, but eventually earned a 4-year degree in Paralegal Studies (w/ a minor in Journalism). However, I never did pursue a position in my degree field.

I worked as an underground coal miner for about seven years. But my coal mine closed down. After that I worked at various jobs until I was hired to teach mathematics (and other subjects) at a local prison. Teaching convicts was the most rewarding job that I have ever held.

I have been retired for about eight years.

I’ve been married for 40 years. I have three sons and one daughter. I also have six grandchildren. Politically, I am a conservative. I am a Christian and attend church services with my family every week.

I am an avid reader. I’m very interested in American politics and world politics. And I love calisthenics training. It’s been an important part of my life for more than 50 years.


Adorian: You made an awesome journey from being tall and skinny to getting a great physique! How did you get into transforming your body?

Mike: I was born skinny; I barely weighed five pounds. I was skinny all through high school. At graduation, I weighed about 145 pounds (at about 6′ 1” height). I was teased all through high school. It was humiliating. I tried everything to gain weight, but with no success.

Just a few days after arriving at my first naval duty station (Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico), a beautiful woman (from a town close to the base) called me “skinny.” That was a wake-up call to me. It made me angry. It reminded me of all the bad memories of high school. I was tired of being embarrassed. I decided to do something about it.

Since the navy base gym was really pathetic (consisting of one bench, one barbell, and one set of dumbbells, with no key to change weights), I stared doing calisthenics in my barracks. I was completely ignorant of training vocabulary and methods. I didn’t even know what a set or a rep was. I had never heard of the terms.

But through trial and error, I went from a skinny 155 pounds (I gained 10 pounds in boot camp) to over 200 pounds. And I did it in approximately 12 months. It was an amazing transformation, and it changed my life completely!


Adorian: Why do you like calisthenics?

Mike: I like calisthenics because it’s the only way of training that I have used successfully. It produces a “symmetrical” physique. It’s THE natural way of training, and the benefits are amazing! Weight training often (not always) produces a physique that looks like a collection of body parts pasted together.

Calisthenics have been proven to work for centuries! No gym or expensive equipment is necessary. Simple household (or backyard or park) items can be used for training. So, anyone can train at home and when traveling.

Calisthenic exercises can be adjusted to be very simple or to be very complex. This means that a beginner can start training without intimidation or excuses, and an advanced trainer can still be vigorously challenged.

And if done correctly, the results of calisthenics are just as good (often better) than the results from weight training. Calisthenics never get boring. And calisthenics do more than just build muscle. They provide additional benefits, like coordination and endurance…and much more.


Adorian: 70+ and still training hard! Most people stop around 40+ years. What makes you keep working hard and not use age as an excuse?

Mike: I’ve had three physique transformations in my lifetime. My first transformation was in my early 20’s. My second transformation (and probably my best) was in my late 30’s and early 40’s. And my last transformation was in my late 60’s and early 70’s.

The fact that I have had “three” transformations means that I allowed myself to regress and lose my conditioning and physique that I worked so hard to develop each time. I regret that, because it would have been so easy for me to maintain my conditioning and physique.

At my advanced age, my main reason for continuing to train is to extend my life – and my quality of life.


Adorian: Why is it important to have a strong physique?

Mike: During my first transformation, my physique allowed me to attract good-looking women. And that was my only goal, at that time. I didn’t even care about being strong, I just wanted to look good. But calisthenics helped me to accomplish both.

During my second transformation, my goal was to look good for my wife…and to be healthy.

And now that I’m in my early 70’s, my main goal is to be healthy. Looking good for my age is an added bonus.

However, with all of that being said, there have been several times in my life where my physique has kept me from physical harm. People who had intentions of physically harming me, upon reflection, changed their minds. I also saw this happen with convicts when I was a prison teacher. A strong physique can be an effective deterrent against assault.

But a strong physique with a bad attitude can bring you trouble…well deserved trouble.


Adorian: How do you cope with the ups and downs of life and get back to training?

Mike: It took me a long time to realize that “ups and downs” are a part of life. Over time, I came to the conclusion that missing a training session or not staying within my nutrition boundaries wasn’t going to sabotage my goals of conditioning and physique transformation. However, “stressing” over a missed training session or a temporary nutrition mishap would (indeed) hinder my progress.

Imagine life as a musical melody. A melody has high notes and low notes. Without the low notes, there wouldn’t be a melody. It would be boring out of tune. And so it is with the “ups and downs” of life. We actually “need” the “downs,” because they make us stronger. This is a positive approach that helps me to easily cope with the “downs.”


Adorian: What do you think of fitness industry these days?

Mike: It’s based on LIES! It’s a big RIP OFF! When I worked as a prison teacher, I noticed that there were convict “predators” and convicts who were “vulnerable” (weak). And so it is with the public. You don’t have to go to prison to be vulnerable. You just have to be ignorant of the fitness industries tactics.

With deceptive advertising and smooth-talking gurus, people who know very little about the fitness industry will believe “everything” they see and hear about unnecessary supplements, fad diets, weight loss mumbo-jumbo, expensive gym memberships, worthless home exercise equipment, fake before and after photos, etc.

In my opinion, a quality decision is having the intelligence and courage to train at home and to “tune-out” all of the hype of the current Internet and TV fitness industry leaders.


Adorian: How did you deal with injuries and what is your advice about it?

Mike: I have never been injured while training with calisthenics. Never!

The only time that I’ve injured myself while training, was when I was using weights and weight lifting equipment. I would push too hard and pull a muscle. Once injured, it would take me weeks (and sometimes months) to recover.

So, my advice (from “decades” of personal experience) is to train with calisthenics. Although it’s not impossible to injure yourself while training with calisthenics, it’s far less likely to occur than if training with weights.

Now I have had to deal with injuries. I’ve suffered two industrial (job related) injuries (right shoulder and right wrist and hand). And these have (indeed) affected my training. With each upper body exercise (and with some ab exercises) I have had to make “hand position and grip” adjustments…to avoid pain. These adjustments have allowed me to train pain free for years.

So, if you have injuries, my advice is to be patient. If you feel pain while training, go easy. You will “eventually” find a way (or ways) to avoid or limit injury pain and train effectively.


 Adorian: What is your mindset and what should be the mindset of a calisthenics athlete?

Mike: The word “mindset” means: “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” (The American Heritage® Roget’s Thesaurus)

The first attitude that should be established is that calisthenics athletes MUST “believe” that they can achieve the highest level of conditioning and physique transformation possible by following a calisthenics program! A “brain detox” may be necessary to clean out the myths and lies about the amazing possibilities of calisthenics.

Secondly, calisthenics athletes must understand that when they have a dream of achieving the ultimate in conditioning and physique transformation that their “mind” can be their biggest enemy. “There is little that can withstand a man who can conquer himself.” (Louis XIV) Your mind will try to convince you to “quit.” Don’t listen to it. Conquer it!

And thirdly, calisthenics athletes must understand that simplicity should not be mistaken for being easy, and complexity doesn’t always mean advanced – and that patience and consistency are necessary for success.


Adorian: What are your thoughts on building mass with calisthenics?

Mike: Building mass with calisthenics is not difficult. However, the first thing that must be realized is that no matter how good a calisthenics program may be, no progress will be made unless there is a “mass building nutrition” program included.

The best strategy that I have ever used to build mass is as follows:

  • Calisthenics program: Reverse Pyramid Training. I do my difficult exercises first, followed by progressively easier exercises. Training sessions are “effort based” and they’re brief: 20 – 30 minutes. Frequency is determined by intuition. This takes experience…
  • Nutrition program: I simply “decide” how much I would like to weigh (my “target” bodyweight). This is not the same as my “ideal” bodyweight. For my “ideal” bodyweight, I use the Hamwi formula.
  •  I calculate my macronutrients, as follows:

* Protein Grams = pounds target bodyweight x 1.0

* Carbs Grams = pounds target bodyweight x 2.5 – 3.0

* Fat Grams = pounds target bodyweight ÷ 2.0 – 2.5

(Please note: These calculations are from page 153 of Alan Aragon’s book “Girth Control.”)

  • I eat small meals and snacks throughout the day (beef jerky, pickles, pickled eggs, yogurt, nuts, etc.), and then I eat a large meal at the end of the day. I don’t do this because I think the IF protocol is better than other strategies. I do it because it fits my daily schedule and living environment. Also, about 50% of my nutrition comes from “liquids” (smoothies, etc.).
  • And finally, I do not stress over achieving my specific protein, carbs, and fat ratios. It’s more important for me to achieve my total (daily) calorie target.

Adorian: What are your favorite upper body exercises and lower body exercises?

Mike: My favorite upper body exercises are: pull-ups, feet-elevated push-ups, chin-ups, dips, inverted rows, & handstand press-ups.

Please note: I like to do my pull-ups on a door frame or a door. I like for my forearms to be pressed against the door frame or door, because my elbow flexors have limited leverage and this causes my lats to get an amazing overload. (This type of pull-up and inverted rows is what I used to build a wide back.) Pavel Tsatsouline describes the advantages of “door pull-ups” on page 188 of the “Naked Warrior.” However, I was doing this type of pullup long before it was publicized.

My favorite lower body exercises are: (#1) Bulgarian split-squats, step-ups, pistol-squats, and hip thrusts. (This has changed over the years.)

My favorite exercises for abs are: hanging knee raises and leg-lifts, the abs wheel, and bicycles. I don’t do a lot of core work, because all of the upper body exercises and lower body exercises also work the abs.


Adorian: How will you define a good workout?

Mike: A good workout must be “personalized” (as much as possible), meaning it must be flexible (due to age, initial abilities, lifestyle, etc.) and yet challenging. This must be the “foundation” of any workout program.


Adorian: How can one design a suitable and effective workout plan?

Mike: A suitable and effective workout plan is not just about “numbers” (frequency, sets, reps, etc.). There are three things that almost always guarantees success.

To be suitable and effective, it must be “used.” So, if it’s not “interesting and enjoyable,” it won’t be used.

A suitable and effective workout plan must also be “progressive.” It should reveal the importance of achieving “small goals.” Because achieving small goals on a weekly or daily basis is “rewarding.” And over time the (seemingly) insignificant, repetitive rewards produce big results.

A good workout should emphasize that each training session should be “recorded.” Immediate feedback is invaluable! I personally have hundreds of pages (600+) of training and nutrition “feedback.”


Adorian: What are your thoughts on motivation and discipline? How to keep moving on in spite of difficulties?

Mike: What got me started in my life-long journey of calisthenics was “anger” (as I mentioned in question 2). That was what “motivated” me…initially. However, my motivation soon faded. It faded until I started getting “compliments” from others about my physique. And that is what really motivated me. After years of being criticized for the way I looked, suddenly receiving compliments about the way I looked was awesome!

So, in my opinion, a person cannot depend on motivation, because it’s always based on “emotions.”

However, discipline (or “willpower”) is not based on emotions. Willpower can actually be “measured.” It can be dependably consistent and enhanced day-by-day…by implementing flexible “scheduled” training sessions and a flexible “scheduled” nutrition plan.

Training: I always provide myself “options” in my training sessions and my nutrition plan. I set a “minimum” that I WILL do for each exercise in a training session, and I also set various challenges for each exercise that I can do – if I feel like it. So, because I have set “minimums,” it doesn’t take much discipline (willpower) to “start” any session. Once I start (commit to taking that first step to do the minimum in a training session), I “always” end up doing more.

Nutrition: All of my food (including fluids) is “portable.” And since my (nutritious) food and (nutritious) fluids are readily available, cheating with unhealthy food is not a temptation. So, willpower is not even an issue.

What I’m saying here is that my “daily” focus is never on the end-result goals of ultimate conditioning and a great physique. If it was, my willpower would be more like “won’t” power. Success would look unattainable to me.

So when (not “IF) difficulties come our way, we must learn to live in “the moment.” Yesterday is gone. And we may not get to experience tomorrow. Living in the moment means that we just have to “keep moving” today. That simplifies everything! Because scheduled (prepared) training and scheduled (prepared) nutrition programs make willpower (discipline) easy.

“Only 5% – 1 in 20 –  achieve the level of success and fulfillment they hope for.” (The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson, p. 62) Quitters make up the remaining 95%. Quitters are hypnotized by the big picture (a target or goal they can’t see), and they fail to realize that success in life comes one day at a time…


Adorian: What do you think of habits? What are the good habits integral for success in calisthenics?

Mike: “The only person you are destined to be is the person you decide to be.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The habits (decisions) that guide me to success in calisthenics are as follows:

  1. Before a training session, I make it a point to “remind myself” exactly “why” I’m investing my time and effort in training. It’s always a “positive” way to start my training sessions.
  2. The next habit that I attribute to my success is that I like to “mentally” go through my training session just before I do each exercise. My training sessions are usually flawless (because I’ve already been there mentally.)
  3. Next I do my best to really “focus” on my training. I actually have a silent conversation with the muscle groups as I train. A lot of people just go through the motions of training, and that’s about all they get – motions.
  4. I “practice” doing my exercises to improve my form (above and beyond my training sessions). By doing this (practicing) outside of my training sessions, I am not under pressure to follow a “routine.” I’m free to take my time to examine and improve my form and to learn how various rep speeds, hand positions, rest periods, static holds, partial reps, etc., can improve my training. My “practice” sessions are always fun and interesting to me. I take notes, too.

Adorian: How did your daily habits and lifestyle change with time and other factors like job, family etc.

Mike: When I was in my 20’s during my first transformation, I trained hard and I played hard. I was a Corpsman (Medic) in the Navy. I had access to all kinds of drugs. I used some to keep me up for hours and sometimes days at a time (so I could “party”). And I used some drugs to help me sleep during the day, if I had to work nights. I was also an alcoholic. I abused my body on a daily basis, but still managed to get into great shape and to build a great physique. Being young is a wonderful thing, because it’s easy to recover from a foolish lifestyle.

During my second transformation, I was married (with children). I no longer used drugs or alcohol. I had a full-time job, and I took care of home repairs and the lawn work. My wife did the cooking. She did most of the cleaning. And she raised our children (with very little help from me, unfortunately). But I actually got into better physical condition and built a bigger physique as a middle-aged man than when I was younger.

Now that I’m in my early 70’s, I seem to be more active than ever. There’s never enough time in the day to get every thing done that needs to get done. And I have learned that if I can do something before I go to bed to help myself have a good tomorrow, I do it. I try to make sure that my small home gym is set-up for the next training session. I also prepare a lot (sometimes all) of my food and fluids for the next day. This one habit (preparing for tomorrow the night before) saves me a lot of frustration…when my plans don’t go as planned. And that happens a lot.


Adorian: Nowadays people believe that in order to get results faster you need to be obsessed with training and nutrition. What are your thoughts?

Mike: Obsession creates stress! Stress can become a “habit” and then an “addiction.” Stress is a thought or a series of thoughts that continually occupies the mind. It’s actually a form of “focusing,” but obviously, the wrong kind.

Missing a training session or a meal or the “window of opportunity” is not going to derail a person’s dream of reaching optimal conditioning or of building a great physique. Actually, stressing over any of these “occurrences” is more damaging than the actual occurrences.


Adorian: What are your thoughts on nutrition? What do you think of all these fads going on in nutrition?

Mike: I’ve experimented with most of the nutrition fads (current and past) and I usually got moderate results… “initially.” But after a few weeks or days, the “fad” I was following was not sustainable. So, the results faded.

The best results for me, whether for cutting, mass building, or maintenance, have come from Intermittent Fasting. I know, to some, IF is also a fad. But if you do the research you will discover that it’s been around for centuries. Or, I should say, the “components” have been around for centuries. (And “Yes,” you can build “mass” on an IF protocol.)

I thrive on IF because it fits my lifestyle. (Nothing more. So, I’m not promoting the IF protocol) Two athletes that built fantastic physiques with the Intermittent Fasting protocol are Frenchman (bodybuilder) Serge Nubret and American (football player) Herschel Walker.

While working as a prison teacher (approximately 10 years) I was surprised to learn that some convicts follow a form of Intermittent Fasting. And since prison food is deplorable (I know it is because that’s what I ate, too), they have to really get creative to follow an IF diet. But they do it and succeed at it.

Convicts trade food items during prison meals (if they can get away with it). They also steal food. And they buy food at the prison commissary. They also “cook” very unique meals and snacks in their cells – to enhance their personal nutrition program. (They “cook” by using the light bulb in their cell, and by other illegal means.)

Some convicts (not all of them) use their “toilet” as their “refrigerator.” They also use their toilet as an “air conditioner.” During the hot summer months, they put their feet in the toilet. The cool water cools their whole body. When the water warms up, they are just a flush away from a renewed air conditioner.


Adorian: Which factors should be taken care of when designing a nutritional plan?

Mike:

  • Obviously, it should be Healthy…
  • It should be (tasty) Enjoyable…
  • It should be Sustainable/Flexible (providing food alternatives) …
  • You should be able to prepare the food for safe Storage (for a few days or freezing for weeks/months) …
  • The food and fluids should all be easily Portable…
  • And finally, the plan should be Affordable…

All of the above takes time, effort, and adjustments! But it’s all worth it.


Adorian: Some people still believe that results do not come without supplements and drugs. What do you think?

Mike: First things first: only a fool would take drugs to enhance conditioning and to build a great physique. Enough said.

During my first transformation as a young man, I used two canisters of Joe Weider’s weight gain powder.  It wasn’t necessary, but I thought I needed it. It was loaded with sugar, and it tasted awful!

During my second transformation (while in my late 30’s and early 40’s) I didn’t use supplements at all. I just ate a good diet and trained smart. It was my best transformation by far.

During my last transformation (late 60’s to early 70’s), I experimented with “pre-workout” (energy) supplements. I discovered (after spending a lot of money) that a simple smoothie with “beets” (and other natural ingredients) worked just as well – and were a lot less expensive.

Because of my advanced age, I currently take supplements that enhance my “immune” system.

With all of that being said, the supplement industry is a billion-dollar industry! And it’s an “unregulated” industry with poor quality control and with unproven claims…claims that “convince” the unaware consumers to spend their hard-earned money.

One phrase and two additional words used by the supplement industry to sell their “flashy” advertised products are “NEW and Improved,” “Essential,” and “Natural.”

However, it’s usually not new and improved at all. It’s the same useless (and sometimes harmful) ingredients with a “new (exotic) name.” None of their products are “essential.” And finally, “Natural” doesn’t always mean “Natural” (always read the fine print).

There are a few “genuine health supplements” available and worth investigating, but simply developing and following a good “nutrition” plan is all that is needed to get into good condition and for building a great physique.


Adorian: How can we overcome fear of losing? People fear what they don’t know! When results are uncertain they stop their efforts. What are your thoughts?

Mike: People often fear success as much as they fear failure. “Uncertainty” is not the only reason people are fearful, but it’s the main reason. They are “results oriented” instead of “action or process oriented.”

The goal of getting into optimized condition and building a great physique can be (and usually is) a fearful thing, because people can’t actually see the goal – the “target.” It’s too far off in the future…

People who fear that they will never reach their goals (targets) should focus on the “daily process” of achieving their goals, not on the distant goals themselves.

The “ultimate end-result goals” are not familiar environments, and are (therefore) something to fear. However, the “daily process” of training IS a familiar environment. And it becomes more familiar day-by-day.

If people would enjoy the journey and simply keep moving forward (regardless of the pace), they will reach their goals. By staying in the “moment” (the simplicity of the daily process/actions), the fear of losing would be defeated. Because it’s difficult to fear losing when you are constantly progressing (regardless of the pace).


Adorian: What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

Mike: One of my strengths is that I am not a quitter when things get tough. My nickname from childhood is “Hard-Head.”

Another strength of mine is that I will go above and beyond to help anyone in need. I’ve found that when I’m busy about helping other people solve their problems that I forget about my problems. And I eventually reap what I sow…as my problems get solved (sometimes by serendipity ways and sometimes in miraculous ways).

And finally, when others do something to cause me or my family trouble, I “forgive” them quickly. American President Abraham Lincoln once said: “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” I agree.

My greatest weakness has been a “life-long” weakness. It’s also my biggest “regret.” Every time I have managed to reach optimal conditioning and build a great physique, I’ve failed to maintain it. I put in all of the time and hard work and then I squander it. Maintaining conditioning and physique transformation is a lot easier (A LOT EASIER!) than the journey there.

Another weakness of mine is that I almost always over research an issue and become confused and frustrated. However, I’ve finally realized how ridiculous this is, and I am slowly but surely overcoming this weakness.


Adorian: How did the Navy impact your life?

Mike: When I enlisted in the Navy to serve my country, I didn’t know if I could make it through boot camp or not. But I was going to try. Because of the teasing that I had received during my high school years, I had no confidence. But I not only made it through boot camp, I excelled. I received personal awards and my boot camp company won the coveted “color company” award.

When I joined the Navy, I left home a tall, skinny, shy kid. But after just 18 months, I returned home for a two week leave and my family and friends couldn’t believe the transformation that I had accomplished. The guys that had bullied me during my high school years couldn’t believe it either. They no longer intimidated me. And it was obvious that “they knew” that they could no longer intimidate me.

All the work that I had invested in my training had paid off. My clothes that I had worn in high school no longer fit me. I had to buy a new wardrobe. And I had a great time doing it.

If I hadn’t joined the Navy, I don’t know if I would have ever built the body of my dreams. But I did join. I did build it. And it changed my life for the better.


Adorian: Do you think calisthenics will come to forefront of fitness and physical culture once again or gyms will remain the number one choice for the public?

Mike: The calisthenics (world) community has made great progress over the past 10 years or so. Thanks to the Internet. But the majority of the public is still “ignorant” of the truth. And they will remain ignorant because of a continual saturation of books and TV advertisements promoting the “gym” experience, or the newest (fad) home exercise equipment for CD, etc.  However, it’s through websites like yours that this “may” change. But if it does change, it will (unfortunately) change slowly…


Adorian: What is your message for our readers?

Mike: It’s a simple message: save the Old School Calisthenic website to your favorites and stop searching the Internet for “something better.” Because if you’re truly interested in calisthenics training information, there isn’t anything better. Period.


Adorian: What is your message for our website?

Mike: Don’t change a thing. Your website is refreshingly “uncluttered.” It’s easy to search. The pages load quickly. It’s not contradictory or confusing. The information promotes “the truth” about calisthenics training and healthy nutrition.

Old School Calisthenics is Superb!


navy seal mike joplin calisthenicsMy response:

I am at the age of 26 right now and I’ve already been through two body transformations if it can be said so. The first one was during high school. I grew naturally by swimming, doing athleticism and playing a lot of football. I was also lifting weights with regularity and commitment in a local gym. Damn, I was lean, athletic and muscular. And I name it the first transformation because nobody develops a muscular physique at that age only by doing physical activity at school – I helped the process.

After I graduated high school, over a period of 5 years, I lost almost everything that I have achieved through sports and healthy lifestyle. So, I changed myself from muscular to skinny and then, from skinny to a pretty fat guy. Only at the age of 22, after a pretty rough period in my life, I truly decided to change that and to really commit myself to sports again.

I chose calisthenics from lack of money. The sport itself required a lot of creativity and intuition, so it turned out to be very challenging for me, which made it the perfect choice.

It took me 4 years from that point to develop this physique that you can see today. I promised myself never to lose sight again of what’s important for my well-being.

Mike said that his main motivation at the beginning was to attract good-looking women. I won’t be a hypocrite and I’ll confess that this was also a reason for me. Although with time passing my concern was not this anymore. Now that I have a strong-good-looking physique it’s time to grow up and to become an adult, reshaping my character and attitude. As a result, I created this website from which people can learn and can get inspired to practice calisthenics and to live a healthier life.

I don’t want to write a novel here, but Mike’s answers require an elaborated response from me. His wisdom helps me a lot. What he says there I either experienced it already or I’m starting to. In any case I am pretty sure that you (my readers) are in the same situation.

There would be a lot to say, but maybe this will be the discussion of another topic.

Mike, I promise you that I and my buddies will always promote what’s good and valuable for society.

Thank you, Mike and readers who read my article! I know it was long, but I’d say it worth the time.

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Author Adorian

Adorian Moldovan is the founder of Old School Calisthenic, a site dedicated to helping people achieve aesthetic and strong physique through bodyweight training. His calisthenics programs helped a lot of people transform their bodies. He is also the author of the programme: High-Volume Calisthenics Workouts.

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