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In 2011 I suffered from a knee injury where I was no longer able to dance. After the initial shock of the injury news, I decided that I had to find a new way to express myself that would be non-impacting for my joints so I created “City Is My Playground. I began sampling from my many years of Hip Hop dance training, drawing specific inspiration upon the “freeze” component or static shapes one creates with their bodies from the art of breakin’ (breakdance). I then integrated this freeze form athleticism and blended in the mindfulness and posturing influence inspired by my Pilates education and teaching. The final ingredient was transferring this new found mode of self expression of static shapes and forms using my body, from the studio out into the city. I started to explore the vibrant streetscapes and street structures that surround us and how I could integrate bold physical shapes and forms with their support.

I want to inspire people to start looking at the city as their playground, and look beyond traditional methods of training, self expression and creative physicality.

For me, the city is the canvas and the street structures are the tools. It’s about having fun in the places and spaces we live in and having a sense of pride towards our surroundings and environment.

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Through the unique blend of body art (or what I describe as physical graffiti) and cityscape urban furniture, my mission is to flip the way people view and experience their city.

I lead “Flex in the City” workshops, where we follow a specific adventure route around the City. Using a creative and playful approach, I draw upon low impact mixed modalities/movements, introducing creative isometrics- static shapes or as I call them “flexes”- and Pilates/athletic dance based conditioning, to build core and upper body strength.

I am sensitive to the fact that this is a new style of physical training, therefore I ease people in. The aim is to inspire others to look at what’s around them that they can strike a shape in, on or between. It’s so much fun to go out with a group flexing around the city, whilst getting friendly with the doorways, streetposts and walls that surround us. The possibilities for creative physical expression are endless.

Having travelled to NYC and Paris with City is my Playground, I hope to bring the Flex in the City workout to more people in as many cities as I can. I am passionate about sharing the tools and techniques that I have found so useful to maintain my passion and physicality, whilst empowering people to start looking at the city as their playground and have fun with it

The second movement experience that I have developed is the Free Your Spine Series. The live masterclass consists of 8 short movement sequences, that focus on spinal flexibility and mobility, whilst stressing the importance of moving.

Sitting is fast becoming the smoking of the 21st century.

The digital and office worker lifestyle that we live in means that our bodies are becoming more and more sedentary and less and less active.I really want to encourage people to take a few minutes out of their day to get moving in an accessible, fun and informative way.

Having been a Pilates educator for over a decade, it is not uncommon to meet many people with a slipped disc or severe lower back complaint. The Free Your Spine series delivers accessible movement sequences which will wake up the bodies innate way of moving, whilst not compromising physical form or technique. The importance of self care and balanced cross training cannot be underestimated. Between the Flex in the City workout and the FYS method, I think there is a nice mix of strength and stretch components to help maintain an injury free life! This has been my personal movement practice and mantra for four years and I am excited to share the FYS masterclass programme. It bridges the gap between my passions: creative movement/physical therapy and holistic practices.

In essence, through a knee injury I discovered and developed a whole new way of moving and expressing. I had no choice but to create and innovate other ways of using my body. Four years on now (post injury) and it is a privilege to be able to share the work and mission behind both City is my Playground and Free Your Spine.

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SITE: http://www.cityismyplayground.com

BLOG: http://www.cityismyplayground.tumblr.com

FB: http://www.facebook.com/NCGLDN

INSTAGRAM: @cityismyplayground

T: @ngeismar

© Lightening Magazine 2016