Tuesday, September 6, 2016

We are seeking new Apprentices and Hiring!!

Free Flow Academy is accepting new Apprentices!  Our apprenticeship program is a 3 month program designed to train upcoming coaches who are interested in working at Free Flow Academy as a Junior or Head Instructor!  We only open up this program once a year, so NOW is the time to act if you want to get in, and you are considering coaching as a career, or part time job.  We are looking for applicants in the following departments:

Parkour/Freerunning (Beginner to Advanced)
Tumbling (Beginner to Advanced)

If interested please fill out our Apprentice Application and email it to freeflowacademy@gmail.com

Age Discrimination - It's a Thing in the Gym Community

A lot of people often ask, "What was your inspiration for Free Flow?"  The true answer is a long one. A culmination of life experiences, and motivated, passionate individuals are the reason Free Flow came to existence.  We all have a story.  For me, while working as a stunt professional in Hollywood, I trained at a variety of world class facilities and stunt gyms, and there were certainly some that were better than others.  I'm a vibe kind of gal, and I need to feel a strong and energetic vibe that is positive and safe.  As an artist and athlete, I have to be feel safe mentally and physically to push and challenge myself without the fear of judgement or negativity.  In Los Angeles, it's normal to see all ages, artistry, and movement backgrounds at stunt gyms.  It's normal to take classes with 50-60 year olds who can school a 20 year old in tumbling, gymnastics, and high falls.

When my husband and I decided to move out of LA, it was a tough decision.  But we were in a place (mentally and spiritually) where we wanted to focus on raising our kids, out of the city.  My husband went to Law School, and I started 2 home based businesses.  Along the way, we had 3 more kids (bringing our grand total to 4 awesome boys).  We taught Kung Fu out of our garage to neighborhood kids, and were continually encouraged by friend's to open a school.  My husband and I were never interested in opening a school.  For one, it's really hard to make a living, and with 4 tiny little kids, law school, 2 businesses, it was just too much to take on.

After a few years, we met some people in the community, and they happened to be awesome Parkour athletes.  We started training with them.  And it reawakened a passion that had been dormant. I LOVE movement, and I love sharing that with my kids.  Along this journey I enrolled my kids in several gyms.  I was disappointed to find out that EVERY SINGLE gym would not allow adults to take classes or participate in open gym with our kids.  This idea was so foreign to me.  I had just spent a decade of my life training in gyms, where adults up into their 60's were training in gymnastics, stunts, martial arts fight choreography, parkour... you name it.  My first thought was, "Hmmm... that's a terrible example to set for the children.  You train them from the beginning that they can only move this way until they are 21?  Then after that they'll be too injured, or too old to continue moving in the way that brings them joy?"  

CONFINE YOURSELF! Don't even dare to do anything more than THIS.  Walk in place zoohuman!!  Walk in place for hours on end!!  This is what Adulting looks like.  Look forward to it.

Finally, a glimmer of hope.  I found a gym that offered one adult gymnastics class on a late weekday evening. Alright, it was good enough.  I could enroll myself and my kids as members, take that class, then on Saturday's play with my kids during open gym.  I was soooooo excited.  I thought... FINALLY!  A place that I can move in the way that brings me joy, and a place that I can make memories with my kids.  I took the class.  The other people in the class were in their late teens, early 20s.  They were friendly, but maybe a little judgmental.  "You're pretty good for how old you are".  Uh... "Thanks... I think?"  I didn't let it bother me.  I was just super excited to be able to do my thing.

Meh... I'd rather be awesome.
Then Saturday came.  I was really super excited about open gym.  Not super excited that as members we still had to pay an add'l fee that added up to around $60 for an hour.  But whatever.  My kids and I started out on the tumbling floor.  We started practicing our handstands.  Within moments, a 16 something year old marched up to me, "Exxxcuuuuussssee me, but YOU cannot be on the floor."  I looked at her with surprise.  "I'm signed up for a class, I signed the waiver, I paid the fee."  She retorted back, "That doesn't MATTER.  YOU are too OLD to be here on the floor.  They (circling her pointer finger in the general direction of all the kids) can be here.  But NOT YOU."  At this point I could feel my blood boil.  I was being discriminated against.  Harshly discriminated against, because of my age.  And not only that, I was being discriminated against in a two-fold manner.  My age was an issue AND the way I wanted to move my body was an issue.  I realized that this "age" thing, which is just a number we assign to humans to keep track of how long they have lived on planet Earth, as well as my personal choice of how to move my body, was not tolerated in this environment. "Fair enough, your business has it's rules, you don't have insurance to cover adults.  I get it.  But this is a wrong.  It's wrong to discriminate based on age, gender, race, religion, or sex.  I hope you guys change your policy."  With that, we left, and never went back.

This incident made a profound impact on me.  I realized that there was a serious discrimination issue happening.  The next clue was during a conversation at one of our Parkour training sessions.  A few of the practitioners were discussing "Movement Discrimination."  Some reported being stopped by police officers if they were walking on their hands on the side walk.  One of them was even ticketed for "Disturbing the Peace".  My thoughts, "No one can tell you how to move your body.  That's a basic human right.  I'm not okay with this."

A deeper sense of purpose started to flourish within me.  This Greater Sacramento area in particular, needed a change.  There was a whole community of people who wanted to be free to move their bodies in a way that brings them fulfillment.  Like running, jumping, climbing, handstanding, cartwheeling, flipping... there's nothing wrong with that, and it doesn't matter if you are old or young, you have a right to do that with your body.

Then the light bulb went off.  Hey... let's start a school.  Let's open a diversified movement and Parkour Gym and welcome all ages, and people.  The community NEEDS this.  And that is where the vision began.

5 years later, we have a beautifully diverse group of athletes and artists, of all ages, of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, doing their thing.  So let's all keep doing our thing, because it matters.  Us doing our thing creates a better world, a healthier world, and can be a catalyst for change and good.