Calisthenics teacher returns to alma mater to help Philadelphia students get fit

Evan Harden has been on a fitness journey since he was a kid.

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Evan Harden

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Philadelphia fitness professional has returned to his alma mater to teach the next generation of athletes important lifelong skills.

Evan Harden, who graduated from Roman Catholic High School, is now the school's first-ever calisthenics teacher.

"Calisthenics is basically using your body weight as the mechanism to condition yourself and become stronger and more functional," he explained.

Harden has been on a fitness journey since he was a kid.

"I never found myself in a victim mindset. I always wanted to work and push myself to become better," he said.

When Harden was 16, he was shot in West Philadelphia. The stray bullet went through his arm, down his back, and stopped next to his spine.

"This young man was shot and came back. He was back at school, never made excuses and found a way to get his body and himself and his mind to the next level," said Brian Conroy, the assistant principal of the school who was also one of Harden's football coaches.

Still, the injury derailed Harden's football career, but he didn't let it stop his athletic future. He found calisthenics and has become an expert in the practice. Through his Instagram account OG Fitness, his organization National Bar League, and a calisthenics bar park he built in South Philadelphia, he's on a mission to spread the sport.

"Even at times not affording a gym membership or maybe the gym is closed -- this is always there, it's always available to you," Harden said.

Even if it's the most basic move, he's teaching students about confidence and giving them the tools to perform incredible athletic moves.

"Show people that you don't need too much to be able to keep yourself healthy and well," Harden said.