Calisthenics incorporates gymnastics, ballet, costume and theatrics. Debbie McDonald, who is vice-president of Riverton Calisthenics Club, said the aesthetic exercises focus on poise, ballet and grace.

“It’s all about free-arm exercises, gymnastics, flexibility and strength, ” she said. “You get everything in one go. We cover almost every style of dance. There are team and solo competitions but the focus is on team performances.”

The club welcomes girls and boys of all ages — the youngest members are three-year-olds and the oldest member is 29 — and sizes.

“We accept all girls (and boys) and all body shapes, ” Mrs McDonald said.

“It’s also good for building confidence and, when they start using rods and clubs, it really helps their thinking skills and thought processes.”

In the school holidays, 120 girls from the club made the trip to Melbourne for the 26th National Calisthenic Competition.

“We went very well, ” Mrs MacDonald said. “The intermediate group won, the seniors came third and the juniors and sub-juniors both placed second.”

Lauren Marchant from Phoenix Calisthenics Club also attended the national competition where she competed in marching, clubs and rods, free, and song and dance routine.

“I’ve been doing calisthenics for six years — this was my second year in the State competition, ” she said.

“The best thing about calisthenics is having fun and making new friends.”

There are 15 calisthenics clubs in Western Australia and the Calisthenics Association of WA has its own theatre in Midvale, where competitions take place.

Did you know?

The word calisthenics comes from the Greek words for strength and beauty.


© The West Australian

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First published in The West Australian August 26, 2014.