What is Callanetics? Is it for me?

Some people swear by it. Some people have never heard of it. It’s Callanetics.

Callanetics became a revolutionary method of exercise and gained international recognition for its speedy body-shaping results. Some of the noise behind Callanetics may have softened over the years, but at one point, "Callanetics: 10 Years Younger In 10 Hours" outsold every other fitness video in the United States. But what actually is Callanetics? We’ll answer that- but first, let’s briefly start with its founder and origins.

Callan Pinckney (1939-2012) was an American fitness professional trained in classical ballet along with other forms of dance, movement, and exercise. She developed the Callanetics program in the early 1980s in an effort to correct and find relief from her own physical problems, including congenital spinal curvatures.

Visit Callan Pinckney’s instructor page here.

Callanetics alleviated the discomfort caused by Callan’s ailments, and the program’s approach helped others with similar issues find success. Additionally, regular exercisers who tried the program began transforming their bodies. So, what is it?

Callan + athletics = Callanetics

By definition, Callanetics is a system of exercise involving frequent repetition of small muscular movements and squeezes, designed to improve muscle tone. 

The fundamental logic behind the program is to target the body’s “deep muscles,” which support our “surface muscles.” Exercising the deeper muscles leads to improved posture, which may result in the appearance of weight loss even if very little weight was lost. Deeper muscles are best exercised using small but precise movements (according to her book, Callanetics).

These small but precise movements have a term: Pulses.

As Callan has explained, "the Callanetics Pulse is responsible for the sculpting and toning of the muscles. It is this pulsing action, combined with exact positioning and proper body alignment, which makes Callanetics so effective. These controlled, miniscule, tiny movements are the predominant, most noticeable difference when comparing Callanetics to other conventional exercise programs."

Pulses are used with specific exercises in every position (standing, sitting, lying) to target the muscles you desire to re-define while strengthening your spine and other joints at the same time.

"The key is keeping the Pulse small without bouncing or jerking. The Callanetics Pulse is a back and forth or up and down movement that is no more than 1/16th to 1⁄2 of an inch that is barely visible."

However, the Pulse is only part of what makes the system successful. The entire Callanetics program is a balance of strengthening and stretching your muscles and re-aligning your posture in a gentle, rhythmic and dynamic way.

View the Callanetics book on Amazon (This is not an affiliate link)

The video that made Callan famous (Link to the Callanetics DVD)

Have you tried Callanetics? If so, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below! Here are some customer reviews from our website:

"Not only does it work, but Callanetics makes you feel so relaxed and strong after a session. The DVD goes by so quickly and I remember the old familiar moves. I get a great stretch and feel I am strengthening my body by the minute. It simply works." Laura

"Wonderful program; just what I needed. After just sixteen hours, I'm seeing results." Kara

"I was super pleased to find this workout on a DVD. I bought the VHS version in 1989. Recently it broke and I was in a panic to find another . I have done this video for years. I am 63 years old. I still have excellent results. It still makes me feel young. I have never had any workout work as well as this one. I was 37 years old when I bought this video and I still love it today." Rebecca




Book: Callanetics, by Callan Pinckney and Sallie Batson, 1984

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