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Side flex Handstand

As you might have guessed from my posts and challenges, I am totally obsessed with everything there is to learn and know about handstands. During my quest of the holy handstand grail: gathering as many repetitions, information and hours spent on my hands I have come across many wonderful practitioners and incredibly talented performers and teachers. This is the first issue of my new ALL ABOUT HANDSTANDS Interview series, which I have started to share the many beautiful souls out there who dedicate their time on one or two hands instead of their feet.


I met Elia during a handstand intensive workshop with Sainaa in London in February. We trained together for 5 days and I was amused and happy to be practicing alongside a group of Italian fellas who were incredibly stubborn, not taking breaks and still having fun with impeccable results. One of these was Elia who is a tall, bendy, young man wearing black framed glasses while being upside down. I'm glad that we can connect so easily in 2019 and share our lives through social media, which made me curious to find out more about Elia and his teachings, located in Pesaro, Italy.


1. Tell me something about yourself: Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Elia Bartolini, I'm 25 and I'm from Italy. What I do in life is something which is peculiar to describe. People tend to classify jobs like doctors, engineers, mechanics and so on. I never wanted to stay under prescribed rules. I tried to be an employee in a big company as an accountant. It lasted one year, a year where my everyday question was “is that the life I want to live?” The answer was a big NO: I was craving for more, for a life where my job and my passion for working out and staying in shape could live together. This big passion took me to start a blog, here in Italy. The blog was first called “BartoFlex training and gym” which is now called “Bodyweight Arena. Bodyweight, cause the major concepts in the blog talk about bodyweight training. Arena, cause I imagine my blog as a big arena where people can interact, learn and discuss.

I also started to teach bodyweight training as a Personal Trainer. Now, after years in this fitness world, my main activities are writing for my blog and another famous Italian website called "Project Invictus", coaching in person and online, workshops of basic handstand and flexibility and I'm writing a book on flexibility training.

2. Your IG name is @elia_bodyweight does that imply that you only train with your bodyweight and no weights?

Well, when I first opened my Instagram profile I wondered what name describes my activities best. Other ideas besides my final name, elia_bodyweight, were @elia_onhands or @elia.handstandstands, @bartoflex and others. However, all those names were referring only to one aspect of my training and I didn't like that. I want my name to describe everything I do, and I always use my bodyweight!

That doesn't mean I don't lift weights, on the contrary, I use weights a lot during my strength training: I add weights to bodyweight exercises like pullups for example. I also use weights for the development of my weak areas, which I can't work with only bodyweight exercises: for example, my left external rotators are weak: I use weights to increase strength in those muscles. I barely use weights also for my legs training, with squats or deadlifts. However, the majority of my training is bodyweight based: handstands, flexibility, calisthenics... So @elia_bodyweight seemed to be the best choice.

3. What are your current goals?

My major goal is to learn a solid one arm handstand. Besides the one arm, I want to learn strength correlated movements in handstand like stalder press and handstand pushup, which are a common skill for men in this discipline but are extremely hard. After that, maybe I'd like to work on a more complex thing like a handstand act.

Talking about flexibility, I worked in the past for my splits and now that I can do both the front and side split, I'm working to maintain them and unexpectedly I'm also progressing a bit, but no big goals in flexibility for now.

4. At what age did you start training?