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EDITIONS
Monday, 3 February, 2003, 06:31 GMT
Keeping fit is child's play
House gymnastics
Moves are graded between one and five stars

People from around the globe have been getting into House Gymnastics - a sort of children's yoga. Its creators explain how it began.
Climbing the walls, hanging from banisters and hiding in tight spaces maybe familiar to any curious child.

But a pair of friends from Nottingham have turned it into a keep fit art form which is proving a remarkable hit.

Spencer Harrison and James Ford
Spencer Harrison and James Ford
Everybody we told about it really got into it... it gets really addictive

James Ford, left
Tens of thousands of people have been logging on to their website for House Gymnastics since it went live just six weeks ago.

"I think people like it because it is the sort of thing you used to do as a kid like Spiderman moves and I think it taps into that," says Spencer Harrison, one of its creators.

"It is something everybody can do. Everyone can find things within their domestic space to use to bust a move."

House Gymnastics is hybrid of yoga, breakdancing, climbing and gymnastics.

Blind faith

Moves are made within the home using furniture or permanent features and must be held for three seconds.

Mr Harrison, 29, tells how it began: "We were trying to put up a blind and rather than go downstairs and find a ladder we ended up putting it up using House Gymnastics."

Five star moves
House gymnastics
Armchair handstand
Carpet crab, above
Ceiling stand
Elevated carpet crab
Free-standing suspension bridge
One-handed starfish
Spiderman
X-door
From there it became an artistic concept between Mr Harrison and his flatmate James Ford and the website was set up.

House Gymnastic moves are graded between one and five stars with five star moves being the most difficult.

Each move has its own name and the pair say the naming became as important as the move itself.

Viewers are encouraged to create their own moves and help the "sport" to grow.

Mr Ford, 22, says: "They are almost human sculptures - it is an achievement to be able to do all the moves.

"Everybody we told about it really got into it. It's really weird as it gets really addictive."

Global hits

On one day, a month ago, their page views went from just 20 to 8,000.

"We thought there was something wrong," says Mr Ford, "we were getting one hit a second - we were looking and it kept going up and up."

Jumping jack wedge
House gymnastics
This is one you must have done as a kid

James Ford
He attributes much of the success to the search engine Yahoo which put it up as website of the day last month.

"We have had 65,000 hits in six weeks which is just ridiculous," says Mr Ford.

Fans come from as far afield as Asia and Australia and their website is used in lectures at a university in San Francisco, in the United States.

Scores of viewers have also submitted their own moves with new names.

"There is the artistic sense of bringing the artist down to the viewer, or the viewer up to the artist which is an interesting concept," he said.

Climbing the walls

A 27-minute DVD Mr Harrison and Mr Ford filmed of themselves failing an endurance test of House Gymnastics has been accepted to exhibitions across the country.

And they have already won critical acclaim.

Anna Ormrod, writing for Noun Multimedia, says: "People connect with House Gymnastics.

"It reminds them of their childhood... when they used to climb around the house and explore, with the desire to be one of their wall climbing heroes like Batman or Spiderman."

There is a down side though.

Mr Harrison and Mr Ford have also put an injury log book on their site to record the "unfortunate but inevitable" side of house gymnastics.

So far the log records a chipped heel bone, some nasty cuts and a fractured wrist.


Click here to go to Nottingham
See also:

03 Feb 03 | England
21 Sep 02 | England
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