Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Free Flow Academy will never try to sell you an "Identity"

In the July 2014 newsletter I wrote a letter to our members.  In that letter I touched on a few matters of discussion regarding the pressure for industries to sell molds or rather, "identities" to people.  I would like to expand further.  In the fitness, sports, and recreation industries, marketers and entrepreneurs have an extensive amount of pressure to not just sell products or services, but to sell "identities".  I myself have sold a number of products, services, and have formed and orchestrated a variety of companies, as well as found a place in the corporate and non-profit arena.  I also spent a good portion of my adult life in the Entertainment Industry - the capital of "mold selling", and "identity selling".  But I would say ALL industries, in some form or another, try to sell a mold, an identity.

Why is it so important to sell an identity?  Because people will buy it.  People seem to need it.  Want it.  Demand it.  People have a strong need to buy things that fit in with their self-identity.  And often, the purchase of a product or service actually solves our very own identity conflicts, or gives us something reach for, to strive for.  This is why people tend to wear brands.  It makes them feel good, and they can stand by the product, the service, and it helps them share it with others.  So here is where I get hung up a bit.  I often feel that although, we make a conscious decision to purchase the brand, because it suits us, I can't help but notice we are often swayed and manipulated to purchase the brand by marketing tactics that attack our own genuine identity, or even convince us that our current identity is inferior. 

I have often pondered the psychology of why we need to buy an identity.  Why is there a pressure to label ourselves? It seems this pressure usually begins around middle school - the time where we figure out that we need to adapt our personalities in order to fit in, to survive the social status quo.  But we're not born into this world seeking an identity.  If you watch a small child, they are generally very true to themselves, and to others.  It's arguable to say that they haven't "found themselves" yet.  But I would disagree - I believe we are born with our personalities, and natural tendencies.  I believe as we get older, if we allow ourselves to seek our true selves, we become more like we once were.  The child.  The child we always were.  The child self, is our natural self, and later on, as we grow, we acquire an "adaptive" self.  The person we need to be, in order to survive.  Now there is nothing wrong with the "adaptive" self.  We are complex beings, with multiple layers.  And sometimes, we become the person we need to be to obtain a favorable outcome for ourselves.  However, it's not the "adaptive" self that I'm referring to.  I have an issue with the "identity" buying portion that comes into play without us really realizing it.  Let me explain:

I believe we need to be very cautious and weary of buying an identity, because it can give someone a false, and artificial sense of self.  It can also be detrimental to a person's ability to think for themselves.  I also believe it can often times create unintentional divides in communities.  People go where they fit in, where they feel they belong.  I can understand that.  But diversity in my opinion is extremely healthy.  Just like our diet, we need a diverse selection of foods and nutrients to keep our bodies functioning at optimum levels.  The same goes with personal development.  I believe diversity is again key to optimum function - knowing and growing with a diverse group of individuals and personalities.  Friendship in diverse places have broken the bonds of prejudice, racism, sexism, slavery, and all the deplorable human conditions that still exist today.  So if we're buying into labels, and identities, then we are essentially subconsciously buying a group of people that we feel are best suited for our company.  In addition we are constrained by the culture that comes with the purchasing of that identity.  There are exceptions, sure.  The ones who break the mold.  But that's what I'm trying to address here.  How about we strive to not put you in a mold to begin with, if we can help it?

One of my past time hobbies is to listen and read personal development books, as well as regularly research industries (especially fitness and recreation) and I often follow and keep up with trade magazines, blogs, and anything and everything that has to do with business innovations.  But one thing that has always rubbed me the wrong way, is the orchestrated attack on people's identities.  Even the top gurus in every major industry stress that the key to success is to give people not only a product or service, but an IDENTITY!  And of course, the media is no exception, if anything - they are the top dogs.  Sell an identity, sell a product.  It's the magic formula. 

So I suppose the only way we can really address the issue, is if we become more self aware.  And if we are going to exist within a certain niche we need to be aware that we are learning and growing with a community that exudes a certain collective energy.  And if that's the case, we need to always keep in mind, that the energies that we choose to be with are the energies we will ultimately absorb, and contain within ourselves.  So be thoughtful and wise about the energies you choose to partake of. 

Which brings me back to the title of this blog.  We aren't going to focus on putting you in a mold.  We are trying to be much more far reaching than that.  And it is simply our goal to give you the opportunity to DEFINE yourself.  Which is why we are named "Free Flow Academy".  Our symbol, carries the essence of the Fibonacci spiral, surrounded by the Japanese character meaning "Zen".  So that you can always remember to find balance, while appreciating your own, very unique, grand design.

We hope to set a new standard in the movement arts and fitness industry - one that can be powerful, genuine, and true.  I'm tired of seeing the fitness industry, as well sports and recreation industries, and the entertainment industry purposely pressure consumers to look and act a certain way, because it's more pleasing to the eyes, because it will make you more acceptable, because it will make you more important, because it will...  Well... it's actually just pleasing to their wallets, if you buy into their manipulation.  

Last month in our newsletter I stated, "No labels.  Just you!"  I want to always maintain that Free Flow Academy will always stand by this.  We don't need to label ourselves, we don't need to fit you into a mold.  You are who you are, reaching for your idea of an improved version of yourself, whether that idea of improvement may be in form, function, or personal development and growth, or all of the above.  The important thing to note, is that it is YOUR idea.  YOU decide how you want to improve yourself, and YOU decide how to get there.  And the identity that you may choose to take on, will be rather a symbol of trust, between you and our company.  I hope our symbol is always one that you can count on, one that you can trust. We are the place where movement, creativity, and innovation are intertwined.  I firmly believe and have stated, "Geniuses do not come from and are not created in a mold.  But it is geniuses who create molds."  So it is our challenge to you, to first define yourself, and by doing so, you have created YOUR mold.  It's your place to innovate and to reach your full potential.  

Written By:  Elle Beyer

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Gym Wish List

With our expansion already in effect, we just became the largest parkour gym in California.  Which means we have our work cut out for us, to make our play space the way we originally envisioned.

Improving our Gym - how you can help

All of our operating expenses are covered by memberships but in order to improve and upgrade the gym as well as fund our outreach and scholarship programs, we rely on other funding sources, such as fundraisers, donations, and resourcefulness. We have incredible volunteers who scour Craigslist for us, or simply keep their eyes and ears peeled for anything that the gym might be able to use. You would even be surprised, that what you have laying around in your garage, might be useful to us.

Here is a list of what we currently could use:

Wood Screws (the black ones that are awesome) 2" and 3"
Extension Cords (25' or more)
Lumber (studs and 1/2" or 3/4" plywood)
Wood putty
Sand paper
Rubber Stall Mats
Black paint
Drill bits
Rock Climbing Holds
Gymnastics panel mats, crash mats, and pit mats
Medicine balls
Large Stability/Balance Balls
Cargo Netting
Climbing Ropes
Tennis Balls
Duct Tape

Furthermore, if you are skilled in event planning, and would like to host a fundraiser that would benefit the gym and our community, we would certainly appreciate it! 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Parkour Leaves No Trace and Builds Community

One of the most wonderful things about the Parkour community in the Greater Sacramento Region is the commitment to "Leave No Trace."  Parkour is all about adapting, relying, and using the environment around you.  I think what's truly unique about it, is that because you spend so much time in your environment, you grow to care of it, rely on it, and develop a unique bond.  For example, if you climb a tree, the branches are not just branches - they are your life net.  You sincerely rely on the strength of the branches, the traction from the bark, the design of tree to help you gain a very unique experience, that strengthens your own body and your own mind.  If you climb a wall, or pass a vault, you grow an appreciation for the architect, or the hands that built that obstacle.  The materials used, the design of the structure, holds significance in your eyes, and for every obstacle you overcome, you know you are stronger for it, thanks be for the ones who created the obstacles in the first place.  I have never known a sport or discipline that had such a connection to the world, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  What's more, is the commitment to community, that is very prevalent in both the online and home communities of which the practitioners evolve.  Jam sessions of all kinds are held, which include weekly, monthly, annual jams voluntarily hosted by a variety of practitioners, who open up their jams to the community.  A welcoming spirit is always present, giving newcomers a comfortable place to start and to feel accepted.  There are many ways to get involved with the Parkour community, which are totally free and are non-exclusive.  If you're thinking about taking up Parkour, but don't know where to start, check your local community and see if there are any gyms in your local area, or local parkour groups who generally have frequent jam sessions.  Usually you can locate these groups online via facebook, Instagram, or other social network. 

NeoFlow Parkour reaches out to the community through workshops and performances
Free Flow Academy hosts a "Leave No Trace" event every quarter.

NorCal Parkour holds weekly jams.  Anyone is invited to participate.
Placer and Sacramento County folks gather weekly at Bella Vista high school to jam, headed up by PK veteran Victor Lo Forte.

Folsom Parkour jam.  Anyone interested in learning are invited to attend.

Parkour is a sport and a discipline that celebrates life, humanity, and exploration.

Written by:  Elle Beyer

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Meet founding member Corey Romines

Corey Romines entered the Parkour scene in it's very earlier stages of development.  He has been involved with movement arts for over 20 years, but his passion is for none other than Parkour.  He is Co-Founder of Free Flow Academy, the largest Parkour gym in California, and has been personally training hundreds of students for the past 5 years.  His overall reach within the Parkour community has been literally thousands of students, as he has headed up multiple classes and programs in and around the Greater Sacramento region via gymnastics, parkour, and fitness gyms, as well as parks and rec centers and more.  He continues his education through research and internship programs, and works closely with a variety of medical professionals, including but not limited to physical therapists, as well as a podiatry clinic owned and operated by his parents.  He believes in training for health and longevity, fun, and promoting a play based atmosphere for his students.  Corey is also the head trainer of the all Women's Parkour group - Eagle & Hawk PK.

Corey contributes to the daily operations of Free Flow Academy, and gives additional time and energy serving as a consultant to other parkour gyms and programs who require equipment consultation and design, class programming, coach preparation, and the implementation of "safe play."  He has also designed the Free Flow Academy Parkour Coach Certification Program, as well as the Free Flow Academy Affiliation Program, and regularly volunteers and heads up "Leave No Trace" service projects with the youth and other members of the community.