Introducing: The Strehle AirTrick!

One of the defining characteristics of our establishment is the near complete absence of soft, squishy things. We call it The Ridgid Environment and our students have learned to embrace it as one of the most important teachers they’ll ever have. The world that surrounds us is not soft or squishy and we see the over prevalence of soft surfaces at playgrounds and gyms as something that fosters poor movement habits and unhealthy technique.

With that said, there’s still definitely a lot that can be learned from trampolines or spring floors when used the right way. We’ve been debating this addition for quite some time, but the real push came when our beloved instructor Devin Strehle accepted his new job in Denver, CO.

Before leaving, Devin left a sizable donation to the gym specifically for this purpose. As a thanks, and so as to ensure that his love for flips, tricks, and acrobatic maneuvers could continue, we’ve named the mat in his honor.

What is an AirTrick?

If you’ve never heard of an AirTrick or have never used one, we’d like to first explain what it is not.

The AirTrick is not a landing mat…

Instead, the AirTrick is a training tool that is something inbetween a normal gymnastics spring floor and a small (read: not super bouncy) trampoline. The mat itself is 13 feet wide by 26 feet long and its rebounding capabilities will greatly enhance the acrobatic desires of our students.

Tumbling can now be trained more easily and more safely with the use of this mat and the concept of bailing on a flip, while still not desirable, will be a lot easier to allow.

As the name suggests, this mat is inflatable – it can be inflated in about 20 minutes and it can also be deflated in roughly 5 minutes and folded up to take up no more than 20sqft. That means that for us and our small foot print of a gym, the mat will not always be inflated so that we can still utilize the square footage of the cubby when we need it.

Rules of Participation and Apparel Restrictions

The inflatable nature of this mat also means there are a few restrictions on how we allow students to use it. Restrictions are as follows:

  • No shoes allowed (even indoor shoes)
  • Socks only (no bare feet). They do not need to be the specialized rubbery socks that you find at trampoline parks, but if you have them, by all means, feel free to bring and use them
  • Absolutely no metal or plastic on clothing, whatsoever – zippers, snaps, buttons, rivets, or anything else
  • No items or accessories  in pockets or on the body (such as glasses or jewelry)
  • Participants are limited to practicing or training skills and techniques that they’ve been taught by an instructor. Just because this mat can be used for acrobatics, doesn’t mean you should try any acrobatics without the proper knowledge or instruction.

AirTrick Availability and Schedule

If you are interested in utilizing this new tool, the schedule** is as follows:

  • *Mondays 5pm – 8pm & 9pm – 9:30pm
  • Tuesdays 6:30pm – 9pm
  • Wednesdays 6:30pm – 9pm
  • Saturdays 2pm – 5pm

*Priority for the AirTrick will always be given to the Acro Class on Mondays from 8pm – 9pm, but there may be days that the class will not be utilizing the mat.

**The schedule as stated is preliminary and subject to change. We welcome any and all feedback to ensure that the gym space works for you, whether that includes the new AirTrick or does not.

Currently, the only plans we have for the actual use of the mat will be for Mixed Open Gym times. This is, in part, due to the fact that we do not further restrict the clothing and apparel choices of our students past the indoor shoe requirement. This means our instructors cannot plan an entire class’ curriculum around the AirTrick, given the possible scenario of one of our students showing up in jeans (or other restricted apparel item), without a change of clothing, that would result in their non-participation.

While not guaranteed, use of the AirTrick for warmups, technique training, or other various drills could be made of use by our instructors should the entire class of students satisfy the apparel restrictions.

Final Thoughts

The AirTrick is an excellent way to play around with techniques and tricks that would otherwise be a challenge to learn due to the possibility of bails – things like handstands, dive rolls, flips, handsprings, kip ups, or other dynamic techniques that could result in a hard impact on the floor. Obviously, most of these endeavours might seem either too challenging for you and where you are on your movement journey right now or may not be something that interests you.

At the same time, this mat can also just serve as a great way to build lower body strength and power by simply jumping on it for a set period of time, practicing broad jumps without all the impact the floor provides, practicing dynamic QM techniques like monkey jumps or ground kongs, or any other simple bouncing drills. Instructor Charles will be using the RocPK Instagram and our ZenPlanner Workouts site to create a database of helpful drills and exercises that can be done on the mat suitable for all skill levels. Those videos should be coming out later this week.

We’re excited to be including this item into our new “Bag o’ Tricks” (pun intended) and we’re excited to see you all use it to enhance your training. Let us know if you have any questions or comments regarding the mat, its use, or anything else.

Sincerely,

The RocPK Team

By |2018-11-21T23:32:14+00:00October 22nd, 2018|News|Comments Off on Introducing: The Strehle AirTrick!

Introducing – Family Plans!

The Background

Of our ~250 families, more than half are currently on one of our membership plans. We see this as huge win for us not only as a community, but also as a small business. The membership tiers give our students the best value for their budget and also make our job scheduling, coordinating, and offering classes and services easier. It’s a win-win.

Additionally, ever since we introduced the membership plans nearly 7 years ago, the “Family Discount” of 25% off each additional plan has afforded even more savings to most families. Most, not all.

This Fall, RocPK is looking to change that and make it even easier for families to choose Rochester Parkour as one of their main fitness and recreational outlets by making it way more affordable!

New Family Plans!

Starting September 1st, 2018, Rochester Parkour will be adding in additional discounted memberships for families looking to add 3 or more people to a membership. These discounts could mean $20/month savings, but could also be upwards of hundreds of dollars for some of our larger families!

The discount tiers couldn’t be more simple:

  • 1st Membership – Full Price (no change from current membership plans)
  • 2nd Membership – 25% Off (no change from current membership plans)
  • 3rd Membership – 50% Off
  • 4th+ Membership(s) – 75% Off

These new memberships are just additions to our Membership program, they are NOT replacing them. If you are currently on membership, nothing is going to change. If you have less than 2 people in your family and are interested in membership, nothing is going change, either. You will continue to be able to set up membership plans on your own through our Zen Planner site and will be able to add on additional memberships at the 25% off tier.

Examples

5 Person Family w/ Everyone on 5x/Month

5 Person Family Old Price New Price
Person 1 $80 – 5x/month  $80 – 5x/month
Person 2  $60 – 5x/month  $60 – 5x/month
Person 3  $60 – 5x/month  $40 – 5x/month
Person 4  $60 – 5x/month  $20 – 5x/month
Person 5  $60 – 5x/month  $20 – 5x/month
Total  $320  $220 ($100 Savings!)

Mix & Match! 5 Person Family on Different Membership Tiers

5 Person Family Old Price New Price
Person 1 $115 – All Access  $115 – All Access
Person 2  $71.25 – 8x/month  $71.25 – 8x/month
Person 3  $71.25 – 8x/month  $47.50 – 8x/month
Person 4  $60 – 5x/month  $20 – 5x/month
Person 5  $60 – 5x/month  $20 – 5x/month
Total  $377.50  $273.75 ($103.75 Savings)

5 Person Family on All Access Plans

5 Person Family Old Price New Price
Person 1 $115 – All Access  $115 – All Access
Person 2  $86.25 – All Access  $86.25 – All Access
Person 3 $86.25 – All Access  $57.50 – All Access
Person 4 $86.25 – All Access  $28.75 – All Access
Person 5 $86.25 – All Access  $28.75 – All Access
Total  $460  $316.25 ($143.75 Savings!)

Plan Features/Requirements

In order for us to offer these new Family Plans, we’ve had to make some changes regarding the user experience in order to ensure that everything is set up correctly. One of these compromises is that in order to create your family’s plan, you must have a RocPK Staff Member set it up for you either in person at the front desk, over the phone, or through email. Besides that here’s a brief overview of how these plans functions:

  • Every 3+ person Family Plan must be set up by a RocPK Staff Member
  • Every Family Plan is set to auto-renew on the 1st of every month
  • Families can set up their plan at any time and our system will prorate the memberships based on when they begin. After that, the total amount will always be billed on the 1st of the month.
  • Each family member can have their choice between a 5x, 8x, or All Access Plan
  • The highest tiered plans will always be set up ahead of lower tier plans
  • Families can upgrade or downgrade individual plans at any time during a month by RocPK Staff
  • Minimum 1 full monthly cycle – RocPK cannot set up a prorated plan and cancel it before the next bill goes through.
  • As usual, there is no set up fee, no contracts to sign, and no termination fees. Retroactive cancellations and refunds are subject to a 20% refund fee.

Fill out the form below to request more information on setting up your customized plan!

By |2018-11-21T23:32:14+00:00August 10th, 2018|Featured, News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Introducing – Family Plans!

New Gym Layout, New Gym Challenges!

Very few things in life are immutable. Here at Rochester Parkour, we’re proud to have created an environment that represents the ephemeral nature of life – things evolve, adapt, and inevitably change.

Two week ago the gym underwent another major layout redesign in time for our Summer Camps:

We’ve begun the process of creating and adding new challenges to project during Open Gym. For those of you missed our last blog post about our new workout features, click here to learn about it!

As is still the case, you’ll need to head over to our ZenPlanner site via a Mobile Browser in order for the Instagram links to work. The ZenPlanner url is listed below:

https://rochesterparkour.zenplanner.com

Once there, hit the “Workouts” button and then click on the day of the Open Gym to be presented with this page:

The first section you’ll see will be generic recommendations on how to spend your time during Open Gym.

This section will change semi-frequently, but it’s possible that it will be the same from one day to the next.

This section will typically have no tracking features and is basically just word text to help guide and inspire you to be creative and move on your own, however, any time you see an exercise that is bolded, it means that this exercise exists in our database and progress, reps, or scores can be tracked for them.

The second section will be where all of our challenges will be housed.

These challenges have been curated by RocPK as fun, interesting, or particularly challenging feats that are great ways to hone various skills or track progress and proficiency.

Challenges will always be accompanied by a short video that can be accessed by clicking on the blue title.

Nearly every challenge will have a full-speed view as well as a slow motion view to help you better comprehend what is involved in the challenge.

Submit Your Own Challenges!

Students may absolutely submit their own challenges to us!

Take a short video (landscape view, as little camera pan as possible, and ideally 60 frames per second or more if possible) of you completing a short challenge that isn’t already listed.

Rules for submission:

  • May only use permanent layout features of the new layout (e.g. no vault boxes, balance bars, or other piece of equipment that would need to be moved or set up)
  • Combination tasks will be considered as Challenges (e.g. Jump to Cat, Underbar to Precision, or Jump to Lache to Cat)
  • Sequence patterns incorporating 3 or more movements/skills will be considered as Movement Lines and will be given a number, if approved by RocPK
  • Movement Line submissions must be less than 8 moves long
  • Climbing challenges may be submitted so long as they can be completed in 30 seconds or less and stay in only one gym zone (e.g. a climbing course that uses the Tunnel and the new bar cage may be accepted, while a climbing course that starts at the Tunnel and continues all the way to the Rock or then to the City may be denied as it takes up too much space)

If you want to submit a challenge or movement line, find the Open Gym Supervisor and ask them to either help you video it or ask how to go about getting it in our hands so we can review it and post it.

By |2018-11-21T23:32:14+00:00July 24th, 2018|Featured, News, Parkour Training|Comments Off on New Gym Layout, New Gym Challenges!

Introducing: Workout Tracking!

A new way to experience all that Rochester Parkour has to offer! Motivate, inspire, and track all that you do inside (and possibly outside) the gym with Zen Planner’s Workout Tracking feature set.

Currently, the full functionality is only accessible through your phone’s mobile browser because most of what we do is visual and hard to describe through text alone. In order to be able to click links and be taken to a video of a challenge, exercise, or drill, you must first head to https://rochesterparkour.zenplanner.com.

Once there, you’ll need to login to your account and you’ll be able to check any workouts that have been added to an Open Gym or other session and you can also track your own progress for any of our listed benchmarks like push ups, pull ups, max length bar hang, and many more!

We’re really excited for what this can do to enhance your experience with and at Rochester Parkour. This entire system is still in the works and there’s a lot more that we want to be able to do with it.

As always, feel free to let us know what you think about this new system or what you’d like to see added to this system to make it more accessible for you or to help motivate you more to move, progress. and become a stronger mover.

Have fun!

RocPK Staff

By |2018-11-21T23:32:14+00:00June 14th, 2018|News, Parkour Training|Comments Off on Introducing: Workout Tracking!

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. 28th6-8pm
Ages 18+
Open to the public

Kids & Teens Gorilla Gauntlet
Sunday Oct. 30th4:30-6:30pm
Ages 6+
Ages 4+ permitted with parenthelper if actively enrolled in our Tinies classes!
Open to the public

Costumes encouraged! We are giving away prizes to the best 2; Juststeer 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 |2016-10-19T13:24:13+00:00October 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 |2018-11-21T23:32:16+00:00October 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 & LazerCourses!

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 rentfrom us for $2. We’ve got the Nerf Elitedarts covered.

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

Pre-Enroll for Family Nerf Battle July 23rd 5-7pm
By |2016-10-19T12:20:14+00:00July 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 Cristantellois a pioneer in the health community with his unique and holistic approach to fitness. In this workshop, you will explore meditation methods andlearn how to apply these meditation techniques to enhance your trainingand 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 |2016-10-19T12:20:14+00:00July 7th, 2016|News, The Gym|Comments Off on Mindfulness Collaborative Workshop – Introducing Adam Cristantello of Move Aware

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 |2016-10-19T12:20:14+00:00June 13th, 2016|News, The Gym|Comments Off on Rochester’s Ninja Warrior Night!

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 zoomin 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 zoomin, 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 |2016-10-19T12:20:14+00:00June 1st, 2016|News|6 Comments