Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Urban Evolution

The following is an article I wrote for a feature in Urban Evolution’s monthly newsletter called “My First Month at Urban Evolution.” Urban Evo is a gym that teaches parkour, freerunning, breakdancing, aerial acrobatics, capoeira, and UrbanFit.

It’s weird to think that I’ve only been at Urban Evolution for a month. Given the closeness I feel with the staff and other patrons, the improvement in my abilities, and the breadth of things I’ve learned, it feels like so much longer.

I’d first heard about the gym through LivingSocial, which had a phenomenal deal on a one-month membership. Simple plan: get my money’s worth out of the deal, learn some tricks, and then go back to my regular gym. That first day I’ll admit to being nervous when I showed up for the Intro to Parkour class. I saw a gym with equipment I didn’t understand and ample space to run around. The class was surprisingly fun for an intro class, and a lot more hands on – well, more body-on – than I’d expected, though I wouldn’t say I really got much exercise. Or so I thought until I woke up the next day to realize that walking down stairs was no longer an easy task.

Within a week, it was no longer about trying to get my money’s worth, it was about being at a place I felt comfortable, learning new skills, and having fun. From day one the staff remembered my name and made me feel welcome. I was getting personal attention tuned to my skill level while having conversations with new friends. Parkour and free-running: check. Working on gymnastic moves: check. Breakdancing: check. Aerial Acrobatics (think circus performers on giant ribbons hanging from the ceiling): check. Capoeira: not yet, but soon.

Through all of this, I was also getting more fit and feeling more in shape, though I wouldn’t call it a “workout.” That implies it is work – a task, a job, an obligation. My time at Urban Evolution is anything but. It is recess for adults, a time when you can play around and have fun and get exercise without having to worry about things. When my one-month membership ended, my simple plan got scrapped; this wasn’t a place I could just walk away from. Despite the fact that I live in Reston and that I have a gym a mile from my house, I signed up to stay on at Urban Evolution. I had always said that I wouldn’t do this commute for work, and I still think that. But doing it to come here… totally worth it.

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This entry was posted on March 26, 2011 by in Uncategorized.

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