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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Callan Pinckney, American fitness professional, created Callanetics died she was 72

Callan Pinckney (born as Barbara Biffinger Pfeiffer Pinckney) was an American fitness professional died she was  72. She achieved unprecedented success with her Callanetics exercises. Her 9 books all became international best-sellers and the video series that followed went on to sell over 6 million copies. Pinckney's first video release "Callanetics: 10 Years Younger In 10 Hours" outsold every other fitness video in the US. Within 3 years it had pushed Jane Fonda into second place on the all-time individual best-selling fitness video chart and it remains the all-time fitness bestseller in both the US and UK.[1]


(September 26, 1939 – March 1, 2012) 
Pinckney was born on September 26, 1939. Born as Barbara Biffinger Pfeiffer Pinckney, she grew up in Savannah, Georgia in the deep south of the United States. Going back nine generations her family were instrumental in founding South Carolina. They were explorers and adventurers and even helped draft the Constitution of United States. She was born with spinal curvatures, one hip higher than the other and severely turned-in feet. She was forced to wear leg braces for seven years and in an effort to correct her alignment spent the next decade studying classical ballet. She rebelled against her upbringing, got suspended from every school she attended and spent her days dreaming of traveling and exploring the world
By the time she reached 21, Pinckney had become increasingly bored and restless with her well-bred southern lifestyle. Her adventurous ancestry was bringing out the traveller in her and after two years of college she felt the time had come for a major change. Her father had always insisted that she finish college before she even considered traveling abroad. He was sure that she could not live without his support for more than a couple of months. This only made Callan more determined to strike out on her own. She wanted to see foreign lands and experience life and people. No college education could offer her that, so she planned her escape one morning in 1961. As the sun was rising she grabbed her passport and threw her tightly packed suitcase from the second- story window of her parent’s home. She climbed out after it and ran across the street to a waiting car. She jumped in and asked her friends to drive her to the bus depot. From there she headed for Wilmington in North Carolina. Pinckney knew there was a freighter leaving for Germany that day and without a second thought she stepped on board and started her adventure.
Pinckney didn’t know what to expect when she arrived in Bremerhaven, West Germany. She had no particular plans. Her dream was to see the world. For nearly a year Callan travelled across Europe. Her home was an old Volkswagen that she borrowed from a friend. Sleeping in it meant she could save money to prolong her travels. She took odd jobs whenever she needed and truly immersed herself in the culture and lifestyle of the country she was in.
When Pinckney reached London, winter was approaching. Without a work permit, the only jobs she could get were hard manual labour. She would shovel coal and snow for eight hours for little more than $3 a day. And with no central heating in her apartment she would eat digestive biscuits with jam and copious amounts of starchy food to insulate her body in fat. To keep herself warm and awake whilst working she would get through 40 cups of heavily sugared tea each day. When Pinckney left the US she weighed 105 lb. Within a few months of reaching London her weight had pushed up to 129 lb. With her petite frame and at a height of only 5’1” her body was really starting to suffer.
Pinckney started exploring the possibility of leaving Europe and travelling further afield. She had heard people in London talking about Africa and she set her heart on visiting there next. Unable to get the relevant papers in London, she hitchhiked her way to Hamburg and secured them there. Upon returning to London she bought a rucksack, filled it with all her worldly possessions and boarded a plane for Cape Town.
As soon as she arrived in South Africa, Pinckney talked her way into a job at an advertising agency. Their one condition of her employment was that she took lessons in “proper English pronunciation”. They felt it would impress their British clients more so than her cultured Southern accent. While she didn’t feel the need to change the way she spoke, Pinckney agreed to their request. In no time at all she transformed her accent to a mixture of British and American. Her colleagues later nicknamed it Americallan.
The constraints of an office based job soon became tiring for Callan. For the next year she decided to leave civilization behind and head into the bush of Central Africa. She travelled through Zimbabwe (Old Rhodesia), Kenya, the Congo (Old Zaire). She worked part of the time tracking animal migrations from place to place. To supplement her income she took on menial labour jobs.
Half way through that year Pinckney started to experience problems with her body. Her natural survival instincts were keeping her alive but she was far from fit and healthy. The sparse and inadequate diet she was living on had led to malnutrition. All the weight she had gained in London was dropping off dramatically. She suffered from severe amoebic dysentery and suddenly found that her weight had plummeted to 78 pounds. Carrying her mobile home on her back was also taking its toll. The huge rucksack she had bought in London was putting an incredible strain on her back, shoulders and knees. She was living without any of the conveniences of the modern world. Following her illness, Pinckney made it her daily priority to seek out drinkable water and clean food. She knew if she did not do this her body would give up completely.
As Pinckney reached Johannesburg she decided the time had come to leave Africa. Her plan for the next six months was to hitchhike her way to Japan. She didn’t realize this was actually going to take her seven years. One of the first stops on her journey was India. Not long after arriving in Bombay she got caught up in the middle of an air raid. Her life was saved by two men who grabbed her and threw her into a doorway. When it was over she opened her eyes and realized she was lying next to a leper. Her fear of contracting the disease and concerns about her personal safety urged her to head south.
Pinckney had met a Canadian girl early in her travels and they met up again in Bombay. Along with another American girl they took the train to the border to catch a boat to Sri Lanka. After a long and crowded journey sleeping on luggage racks they arrived at the port only to find they had missed the boat. There wasn’t another one for a week. Pinckney's aching body was starting to create problems for her. She was struggling to carry her rucksack and it was becoming increasingly difficult to travel long distances. To fill the time while they were waiting for the boat, Pinckney started to teach her American friend basic ballet. It was at this point she realised how much damage she had done to her body. Her muscles had lost all their tone and she had no flexibility or extension. The movements she had been able to do so beautifully as a teenager were now almost impossible.
When she finally reached Japan, Pinckney was asked to record British voice-over tapes for advertising. Her “proper English pronunciation” lessons in South Africa had paid off. She also wrote about her experiences on the road for a Japanese magazine and modelled miniskirts in her spare time. She later managed a bar where the star attractions were the Western waitresses that she was responsible for hiring.
Toward the end of her eleven-year trek, Pinckney spent some more time in London. She consulted several doctors about her travel-damaged body. One advised her to have surgery on her knees and another said her back would never recover. She was in constant pain and in an attempt to alleviate her suffering she turned first to ballet and then to yoga and toning classes. She also attended the Rehabilitation Exercise Studio set up by German dancer Lotte Berk [2] in a Manchester Street basement. Lotte Berk had seriously injured her back while dancing and had devised a program to ease her discomfort whilst maintaining her strength and flexibility. It was here that Pinckney starting learning more about and rescuing her body. Her thoughts were that if she was to be in constant pain she may as well look good. It was a slow and painful process but Pinckney was determined to rebuild her body before she returned home to the United States.

As her exercise classes grew in popularity, Pinckney needed to give them a name. One of her students would always refer to them as "Callan-etics", a name-blend of "Callan" and "athletics". The name seemed to stick and without her even realizing it; "Callanetics" was born.
After seven years of teaching with incredible results, the time seemed right for Pinckney to put her exercise method down in a book. With the encouragement of her students she started work on what would become the best selling exercise book of all time. She had no idea about agents, publishers or even how to write a book but she didn’t let this stop her. By the beginning of 1984 it was ready to go. She illustrated the book with pictures of her actual students and even some of her 76-year-old mother. She secured a publishing deal with William Morrow and Company relatively quickly and by September the book Callanetics: 10 Years Younger In 10 Hours was on the shelves. She sat back and waited for recognition. Callan was sure her book would be a success. She had grown tired of seeing poorly researched exercise books attached to the names of celebrities who had far less experience than her. The Callanetics exercises were so unique and effective but it would take her another year of exhausting promotions before she would really get people to sit up and notice. Within two years the book had sold close to a million copies in the US alone. She was profiled in Time Magazine[3] and People Magazine [4] and appeared on every major chat show.
The demand for classes with Pinckney increased dramatically. She was still teaching in her penthouse apartment. At $25 an hour she received students from all over the world. Some flew in from Europe for the weekend to experience the exercises first-hand. She could only teach six people at a time. Pinckney needed a way to increase the number of students who could get personal instructions in Callanetics. It was easier for people to actually see the exercises being demonstrated rather than just reading about them in a book. She struck a deal with MCA/Universal to put together the first Callanetics video.[5] Released in 1986, the video did not have a large advertising campaign surrounding it. Word-of-mouth spread and the video was catapulted to the top of the charts. It remains the number one selling exercise video of all time.
The following year was another busy one for Pinckney. She had been training one of her advanced students to become the first certified Callanetics instructor. Pinckney could no longer cope on her own with the demand for classes so it seemed a natural choice to authorize her most advanced student to teach the exercises too.
Toward the end of 1987 Pinckney was invited to represent the United States in the World Elephant Polo Competition.[6] It was being held in Nepal, a place she had visited and loved 22 years before. At 5’1 she wasn’t sure how she would be able to swing the eight-foot polo stick while seated on an elephant more than twice her height. She was also worried about how it would affect her fragile back. She was in the middle of writing a new book called Callanetics For Your Back. After years of suffering, she had found the answer to maintaining a good back for a lifetime. The last thing she wanted now was an injury to the area she was working so hard to protect. When she was shown pictures of the beautiful elephants she was persuaded to take up the offer. She put together the Callanetics Ladies Team which included amongst others, killer whale trainer Judy Peterson. They wore beautifully styled red and white uniforms which won them the title of Best Dressed Team. Overall they finished in sixth place, losing 4–1 to The Tiger Tops Tigresses but tying with the British Gurkhas. Her experience on the elephant actually did wonders for her back. She found the gentle side to side movement of the elephant's torso to be extremely relaxing and soothing.[citation needed]
Back in the US, Pinckney completed her second book, Callanetics For Your back. It was published by William Morrow in September 1988. When she had been teaching her exercises throughout the 1970s, she had noticed that about one in every twenty students that came to her had a back problem. As the 1980s approached, this number had risen to fourteen in twenty. Pinckney attributed this to the radical fitness movement that was sweeping across the United States. It was one of the things that had prompted her to write her first book. Now she had the ears of the world listening to her it seemed the perfect time to write a book on how to achieve a good back for a lifetime. It became another bestseller.
To tie in with the release of this new book, MCA Universal agreed with Pinckney to film a second video for the Callanetics series. They were not interested in one solely for the back, but they were interested in a new set of exercises that Pinckney was developing. Early on in her teaching, Pinckney began to develop new and more intense versions of the familiar Callanetics exercises. She called these "Super Callanetics". This advanced program was promoted as the supercharged follow up to the original best-selling video. Within a week of its release in 1988 it was outselling every other exercise video in the United States.
Pinckney was now dividing her time between New York and Savannah. She was inundated with requests for classes and teachers. In November 1990, Pinckney decided to set up a franchise for Callanetics studios and introduce a proper teacher training program. She had been receiving reports from around the world that classes were being taught by people with no training or authorization to teach the Callanetics method. Pinckney opened the Callanetics Franchise Corporation with headquarters in Denver, Colorado. From here teachers were trained and licences were given for studios across the country. As Pinckney was spending more and more time in Savannah there was a need for a new studio in Manhattan. She was approaching 50 and now wanted to concentrate her efforts on training new teachers and ensuring the quality of her exercises were upheld. A studio was found in the attic of Carnegie Hall. Pinckney chose dedicated student Ruth Jeffries to run the new Callanetics Studio of Manhattan. A studio in Chicago followed with eight more opening across the US in the next year.
In May 1991 the Callanetics Franchise Corporation received its first requests from people wanting to set up studios in England and Scotland. Former dancer Mary Adams[8] had trained with Pinckney in her New York studio in the mid 1980s.[9] She had met Pinckney after a friend of hers suggested she try Callanetics to help with her dance-related injuries. Adams decided to become a teacher and open the first Callanetics Studio in the UK. Based in a former car showroom in Glasgow the studio was an instant success. The concept of a studio teaching Callanetics was difficult to sell to the bank manager though. Adams struggled to secure a loan for the setup fees. Despite the success of the Callanetics books and videos, she was faced with men in suits telling her it was only a passing fad and she would never make a success of it. Adams utilized every contact she could find. One of those was a former school friend who happened to be a bank manager. She persuaded him to actually lie on the floor and try the exercises for himself. This was all the convincing he needed. Within a year the loan was paid off and Adams opened a second studio in Edinburgh.
By September several more teachers from the UK were trained in Denver with the intention of setting up studios across England. The first Central London Callanetics Studio was opened in Kensington by exercise therapist Maureen Houston. She had turned her back on a successful stockbroking career to train in Denver to become London’s first certified Callanetics teacher. The studio was a huge success and was even honoured with master classes from Pinckney herself when she visited London on promotional trips. But despite the popularity of Callanetics in London, the studio was fraught with problems from the start. The laws on property usage made it virtually impossible to find a space where fitness instruction was legally allowed. Houston was forced to move the studio several times in order to comply with the strict planning laws. Other teachers in England faced similar problems which were starting to hold back the success of Callanetics there. Up in Scotland the laws were different and Adams’ studios were thriving and expanding. Other countries soon followed the success achieved in Scotland. Fourteen studios were opened in both Belgium and Switzerland and the Callanetics Franchise Corporation were receiving request from countries all over the world. It was proving difficult to train every single teacher at the Denver headquarters. As a solution to this, Pinckney personally trained master teachers who would be authorized to train teachers in their own countries without the need to travel to the US. It would soon be possible to become a certified teacher in the UK, Belgium, Mexico and Australia to name but a few.
With the conception of the Callanetics Franchise Corporation in Denver, Pinckney was becoming less involved in teaching students. Her love of writing and making videos was now her priority. Her next book, Super Callanetics, gave her the chance to give a more in depth explanation of the advanced exercises seen in the earlier video of the same name. This was followed in 1992 by the “Quick Callanetics” video and book series. In them Pinckney demonstrated three short programs each aimed at toning a different area of the body in only 20 minutes. They were a huge success. Pinckney was starting to realise that more and more people were working longer days and just did not have the time to dedicate a full hour to exercising. Her solution to this in 1993 was “AM/PM Callanetics”, a program consisting of two daily routines to shape up the entire body. The book and accompanying video contained a 25-minute morning routine to energize participants for the day and a 25-minute evening routine to relax them for the night.
Over the next couple of years Pinckney entered semi-retirement. Now with some extra time on her hands, she was able to put all her efforts into writing a new and more detailed book about Callanetics and healthy living. Titled Callanetics: Fit Forever, the book addressed many middle-aged concerns from dieting and nutrition to menopause and stress. She included an in-depth look at the Callanetics principles and presented an entire eating plan developed with Ellen M. Laura, a certified Callanetics teacher from the Manhattan studio. She also worked with aerobics instructor Sara Kooperman to create something very new to the Callanetics Method. A lot of Pinckney's students were getting amazing toning results from Callanetics but they were also keen to give their heart a good workout and burn off some of that excess fat. CardioCallanetics was the result. Callan wanted an aerobic exercise that would increase the heart rate but stay true to the concepts of Callanetics. That meant no sharp, jarring movements, no leaping up and down to loud music and no pressure on the back or joints. It had to be challenging but without any discomfort or stress. With CardioCallanetics the Callanetics method was now complete. For two decades Pinckney had worked endlessly to create the most complete and effective exercise technique. “Callanetics: Fit Forever”, published in 1994, became another bestseller, this time being published in more countries than ever before.
That same year, MCA encouraged Pinckney to make an additional video to add to the Callanetics series. "The Secrets Of Callanetics" featured detailed instructions on how to get the most out of the Callanetics exercises. The release was small and limited to the US market. It was Pinckney's final video. Due to management and financial issues, the Callanetics Franchise Corporation collapsed at the end of 1994. It was at this time that Pinckney decided to enter permanent retirement. The strain of constant promotion and the stress of the Franchise collapse were taking their toll on her. She wanted time alone to recuperate and relax. The fame and fortune that came with the success of Callanetics was never important to Pinckney. She was first and foremost a teacher. It was teaching that she loved. To see the changes in her students bodies was the most important thing to her. To know that she was having a positive impact on their lives gave her so much joy.
Callanetics continued to be taught around the world but with Pinckney now in retirement its popularity faded and people began turning to more high-profile exercise techniques such as Pilates and Yoga.
Over the next couple of years Pinckney entered semi-retirement. Now with some extra time on her hands, she was able to put all her efforts into writing a new and more detailed book about Callanetics and healthy living. Titled Callanetics: Fit Forever, the book addressed many middle-aged concerns from dieting and nutrition to menopause and stress. She included an in-depth look at the Callanetics principles and presented an entire eating plan developed with Ellen M. Laura, a certified Callanetics teacher from the Manhattan studio. She also worked with aerobics instructor Sara Kooperman to create something very new to the Callanetics Method. A lot of Pinckney's students were getting amazing toning results from Callanetics but they were also keen to give their heart a good workout and burn off some of that excess fat. CardioCallanetics was the result. Callan wanted an aerobic exercise that would increase the heart rate but stay true to the concepts of Callanetics. That meant no sharp, jarring movements, no leaping up and down to loud music and no pressure on the back or joints. It had to be challenging but without any discomfort or stress. With CardioCallanetics the Callanetics method was now complete. For two decades Pinckney had worked endlessly to create the most complete and effective exercise technique. “Callanetics: Fit Forever”, published in 1994, became another bestseller, this time being published in more countries than ever before.
That same year, MCA encouraged Pinckney to make an additional video to add to the Callanetics series. "The Secrets Of Callanetics" featured detailed instructions on how to get the most out of the Callanetics exercises. The release was small and limited to the US market. It was Pinckney's final video. Due to management and financial issues, the Callanetics Franchise Corporation collapsed at the end of 1994. It was at this time that Pinckney decided to enter permanent retirement. The strain of constant promotion and the stress of the Franchise collapse were taking their toll on her. She wanted time alone to recuperate and relax. The fame and fortune that came with the success of Callanetics was never important to Pinckney. She was first and foremost a teacher. It was teaching that she loved. To see the changes in her students bodies was the most important thing to her. To know that she was having a positive impact on their lives gave her so much joy.
Callanetics continued to be taught around the world but with Pinckney now in retirement its popularity faded and people began turning to more high-profile exercise techniques such as Pilates and Yoga.

In recent years Pinckney was making efforts to re-launch Callanetics.[10] She had become concerned about the changes to her exercises that had been made in her absence. She was keen to preserve and enhance her original exercises in the purest possible way. Several people and organizations around the world (most notably Benita Cantieni,[11] South African Callanetics [12] and the US based Callanetics Management Company [13] ) had taken the exercises to another level in an attempt to make them even more effective. New ideas were introduced by them and changes were made. While Pinckney did not dispute the validity of the changes, she was keen to go back to basics and reinstate the beauty of her original Callanetics exercises. With her passion for Callanetics reignited, Pinckney ensured that her legacy would continue and be preserved for future generations.
To this day Pinckney's original video release "Callanetics" remains Number 1 on the UK's 'Best Selling Fitness Videos of All Time' Chart.[1] Around the world the Callanetics video series has sold in excess of six million copies.
Pinckney died on March 1, 2012 in Savannah, Georgia.[14]


 


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