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Raise Up made me feel the same feeling Pumping Iron did -- it might be the next coming, but it could potentially be more powerful.
- Marc Missioreck, VP of Sales and Sponsorships, TheFitExpo
Calisthenics, a natural movement exercise system, utilized by warriors, healers and athletes since times immemorial experienced unprecedented rejuvenation during the dawn of the new millennium. Exploding from NYC parks with Hip Hop sensibilities, yet based on classical strength training protocols of reps and sets these new urban bar masters effortlessly changed the collective consciousness of the world.
Fueled by the rise of social media, extreme calisthenics or “street workout” spread rapidly across the globe. It took hold wherever the disenfranchised devoured all aspects of American youth culture especially in Eastern Europe where the focus on body-weight and movement visually echoed Soviet style military exercises. Leagues were formed. Styles evolved. And a distinct divide developed between the old school originators of the movement and the new school practitioners of the sport.
Raise Up: The World is Our Gym keenly documents the transformation of this vibrant subculture from its NYC beginnings to international competitions. Along the way we learn, no matter which way the branches of the tree grows, it's strength remains rooted in social awareness, community building and youth empowerment.
David Iversen is a video and film producer, director and editor based in Raleigh, NC. In 1997 he wrote, directed and edited the noir-styled narrative film, "Chesterfield". Since 2000 he has focused mainly on documentaries including the award-winning "Live and Let Go: An American Death" in 2003 and "1000 Brothers & Sisters" in 2007.
David began his career in filmmaking at University of North Carolina - Greensboro where he majored in Communications with a concentration on Broadcast Production. While there, he quickly became enamored with the process of filmmaking and form a student group dedicated to the art and science of Super 8mm and 16mm film. Several award-winning student films were produced in this period but sadly most have been destroyed or lost.
After graduation David went on to work on several shorts with other local filmmakers and eventually made the 35mm feature film narrative in 1997, "Chesterfield", garnering awards for cinematography and directing. After that, he discovered a love for editing and documentary work. In 2003 he edited the powerful award-winning end-of-life documentary "Live and Let Go: An American Death". Shortly afterwards, he co-directed and edited "1000 Brothers & Sisters", a documentary about the history of one of the south's oldest continuously running homes for orphaned children, The Masonic Home for Children in Oxford, NC.
David is an accomplished video producer and editor in the corporate and industrial world as well working with several large companies and start-ups to brand their products. He lives and works in Raleigh North Carolina. He is excited to be the most recent addition to the Raise Up team and looks forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
B. Rain Bennett
Rain Bennett is an independent international documentary filmmaker who creates projects focused on cultural or social issues, food, music, art and health. Operating under his brand, Flying Flounder Productions, he writes, directs, and produces strong stories that touch the heart.
Since 2012, Bennett has been traveling the world telling the stories of the rapidly emerging Street Workout culture – a freestyle version of calisthenics that emerged in the parks and playgrounds of New York City in the early 2000’s. In the form of a feature documentary, he is the first in the world to introduce this global culture that is organized in over 80 countries, participated by millions, yet still unheard of by the average citizen. Through this journey, he has given public speeches in several countries, taught children the art of Street Workout, built workout parks for orphanages in developing countries, and produced video content for North American and European clients.
A native to coastal North Carolina, Bennett moved to New York City in 2010 and kept busy developing and producing short documentaries, creating powerful video projects for corporate clients, and freelancing for film and television shows. He briefly spent time at Deluxe Entertainment Services, a post-production facility serving the motion picture industry since 1915. There, he served as a Project Coordinator, acting as a liaison between the staff and the clients for some of the largest shows and movies shot in and around New York City.
Before moving to New York, Bennett and Flying Flounder Productions were based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Within the first few years after graduating from NC State University, his early work was award-winning and nationally broadcast. Most notably, he was nominated twice for regional Emmy Awards for his role on the Foundation for Biomedical Research’s TV series, "Survivor Tales" (now known as "Bench to Bedside"). Typically focusing on projects that served a social cause, Bennett established a strong reputation for working with non-profit organizations and continues that tradition today.
Rain Bennett currently resides back in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and is touring his film, "Raise Up: The World is Our Gym", around the United States throughout the fall of 2015 and internationally in 2016.
FRED "DR. G" BEASLEY
Fred Beasley, AKA Dr. Goodbody is the founder of Athletic Alchemy, where he specializes in optimal performance for young athletes.. Educating athletes, dancers, trainers, coaches and students of various calibers, Dr. G has quietly created an innovative approach to health and wellness, strength conditioning, and overall fitness that has received critical acclaim internationally.
In 2005, Dr. GoodBody began working exclusively with the NYC BARTENDAZ. Together with CEO & Founder Hassan Yasin, he has been the epicenter of a global explosion in the popularity of body weight movements that has virtually rocked the internet world and literally shifted the foundational paradigm of exercise science.
Prior to joining The BARTENDAZ collective, Mr. Gold spent several years in the music industry, wearing multiple hats on both sides of the stage during Hip Hop's golden era. Rocking the mic with legendary performers such as, B.I.G, Tupac, LL Cool J, EPMD, RedMan, WuTang, Nas, Mos Def, and The Roots, he found that the industries often glamorized media images and turned up stereotypes of the Hip Hop lifestyle were counterproductive. This provided the much needed spark of self renewal for Solomon when he chose to walk away from the spotlight at the start of the new millennium.
Ironically, the untimely death of his mother to cancer was the seed that birthed the Dr. GoodBody persona. He dedicated himself to intense personal study by devouring the subjects of anatomy, biomechanics, kinetics, and indigenous movement systems from around the globe. This smorgasbord of information gave Solomon plenty food for thought and served him well, when a chance meeting with Giant at Mt. Morris Park in Harlem spawned a partnership of epic proportions.
As Athletic Alchemist for the BARTENDAZ, Dr. G has been featured on numerous media outlets, including CNN, BET, ESPN, ABC, CBS and NBC. as well as several print publications: NY Times, NY Daily News, Men’s Health, and Men’s Fitness, highlighting the BARTENDAZ original interpretation of traditional calisthenics. In contrast, this mainstream media exposure pales in comparison to the real work Dr. GoodBody has done behind-the scenes, serving thousands of students in the NYC public school system, correction facilities, and community centers.
Dr. GoodBody resides in NYC with his wife and four children. He is currently completing his first book, which he describes in detail the inner workings of the BARTENDAZ Natural Movement System.
New York City
The origins of this story and cultural epicenter of calisthenics. Raise Up came out of meeting and working with the Bartendaz in Harlem and then went on to follow and feature many of the teams in the area from 2010 - 2014. People travel from all over the world to hit the legendary NYC parks and train with teams that started the Youtube explosion. Current headquarters of the Urban Fitness League.
Early adopters of modern calisthenics were beasts such as Drew Cawlina and Dan Attanasio. The Bar-holics were then formed around 2011 and soon after came the WCO - one of the leading organization in competitive calisthenics across the world. Los Angeles quickly developed an acrobatic style reminiscent of the hand-balancing beach culture in the early part of the 20th century. Santa Monica and Venice beaches are some of the top calisthenics destinations.
Like many beach communities, people South Beach in Miami are very dedicated to health and fitness and the bars on 9th and Ocean will show you just how much. Home of the annual Barstarzz Pullup Jam, Miami has created some of the recognizable faces in the global calisthenics culture.
Although Parque del Retiro in downtown Madrid has a great workout park, the origins of calisthenics, or "street workout" in Spain came from a little park in Leganes, just southwest of the capital city. Founded by Barbarrio, the scene in Spain has continued to grow immensely since they hosted the first international competition in Madrid in 2013.
The first team to take off with international appeal was the Bar-Monsterz, recognized and invited to Street Workout World Championship in 2012. But locally, the foundation of calisthenics culture in Amsterdam began with a small park commissioned by the group Still Building. Now Amsterdam is a hub of activity, hosting international competitions multiples times a year.
Though perhaps the smallest of all calisthenics communities, the cultural impact on youth in Equatorial Guinea is huge and was forged by the EG branch of Madrid's Barbarrio. They don't have a lot of access to bars, so the team developed a super creative and rhythmic floor game.
Host of one of WSWCF's first World Cup stages in 2013 and host of the superfinal in 2014. The scene in Norway became popular due to the rise of Tufteparken, calisthenics parks that originated in Asker and spread all over the country. Bar-Bangerz was the first team invited to the SWWC in 2012, and Team Physix gained notoriety later - featured on NRK's Puls TV show.
The calisthenic culture started late in Berlin, with only solo practitioners spreading the word. But when Barliner Workout came onto the scene, Germany quickly became a new hotspot to train calisthenics.
Starting early in the modern calisthenics era, teams like Guwu Bartendaz, Block Workout, and the UK Bar-barians set the stage for some of hardest bar hitters across the globe. Now home to many international competitions, some of the new teams like BarSparta are dominating both strength and freestyle contests across the globe.
Home of the first French National Championship in 2013, this small town on the south of France actually holds a tiny Kenguru park on private property. (Also of note: nearby Lyon hosts the trophy-grabbing team Body Art Athletes de Rue)
Pull and Push might be one of the most underrated international competition in the calisthenics community. Hosted just outside the city in Grigny, this event matches the dynamic culture of New York City and has been running for year.
Though Barca had humble beginnings with only the team Spartans Barz in nearby Calafell, once the Barmania Pro park came to the beach, the scene grew exponentially. Now home to the Battle of the Barz at the Arnold Classic, Barcelona has become a destination for calisthenics heads.
One of the first parts of the world to explode with the modern calisthenics scene. Beginning with the group Workout24, they hosted teams from the US and other countries in the early part of the 2010s. Now home of Kenguru Pro and site of WSWCF's annual Street Workout World Championship, Moscow hosts hundreds of the worlds best calisthenics athletes with several competitions throughout the year.
Riga is the home of the World Street Workout and Calisthenics Federation, forming in 2009 and hosting it's first championship in 2011. This was the first (of now many) world championship and world cups, but if not for this small city, we may have never seen international competitions like we do now.
Street Workout Ukraine was responsible for some of the earliest international events, inviting the Bar-barians from the US to participate in 2011. Still known to host competitions, the organization focuses mostly on the local growth of health and fitness in Ukraine - being responsible for parks built all over the country.
Kampala has a small park placed at an orphanage just outside of town as part of Tufteparken's social project. The kids took to it immediately and began training every day.
Taipei hosted the first WSWCF World Cup in Asia in May 2013. This might have been the catalyst to what has now become a vibrant Asian "street workout" community in many surrounding countries.
Athens is the birthplace of the written record of calisthenics, citing the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE with the infamous Spartans. Now, Greece has several teams in the calisthenics culture and even a 40-yr-old park atop of the first (modern day) olympic stadium, the Panathenaic Stadium.
Zagreb has a small but dedicated calisthenics community, but the tradition is evident with the amount of old parks they have and how many people show up to train daily. This is indicative of many post-Yugoslavic countries, which all prove to produce beats.
Barmafia was the first team to put Sweden on the map, but now we see calisthenics communities all over Scandinavia. Though small, the diverse calisthenics group here is a great representation of the community overall.
My journey on this film began in New York City where the movement began to take hold in the late 1990s.
Co-producer Dr. G shares the love in Madrid where the global influence of NYC teams like Bartendaz was seen in a major way.
The Barstarzz Pull-up Jams, whether in New York or Miami, are always exciting events to attend. Impossible not to shoot good shots with these guys!
Norway was probably my favorite country I visited during my travels. Here I am in the early days of spring with Ahmed Kerigo.
Athletes, judges, organizers, and spectators from all over the world joined every August in Riga, Latvia.
Team USA in Riga!
We spent some time at an orphanage in Uganda filming and building a workout park for the kids. It was easily the most special and touching part of my trip.
A brief moment of quiet reflection.
It got awfully cold with Denis Minin in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, but the city looked beautiful in December!
Cecilia Braekus, the worlds best female boxer, has a boxing club in the city slums of Kampala, Uganda. These girls and boys were tough!
The strong women of Barbarrio in Madrid, Spain.
Training the kids of Uganda in the art of freestyle pushups!
Speaking at a press conference before the World Cup stage at Fredrikstad, Norway.
Ukraine has beautiful women, so I couldn't really say "no" to this! ;)
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