I Paid $20 To Train with a Turkish Calisthenics Champion
Learning from the best....
Asrincag Ozdemir is a BEAST! I found him on Instagram (@asrincag.ozdemir) when Ana and I were in Istanbul, and I immediately messaged him to see if he would give private lessons. As I've been addicted to calisthenics for the past year with little success in many of the main movements besides muscle ups, I knew I needed to get instruction from something or someone besides YouTube videos. He accepted, and we decided to meet in Bebek Park! I was so excited to be traveling and exercising!
Let me first say that Bebek Park is one of only two places in all of Istanbul that Ana and I found for calisthenics, and I HIGHLY recommend getting some fitness in at this park. It's right on the Bosphorus with massive trees and families playing, with stores and restaurants right around the corner.
I told Asrincag that I wanted to split my time between handstands and front levers because—I'm ashamed to admit it—I still can't hold a handstand after a year of training, and front levers are just super cool, although I'm not close to holding them for any period of time.
We started with a comprehensive wrist, neck, shoulder, and hip warmup, followed by very specific instructions on where your body weight should be placed within your hands when doing a handstand. Then came a multitude of handstand drills, with Asrincag helping me keep my balance and correct body position at the top of the handstand. It really helped to feel the weight in the front part of my palm, with my fingers digging into the ground.
Front Lever was next, where we did drills using a band to support my back and help me pull towards the bar (obviously, Asrincag didn't need one). I was attempting to pull while holding a front lever tuck and could pull around 6 reps. After four sets of this, my abs were toast.
We finished the workout and went into the very important post-workout stretching. Asrincag explained that if we didn't stretch properly, all my joints would be extremely sore the next day—not "muscle sore" like if we had trained all sets to failure, but instead "joint sore" because I hadn't used my joints and tendons like that before.
Asrincag helped me understand the principles of the handstand and front lever and put me months ahead of where I would have been on my own. If you're in Istanbul at any point, reach out to him via Instagram at @asrincag.ozdemir.