How Brixton Street Gym has revolutionised bodyweight training!
The South London calisthenics crew has invented a new method – called Flow – that’s freed their minds, their lives and their community
In a reclaimed warehouse carpark in South London stands the Brixton Street Gym. In 2014, its members practised in a park, but when their training began to scare locals, they moved here. It was just an empty space at first.
“In the park, we had parallel bars,” says Lex Bwalya, one of the original members. “And when we built the gym, we added an extra bar and made them longer to get more kids on them.”
Then something amazing happened: “We developed a way of moving on the three p-bars that nobody else had. On parallels, you do static strength moves. Now you had to navigate all the bars seamlessly. It’s called Flow. You get to the point where you can’t tell the start of one move from another. It helps your brain look at things from a new perspective.”
Anthony Ferguson: “I got hit by a car. They wouldn’t let me into the gym, so I went to the park. It was the only option, other than sit around and do nothing. That’s where it started. Aesthetically I was in decent shape, but athletically I wasn’t: I couldn’t pull my body weight, couldn’t dip it, nothing. As I started to master this, I didn’t go back to the regular gym. Now I’ve changed to a vegan diet – I can’t do this and eat junk food. I’m getting clean, efficient energy so that I can progress to the next level faster. It’s not about numbers on weights; it’s about pushing yourself. I look, feel and perform way better. My performance is multiplied by 50.”
Styling by Sarah Ann Murray
“When you’re ready to try new things, your body will let you know,” says instructor Jamal Jackson. “It’s a lot easier when you’ve got people behind you who will push you further than you would go by yourself. If I didn’t have a lot of people around me when I had my sessions, I wouldn’t have progressed to where I am now. I think that’s the reason why we’re able to do what we can do – because everyone is together, pushing each other the furthest they can go.”
“It’s about freedom,” says Ferguson. “I’m not going to the gym at a certain time and having to get a bench before someone else. I grab a bar and pull my body up, repeating the exercise until I master it, then move on. I started on a monkey-bar set about half my height in a kid’s playground. As long as I can tuck my legs or put them out in an L-sit, I have enough space for what I need to do: squats, box jumps, handstands, frog stands – in a bedroom or park, it doesn’t matter.”