When N.Y.C. Is Your Fitness Center: MEET UP WITH THE Athletes Redefining Fitness In The City’s Parks

The key to doing well in a pull-up competition is rhythm. Allow body arranged the tempo: the downbeat of the chin clearing the pub, the kick drum of pressure in the shoulder blades. Keep that defeat, that timing, until weariness models in. This is how Leticia Duran, 29, is victorious trophies, and how she mustered her first 20 simple ascents on a summer evening at World’s Fair Playground in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Ms. Duran was training for the 20th annual Pull-Up Park Jam, New York’s longest-running outdoor calisthenics competition. She has placed first in the women’s class for the past two years, leading the field through grueling models of pull-ups, squats, sit-ups, muscle-ups, and push-ups – explosive hoists above the pub. For Ms. Duran and the fitness-minded people who’ve built a community in New York City’s public parks, the Pull-Up Park Jam (calls it the “Pup-Jay” for brief) is one in a series of cherished summer events.

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“It’s more than simply building the muscles,” said Keith Fields, 64, an O.G., or elder statesman, of the community. Mr. Fields co-founded the contest in 1998 and manages it along with his exercise partners Raymond Rodney and Funn Harrison. The first one was held in Brooklyn’s Jackie Robinson Park and relocated to Lincoln Terrace later. Today, there are several calisthenics events at parks all around the populous city, some competitive highly, some for fun just.

“These parks are not only parks,” said Sean Peterkin, a meeting organizer for the Urban Fitness League who goes on Doc. On a recent Saturday, about 80 people showed up at Wingate Park in East Flatbush for Bar Brawl 10 – the pull-up exact carbon copy of a title battle. “We’re all somewhere attempting to squeeze in,” said David “D-Real” Boutros, 28, who received his bout for Team Wingate for the reason that day’s main event.

“A lot of times we don’t get the chance to do this, or get the chance to speak. As calisthenics has grown in recognition, parks like Wingate have grown to be pilgrimage sites, getting visitors from across the world – what Gleason’s Fitness center is within boxing. Some park regulars have found international success.

Eduard Checo, 31, has amassed 1.2 million fans on YouTube and Instagram, publicity that has afforded him paid opportunities to coach fitness classes in Russia, Germany, and China. “No-one here is claiming they invented the front lever, the muscle-up, the handstand,” Mr. Checo said. A playground in Macombs Dam Park, near Yankee Stadium, is home to the Brotherhood Fitness team and was among the first to be made for adult exercise. When Mr. Fields started training in parks, equipment was scarce. “People do pushups on the credit card desk, doing dips on the corner of a metal fence,” he said.

“To do pull-ups, you’d to visit the part. Quincy France, 46, shifted back to the Bronx when Macombs Dam was built. Mr. France, who goes by Q, co-founded Brotherhood and helps to mentor the team now. “We need to get rid of this stigma that this is a prison thing or a street thing,” said Mr. France, an avowed Navy and trainer veteran.