At any hour in downtown Vancouver you can find a room full of people pulsing to the counts of an energetic and contagiously upbeat teacher. Though their movements appear small and seemingly easy, the looks on their faces reveal they are anything but; sweat beads off their foreheads, their eyebrows burrow, small breaths escape as they push through deep muscle tissue tightening with each slight yet powerful movement. As the hour comes to a much anticipated end, a new flock patiently awaits for the next class to begin, as the never ending stream of loyal followers continuously shuffle in and out of studio space to tone and sculpt their physique.
This mysterious underground exercise that has swept through Vancouver is called Callanetics. Three years ago, a Vancouver fitness enthusiast discovered a book in her mother’s attic called, Callanetics: 10 Years Younger in 10 Hours by Callan Pinckney, which is based on small, continuous movements referred to as “pulses”. Pinckney developed Callanetics from classic ballet exercises to correct her curvature spine and chronic back problems she suffered since birth. Once confined to leg braces and a wheelchair, the delicate, precise, and tiny movements that isolate individual muscle groups not only healed her constant pain, but toned her entire frame. From jiggly arms to saddlebags, one hour of her methods is said to equal 20 hours of aerobics.
Though Callanetics reached popularity in the 1980’s and even made the New York Time’s Best Seller’s List, it suddenly fell off the radar. Now, since its revival people are flocking. Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow are said to use these exercises to help sculpt their famous figures, and with results such as going from a size 12 to a size 6 in less than six months, it’s easy to understand why. With little equipment besides a floor mat, the exercises are far more challenging than mainstream yoga, bar method, or Pilates, but have the same low-impact benefits. The results come from slow pulses and correct positioning, as the slightest tweak of the hip or scoop of the pelvis sends shivers throughout every muscle. It’s no surprise why these little movements creating big results are no longer under the radar.