Draw attention to a little-known sport

Alumnus Arash Sohrabie’s story

Arash so can you image

Extending horizontally from a pole like a human flag. Performing a handstand on the railing of a bridge. Doing deep squats on one leg. “I like to challenge my mind and my body,” a very athletic-looking Arash Sohrabie explains. Since completing his bachelor Teacher Education in Physical Education, he’s been raising awareness of a little-known sport - and even trying to make it a new Olympic event. And the name of this sport? Calisthenics. The name comes from Greek and literally translates as ‘beautiful strength’.  

Watch the following video clip to see Arash giving a calisthenics demonstration at THUAS’s main campus.

From Iran to the Netherlands

Arash Sohrabie (now 31 years old) moved to the Netherlands with his parents and younger brother at the age of seven. “When I was little, I didn’t always make things easy for my parents. I wanted to know everything. I’d listen to my mother’s political views and sometimes I’d repeat them at school. Liberal thinking wasn’t very popular in Iran in those days. In the end, we emigrated to the Netherlands.” But most of his memories from childhood are happy ones. “The aroma of Iranian rice makes my mouth water, day or night. Iran also has a good educational system where standards are high. If you’re looking for a place that instils work ethic look no further than Iran.”

If you dig deep and find a bit of self-discipline, you’re sure to go far

Inquisitive and athletic

“Thanks to my eagerness to learn and the self-discipline instilled in me, I could have followed any number of paths.” Arash graduated from senior general secondary education and trained as an air traffic controller for a few years. He then studied International Marketing and Logistics, worked for a major pharmaceutical company with revenue targets in the millions. At the same time, he spent a great many hours in physical training. “I’m always up for a challenge. When I had trouble mastering a certain abdominal exercise during strength training, I started researching the topic. I discovered calisthenics via videos on YouTube. From that point on, I literally started to see the world from a different perspective.”

Cali-what?

“Calisthenics. It’s a combination of acrobatics, free running, strength and gymnastics that’s all about conscious, controlled movement. It’s the ultimate way to train your core and make your body strong and limber. The sport is practised worldwide and there are a lot of national competitions, for example, the European championships. I’ve competed in all kinds of events. I hang on the horizontal bar, do handstands on patio chairs and extend from stair railings like a human flag.” 

The world from a different perspective

“After my theoretical degree programmes, I was eager for a more physical challenge. I wasn’t quite done with learning, so I enrolled in the Physical Education Teacher Training Programme (HALO) at THUAS. At the same time, I devoted many hours to learning calisthenics. It was a rather difficult period for me, because my study grants ended and, although I found the degree programme to be really interesting, I didn’t want to become a physical education teacher. My parents and I were always really focused on training and education. And it was during my studies that I found my passion - I decided to pursue my ambition in calisthenics.”

I feel it’s vital that we promote and professionalise the sport

From student to national coach and member of the board

“I founded United Calisthenics with a friend, a community created for and by fans of the sport. I also became chair and national coach of the Netherlands Calisthenics Society. I feel it’s vital that we promote and professionalise the sport, which is why I’m also on the board of the Dutch Society for Strength Sports and Fitness (KNKF). This puts me in a good position to draw attention to calisthenics and to develop teaching programmes for calisthenics trainers, both in the Netherlands and abroad. At the moment, I’m working on a project in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It’s really cool and still a bit of a secret, for now.”

Nothing is impossible

“I figured out which direction I wanted to take in life while I was a student. You learn to think critically about new information and to investigate everything. Those are valuable skills. If you dig deep and find a bit of self-discipline, you’ll go far. Follow your passion. I hope to be able to pass on my vision, inspire others and one day run a large business. And to see calisthenics become an Olympic sport, of course!”