Undead inspire the unfit

By HermineBloom

For those who feel threatened by a zombie apocalypse in 2012, learning how to scale walls and jump over large, urban hurdles are useful skills to acquire in the event of ending up in an epic, bloody scene out of a classic horror film.

Rich Gatz, 28-year-old attorney and parkour practitioner, uses his fear of the undead as motivation when it comes to functional fitness, which is why he and his business partner Jesse Randall founded Zombiefit—an exercise program dedicated to learning crossfit techniques and parkour, or physically and mentally training toovercome obstacles.

“We really don’t want it to be gimmicky,” Randall said. “We’re not trying to sell zombies. If zombies [are] what it takes to get you interested in parkour and crossfit, then use that as your creative goal and drive in order to get you fit.”

Lately, it seems there has been a lot of media attention on zombies, which, Randall admits, is something they have used to

their advantage.

“I’m sure that just having zombie in the name gets people interested and wondering,” he said.

Gatz, once an intercollegiate athlete and avid conditioner, began doing crossfit three years ago. Crossfit training involves a lot of body weight exercises, gymnastics-type exercises and high intensity metabolic training, he said.

As a result, he achieved the body awareness and physical ability to be able to perform parkour, which can be described as “mastering yourself to overcome obstacles both physically and mentally,” Randall said.

Whether it be completing a difficult math problem or getting across a physical ledge that prevents mobility, parkour teaches fearlessness.

“Our current society has this utter lack of functional fitness and situational awareness,” Gatz said. “You see these people that work out in gyms for two hours a day, yet they can’t lift anything heavy, they couldn’t run away from anybody and they wouldn’t know how to scale a wall or even fall correctly. By looking at some of the zombie films, you realize, ‘Wow, sometimes you actually have to run away

from something.’”

Through Gatz’s training at a crossfit facility in St. Charles, Ill., he met the manager at the Excel Gymnastics, 3800 N. Peck Road, which is now the facility that hosts Zombiefit’s two weekly classes along with one open gym session per week.

Price packages are either $10 per individual class or $70 for a full monthly package of training three days a week at Excel Gymnastics. Zombiefit’s half-hour classes consist of warm-ups, drills, stretches and practicing different parkour techniques such as vaults and wall climbs, ending in an intense conditioning workout, Randall said.

Randall, a Columbia alumnus, began practicing parkour in January 2009 when he wanted to become involved with fitness again after playing more conventional sports for years.

Currently, talking about zombies is actually not the focal point of the exercise groups, said 23-year-old parkour practitioner and friend Kurt Gown. Fortunately, Gown said both Randall and Gatz have openly discussed incorporating the theme a little more in terms of dialogue.

Ultimately, Gatz wishes to build his own facility to teach his own brand of doomsday-inspired exercises by replicating an urban environment with concrete walls and rails. This will not only help to accommodate those who wish to train in the wintertime, but Gatz explained that there are some parkour movements that simply cannot be practiced in a regular-sized gym.

“We’re not saying ‘OK, 2012 is coming and that there’s definitely going to be a zombie apocalypse,’” Randall said. “But by preparing for the impossible, you’ll be ready for the improbable.”

For more information, visit ZombieFit.org.