Calisthenics gym opens in Wilsonville, aims to help people focus on simple movements to build a 'stable foundation'

SPOKESMAN PHOTOS: COREY BUCHANAN - Bret Hamilton (right) and Megan Hamilton (middle) recently opened Cornerstone Calisthenics gym in Wilsonville. Their 1-year-old daughters name is Ivy. As a former track and field athlete who racked up a slew of injuries, Bret Hamilton relates to those who feel too impaired to exercise intensely. And as a former exercise novice, Megan Hamilton knows what it's like to feel paralyzed by labyrinthine gymnasium equipment.

The Newberg couple have an answer for these people: "Try calisthenics." And specifically, they hope Wilsonville residents will give their new Cornerstone Calisthenics Gym, which opened a few weeks ago at 29890 S.W. Town Center Loop West in Wilsonville, a try.

Calisthenics is a form of exercise that focuses on simple movements such as pushing and pulling and its purpose is to fortify balanced strength and a stable and sturdy foundation.

"We really help people learn how to move well first and from that point we can teach them more complicated things, more challenging things, but their body is ready to accept it at that point," Bret said. "One of the best things you could do is teach a person so a person knows how to do a good body weight squat, how to do a really good push up. The principles they learn from doing those things well can be applied to just about any exercise."

In Bret's view, people often endure injuries because their strength is imbalanced or because their joints or tendons aren't developed enough to handle the extra load their muscles can carry as they grow stronger. Through calisthenics, he said people can develop a system devoid of weak links.

This strategy also works for people dealing with nagging injuries, Bret said. For instance, if someone is dealing with a knee issue, the Hamiltons tell the client to perform leg raises and back bridging exercises to strengthen their core and ease the strain on their knees.

"It's dependent on the injury obviously. Generally what we try to help them with is to help improve the strength in their hip musculature. Those muscles in your hips are big stabilizers for what the knees do," Bret said.

From his hamstring to his shoulder, Bret dealt with nagging injuries during and after his track and field career at George Fox University and received physical therapy from Advance Sports and Spine Therapy. He said the therapy got him 90 percent back to normal. But it wasn't until taking up calisthenics that he started to feel 100 percent again.

Bret also owned the personal training business Constant Forward Progress, which was located at the Advance Sports Spine Therapy. When he realized the virtues of calisthenics, he started gearing his personal training regimine to his newfound fascination.

"I did about six months of training and I started telling Megan about it. 'Megan you've got to try this. I feel so good.' And all of the little nagging things, lower back pain, shoulder pain, the hamstring, it all was slowly going away,'" Bret said.

For most of her life, Megan did not know her way around a weight room.

"Having to have all the knowledge of every piece of equipment is daunting. And then you go to the bodyweight section and there's nothing you can do and you don't know what to do there," Megan said. "It's scary."

Slowly but surely, with Bret's encouragement, she exercised more frequently, became a personal trainer and started running Constant Forward Progress with Bret.

After Bret and Megan passed a training in New York to become certified progressive calisthenics coaches, they further changed their personal training regimine.

"Then we brought everything back we learned," Megan said. "Then it really took a bigger step and 'This is what we're doing people.'"

Recently, they bought their own gym space to exclusively teach calisthenics and changed the business's name to reflect that change.

"We came up with Cornerstone because what we do is providing a foundation for fitness," Bret said.

Some exercises include various forms of push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, squats, lunges and deadlifts. The Hamiltons said they can gear sessions to both novices and high level athletes and include both one-on-one training packages, group training and classes and offer the first four sessions free. The facility also features treadmills, medicine balls, kettlebells, bikes, jump-ropes and more.

"We pride ourselves on form," Megan said. "A lot of times our clients say 'I come to you because you're going to keep me honest and you're going to keep me safe.'"

Other than when he sleeps in an awkward position, Bret doesn't feel much nagging pain anymore. But when he does, he knows exactly which exercises can help.

"For me it's basically like I've learned how to train people the way I train myself so I can heal from those things," he said.

For more information about the business, call 503-610-4118 or visit the business's Facebook page at

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