The City is my Playground | Eclectic Cake: The City is my Playground

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The City is my Playground

Not quite yogic parkour, not really urban pole dancing. It's very hard to describe 'Flexing' when no one else has really heard of it before. In fact, according to Flex in the City founder, Nicola, no one else is even doing it! So, to truly understand what the Instagram feed full of doorways is all about, I went along to a workshop.

NCG showing us how it's done

After finding a quiet East London park and going through a full body warm-up, we were introduced to our first lamppost. Normally, you'd associate climbing them with a drunken night out but in Flexing they're a key piece of equipment. It turns out the wider part of the post is the perfect platform for climbing, the slender part, the perfect width to grab. The demonstration of how to climb was swift and clean, with the type of effortlessness that comes with over two years of practice.

Me scrambling up a lamppost

And as an urban tree frog

Before we gave it a try, our instructor was quick to provide us with external excuses as to why we may find it difficult – the wrong shoes (Converse will give you the best grip), the wrong lamppost, the wrong weather – none of them having anything to do with our ability. The phrase "I can't" was banned from the workshop. No matter our strength or our shoes, everyone in the workshop would be able to achieve their own translation of the shapes.

Throwing some shapes

It was creating shapes, not pulling ourselves up onto structures, that was most important. I guess Flex and the City can best be described as a physical art form. Nicola is a pilates instructor who previously taught pole dancing but this was not a fitness class. It's more a way of living – taking the time to view your surroundings differently and appreciate them by creating art within its features. The strength you will inevitably gain, is simply a welcome by-product.

Exploring our 'playground'

I scrambled up the lamppost to take my perch, crouched with both knees turned out, feeling a little like an urban tree frog, ready for someone to capture my first creation. It was clear, from this moment on, I wouldn't be able to look at lamppost in the same way again. We moved between posts, now appreciating their different qualities and flexing potential, learning other ways to create shapes on this overlooked piece of apparatus, before moving onto what seems to be Nicola's favourite type of flexing – doorways.

New lamppost, new shape

Being in the creative East, there was no shortage of great-looking doorways to choose from, it was just a case of experimenting with poses to create the best shapes. The whole process was very playful, the city really was our playground. Imagine creating a collage from things you found in the house. We were doing exactly the same thing but with the city we all thought we knew so well and our own bodies. If I could stick our best flexes on the fridge, I would with pride!

Some doorway flexing

For more information on Flex in the City workshops, follow Nicola, here.

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