This Woman’s Word is pleased to be shining the spotlight on an awesome individual who has taken his fitness journey to new heights, loosing an impressive 46 lbs in 100 days by simply adopting Calisthenics as his preferred method of training.
I first came across Benjamin (@aka_Bro_Ben) , on the social networking site Twitter back in the summer of 2012 following a retweet of his first video ‘Fat Man Does Muscle Ups and Chins Ups’ by my friend Chakabars Clarke and the rest of the Spartanfam. Amazed by what I had witnessed during his short film on his fitness journey, I instantly knew I had to find out more about him.
To give you a bit of background about Benjamin, he is a 38 year old former graffiti artist who went on to graduate from Camberwell School of Art in 1997. He is a proud father who describes himself as a family man, artist, MC and calisthenics enthusiast who resides in Brixton, London, England. He currently works as a London Based illustrator & Art Director and some of his most notable clients include Nokia, Virgin Atlantic, Newsweek Magazine, Rolling Stone, Sony Music and Nike.
I caught up with Benjamin earlier this week to complete a Q&A session with him, as I wanted to understand what inspired him into the wonderful world of Calisthenics. The interview was just as inspiring as he is as an individual!
I began with the most obvious question:
What was your fitness regime like prior to getting involved in Calisthenics?
I would usually copy anything I saw MMA fighters doing because they are always in great shape, However I found that whilst I was getting fitter, I still wasn’t getting into the shape I wanted. The elite MAA fighters train 4-6 hours a day. Whilst I would love to train that frequently, I can’t afford to and think I am a bit too old to take up cage fighting in my late thirties.
What inspired you to take up Calisthenics as your preferred method of training?
I met UK artist TY (@tymusic) one day and I noticed he was looking a little bit leaner than usual so I asked what he was doing. He told me about Chakabars and his body-weight training movement called Spartanfam.
A few weeks later I hurt my back falling off my bike. I was bed ridden through injury and began eating lots (bad combo). By the time I felt able to exercise again, I had ballooned up to 16st 7lbs. I hadn’t been that big since 2007 and it was very depressing.
On August 28th, I was on Facebook and I saw my friend Leon Bernard doing a muscle up. My instant reaction was something along the lines of how on earth did he manage to do that o_O ?!!?
That’s when it all started to come together for me. The combination and influence of TY, Chakabars, my friend Leon and the video I had seen of Hannibal for King ultimately kick started my hunger to learn and master Calisthenics.
I started researching further and I got inspired. I set my self a goal to do a muscle up within a year and began training straight with the new techniques I had come across and more noticeably, a new vigour!
Calisthenics helped to decompress my spine by simply spending so much time hanging from the bar. I have no back complaints or trapped nerves now. Calisthenics also provides motivation to keep your body fat to a minimum because by performing the techniques, you can progress faster to complete the more advanced movements and holds.
How many days a week do you train and how long does a typical workout last?
I usually train up to 5 or 6 days a week but sometimes train 7 days a week. My workouts can last anything between 1- 3hours. I would gladly work out all day if I didn’t have to work. But I also love my job.
I tend to start with a light warm-up (either skipping or jogging on the spot) and then progress to light stretching / joint mobility movements to prepare my shoulders and other areas of the body for a workout. From here I go straight into muscle ups (which involves both pushing and pulling techniques). I then complete pull ups / chin ups which is immediately followed by dips and dip variations.
A variety of core exercises are incorporated within the workout to strengthen my abdominal muscles. A legs or shoulder routine is also performed depending on the day. I then finish off my training session by trying to go HAM, but at this stage I am extremely tired, with a mixture of cardio and plyomeric exercises until I eventually drop on the floor unable to carry on or run out of time.
Your new progress video shows you using alternative equipment such as tyres, ropes, poles and medicine balls to perform various exercises. In your opinion, can you explain what the differences & benefits are as opposed to using free weights?
Not much, I am not opposed to free weights. I think machine weights are pants though. They do all of the stabilizing for you (not good). Machine weights isolate muscles. I want all of my muscles to work together as one big force so I train with exercises that require lots of muscles to fire which also requires balance and co ordination.
I have lots of free weights, but I just find them a bit boring so I haven’t used them since August 2012. The pieces of equipment I train with usually increase the difficulty of the exercise to produce more rounded strength. For example, the exercises might be harder to grip or balance. Its waaay more fun too. If you are going to spend 15 hours a week training it has to be fun right? I enjoy throwing tyres up into the air and climbing ropes *Arggggghh*
Your progression has been amazing to watch and you have come so far in your journey. What is your next fitness goals, both long term and short?
To be able to do multiple clean muscle ups, perform the human flag and develop core-strength to be able to planche
To not get injured lol. I would like to get my body fat percentage down to 10%, be healthy and full of life. I want to set an example to my children, so they have a positive attitude towards exercise and to help them stay healthy in mind, body and soul. I would also love to help people who are overweight, by showing them that they too can change their current lifestyle with a little know how and will power.
Please take the time out to watch the awesome 2nd installment of Ben’s amazing progress video ‘Fat Man Goes Crazy For Calisthenics’.
It is fair to say Benjamin has definitely inspired me to up my Calisthenics game, to accept NO LIMITATIONS and hope that by watching this short film, you to can be inspired to take that step to make fitness part of your daily routine.
Benjamin’s never give up attitude, followed by his determination and dedication to reach his goals whilst inspiring others to do the same makes him a worthy individual to be the first person to feature in the Profiles Section of This Woman’s Word. Follow him on twitter @aka_Bro_Ben !
Stay tuned as I endeavor to shed the spotlight on more people in the world of sports and fitness.
Danielle is a 1st Dan Kickboxing coach / Assistant Instructor under the PKA Kickboxing Association who is also a health, fitness, green beauty, wellness and lifestyle freelance writer / digital journalist. Her passions include encouraging others to lead an active, health conscious lifestyle whilst leading her Breakin' Boundrez team on various fitness related challenges.