Name: Matt Curran
Height: 1.81 m
Current weight: 80 kgs
Current city: The land of gold, JHB South Africa
Occupation: HR consultant and aspiring entrepreneur
How long have you been training in calisthenics and how did you get started in it?
Roughly a year now, but competitively for 6 months.
What do you love about it?
The best part about this form of training is that you are only restricted by your mind. There are no limits as to where you need to train or what you need to train.
Calisthenics is about the ability to move your entire body in ways you thought you couldn’t and that’s what I love. The power to overcome fears both mentally and physically.
Another bonus is seeing all the others in our calisthenics community achieve something everyday. Its inspiring.
What was the first advanced calisthenics move that you managed to do and how long did it take you to get there?
To be honest, the first move I got right was the flag (primarily because it looked the coolest and seemed the toughest at that stage ha-ha. But wasn’t I wrong).
I would say it took me about 2 weeks to get right, taking into consideration at that stage it was the only movement I had focused on.
Did you ever train with weights? Do you ever train with weights nowadays and do isolated exercises?
Certainly. I believe weights and being in the fitness environment lead me to where I am today.
I come from an extremely sporty family with both my parents representing national teams for various sports, so that also gave me somewhat of the athleticism I have today.
I did also compete in the fitness modelling arena but that wasn’t for me. Currently, the only weights I do make use of are for squats and using dumbells to add levels of difficulty to handstands ect. But no isolated movements, no.
Tell us a bit about how you started Rip core Calisthenics and why it came to be?
Ripcore is the brain child that came about through sheer passion for calisthenics and the desire to take the sport we love to a higher level in South Africa.
It just so happened that Adam and I trained at the same gym and after months of trying to out do each other at gym (don’t tell him I said that ha-ha) we decided to join forces and pursue this, and so today we have RipCore.
Do you give specific classes?
We do indeed. Our spiritual home is our amazing urban outdoor park in the heart of the Johannesburg CBD. We were afforded this opportunity and took it with both hands.
As of this year, the Johannesburg branch of Ripcore will also be giving classes in Sandton. These classes do cater for all levels of progression and by having one class that mixes these levels, we all feed off each others energy and achievements.
Most people say you cannot really build a great muscular body from only calisthenics and weights are needed. What do you say to that?
In response to that, I’d beg to differ. The misconception that a muscular body is strong is somewhat exaggerated. When it comes to calisthenics, we train to get strong, dynamic and agile, that is what I call strong.
Being able throw your own body weight around and contort in ways sometimes deemed impossible is what we call strong. Its not about being the biggest. But hell, athletic physiques are a bonus of this training.
What are your future plans?
Future plans from a Ripcore point of view are in talks. We do hope to see the sport grow in the country, and with this growth see our brand expand. As mentioned earlier, Adam has found himself in a fortunate opportunity to take Ripcore and advance it in the mother city. So yea, future plans are happening. This idea is driven by passion, and that’s always the most important aspect.
From a personal perspective, I do have goals to achieve, particularly with flexibility and my static movements. At the same time in the process of getting my business off the ground.
What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best of advice I’ve received was simple
“If you aren’t falling, you are not pushing yourself hard enough.”
This is important as overcoming the fear of heights and falling was a turning point for me.
Take us through an average day of yours:
I am very structured and live my days by routine. This allows me freedom of thought as with routine my essentials are always sorted.
- Like most people I wake up early, and do a 15-20 minute stretch.
- Then head to work. I work a solid 9-5 and the job is full on.
- Post work, make my way to training either at gym, outdoors or gymnastics.
- EAT – SLEEP- CALISTHENICS – REPEAT
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your diet, Do you monitor closely what you eat?
I believe in keeping my eating simple and not over complicating it. I eat to live and don’t live to eat. I ensure I consume nutrient-dense foods, sleep well and drink water. I am very conscious about what I eat and this stems from the vegan based lifestyle I live.
I am Fortunate enough to be powered by Synerchi Organics, so that covers my supplementation, which in fact does aid the levels of performance.
What are your top nutrition tips to getting ripped?
Consistency is key. Eating meals regularly and also knowing what your body responds to better. The obvious things like sugar, sodium, alcohol and processed food are also a huge no.
Did you make any mistakes when starting out? What are some common mistakes people make when starting out in calisthenics?
Of course, I’m human and innately we learn more form failure than success. This was very new to me and with self teaching all this myself, mistakes and falls are all part of the journey.
Not starting from the basics. If you have been pushing weights with isolated or even dynamic movements, its not to say you will succeed here. This is all about learning about your body and starting from the basics.
What does a typical training week or day look like for you, how do you structure your workouts and on average how long do you workout for?
I try and incorporate as many different techniques and styles of movement in to my week as possible.
I would incorporate a leg session, about 3 calisthenics sessions (either at gym or outdoors), at least one freestyle session and then a weekly gymnastics session.
Depending on the day, workouts can be between 1-3 hours.
What exercises or holds are you working towards at the moment?
My goals for the first half of the year are both dynamic movements and statics holds.
- The dynamic moves I will have achieved are the shrimp flip, backflip, switchblade and Korean dips.
- The static holds will be the front lever, straight arm planche, pike handstand and pancake splits.
What are some of your top calisthenics training tips?
- Over come the fear of height and falling.
- The beauty about body weight training is that reps count. So rep it out every set.
What are your three favourite exercises and why?
1. 360 muscle up
It was the first proper dynamic move I got right.
It looks amazing when performed.
3. Close To Impossible (CTI)
Its true to its name, Close To Impossible, so it’s a long term goal indeed.
What are your tips to holding a perfect back lever?
Depending on how you hold the bar, I find it best to squeeze your shoulder blades together and at the same time, open your chest wide. It’s also important to pull your body to the bar and look forward.
Is it easy to gauge how long a specific exercise can take to achieve such as the front lever or planche?
As mentioned earlier these above mentioned movements are on my hit list for the first half of the year. To give you an idea of the progression its been about 2 months. These 2 months were predominately to get my tendons up to scratch and drastically improve my wrist mobility and finger strength.
So yea, I’m hoping about 4 months to have both locked down. Im about 80% of the way to master both.
Do you need to regularly put in work for these exercises to maintain them?
From an agility and stretching point of view, I do this every day for an hour. Stretching not only my muscles but more importantly, my tendons, is crucial for the development to perfect any movements that puts pressure on your joints. And calisthenics does this a lot.
Consistency is key.
Favorite Influential fitness icons:
Hannibal for king was my initial eye opener but I feel what the guys at Barstarzz have done was the game changer for me. At the moment, Raul Villarreal is the heat. His statics and dynamics are on point.
What is the most common question that you get asked?
“What is this you are doing and how do I start?”
It’s calisthenics and it’s the art or form of moving your body. A good place to start (come to Ripcore classes, ha-ha, na kidding) would be to do your research and use youtube as a source of information, I did and still do. Also never fear to ask people questions.
“Never be afraid, amateurs built the Arc and professionals built the Titanic”
Where can people get hold of you?
- Instagram: blvckfit_ness
- Email: mattdescurran[at]gmail.com