"I would say it was an underground movement in New York City since.. who knows. Giant [the founder of Bartendaz, the first NY calisthenics workout team] learned it from someone and that person learned from someone else. I didn’t know any of them. I started working out doing pullups on the light pole and stuff. Just certain people in the neighborhood teaching me different things. I wanted to be big because you felt like growing up in the hood that’s like your safety mechanism - being big. I probably started around the age of 10. I’d say at the age of 15, I already had some pushup tricks, and I met someone who showed me how to do pullups. He was a ripped dude, and all he did was chinups and pushups. At that point I was only doing pushups, squats, and crunches so I started doing chinups. Around 17, I saw my first circle pullups and then a muscle-up in person and then around the age of 18 is when I heard about the Bartendaz.
So at 18, I wasn’t too computer literate so my friend showed me everything. I started looking into Youtube because I remembered him being on it before. And I was like, ’Oh let me see what this finally is,’ you know? The first calisthenics video I’ve seen of someone doing very high level stuff was Bartendaz. Before that I’ve seen people do muscle ups and typewriters just being in the hood. But seeing that level.. of Giant being very explosive and Beast at the time in the same video, where they jumped over and grabbed the next thing, really set the bar high for me. And from that point I started going more and more. But you can’t credit any one person. People put milestones on this. So Ruff Ryders made the first DVD and made it big, Bartendaz first viral video goes on Youtube, Hannibal’s super-viral video made it big, and then on that same chart Barstarzz came and really revved up social media and made it very consistent. So up until that point, you would see a video here, wait 3 months and another video there, whereas Barstarzz started releasing videos on the weekly and as often as we could."
"I just thought to myself, ‘Oh, there’s no team representing my neighborhood, my district of New York City.’"
THE BIRTH OF BARSTARZZ
"I always worked out, but the inspiration to start a team definitely came from watching the teams on Youtube. I’d seen a lot of them and Bartendaz was the first. But within the same week I learned about all of them during that time. It was Bartendaz, Barbarians, Highlanders, and Beastmode. I just thought to myself, ‘Oh, there’s no team representing my neighborhood, my district of New York City.’ I just wanted to start representing my neighborhood. As for the name… I set a deadline to come up with a cool name amongst me and my friends. It was 3 of us at the time. And… that deadline came and we didn’t have a name so I was like, ‘I’m not leaving until we come up with a name’ and I came up with Barstarzz. At the same time that year, there was a movie called Bar Starz (2008), which flunked. It was such bad timing. That’s why there’s 2 Z’s in Barstarzz."
"Coming out and realizing that you’re actually an adult and you’ve lost so much time...was what was really scary for me."
PRISON IS EASY
"I got arrested really young. I went to jail at 15. And I don’t know… it’s hard to say which is the darkest time. I think even worse than that… even worse than going to jail was being done, because I went back and forth. Seeing that I’ve ruined so much of these years, when you’re supposed to be learning how to build a resume, have a job experience. So, you know, going to jail is easy. You get the meals, you know, and if something happens you fight or you don’t fight. You’re getting told what to do, when to wake up. And it’s pretty easy, it’s an easy program. Coming out and realizing that you’re actually an adult and you’ve lost so much time and you’re such at the opposite of the head start was what was really scary for me. And it almost makes you want to quit and just keep going in that loop. Just because it’s the easier choice to pick.
Working out is what definitely got me on the right path. I worked out the whole time since I was 10, off and on, off and on. And I came out, and 2 of my friends were like ‘Yo, let’s go to the gym’. So we still hung out but we went to the gym now, and the more you get involved with the gym, then the more your goals start to change. For me, it’s not like I wanted to get my bicep a little bigger, it’s that I wanted to do more pullups. So I started changing the reward system in my mind, and when that started changing for me was when I started changing my life because I became addicted to bettering myself. Not just in that aspect, but I started learning more, reading more. I learned about Youtube and I was like, ‘I want to be the best at Youtube. I want to learn about videography.’ So I taught myself video editing. It started a path. It definitely started from working out."
"I started changing my life because I became addicted to bettering myself."
ON THE SUPERIOR METHOD OF FITNESS
"I think the superior method of fitness for everyone is what you enjoy and what you can stick with the longest, you know? For some people that might be bodybuilding, for other people it might be volleyball, and I think that’s what’s most important: that you enjoy what you do. And for me and for the people that practice calisthenics, I don’t think people practice it because they think it’s superior to bodybuilding. It’s more so because they find it so addicting and so much fun. You’re learning different skills, learning different movements, in communities where people are laughing and joking."
ADVICE ON GETTING STARTED
"Just make the decision to start and actually go out there and do it. Don’t worry about no one else. I know it may seem like everyone’s looking at you, everyone’s judging you, but really people are just going to the gym, or just going to the park to just focus on themselves. Especially in a park environment. Most park environments I’ve been to, everyone’s super friendly and if you ask them, they’re all just eager to help. And, I think... focus. Make the process fun. Pick something that you’re passionate about. Not just bodybuilding because you know a bodybuilder or calisthenics because you know someone doing calisthenics. Pick something that you had fun maybe in high school or try different things and see what thing really gives you that push."