Staff System of Exercises – “Stavsystemet”
Staff System of exercises is, according to the original author at least, the “gymnasium’s tools in concentrated form.” In other words, the staff can replace gym equipment and a training partner. Even better, by being a home workout, it can allow you to:
[E]stablish your own small sports field, where you can try, practice, and train your abilities and strengths hidden from prying, critical eyes.
I have owned a copy of “Stavsystemet” by J.P. Jespersen for some years now, using the images alone to give me an idea of the program of staff exercises he was suggesting. I could not be more delighted, however, to have finally completed a full translation of the book so I can enjoy Jespersen’s work fully, and there is much to enjoy.
It is not a perfect translation, my Danish is nowhere near that good, but I have tried to retain Jespersen’s inspiring tone, while making it readable and, hopefully, enjoyable. Where instructions might not be the clearest, I have also added clearly marked notes.
It is perhaps no great surprise for a book of this age that Jespersen favours masculine descriptors, but there is NOTHING within this book that would not equally benefit a female.
Here are just a few of my favourite passages from the Staff System of Exercises text:
- Daily use of the staff is rewarded with a better posture and a more beautiful form, and this means increased endurance and greater well-being.
- The staff gives an increased effect of the movement so that mistakes and advantages are more easily observed by the gymnast himself, which is a very big plus in home gymnastics.
- The staff should, especially in the beginning, be used at a restrained, relatively slow tempo. It makes otherwise boring exercises interesting and enjoyable. Exercises that you are not otherwise able to perform due to stiffness, tightness, muscle weakness, and skew, you will be able to practice using the staff.
- There are no limits to the variations that can be created over the basic form described here. It must be the practitioner’s bodily defects and deformities that dictate the variations. Each person has their own shortcomings, therefore, each must have their own variations, their own working method. No method can apply to everyone.
- Through daily use, the staff will “sew in the muscle suit” and chisel away the accumulations of fat that often deposit on the hips, waist, neck, and shoulder blades over the years.
- It will lift into place the baggy, hanging, loose tissues that feel heavy and disfiguring. The use of the staff as outlined here will be rewarded with a feeling of slenderness and muscle well-being, which gives a desire for more action.
- It is not the composition of the system, not the skills themselves, not the appearance during the exercise, but the effect on the body, which must first and foremost be emphasized and kept in mind.
Staff System of Exercises:
There are nine exercises in the book, but as Jespersen notes, it is not meant to be a ‘system’, you are encouraged to find your own way and make up your own routine based on your own needs.
Here is one of the exercises:
It may look easy and, and even a little basic, but trust me if you do an exercise such as this with intent, then you will swear there is a weight on your bar by the end!
The yield is harvested, as in all conditions of life, after the effort.
Before starting, let me just clarify that you are going to need something that will act as a staff that is equal to (or slightly greater than) the span of your outstretched arms. As Jespersen explains, it should not be weighted as it is merely a guide and not an actual piece of weight training equipment. If you have long arms like me, and you are really stuck, I suggest going to your local hardware store for a piece of dowel – it should only cost you around $5!
Overall review of Staff System of Exercises
This is the second book by Jespersen that I have translated, the first being Captain Jespersens Morning Gymnastics. There are similarities to the texts in terms of motivational language, but obviously not in execution. He was clearly a man who believed in what he was doing, much like his mentor J.P. Muller. In fact, some of the exercises in the Staff System of Exercises are very similar in construction to those contained in Muller’s The Daily 5 minutes.
I really did go out and purchase a $5 staff and did these exercises, and the best review I can give is that I will probably continue to do so!
Staves, Staffs, and Sticks: Exercising with Bars
Staff System of Exercises – Stavsystemet is part of the Internal Force Fitness “Staves, Staffs, and Sticks” trilogy, comprising of this title and also:
Richie Neville | Director
Internal Force Fitness