Whips wannabe secret agents into shape

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Whips wannabe secret agents into shape

Brooklyn gym whips wannabe secret agents into shape



Walking is tremendously overrated to me — I’d rather be bounding over walls or leaping from the tops of buildings, like James Bond in that “Casino Royale” chase scene. Since I doubt I’ll have a career as a secret agent, I turned to Brooklyn Beast, the city’s first and only parkour gym, which opened earlier this year in Bushwick.

Although the name comes from the French term parcours du combattant — obstacle-based military training — essentially it means getting from one place to another as efficiently as possible, bouncing off all the surfaces, obstacles and walls in the way.
Lionhearted Post reporter Tim Donnelly musters up the strength to leap over a parkour obstacle.
Basilio Montilla of Brooklyn Beast shatters the laws of physics by walking up a wall in a display of the military fitness style known as parkour.

You’ve probably seen it in movies, where someone is being chased from rooftop to alleyway with a seamless flow from surface to surface. Done right, it looks like a mix of board-less skateboarding and multisurface break dancing.

“Our vibe is sort of like a typical gymnastics gym,” says co-founder Shem Rajoon, 27, who is lean but agile. “It’s about freedom of movement here. You explore different ways of moving through the environment.”

So, in board shorts and sneakers one recent Monday night, I took to the mat with four others for a beginners’ class. My classmates were two young women, dressed more appropriately for a workout, and two dudes with muscular legs who took every jump and sprint so intensely, it seemed as if they were auditioning for Jason Statham’s role in “Crank.”

The Beast, located in a huge old Bushwick garage, looks like a life-size video-game level, complete with a foam pit, trampoline, a pole and lots of graffiti by local artists decking the walls. People are performing capoiera (sexy Brazilian dance-fighting) and break dancing on the floor to the beats of deafening dubstep.

After some warm-up moves, the sinewy-muscled staff pulled out the equipment. First up was a vault — not a rectangular one you see in the Olympics, but a triangular, soft one you might recall from elementary school gym class. The instructor told us to run up to it and do a “safety vault,” a simple little jump on and over it — to learn how to use your hands to balance your weight and your momentum to fling you over.

We all did that without embarrassing ourselves, but then the vaults got more complicated — jumping over it, using one hand and no feet; then two feet over the top, leapfrog style; then kicking off to the side over two consecutive vaults.

The two dudes in our group were charging headstrong at every vault and springing over it like they were being chased by fat thugs, and well on their way to earning a role in “Crank 3: Bushwick Nights.”

But this was still just a warm-up.

Our next exercise is where it really starts to look something like those crazy parkour videos on YouTube. Instructor Mike Araujo points to a wall about 10 feet high. “You’re going to run up to that,” he says, “and run up it.”

This sounds like some sort of physics-defying magic, but we’re told it’s easier than we might think. The trick is in planting your foot hard against the wall and pushing up. Then you grab the top ledge, keep kicking your legs up, almost in a gallop motion, until you reach the top. Right.

Lauren Sabedra, 30, the tallest in our group, ran too slow and splatted into the wall “like a fly on a windshield,” she exclaimed. She was tough and got right back on the line to try again. She eventually succeeded.

I also kept trying. A few more sprints at the wall and, boom! I reach the top!

Impressive, yes, but we’re not done with the class yet. The next and last stop is an incredibly intimidating steel wall, with a curve at the bottom. It looks like what hoverboarders would use to do tricks, if hoverboards existed.

Araujo tells us to run straight up it and grab a metal bar about 10 feet high. The two strong dudes do it so quickly, they are sick of it — “It’s not a challenge,” says one — but for me, this is by far the most fun. There is a particular gravity-defying feeling you get when running up sheer metal. Grabbing that bar, which I did on the second try, feels like a success for all of humanity. I feel like Bond, and I just nabbed the bad guy.

Two days later, I woke up still sore in thigh and arm muscles that I didn’t even know I had. But I also had the itch to start climbing and bouncing off of every wall I see.

Beginners’ classes ($18) are held daily. 230 Bogart St., Bushwick; 347-457-6290, bklynbeast.com.


Originally Posted at: http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/parkour_recreation_7mtMxM9ZGFOSRoaTAf0XJK

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