About charles

Charles is the co-founder and co-owner of the Rochester Parkour Gym - the first Parkour training facility in New York State. He holds a degree in Exercise Science and Fine Art from RIT and has worked as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Parkour instructor for almost a decade.

RocPK’s 2016 Halloween Gorilla Gauntlet!

Halloween is coming… and so is this year’s Halloween Gorilla Gauntlet! 

The Gorilla Gauntlet is an obstacle course unlike any other, designed to test your strength, speed, stamina, and skill. Rochester Parkour will be hosting two separate events – one adult course and one for kids and teens.

These courses work differently than most you’ve seen on tv or have done elsewhere. Our courses allow you to choose your own course difficulty on the fly to scale to your unique athletic ability. This means that ANYONE, regardless of athletic prowess, can participate and enjoy the challenge of our obstacle course.  

Adult Gorilla Gauntlet
Friday Oct. 28th 6-8pm
Ages 18+
Open to the public

Kids & Teens Gorilla Gauntlet
Sunday Oct. 30th 4:30-6:30pm
Ages 6+
Ages 4+ permitted with parent helper if actively enrolled in our Tinies classes!
Open to the public

Costumes encouraged! We are giving away prizes to the best 2; Just steer clear of excessively loose clothing that could impede your climbing abilities! This event is free to watch and $15/person to participate. Members are only $10. Spots are limited so enroll early! See you all there!

By | October 19th, 2016|News, The Gym|Comments Off on RocPK’s 2016 Halloween Gorilla Gauntlet!

New Changes to the RocPK Level Test!

We’ve been working hard to figure out the best method to assess who should move up and when. We’ve tried several different methods in the past, but we are excited to announce our best solution yet!

Video Submissions

In the past, either an instructor told you that they thought you were ready to move up to Level 2 classes or you had to sign up for a Level Test. These methods were deemed impractical because they left out certain people who either didn’t feel like they were noticed or could never attend testing nights due to schedule conflicts.

Our new process will not only give you full explanation of what skills are required in order for you to prove you’re ready to move up, but it also allows anyone to do this at any time! Here’s how it works:

  1. Research and View all the skill requirements for your age group
  2. Practice these skills during Open Gym time. If you need extra assistance on a particular skill, request to your instructor that they cover it during your next class
  3. When you feel like you can perform the skill well enough for the test, take a video of you doing it! Open Gym Supervisors can help video you if you wish
  4. Clip all your videos together as one video or send them all individually using our new online submission form
  5. RocPK will look over your submission and notify you within 7 days of your submission to either let you know that you passed or what still needs work in order to pass the test

Skill Requirements

While most techniques and skills are designed to be completed by both Youth and Adults, there are some that are age specific. We’ve set up two different Imgur albums with handy Gif videos demonstrating what we’d consider as passable performances of all the required skills. These albums can be found on the Level Test page located under ‘The Gym’ tab, but we’ll also embed them below so you can see now:

Youth Level Test

Adult Level Test

Questions?

We feel like this is the most complete version of the Application process to date! However, if you still have questions about the techniques or the submissions, don’t be afraid to ask your instructor or email us at info@rochesterparkour.com.

By | October 17th, 2016|News, The Gym|Comments Off on New Changes to the RocPK Level Test!

RocPK Special Events @ the University Ave Music and Arts Festival July 23rd 11am to 7pm!

Lava & Lazer Courses!

Saturday, July 23rd, 2-4pm, Ages 6+

This one-of-a-kind event is being held in honor of the First Annual University Ave Music & Arts Festival. We’re so proud of our small community of locally owned and operated businesses!

We will be designing two separate courses:

– The Floor is Lava! – This Ninja Warrior inspired obstacle course is appropriately challenging for kids and adults ages 6+! Test your ninja-like abilities as you try to navigate the course without falling in the Lava!
– Ninja Spy Maze! – This special course is a HUGE Lazer Beam course. We’ll be stringing up tons of bright, neon-pink ropes with bells. Your mission is to navigate through the maze and collect special items on the way. But be careful- set off an alarm and you alert the guards! This maze is appropriately challenging for kids and adults ages 6+!

Each attempt at a course will require 1 ticket which you will give to the attendant at the front of line. Tickets can be bought on site or online. Tickets are $1 each or $5 for 6 or $10 for 14. These courses will be open to try as many times as you wish for the whole 2 hour event.

Pre-Enroll for Obstacle Courses July 23rd 2-4pm

Family Nerf Battle!

Saturday, July 23rd, 5-7pm, Ages 6+September2015-21

After a short 1 hour intermission, we will be re-arranging the gym and hosting a Family Nerf Battle! Here are the details:

– Family Nerf Battle – The Family Nerf Battle Royale is a super fun event open to all kids 6+ and their parents! Spots are capped at 20, so if you find you can no longer attend, please be sure to unenroll so another family from the wait list may join.

Our General Safety Workshop runs before the event can start and is required in order to participate. Please come a few minutes early to ensure we get this workshop done as quickly as possible so we can spend more time having fun shooting and dodging darts!

$10 to participate; Protective Eyewear & guns are a must. Bring your own or rent from us for $2. We’ve got the Nerf Elite darts covered.

**Pre-enrollment ensures you have a slot in the Family Nerf Battle

Pre-Enroll for Family Nerf Battle July 23rd 5-7pm
By | July 12th, 2016|News, The Gym|Comments Off on RocPK Special Events @ the University Ave Music and Arts Festival July 23rd 11am to 7pm!

Mindfulness Collaborative Workshop – Introducing Adam Cristantello of Move Aware

On July 9th, Rochester Parkour will continue our “Collaborative Workshops” series to bring you Mindfulness with strength coach Adam Cristantello.

This Saturday workshop will be 90 minutes long and comprised of ‘enLighten Your Step’ with Adam Cristantello and ‘Mindful Movement’ circuit training with Rochester Parkour. Adam Cristantello is a pioneer in the health community with his unique and holistic approach to fitness. In this workshop, you will explore meditation methods and learn how to apply these meditation techniques to enhance your training and well-being. During Mindful Movement with Rochester Parkour you will learn how to explore intention in your circuit training to improve your awareness and control through body weight movements.

Spaces are limited so pre-enroll now to ensure your spot!

Saturday, July 9th
10am-11:30am
$20, Unlimited RocPK Members are free

Mindfulness + Parkour!
By | July 7th, 2016|News, The Gym|Comments Off on Mindfulness Collaborative Workshop – Introducing Adam Cristantello of Move Aware

Intermediate – The Railing Squeeze

Challenge Level: 5
Skills: N/A

Description: Pro Tip – double-check to make sure you can fit through the hole before attempting this challenge! Start on top of the box next to the railing. Using any means necessary, but without touching the floor, climb through the hole and finish back on top of the box.

SPOILERS!

16p5eb
By | June 30th, 2016|Parkour Training, QR Code Challenges|Comments Off on Intermediate – The Railing Squeeze

Beginner/Advanced – The Cave Climb

Challenge Level: 3-9
Skills: Body Prop, Cat Shimmy

Description: Start in a Cat Hang on the grab bar and begin by shimmying across the face of the wall towards the entryway to the cave. Finish on top of the Rock.

  • Beginner:
    • Challenge Lvl 3 – Cat Shimmy across the wall to the next grab bar. Body prop through the entryway to the cave to the next set of bars. Climb up the chute to the platform.
    • Challenge Lvl 4 – Same as above, except the grab bar at the entrance of the cave is OUT.
  • Intermediate:
    • Challenge Lvl 5 – Same as above. All bars OUT.
  • Advanced:
    • Challenge Lvl 8 – Same as above except instead of climbing up the chute, you must climb through the Cave. EVERYTHING is IN except the 2×4 boards on the floor.
  • Insane!
    • Challenge Lvl 9 – Same as above except all 2×4 grabs are OUT.

SPOILERS!

VID_GIF-1467315426
By | June 30th, 2016|Parkour Training, QR Code Challenges|Comments Off on Beginner/Advanced – The Cave Climb

Beginner/Advanced – The Tunnel Prop

Challenge Level: 2-8
Skills: Body Prop, Spider Climb

Description: Start on top of the platform and climb your way down into the tunnel without touching the ground. Body prop or spider climb your way through the tunnel.

  • Beginner:
    • Challenge Lvl 2 – Body prop or spider climb as far as possible.
    • Challenge Lvl 3 – Body prop or spider climb to the first entryway. Climb onto the square box without touching the ground.
  • Intermediate: Remove the square box
    • Challenge Lvl 4 – Body prop or spider climb to the first entryway. Cross the gap to the next wall and finish by grabbing onto the silver grab bar.
    • Challenge Lvl 5 – Same as above but finish by climbing up the bars and onto the platform.
  • Advanced: Remove the square box
    • Challenge Lvl 6 – Body prop or spider climb to the first entryway. Climb through the first entry way and back up onto the platform.
    • Challenge Lvl 7 – Body prop or spider climb to the first entryway. Cross the gap to the next wall. Use the bars to continue to climb out through the second (largest) entryway. Climb across the outside wall and back onto the platform.
    • Challenge Lvl 8 – Same as above but all bars are off limits.
  • Insane! Remove the square box
    • Challenge Lvl 10 – Same as Lvl 8 except the last silver bar on the outside is IN. All horizontal surfaces are OUT until the finish.
By | June 30th, 2016|Parkour Training, QR Code Challenges|Comments Off on Beginner/Advanced – The Tunnel Prop

Rochester’s Ninja Warrior Night!

On Monday, June 27th, NBC will be showing all the runs that took place in Pittsburgh to see which contestants will be selected to head on to Mount Midoryama in Las Vegas. Rochester’s own, Carl Fantauzzo, Jr. was selected to be spotlighted by NBC!

In commemoration, Rochester Parkour has decided to cancel its classes that night and turn the gym into a public obstacle course for kids and adults ages 6+! All obstacle courses will test participant’s coordination, balance, strength, and agility! Here’s the details:

Kid’s Course – 5-6:30pm
– Come anytime during the 90 minute section
– $10/kid
– Unlimited number of runs
– Ages 6-15
Enroll Here

Adult Course – 6:45-7:45pm
– Come anytime during the 60 minute section
– $10/participant
– Unlimited number of runs
– Ages 16+
Enroll Here

After the courses are done, both Rochester Parkour and our neighbors at Muller’s Cider House will be hosting ANW viewing parties from 8-10pm. Here’s the details:

RocPK ANW Viewing 8-10pm – Open House + Open Gym
– We’ll be setting up a TV in our lounge. Anyone can come watch!
– Want to know more about what services RocPK offers? Come ask us questions during this time!
– The gym will be open during the viewing and kids and adults can move around and play while watching. Open Gym passes will be discounted to $5/person
– Open Gym is restricted to ages 8+
Enroll Here for Open Gym – Open House and the Viewing are FREE

Muller’s Cider House Viewing 8-10pm
– ANW will be playing on the screen at the bar
– Adults 21+ will be able to buy a pint of their favorite cider (or try a new one from their constantly rotating draft line up)
– Not 21? No problem. Muller’s has lots of options available that are non-alcoholic including some delicious food and snacks!

***RocPK has an indoor shoe policy to ensure the safety of its space. Please remember to bring a pair of clean, indoor shoes that you or your kids can change into upon arriving.

By | June 13th, 2016|News, The Gym|Comments Off on Rochester’s Ninja Warrior Night!

June 2016 Events at Rochester Parkour

 

June Events at RocPK

View this email in your browser

Mark your calendars! The gym will be CLOSED the following dates:
– Sunday, June 19th in observance of Father’s DayWe are observing an abbreviated Kids Parkour class schedule for the summer due to a drop in attendance beginning Monday, June 6th, the Kids Parkour class on Mondays from 5-6pm will not be offered for the summer.

Ninja Challenge Night

Tuesdays, 8-9pm; Ages 18+

Join us for a Ninja Warrior themed open gym! This ninja challenge night will be full of changing climbing and balance challenges that will test your strength, determination and creativity. And of course our elusive warped wall will be available to practice too! There will be experts available to help you accomplish our courses. Do you think you have what it takes?!

Open gym drop-ins are $10 and always free for members. Enroll Now!

Ninja Challenge Night Schedule

Adult Nerf Battle Night

Saturday, June 4th, 6-8pm
Friday, June 10th, 6-8pm

Friday, June 17th, 6-8pm

Friday, June 24th, 6-8pm

Game play changes every week! Come with friends or come solo, we’ll create teams once the event starts.
 
This event is open to ages 16+ and has a few special rules:

  • Bring your own Eye protection! Any safety glasses will do. Also available to rent for $2.00 with reservation

  • Bring whatever gun you want (that work with our elite darts…keep yours at home)

Event is $5 for members and $10 general admission. Unlimited members are free!

Pre-Enroll for June 4th Adult Nerf Battle
Pre-Enroll for June 10th Adult Nerf Battle
Pre-Enroll for June 17th Adult Nerf Battle
Pre-Enroll for June 24th Adult Nerf Battle

Family Nerf Battle Royale

Sunday, June 5th, 4:30-6:30pm; Ages 6+

Sunday, June 12th, 4:30-6:30pm; Ages 6+
Sunday, June 26th, 4:30-6:30pm; Ages 6+

What’s better than parkour? Parkour plus nerf guns! Get ready for another epic Nerf Gun Battle Royale! This event is open to ages 6 (4+ if your little one is actively enrolled in classes) and up (that includes you too, parents!) and has a few special rules:

  • Bring your own Eye protection! Any safety glasses will do. Also available to rent for $2.00 with reservation

  • Bring whatever gun you want (that work with our elite darts…keep your darts at home)

Parents are welcome to play alongside their kids too…just be sure to pre-enroll too! This event is $5 for members and $10 general admission. Unlimited members are free! Parents with children under the age of 6 years old, you must stay along side them during the duration of the event. Failure to abide by these rules could result in non-participation.

Pre-Enroll for June 5th Family Nerf Battle
Pre-Enroll for June 12th Family Nerf Battle
Pre-Enroll for June 26th Family Nerf Battle

Summer Camps!

Parkour & Nerf Camps for ages Ages 3-14. Enroll now!

Rochester Parkour offers the best way to get your kids active and having fun during the summer! These week long camps immerse your child in the playful spirit of parkour. Whether their enjoying a Ninja Warrior meets Nerf palooza or fighting Super-Villians, our camps are truly one of a kind, quality programs designed to encourage stronger, healthier, more confident kids!

Summer Camp Offerings
Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.

*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|*
*|LIST:DESCRIPTION|*

Our mailing address is:

*|HTML:LIST_ADDRESS_HTML|* *|END:IF|*

unsubscribe from this list
update subscription preferences

*|IF:REWARDS|* *|HTML:REWARDS|*
*|END:IF|*

 [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

By | June 8th, 2016|The Gym|Comments Off on June 2016 Events at Rochester Parkour

The Relationship between Parkour Gyms and American Ninja Warrior (also, Why I Hate ANW)

Written by Charles Moreland
Approx. read time = 16-20 minutes

Oh boy! It’s that time of the year again! The time of the year when some of America’s ninja-like people and ninja wannabes will be presented to America for their viewing pleasure the way it was always intended: under bright flashy lights, commentated by witty, comedic TV personalities, regular people and athletes alike bouncing along on top of soft, squishy, and brightly colored obstacles, and every failure is noted with a loud SPLASH! It’s American Ninja Warrior season!!!

I have a love/hate relationship with American Ninja Warrior.

Let me start off by saying that I genuinely love watching ANW. Everyone has a different reason why they may like it. Perhaps its because they love watching average Joes getting a spotlight for once in their life. Or perhaps it’s because unlike a sports game which is aired live, ANW breeches the gap between live action sports and YouTube – NBC edits hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of footage together to make an action-packed TV show from start to finish. Maybe you’re like me, someone who knows that this is a Reality TV show and find some of the fabricated drama they present to be equal parts heart-breaking, hilarious, or down-right frustrating – the emotion matters regardless of what it is. This process has become so ridiculous in the last couple seasons that SNL has even made an entire sketch out of it!

On the other hand, maybe you’re also like me and know what a tic-tac, cat-to-cat, kong-pre, or wall pass is and get frustrated that Matt and Akbar sometimes choose to make-up their own names for techniques while commentating instead of doing research and knowing that most of these techniques already have names that stem from either the Parkour or Climbing disciplines (I’ll be fair, though, they’re getting better!).  And yet, while I can appreciate American Ninja Warrior as an entertaining show, as someone whose livelihood is in parkour/movement based fitness, I hate what NBC has done to the Sasuke/Ninja Warrior franchise.

The worst hit victims of this fake-sport are kids – the ones who do not, or cannot, process the separation behind what constitutes a sport like football and a reality tv show with fabricated drama, like ANW. It’s an ongoing inner battle I have as an instructor of kids and youth on an almost weekly basis as my kids watch me (and many other gym members who do not get featured on ANW) scale our 14’6″ warped wall 8 times within a minute, lache (swing from one bar to another) 10′ gaps, balance on bars 8ft off the ground, and teach the kids how they can begin their journey to do the same. What am I, as their instructor, supposed to say to them when they ask me why I haven’t been on the show or why I’ve chosen to stop submitting applications to NBC to be on the show? Why has it become my responsibility to choose between letting them down as their role model or ruining their delusion that ANW is a sport that operates just like any other sport? (Hint: it’s not).

Let it be clear, a contestant’s physical fitness or movement aptitude is not a golden ticket to get featured on the show. In America, prospective contestants must submit a casting call to a casting agency that NBC has chosen. While I’m sure physical abilities are taken somewhat into account, most of the casting call is filled with questions that delve into your personality. Questions like: “What is the hardest emotional thing you’ve ever had to overcome?” These questions, which have nothing to do with your ninja like abilities, become the micro-dramas that NBC will edit into the final cut of the show that grabs the audience’s attention and, more importantly, their heart strings.

The show is a Reality Television series first and foremost and NBC has done an incredible job boosting it and making it the hit show it has become. We live in a sad reality (pun intended) where reality tv remains one of the top money makers for television studios. Sasuke (the original Japanese show that American Ninja Warrior is based on) has done an incredible job in its 30+ competitions at staying entertaining while also continuing to showcase their competitor’s physical fitness and skill. While I couldn’t find much on the audition process of Sasuke, I was able to discern that they have in-person auditions which includes a physical fitness screen. However, despite how well the Japanese show has done, Google Trends shows just how effective Reality TV actually is:

Sasuke vs ANW

Blue = Sasuke, Red = American Ninja Warrior

The spikes are incredible! Every season when ANW hits the air, searches literally skyrocket! I’m using this graph to showcase exactly how good the marketers and PR agents at NBC are at their jobs. They seriously know how to shift public perception and maybe they’re even too good at it! I literally just finished reading this article on why ANW could be the future of sports television. Are they joking?! Do they really not realize that every person on the show had to audition for the part the same way an actor might for any other television show? However, unlike those actors, these people will not be paid for being put on tv! Do they not realize that America’s true top Ninja might never be allowed a shot at the course because their background story isn’t interesting enough?! Imagine if J.J. Watt, Peyton Manning, or Tom Brady were never picked in the draft because they didn’t have a compelling enough story… And this brings me to the real point of this article: as much as I dislike the sport ANW claims to be, as an owner of a Parkour Gym, I have no choice but to care. Here’s why:

Parkour vs Ninja Warrior

Search Queries: Blue = “Parkour Classes”, Red = “Ninja Warrior Classes”, Yellow = “Ninja Warrior Gym”, and Green = “Parkour Gym”.

Every season of ANW brings a spike in search trends, but not only for the show. Every spike in ANW search since 2012 has coincidentally caused a spike in both “parkour gym” and “parkour classes” search queries. Interestingly, the rapid growth of “American Ninja Warrior” search has not yet caused any growth in “Ninja Warrior Classes”. Just so everyone is clear on the relationship between watching ANW and possibly deciding to partake in Ninja Warrior-styles of fitness, here’s the graph:

ANW vs Ninja Classes
That red line is “ninja warrior gym”, the same search as the yellow line with all the crazy spikes portrayed in the previous graph.  When you look at the big picture, not a lot of people are interested in pursuing ninja warrior training. To cover all my bases, here’s the graph with how ANW relates to “parkour” search (take note of the shapes, I’ll touch on that soon):

ANW vs Parkour
And here’s Parkour vs parkour gym side-by-side with American Ninja Warrior vs ninja warrior gym:

parkour vs parkour gym

Search queries: Blue = parkour, Red = parkour gym

ANW vs ninja warrior gym

Search queries: Blue = American Ninja Warrior, Red = ninja warrior gym

Even in the realm of parkour and parkour related media, consuming media of an athletic interest does not equate to willingness to participate in that athletic interest. I’m sure this isn’t new knowledge. Think of how many people watch and search for American Football or NFL yet have no interest what-so-ever in training like their favorite football players. Still, despite that truth, parkour is not the same as ninja warrior – not even close. See those spikes for ANW? Spikes like that are text-book identifiers for sports (which parkour is not), and I’ll discuss those in a moment.

What I’d like you to see now is that once you break the plane between a consumer of media and a prospective participant and zoom in to those who are actually interested in training in either parkour or ninja warrior, you see that regardless of the differences between them, they are linked in the public eye. ANW season begins – searches for both spike. Nothing will change this tomorrow, unless NBC decides that their ROI in growing American Ninja Warrior is no longer suitable for their stock holders and drops the show. Or, as long as ANW continues to allow “parkour” to be said on the show (remember, this show is not live and the producers can edit the raw footage however they wish to portray the things they want). As far as the data is concerned, the public has so far deemed that parkour and ninja warrior are linked. Linked, but not the same!

To be clear, I want you to understand, whether you be a fellow gym owner such as myself and Nicole from the Rochester Parkour Gym, a parkour athlete like Dylan Baker, a ninja warrior competitor like Elet Hall (he’s actually both a parkour athlete and ninja warrior competitor), or an enthusiast from either and just like watching the excitement, that while American Ninja Warrior is a fabulous and entertaining show, it is not a training discipline just like American Football is not a training discipline. But then again, ANW is also not a real sport – it’s an impostor of one… The graphs even match!

ANW Trends

Search query: American Ninja Warrior

Football Trends

Search query: American Football

I get that they don’t EXACTLY match. But keep in mind, American Football has been around over a hundred years! If NBC keeps going with ANW, I’m positive the trend of seasonal spikes will continue. The thing is, interest in a sport (a performance of physical ability with rule sets and regulations) is identified by a spike in interest during a time when that sport is active or has media available to consume. Interest in a discipline, while it may have spikes in interest, is not identified by regular, seasonal, or planned spikes in interest. Here’s generic “parkour” as a search term again:

parkour trends

Search query: Parkour

Spikes in interest for a training discipline follow no real schedule or plan. They may be linked to a viral video, an increase in physical presence in a person’s life (parkour gyms for instance), or some other public event like an interview with someone from parkour on a popular morning show or an article in a largely viewed printed publication. Parkour spiked in 2004 and 2005 because of YouTube and people making videos of their training and labeling them as “parkour”. This is something that cannot be planned. It just happened.

But do you want to know why I’m really pissed at ANW and NBC? It’s because of this:

fuck-ninjawarrior

Blue circle = ANW’s 2013 season 5, Green circle = ANW’s 2014 season 6, Red circle = ANW’s 2015 season 7

In 2013, ANW didn’t even come close to matching searches for parkour, yet still caused a spike in “parkour gym”, “parkour classes”, and “ninja warrior gym” searches. In 2014, for the first time EVER, ANW surpassed searches for parkour. That is an incredible feat and I’m sure the marketing agency behind it was given some fantastic bonus checks that year. Again, in that year, and with that spike, searches for “ninja warrior gym” and “parkour gym” not only spiked, but they matched! That’s crazy cool. But then comes last year, 2015. This is the year that really made me want to write this article. Unlike their stellar 2014 year, ANW searches DID NOT surpass parkour, yet when you zoom in, search queries for “ninja warrior gym” almost doubled that of “parkour gym” searches which also UNDER PERFORMED its spike from 2014! Interest in parkour gyms literally lost ground and shrunk instead of growing as usual, in 2015.

“Sounds like you’re a little butt hurt, Charles” you might say. And yeah, I might just be a little butt hurt. I might just be pissed that my life’s work growing this discipline of movement (named parkour) is suddenly being phased out by a large corporation with an advertising budget of almost $100 million dollars. Or maybe I’m just livid that this televised obstacle course competition, which was once fueled by parkour athletes like Levi Meeuwenberg, was bought by NBC who has been actively working to phase out most, if not all mention of the term “parkour.” Yeah. Read that again. They have done a ton of background editing to stop the mention of the very discipline whose name means ‘obstacle course.’ How do I know this?

11214022_10152870473049212_2278617376473865760_n

So maybe you’ve noticed, I’ve name-dropped Elet Hall more than once so far in this article, and it’s only partially because he’s spent the night on my couch before. It’s mainly because Elet feels the way I feel but has actually been on the show and became one of their recurring characters before publicly announcing this year that he was not going to submit anymore. Elet’s story is fascinating. Maybe he should write a book. I only asked him for a few short comments that I could use for this article and he sent me over 5 pages of writing of his experiences and thoughts on ANW.

Most importantly of those 5 pages, Elet made clear that he quit because he realized he was no longer being presented as himself. Elet was turned into a made-for-tv version of himself and, if you were to know Elet, you’d know that he hates that. According to Elet, during every interview was assigned to him a producer who would coach him into saying the things they wanted him to say. He was once asked, “Why do they call you ‘The Natural’?” To which he replied, “Who calls me ‘The Natural’?!” He had never heard the nickname before. It was made up by the producers of the show and the producer standing next to him proceeded to explain to him that that was to be his new personality and how he should go about answering the question.

With regards to direct censorship of the word “parkour”, Elet had a lot to say. I’ll admit that nothing can be labeled as direct evidence, but I will convey that Elet was adamant in explaining that he was nothing more than a ‘traceur’ (a practitioner of parkour) and had been since the age of 14, whenever possible on the show set. He only tried out for Ninja Warrior because some parkour friends of his (who also participated in the early seasons) encouraged him to do so. “I’ve never trained a day in my life for ninja warrior,” Elet said. “That’s not an egotistical claim, ” he continued, “that’s a testament to what years of proper parkour training can do for you.” And you know what’s amazing about that? Elet didn’t just do well on ANW. He obliterated it! Part of his last submission tape was him explaining how in the previous year he beat everyone else’s scores by almost 30 seconds, and oh yeah, turned out he had Lyme’s disease during all of it! Check out this run from 2015!

“I made it my personal mission on ANW to display parkour.” Elet did all of that and more. Except, what does an uneducated public know of this super athlete’s training discipline if they don’t know what it’s called? Nothing. At best, they tie it to the closest thing they can, “ninja warrior training.” And guess what? I have a graph for that too!

parkour training vs ninja training
This pisses me off and again, I wouldn’t be so pissed if ANW did any sort of due diligence and allowed Elet to be who he wanted to be and portray himself for the man he is. Elet said he made it his personal mission to make sure parkour was known. He told me that he mentioned it in EVERY interview! And of those interviews, guess how many times mentions of his “parkour training” came through? Not a one. Nothing. Edited out as if they didn’t exist. He wasn’t even labeled as the parkour athlete or coach that he is (it’s how he makes most of his living). On ANW, Elet was labeled as “a ski lift operator, a survivalist, a mover, but never as a parkour coach, or a traceur,” he said. That video up there of his 2015 run? How many opportunities would you say there were for Matt and Akbar to mention Elet’s preferred method of training? And yet, how many times was it mentioned? Almost a decade of Elet’s hard work in parkour training was stolen from him and instead branded as his own ‘natural ability.’

To add on more fuel to this passion driven fire I’ve begun, ANW’s season 4 casting call form had a new addition: “If you are a freerunner or Parkour athlete, what else do you do for work?” So exclaims Elet, “Here

[was] the first example of ‘The World’s Toughest Obstacle Course’ indicating to me that Parkour, from the French “parcours” meaning ‘Obstacle course’, was not a welcome subject.” So I say again, yeah, I’m just a little butt hurt.

On top of all of this, as my last comment in this mini-rant I have going, as a gym owner I’m torn between giving my members what they want and providing it in a safe way. But you know, there’s one unique thing in the Rochester Parkour Gym that remains the least utilized piece of equipment and yet has caused the most injuries – the warped wall.

Anwwarpedwallgrab

This awkward slide-shaped wall has caused the most number of people to get injured because 1) ANW tells them and shows them every year that regular people can do it (or at least try it), 2) the very warped nature of it allows anyone who wants to try the ability to get as high as 7-8ft off the ground before they even realize it, and 3) most importantly, regular people with no prior training or joint prep haven’t any reason to be sprinting up hard, warped surfaces. Their Achilles could literally snap! But you, as an audience member of ANW would never know because they will never willfully edit into the show someone getting hurt – that is, unless it furthers along their story of courageousness and heroics like that one dude last year who they allowed to jump onto a trampoline with a tibial plateau fracture he sustained from the course.

Imagine if the NFL edited out of history all of that concussion research on Chronic Encephalopathy? (Oh wait, did they try that?! Hmm, lets use acute impact injuries then…) Imagine if every NFL game were pre-taped and the NFL edited out any time a player had to be walked/carted off the field. This ninja stuff can be dangerous, but regular people don’t know it yet because they haven’t had enough real experience for that to set in.

At yet again, this thing is the LEAST used object in the gym, because it’s actually boring! It was designed with an intended solution. There’s only really one way to use it! Here’s another fun quote from Elet about why he became so disenfranchised with the ANW courses, “They’ve removed the problem solving aspect, and reduced the range of creative solution by restricting your options.” The double-edged sword of ANW is that the average Joe with a great backstory will complete the course the exact same way as an elite climber or elite traceur. And so it goes that competitor after competitor does their run and performs the same run, “on the same obstacles in the same way along with several other competitors, the defining factor being where they failed, because up until last year, we ALL failed,” says a disgruntled Elet. In the gym, students work and work and work until they get up the warped wall their first. Cheers are had and primal screams echo along the walls, but the chances that person will do it again next time they’re in the gym is next to nothing. They’ve done it! Check marked. Move along.

This is why ninja warrior is not a training discipline. ANW’s course is a display of athletic prowess. You don’t need to train on a salmon ladder to do the salmon ladder. If you can perform clapping pullups, muscle ups, or dynos you can do the salmon ladder – and you can train those skills all without the dangers that come with training on a salmon ladder. All of our intermediate and advanced students who could wall pass over our 10′ flat wall got up our 14’6″ warped wall within their first 3 tries and had all the levels of preparedness needed to not have their ankles explode on contact. I applaud everyone who is beginning to build stuff from the show and I’m genuinely excited that the show is getting new people interested in physical fitness and exercise. I just hope enough word gets out to the surge of beginners that this stuff can, in fact, wreck you and destroy you before you’ve even really started.

To wrap this long winded article up, sometimes I wish I didn’t have to care about ANW. Sometimes I wish that ANW were called Parkour Warrior. But also, sometimes I like what ANW is and I find myself actually connecting with the show more given the spotlighted backgrounds of some of the competitors. I enjoy and appreciate that ANW has brought attention to some notable friends and acquaintances that absolutely deserve to be known for just how awesome they are as human beings. People like Rochester local Carl Fantauzzo Jr. or my buddy Elet Hall. Yet at the same time, I cannot help but be upset at how many others there are that deserve to be showcased and given national attention for being unbelievable beasts! In the realm of parkour, there exists some truly heroic people that do mind boggling things. They are incredibly quick, astonishingly nimble, and can do things with such relative ease that it demands slow motion replays because regular people wouldn’t believe what they just witnessed. Most of these athletes will never apply to be on Ninja Warrior because their so-called “World’s Toughest Obstacle Course” doesn’t appropriately challenge their abilities. They’d rather continue to be secret super heroes and super athletes that no one knows about yet.

Say what you want about Parkour competitions, but if a NON-Parkour, NON-Sport, Reality TV show like ANW is causing more people to flock and seek out Parkour Gyms and Parkour training, imagine what a home-grown Parkour Competition could do to further the development of Parkour worldwide! Maybe now, more than ever, something like the Sport Parkour League could grow to fill that niche and finally show everyone that out in the world there exists these secret super hero athletes that can scale flat (as opposed to warped) 14′ tall walls, jump and land on thin metal bars 8ft or more off the ground, stick the landing and balance on it, and literally fly over chest high walls and land on another wall 8ft or more away. They may not have battled cancer, or wear capes, or dye their hair funky colors, but they do exist, and they’re amazing, and they get no real credit for their deeds and relatively no money to support them as athletes. Check out some of these runs from the North American Parkour Competition – it’s seriously nuts!

 

Or maybe, just maybe, now that Ninja Warrior is starting to grab its stake, now that most cities in the USA have their own Parkour Training Facility, now that there is a growing interest in watching other people combat a rigorous obstacle course, NBC could pivot ANW – ditch the stupid “casting call” submission process or maybe instead of shunning “parkour”, embrace it and the athletes that aspire to be Parkour Athletes and do what no other broadcasting network has done and start their own genuine Sports League with qualifiers and semi-finals and major broadcast national championships (instead of the fake-sport it is currently)! Parkour Gyms and Ninja Fitness gyms could join the league and host their own regional/sectional semi-qualifying competitions to figure out who ACTUALLY is America’s top Ninja Warrior/Parkour athlete…

Or perhaps not because, let’s face it, they don’t give a shit. They have already invested so much money creating ANW into what it has become and they finally have something that works and is finally starting to provide some sort of return on their investment. And that matters more than anything else to them. Still, despite all these criticisms, I look forward to watching Season 8. I’m excited for this love/hate relationship to continue and maybe over time it can develop into a love/sometimes-irked relationship. Bring on the ninjas!

What do you think? What are your thoughts on this topic – good or bad? Leave a reply in the comments.

By | June 1st, 2016|News|6 Comments