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Progress, condition, repetition: a parkour-inspired life

There are no treadmills or elliptical machines in Christopher Wilczewski’s Hainesport gym. An expansive, vibrant mural and non-traditional equipment meets the eye instead.

The 22-year-old Mt. Laurel resident owns and operates The Warrior Lab, is working toward a college degree and is in his third season on the TV show “American Ninja Warrior.”

His life is inspired by parkour, a sport centered on overcoming obstacles.

“Parkour is like the hardest thing to define ever,” Wilczewski said. “It’s really determined on what your interpretation of it is, because parkour can mean something different to different people.”

Some people use parkour to stay in shape and remain healthy, others to conquer fears and overcome obstacles.

“Other people just do it to have fun,” he said.

Between all of his obligations, Wilczewski is busy around the clock.

“I have no social life,” he laughed. “I spend all of my time doing this.”

Around 6 a.m., his day starts.

He heads to his classes at Rowan University in Glassboro where he is studying health and promotional fitness to one day become a gym teacher.

“I want to be a gym teacher during the day and then run the gym at night,” he said.

After classes, he travels to his Burlington County gym to teach classes before going home and settling in with some homework and business-related paperwork.

Sleep and repeat, with Sunday being the only exception.

“During the school year, it’s just me running everything,” he said, though he does have help from his brother in the summer.

“My schedule’s pretty ridiculous.”

He also makes sure to fit performances, shows and even some stunt work for small independent films into his schedule, too.

Look out for a performance at the Mt. Laurel Library, 100 Walt Whitman Ave., from 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 7.

He started his business in January 2011, training people out of parks and a course in his backyard.

“It grew so rapidly that we were able to partner with another gym within a couple months of starting,” he said.

Within five months, the business had outgrown that gym and entered its new space last January.

Wilczewski has his personal trainer certification.

“We’ve just been building and expanding constantly,” he said. “Lately we’ve been putting a lot into it.”

Gym hours vary and a calendar can be found on www.thewarriorlab.com.

He hopes that his presence on “American Ninja Warrior” will get more people interested in parkour.

Three years ago when he set out for “American Ninja Warrior 2,” Wilczewski widened his horizons.

“My brother was the one who suggested the idea (to try out for the show),” he said.

After being involved that season, he traveled the country, met up with fellow parkour enthusiasts and found out how they started their gyms to gain ideas for his own.

In mid-March this year, he tried out at the regional qualifying course in Miami.

According to “American Ninja Warrior’s” website on www.G4tv.com, “Can anyone beat the course? For the first time ever, G4 held six regional tryouts in three host cities to find the top 100 competitors to run the world’s toughest obstacle course for a chance to win $500,000.”

Wilczewski went through rounds of pre-interviewing and giving background information before being sent through the course.

“It’s really fun,” he said.

Filming began around 7 p.m. and ended by 6 a.m. the next day.

“I slept a lot during the day,” he said. “It took a lot of resting and mental preparation.”

Around 120 contestants ran through the course, with only 20 actually completing it. Thirty qualified for the next round.

They were given one shot, which was the hardest part of it all, he said.

One of the obstacles was quad steps – steps angled at 45 degrees that must be kicked off of in a sequence to reach the next. Touching the safety water underneath meant instant elimination.

The bungee bridge, he said, was “a really, really silly obstacle.”

Two to three bungee cords were put together. He was expected to run across them over a 15-foot gap. When he reached that point in the course, he thought, “I have to do what with what?”

There were six obstacles in total in the qualifying rounds and nine obstacles in the regional semi-finals.

He was recently seen on G4 on Sunday, June 3 at 9 p.m. and the semi-finals NBC on Monday, June 4 at 9 p.m., and was excited to receive a “really good amount of airtime.”

“The Vegas episodes will still be coming,” he said, and all of the filming is complete.

His gym recently released a video with three parkour tips for beginners.

First, progress slowly.

“Take your time going through each movement,” he said. “Don’t overdo it.”

No one wakes up doing huge flips, he pointed out.

Second, condition, work out and train the body.

“Otherwise, your joints and ligaments aren’t going to be able to handle it,” he said, which could cause a sprained ankle or hurt knee.

Third, practice every move over and over again.

“Do it thousands of times until it’s perfect,” he said.

For more information on The Warrior Lab, contact Chris Wilczewski at (609) 330-4784 or ChrisWilczewski@thewarriorlab.com.

The gym is located at 902 Park Ave. in Hainesport.

To learn more about “American Ninja Warrior 4,” visit www.g4tv.com/ninjawarrior.