Fit in the City
Reach for the Starzz
By Nancy Bruning, MPH
Just in case you’re feeling like you’re in pretty good shape; or, in case you’re feeling a little down, Barstarzz is the perfect cure for both.
Think guaranteed reality check and cheerer-upper.
What is Barstarzz?
Or rather, what are Barstarzz?
According to the Barstarzz website, “Barstarzz is an international workout team put together to inspire the world to workout. Barstarzz train their bodies through Creative Calisthenics, which is a much different workout than most people are familiar with. We believe Calisthenics is a [more fun] and simpler way to stay in shape, and it gives endless opportunities to expand and be creative to keep pushing the body to its limits.”
For a couple of years, I’d been noticing a group of young men doing pull ups, chin ups, handstands, swings, and other incredible moves on the workout bars in Fort Tryon Park. Sometimes I’d see them in Jacob Javits playground, in the area north of the basketball courts, and sometimes I’d see them at Anne Loftus Playground, working on the equipment near the monkey bars . . . these young men with amazing sculpted bodies.
One day, I spoke to one of them, Eduard Checo, and found out they call themselves Barstarzz.
I visited their web site, and decided that other people in the community needed to know about the Olympic-caliber physical feats occurring right in our own backyards.
I made an appointment to meet with Checo, the 23-year-old founder of the group, and his buddies Juan Rosario, Joel Nunez, Shaun “Swiss” Bryant, and Jason Fernandez near the Javits bars.
Eduard told me that although he had started out working in a gym, the atmosphere had begun to turn him off. He started coming to the park and found that getting fit there was “more fun, less aggressive, and less smelly.” He likes the fact that he’s getting vitamin D naturally, from the sun. What’s more, he said, in the park he and his friends work out together, but they also hang out, smile, and do plenty of joking around.
Barstarzz, which he founded in 2009, is part of the growing fitness style and philosophy sometimes called “street workouts” or “ghetto workouts.”
Checo, however, prefers to call it freestyle or creative calisthenics. “We want to inspire people to work out using the bare minimum of equipment—at home, in the park, anywhere in your environment,” he says. “You can train your body, gain strength and definition, without ever stepping in a gym.”
Although it borrows from other disciplines including gymnastics, Checo loves the creativity of it. He does a variety of pull-ups, push-ups, and dips. He tries different moves and switches routines from day to day.
In his experience, you need to keep “shocking” your body for your muscles to continue to grow. To avoid boredom Barstarzz members make up games, trying to beat each other’s scores in pull-ups or alternate performing different “tricks.”
True to his words, Checo and other Barstarzz members can be found most afternoons doing unimaginable calisthenics. Take, for example, “the flag” in which they grab onto a vertical bar and hold their bodies perpendicular to it. They have amazing, muscular, strong and agile bodies—and all of this using just their own body weight.
All of it—as Eduard likes to point out—for free.
Although, you can hire them to be your personal trainer or buy their fabulous new instructional DVD, available through their web site.
Checo has taught himself how to shoot and edit video, and you’ll find many clips on You Tube, including a Spanish-language channel. He was recently singled out from thousands of entries as the winner of the You Tube Next Trainer Contest.
According to Checo, Barstarzz has nearly 30,000 fans on Facebook and over 3 million views on You Tube. Last month, he competed in the Street Workout World Championship in Latvia and he and other Barstarzz have made appearances in Russia, Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Italy.
Although one of the goals is to have fun, Barstarzz are very serious about what they do and you need to submit a video of yourself performing in order to get in.
Barstarzz has become a worldwide movement –and it started right here, in northern Manhattan!
For more information about Barstarzz, video clips, personal training, and the instructional DVD The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Fitness, visit http://www.barstarzz.com/
Nancy Bruning has a master’s degree in public health, is a certified personal trainer, and is the author or co-author of over 25 books on health and fitness, including the forthcoming “Nancercize: 101 Things to Do on a Park Bench.” She also is the Chair of the Friends Committee of the Fort Tryon Part Trust and leads outdoor fitness experiences and weight loss workshops. Visit Nancy’s web site at www.Nancercize.net.