Friday, May 20, 2016

Navigating the World of Body-Shaming. And Yes you CAN do Parkour and Whatever else...

As of late I have been pondering the many culture wars that are prevalent in our society. Rape Culture is a culture war that I have decided to get involved in, and become an advocate of justice and education through our Survival Science self defense program, which is the first of it's kind to incorporate fundamentals of Martial Arts and Parkour. But rape culture has bred some wicked offspring that have grown into something that is even more widespread and is grossly sickening. I would deem the offspring to be our society's habit of body shaming. Health, Happiness, and Well-Being come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Our bodies are divine gifts, that are one of a kind, unique organic machinery that is designed to survive and adapt to its environment. When I hear people say things like, "I hate my body" or "I wish I was skinny" or "I just want to lose weight"... It kills me. Stop shaming your body. Stop judging yourself. Stop allowing sick horrible ideas to control and influence your mind! Love your body for all that it is, and for all that it can do, for all that it can become. If you decide you are only going to love your body when you lose 30 lbs., that's like saying you are only going to love your children when they grow up and make something of themselves that will make you proud. Your body is one of the greatest gifts you receive in this life. Do not waste it. Do not judge it. Do not destroy it. Furthermore, do not tolerate anyone who disrespects your body. Advertisements that are passive aggressive attempts to shame you into buying into a mold is no different than a cruel joke or a snide remark that insults your body or image. Do not allow anyone to desecrate your image, your body, and ultimately your spirit. I think it's time to make a stand, to bring to light the destructive nature of body shaming. Let's move past this and ultimately conquer this war. Your body is not somebody else's property. You are not a tool for a predators gain. A predator gains control by strategically breaking down the victims confidence in themselves. No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. ‪#‎bodyshaming‬ ‪#‎culturewar‬ ‪#‎itstopswithme‬
Hmm... I suppose "How hot can I be?" is a question we should all be pondering.  And I certainly want to keep up with Kim and Khloe.  Hotness is a competition you know.  Or is that just my brain starting to melt?

Bravo.  Just Bravo.  At least we can take away that perfection lies within the construct of this relentlessly manipulated image.

Phew!  Thank goodness.  Real people doing real cool things.  And they come in all shapes and sizes.  That was a close one! Photo from

Thank goodness for community.  Community and Friendship rather than judgement and competition based on skin deep standards?  YES!  I'll take it!!
Photo from

Truly impressive.  And she was able to achieve this in a pair of sweats and a t-shirt?!?!
Photo from

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Movement. Artistry. Activism. The New Forefront of Health and Fitness Motivation

Movement. Artistry. Activism.  It's the New Forefront of Health and Fitness Motivation.  Millenials are making activism cool again, and there are a lot of reasons why we are seeing Post Modernism revival and how it is effecting every industry in America, including the health, fitness, and recreation industry.  Everyone has a cause, and everyone is looking to do more than what we did before.  Greener initiatives, more ethical standards, and efficiently using every ounce of energy we have to produce maximum results. The bikes we use in cycling sessions are producing clean energy.  Parkour isn't just a movement discipline, it's a way of life, leaving no trace.  

Team Neoflow leaves no trace in and around business parks, roads, and training areas.

It makes perfect sense.  Humans generate more energy every day than almost any other resource on the planet. Every movement we make is energy produced.  And it's a diverse road ahead on how new companies and innovations are going to create efficient ways of multi-tasking any and all energy produced by humans.  

Since we are already thinking outside of the box, what about using human innovations as platforms to effect change?  That is something human's have done for quite some time.  Athletes, Rappers, Musicians, Artists, Poets, Writers, Filmmakers, are using their craft, artistry, and innovations to spread messages about social change, political reform, substance abuse prevention, and much more.  Recently Free Flow Academy partnered with CALY (Coalition for Auburn and Lincoln Youth), and Auburn Hip Hop Congress, to promote an understanding that you can achieve a "Natural High" by pursuing a craft/passion of some kind, rather than turning to drugs or alcohol.  Placer County has a high concentration of substance abuse among the youth.  The reason for that is accessibility - we have the I-80, I-5, 99, and a multitude of corridors for drug and human trafficking.  It's depressing, but at the same time, the data shows that MOST youth are making good choices and choosing to concentrate on the things that are positive.   

What is also exciting is that more youth are getting involved in activism, and are recognizing that the fitness industry and media has deceived them into thinking that they have to fit a certain mold to be healthy.  Which is the opposite of the truth.  Health comes in all shapes and sizes.  Now that the youth are becoming more educated and aware of "Body-Shaming" marketing tactics, they are finding that they feel pulled to activities that promote health and fitness, with a worthwhile cause that is in alignment with their values.  Wearing minimalist shoes, for example, as well as getting involved with companies and organizations that share their vision of participating in socially and environmentally conscious pursuits.

Miss Elle speaking out at Auburn Earth Day Festival.  

Parkour is about adapting and overcoming your obstacles.  It's not about trying to destroy what's in front of you because it's in your way and challenging you.  It's not about you moving out of the way either.  It's about adaptation and change.  You have a wall in front of you, take a moment and observe that wall.  Build a relationship with that wall, and learn to respect the wall for what it is, what it stands for, and what it is designed to protect.  Then you take some time to change yourself, your body, your physiology.  YOU take the time to grow YOU.  And then, you teach the wall how you can co-exist, and help each other out.  That wall is your opportunity to be more than what you were yesterday, today, or a minute ago.  These are the life lessons Parkour gives us.

Activism doesn't have to be all seriousness.  Free Flow Academy puts on free workshops at a variety of events to promote positive change in a fun, friendly, community focused setting.  Pictured here is Coach Rob with Boys and Girls Club of Auburn.
Many students find they are not motivated by fame, fortune, looking cool, ect... With each generation we are seeing a trend of  youth seeking deeper meaning and purpose in their work and in their lives.  Technology and accessibility to information is creating a multitude of fragmented markets, incredibly diversified planes, and a need to explore more than what exists in mainstream culture.  Here team Neoflow students check out how DJing technology works, new ways of mixing music, and the process of local artists to create new and dynamic tunes.  Team Neoflow went out to the Boys and Girls Club to perform to music that was created on the spot.  We're looking at a trend where kids are not afraid to fail.  They want to explore, and to find out what works and what doesn't.

Miss Elle speaking at a substance abuse prevention assembly.  Here we have an opportunity to affect positive change, within our own lives, and in the lives of others.  We have so many options, so why waste those options on things that will not serve us?  Why waste our bodies, our minds, on choices that do not build us up to be stronger, better, faster, smarter?

One of the things we do at our presentations is that we put on a parkour and nun-chuck demo. People often wonder why I would spend so much time training in a self-defense weapon (nun-chucks) that is illegal to carry in California, the State in which I reside.  Many people consider this an enormous limitation.  But the way I see it, that very limitation is what makes this weapon so powerful.  I know I cannot carry it with me where ever I go for protection.  That limitation forces me to train in a way that allows me to put on a lens of resourcefulness and adaptability.  I have to think that whatever I am holding in my hand is a potential nun-chuck.  That could be a purse, a rope, a chain... I could put a rock in my sock and turn that into a nun-chuck.  My skills translate to anything and everything I put my hands on, and there is a fundamental understanding that I am the weapon, and anything I place in my hand is a tool to orchestrate whatever I need to protect myself or the ones I love.  What's more is that my limitations, give me LIMITLESS options.  We need to challenge molds and ideas that perpetuate limiting beliefs about ourselves and what we are capable of.  Often our limitations are the very thing that empower us, elevate us, and bring us to a higher plane of understanding.  With that said, raise your fist high and ACT. 

#substanceabuseprevention #Naturalhigh #bodyshaming #ecogym #greengym #artandactivism #parkour #nunchucks #selfdefense

Anti-Bullying... or rather... Conflict Management Skills for Kids & Adults

Team NeoFlow - a Parkour Demo team devoted to excellence, teamwork, and building respect for oneself, the environment, and the community.

I have been training in Martial Arts for over 15 years.  And no matter how much training I have, there is always be someone bigger, stronger, and more skilled at a fight than I am.  But one thing I have learned, is that using your self-defense skills, always starts with what you allow into your mind.  Sometimes we are unable to resolve conflict.  It takes multiple parties to resolve conflict, and you don't have the option of controlling other peoples choices.  But you can control your own.

Tactical communications has been used in a variety of law enforcement agencies in order to reduce risk and threat.  Verbal Judo is just one of several systems that are used to tactically communicate and potentially prevent conflicts from escalating out of control.  We don't want to have to use our fists if we don't have to.  Even if we are skilled, and physically powerful, engaging in combat runs us into high risks, and can often times lead to even greater threat.

Active Listening is another way to engage in diplomacy, as well as understand the intentions of others.  By learning how to actively listen, we become better communicators.

Socialization vs. Domination:

It is no secret to most that I home school my kids.  And it's nothing against public school actually.  I myself, thrived in public school and would have absolutely hated home school.  I had some of the most AMAZING teachers in public school, and I would not be who I am today had I not been trained and developed in the system.  So why did I choose home school?  To put it quite simply, it is a better fit for our family for the time being, and I believe I can set my children up for success more effectively if I home school.  We live in a rapidly changing world, and my kids personalities are so different than my own.  And each of them thrive in different environments.  I also wanted to be able to instill certain values in their early childhood education.  One of the confirmations I had while considering home school was during a parent teacher conference.  I had great respect for my child's 1st grade teacher.  And still do, to this day.  But she said something that struck a cord with me.  I mentioned that their seemed to be some conflict between my son and another boy, and I wanted to follow up and see how the situation was being managed.  She said matter of factly, "Oh they are just kids being kids, and they'll toughen up as they get older.  Once they hit middle school they'll learn pretty quick how to be tough."  It was at that moment I realized "socialization" was taught as, "domination", or having an attitude of "toughness".  My first thought was that we as a society don't need "tougher" kids.  We need more compassionate, critical thinkers, who have the ability to resolve conflict on their own.  So I set out on a quest to find some concepts that would aid me in my search for a more effective socialization system that would give my kids the tools they need to resolve and manage conflict in their lives, as well as my own.

After attending a multitude of coaching sessions and seminars, I came across a gold mine of wisdom from a Coach (Alonzo Cahoon - US Military Veteran, Mastery and Leadership Academy Graduate - Anthony Robbins Organization) who mentored me in a conflict that I was having.  He is working on a new book, that will be released later this year, so I'm pleased to be able to share some of his insight before his work hits the shelves.  I will be adding his online presence links within the next few months.  He taught me the the 3T method:

1) Teach
2) Tolerate
3) Terminate

He said in conflict, you narrow it down to 3 options.  You cannot control their actions, but you can control your own.  You can teach, and grow yourself and the individual; or you can tolerate the situation and individual; or you can terminate the situation and your relationship with the individual.
If the relationship has the capacity to grow via teaching, then that is the most ideal situation.  If that person is say, a family member, and they are unwilling or uncompromising to see your side, then tolerating may be the best option.  And then if the relationship proves to be extremely toxic and suppresses your ability to thrive and grow, then terminating the relationship is likely your best option.

Would Captain America and Batman get along?  Perhaps the next superhero movie will explore this question.

Either way, you are making a choice, on your own terms.  There is no confusion as to why or how you are handling the situation.  Coming to a place of certainty is empowering, and develops critical thinking skills.  We have to get away from being sucked into our own story.  Being in a "reactive" mode does not serve us.  The 3T method gives us the tools we need to step back from a situation objectively and assess the situation from both sides. Further more, the 3T method helps us create a situation that is ideal, while growing our own social intelligence skills.  And even so, the 3T method helps us to become social investigators, in that we won't take things at face value.  We pay close attention to language and the actions/reactions of the individuals that we conflict with.  By investigating the conflict more thoroughly and objectively, we empower ourselves AND the individual we have a conflict with.  Now wouldn't that be a great set of tools to leave to our kids?  Doesn't that seem far more effective than a vague and uncertain, "hopefully as they get older they'll have thicker, tougher skins".  Training out peoples emotions doesn't seem like a good plan.  We can train mental toughness and prowess through movement, sports, and by mastering a craft or a discipline.  It's far more effective to train toughness in a safe setting that isn't going to leave you with emotional scars and feelings of worthlessness.  Furthermore, training someone in a movement or mindfulness discipline instills feelings of self worth, and makes you much less of a target for perpetrators seeking conflict.

Parkour and Martial Arts can be used as a Platform to create a better world by understanding that our "Obstacles" can be viewed as "Opportunities".  We are not limited by what stands in front of us.  We can grow ourselves, our minds, and our bodies to be able to understand the walls and barriers around us.  By understanding our environment, we become better equipped to fly up and over the barriers, while also respecting the barrier's position.  We don't spend time and energy knocking down walls.  We build the tools necessary to fly over them. 

Coach Elle (Miss Elle) teaches Kung Fu at Free Flow Academy - empowering students to tap into their Warrior being. "Inside each of  us, is a Warrior, self-assigned to protect something of deep and personal value." - Miss Elle

Coach Colton, Miss Elle, and ShiFu Lon Beyer are the creators of "Survival Science" a self defense program taught at Free Flow Academy.  They teach regular clinics, workshops, seminars, as well as speak at assemblies and special events.  Their program is the first of it's kind to incorporate fundamentals of Martial Arts AND Parkour into their self defense curriculum.
ShiFu Lon and Miss Elle create entertaining curriculum that
elevate interest and passion for movement and artistry.
Incorporating Parkour into self-defense and conflict management curriculum are  empowering, entertaining and develop mental prowess.

ShiFu Lon Beyer teaches Ninjitsu and Kung Fu classes at Free Flow Academy

ShiFu Lon Beyer, Coach Colton, Miss Elle taking some time to pose for the camera at the State Capitol while conducting field testing research for their Survival Science program.  During field testing they conducted interviews, training sessions, and tested out some tactical techniques in a variety of controlled settings.

Click here to sign up for Self Defense Clinics, Summer Camps, and Classes 

Additional links/resources:

Verbal Judo
Anthony Robbins Research Organization
Active Listening

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Re-Child Yourself - The Ultimate Anti-Aging Program

In March 2010 Elle Magazine put out an article entitled "Good Vibrations" a basic summary of how cosmetic companies were moving to products that vibrated the skin on the face to produce anti-aging results, to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.  The technology behind it was inspired by the Sonic Care toothbrush.  Nuskin, Sephora, Ulta, and pretty much every major cosmetic line was getting on board with tools that would shake up the molecules on your face to gently exfoliate and use vibrations to make you look younger.  That article was released 6 years ago, but the Science behind "Good Vibrations" maintains its straight forward data.  In 2001 NASA released an article about Vibration Therapy being used in space, to maintain the health of astronauts.  In a nutshell, your cells need to move.  If you they don't move, then they die.  Gravity is good for us, and having that constant force against our cells causes our molecules to constantly move and adapt to the changing environment.  If we did not have the force of gravity, we would experience muscle atrophy, lose bone density, and experience extremely rapid breakdown of our body tissues.

So with that in mind consider how exercise causes good vibration - all that jumping, running, water treading, landing, and overall movement loads your body and gets your molecules moving and heating up.  They become stronger, denser, more adaptable, giving your overall appearance, a more youthful shine.  Ever wonder why rock stars look so young?  Plastic surgery may be the reason, but consider how much vibration they create with music?  There is Science to back up vibrational therapy, sound healing, and all those jazz concerts that you like to groove to, move to, and experience those "Good Vibes".

If you want to stay young and youthful looking, look for activities that are going to give you opportunities to get your vibes on.  One of the the things Free Flow Academy is known for is "The Energy".  People often comment on getting a "Good Vibe" when they come in.  Well!  Here's the Scientific news:  That "good vibe" could very well be because there are a lot of vibrations being created within our facility.  Furthermore, we don't age or shape discriminate.  We have people young and old, every shape and size, doing what we do.  Rechild yourself and be rewarded with lasting youth.

Get back in touch with who you REALLY are at Free Flow Academy, the largest and most diversified Parkour gym on the West Coast.

Life is short, so create beautiful experiences!

#antiaging #rechildyourself #goodvibrations #vibrationhealing

Healing PTSD with Movement, Music, and Art

Free Flow Academy has been on the cutting edge of health and wellness because of our research hungry/savvy team.  4 years after our opening, we are finally seeing more and more hospitals and gyms adopt our line of thinking.  Movement and Mindfulness.  Movement and Art being taught together, as a combined set of practices, rather than being isolated and separated into singular educational business models.  What we are seeing now is that this adoption of movement and mindfulness practices are making some serious waves in the realm of health and healing, all backed by scientific data and more documented cases of success, from Veterans, Suicidal Teens, Drug Addicts, and many others who have experienced mental trauma.  People are sharing their stories about how movement, art, and/or music has given them the tools they need to feel worth while.  Neuroscience research sheds light on the fact that you can achieve a "Natural High" from positive activities/passion, and this information has been used to create entire curriculum's that are rooted in resiliency models of drug prevention, developmental asset frameworks, and Center for Disease Control Health Standards.

In order to provide market value, we have to be on the cutting edge, and because Free Flow Academy is a small business, we have the capacity to adapt to market needs according to the latest Science and Research that is available, whereas, larger corporations rely on small businesses like ours, to adopt new practices, prove that they work, and can be commercially viable. Larger corporations have greater financial resources, but their practices are generally outdated by the time they are willing to adapt.

Which brings me to the title of this blog - PTSD is a serious mental health condition that is triggered by a traumatic event - either experiencing it or witnessing it.  Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, uncontrollable thoughts, and behavioral changes. Many people experience PTSD, without actually realizing they are suffering. And to make things worse, many people have a tendency to over generalize the condition, or minimize it by saying this person "just has issues".  But as an educator and health & fitness service provider, we need to think more critically about the needs of our clients.  A recent divorce or breakup, tremendous pressure from school or work, family disfunction, a death in the family can take a toll.  You don't necessarily have to be returning from a recent deployment to have PTSD.  PTSD is generally not diagnosed unless the symptoms last for at least one month, and cause significant interference with work or home life.  A person must have 3 different symptoms:

(Excerpts taken from

1) Re-experiencing Symptoms - (excerpt) Re-experiencing symptoms are symptoms that involve reliving the traumatic event. There are a number of ways in which people may relive a trauma. They may have upsetting memories of the traumatic event. These memories can come back when they are not expecting them. At other times the memories may be triggered by a traumatic reminder such as when a combat veteran hears a car backfire, a motor vehicle accident victim drives by a car accident or a rape victim sees a news report of a recent sexual assault. These memories can cause both emotional and physical reactions. Sometimes these memories can feel so real it is as if the event is actually happening again. This is called a "flashback." Reliving the event may cause intense feelings of fear, helplessness, and horror similar to the feelings they had when the event took place.

2) Avoidance and Numbing Symptoms - (excerpt) Avoidance symptoms are efforts people make to avoid the traumatic event. Individuals with PTSD may try to avoid situations that trigger memories of the traumatic event. They may avoid going near places where the trauma occurred or seeing TV programs or news reports about similar events. They may avoid other sights, sounds, smells, or people that are reminders of the traumatic event. Some people find that they try to distract themselves as one way to avoid thinking about the traumatic event.
Numbing symptoms are another way to avoid the traumatic event. Individuals with PTSD may find it difficult to be in touch with their feelings or express emotions toward other people. For example, they may feel emotionally "numb" and may isolate from others. They may be less interested in activities you once enjoyed. Some people forget, or are unable to talk about, important parts of the event. Some think that they will have a shortened life span or will not reach personal goals such as having a career or family.

3) Arousal Symptoms - (excerpt) People with PTSD may feel constantly alert after the traumatic event. This is known as increased emotional arousal, and it can cause difficulty sleeping, outbursts of anger or irritability, and difficulty concentrating. They may find that they are constantly ‘on guard’ and on the lookout for signs of danger. They may also find that they get startled.  

There are several ways to treat PTSD:  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Medication, EMDR, Family Therapy, Psycotherapy, and alternative therapies such as Movement and Mindfulness.  

Recently I started caring for my Dad who is an 87 year old disabled vet.  The VA clinic and hospital has been a regular stop for us the past few months, and one thing you will notice is the multitude of fliers advertising free yoga and tai chi classes, painting classes, and different hospital run alternatives to treat the Vets.  I'm anxious to see the data on the results of their alternative therapies involving movement and mindfulness.  I'm certain they will find within the next few years, tremendous results on how effective and useful those programs are for the patients.  But for now I'd like to share a personal story of working with a recently returned Vet who went on 5 deployments to the Middle East.  He shared with me his account of healing after getting involved with with the Musical Production I choreographed and Free Flow Academy sponsored.

When I was accepted for a part in something inside is broken I went into it with some crazy feelings, after the first rehearsal I attended I was greeted like family, which for me was different. 5 years ago I stopped my theater acting and enlisted into the US Marine corps, 5 combat deployments, and seeing crazy shit go on has a major affect on a person, leaving myself hard at accepting to trust others, while in the marine corps we lived by a rule "meet everyone but always have a plan to kill them" but after the first rehearsal I was left shocked, confused, and thinking to myself. After the second and third time rehearsing I felt different, for the first time in my life after the marine corps I was accepted, and loved for being me (with all my crazy and hilarious antics) this group showed me something I had lost, you all showed me how to be myself again, and for that I am thankful and forever in all your debts. I have never been truly happy with anything not even myself, but you all opened your hearts to me and then I became truly happy with myself... - Sy
Movement, Artistry, and Mindfulness has the power to heal people, societies, and cultures.  Here the cast is participating in a gratitude circle, where members communicate and bond before a show.

Rehearsals at Free Flow Academy - the largest and most diversified Parkour Gym on the West Coast - we offer Dance, Music, Art, and Acting instruction as part of our Mindfulness disciplines.  
#PTSD #Naturalhigh #movement #mindfulness #healing #health

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