Calisthenics are a form of exercise that consists of a variety of gross motor movements, often rhythmical, generally without using equipment or apparatus, thus in all essence body-weight training. They are intended to increase body strength, body fitness and flexibility through movements such as pulling or pushing yourself up, bending, jumping, or swinging, using only one's body weight for resistance. They are usually conducted in concert with stretches. When performed vigorously and with variety, calisthenics can provide the benefits of muscular and aerobic conditioning, in addition to improving psychomotor skills such as balance, agility and coordination. Groups such as sports teams and military units often perform leader-directed group calisthenics as a form of synchronized physical training (often including a customized "call and response" routine) to increase group cohesion and discipline. Calisthenics are also popular as a component of physical education in primary and secondary schools over much of the globe. In addition to general fitness, calisthenic exercises are often used as baseline physical evaluations for many military organizations, such as the U.S. Army Physical Fitness Test and the U.S.M.C Physical Fitness Test.
The word calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek words kalós (?a???), which means "beauty", and sthénos (s?????), meaning "strength". It is the art of using one's body weight and qualities of inertia as a means to develop one's physique. A longstanding urban legend has claimed that the exercise was named after one of its earliest promotors, the Greek historian Callisthenes. Disciples of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn brought their version of gymnastics to the United States, while Catherine Beecher and Dio Lewis set up physical education programs for women in the 19th century. Organized systems of calisthenics in America took a back seat to competitive sports after the Battle of the Systems, when the states mandated physical education systems. Calisthenics is associated with the rapidly growing international sport called street workout. Street workout as a sport consists of athletes competing against one other by each showing their body-weight strength and body-control in timed routines to impress a panel of judges. The World Street Workout & Calisthenics Federation (WSWCF) based in Latvia orchestrates the annual National Championships in up to 50 different countries (as of 2015) and hosts the World Championships for all the national champions to compete at one competition.