This is my photo. There are some diagrams inside that I hope to take photos of for a subsequent post.

A few weeks ago I picked up this book from our bookcase:

Callanetics For Your Back, Callan Pinckney, 1988

I wasn’t having back pain. I was just curious what she had to say. I’d done some of the back exercises over the years but not much more.

Callanetics was popular in the mid-1980s. It is a series of exercises that could, according to its developer Callan Pinckney, make you look “10 years younger in 10 hours.” This book of exercises for the back was published a few after her introductory book. It was a bestseller then and the exercises, based on the “pelvic wave,” continue to be recommended for back pain sufferers.

Callanetics is unique:

It is a system of exercise involving frequent repetition of small muscular movements and squeezes, designed to improve muscle tone. The programme was developed by Pinckney from classical ballet exercises, to help ease a back problem that she was born with.

The theory of callanetics is that the surface muscles of the body are supported by deeper muscles, but popular exercise programmes often exercise only the surface muscles. According to callanetics, deeper muscles are best exercised using small but precise movements. Exercising the deeper muscles also leads to improved posture, which may result in the appearance of weight loss even if very little weight was lost.

She’s not kidding when she says “small movements.” For some exercises, she brings her thumb and forefinger almost together and says, “one sixteenth of an inch!”

Here’s Pinckney demonstrating her stomach exercise, which she is keen to say, “This is not a sit up!” Sit-up use (and abuse) the back. Notice here that the lower back is always on the floor, always in repose, not arched:

8 thoughts on “Callanetics

  1. Bix Post author

    In her exercises, the positioning of the body is as important as the actual movement. I hope to post some diagrams of positions she labels “stay away.”


  2. Marj

    Heavens! thought I was the only person still in possession of one of her books. Takes me back to the 80s, but at that time thought her exercises were great! Still have the book (not the one you have here), but will drag it out of its space and see if any of it will work for me at this stage. Thanks for the reminder, will probably go through the entire book for ideas.


    1. Bix Post author

      I’ve been trying her exercises for a little over a week now. Wow. I should have tried these years ago. Very protective of the back, neck.

      This hip exercise. omg…


  3. Pingback: Stay Away From These Exercises | Fanatic Cook

  4. Pingback: Callan Pinckney: “Now, For The Wonderful Behind And Hips” | Fanatic Cook

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s