Meet Nicola Cher Geismar (NCG), City is my Playground Street Athlete, Urban expressionist, Barre / Pilates trainer & practitioner and all other things fierce & awesome. We met up with Nicola for a Flex in the City workshop at Brick Lane, London.
Flexing draws inspiration from various lifestyle attributes. In former years, Nicola was highly involved in the Hip-Hop break dancing scene. Also as a Barre & Pilates instructor, strength and focus are also present in the concept of Flexing. Suffering from a knee ligament injury in 2011, she persisted not to let that deter her passion. Nicola began Flexing to continue to emanate her distinct urban style, all the while maintaining and pushing her body strength and flexibility. Flexing builds on self-confidence and pushes you to channel your style and individualism.
Flex In The City is unlike anything we know of in London and possibly even the world, though it pulls disciplines from Barre, Pilates, Yoga and Pole Dance classes that we can relate to. We started the day meeting up in Brick Lane and what a fitting choice, I mean the area is oozing with art, culture and things to flex on! We walked to a nearby park to begin our warm up really drilling into core, leg and arm exercises to prepare us for each of the activities. Despite fitness level, the one thing that is asked of you when Flexing is to keep your mind open, go for it and don't let fear of failing hold you back.
The first and probably most fundamental lesson we learnt was using our body strength and body weight to mount onto a lamppost, the concept of which is much more difficult than it sounds. Watching Nicola do this in several videos and in person makes it seem so easy as she pretty much glides into position. I ALSO HAVE TO MENTION, particularly if this is a class you want to try out, when she tells you Converse have the best grip - listen! I love a pair of Nike's better than the next girl, but lamp posts appear to love a good pair of Converse!
The second lesson, keeping with our new faithful friend, the lamppost, was to use our guns and core muscles to hold poses such as the scissor kick. I don't have the most developed upper body strength which I always knew was going to be a challenge coming to this workshop. However, it has made me even more determined to practice and aim to perfect the poses. For the first couple of tries, I could barely get off the floor. Nic did not at any point make me feel like I was failing and pushed me to keep trying at my own pace. Towards the end, I was holding on, maybe for not as long as the others, but I learnt to keep my arms strong and keep my body connecting with the lamp post in the right places.
Flexing is much more than finding the nearest lamppost and jumping on. It is all about focus and and control, even more so than pole dancing & parkour where you can use your speed & momentum to position yourself. You can flex on, in, over, under, using any form of infrastructure at your disposal. Whether it is a lamp post, wall, doorway or gate - 'it isn't straight up calisthenics, this is about using the urban furniture around us to support our body weight in a creative / expressive style'.
To wrap things up, we moved onto one of Nicola's favourites, doorways where after watching her do her thang, I quickly inherited her doorway fetish. Where I mentioned I struggled with the aerial suspension, I eagerly embraced flexing my body to fit & frame myself within the confines of the doorway.
Before we knew it - over 2 hours had past, our arms & legs feeling like jelly but our spirits high. There is just something about Flexing that is so empowering and highly addictive!
I am absolutely in love with the concept of City Is My Playground and it is completely in sync with all that fourfits is about - fashion, fierceness and finding ways to keep fit that push beyond the boundaries of usual fitness ideals. The city truly is our playground and I will use what's around to flex further - 'one flex at a time'.
If you want to give it a go, Nicola runs workshops at Brick Lane, London on Sundays.
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- four that strut