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👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hi! My name is Alec and I’m 27 years old. I’m from New York City and I’m currently a freelance professional acrobat, a touring musician, and a SAG-AFTRA stunt performer.
I’ve been lucky enough to feature in six NBA arenas as a trampoline dunker, in major TV/Motion Pictures such as “The Greatest Showman” and “Hunters” as an acrobat/stunt performer, and play drums at European music festivals with my band.
The long and short of my story is that I have always been a mover. I have been diagnosed with ADHD since I was a child, so I always had a ton of energy.
This energy allowed me to participate in a lot of activities (Piano, breakdancing, gymnastics, parkour, etc…), but also made my parents miserable as a result.
As a child, my parents put me in gymnastics for me to get my energy out. I always loved gymnastics, it always seemed so cool to me to be able to do things with my body that other people could not.
For example, being flexible enough to do a split, or being able to whip out a back-handspring or a backflip whenever I wanted to.
I stuck with that through college, where I found circus. I performed as a trampoline-wall artist as well as a flying trapeze artist.
Finally as a result of performing with the circus, I fell (pardon the pun) into stunt work by way of “The Greatest Showman”.
I have more recently found joy in social media, my tiktok has currently 80k followers (@Alectheacrobat) and it has been a joy to share my talents and inspire people to try new things through socials.
There’s always been something extremely powerful in testing the limits of the body and the mind.
Looking at something and saying, “woah that’s impossible” and then trying it over and over again until I can also do it is an exciting journey for me. That’s what particularly motivates me.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
My training is probably different than most body builders/lifters. The issue with being an acrobat is finding a balance between strength, flexibility, and agility.
If you are too bulky and lose flexibility you can injure yourself. If you are too flexible and do not have the power to handle it, you can lose energy in your flipping and your dynamic motions.
Finally, if you are strong and flexible and do not have the agility to manage the quick decision making you need to have, you are going to fall….a lot.
I try to keep traditional lifting to a minimum. Most gymnasts (especially early in their careers) do not lift.
We do a lot of plyometric and body weight exercises i.e. dips, pushups, v-ups etc... Also, the act of doing our jobs/training our jobs is a workout within itself.
I will train trampoline/trampoline-wall two times a week at a minimum, I lift once a week, I will do tricking once a week, and I will train stunts two times a week.
Basically, I train every day, but I try to figure out ways to get my body rest when it needs it. Each one of these sessions will be 2-3 hours.
Each one of these workouts have different warmp-up techniques and different mentalities. Generally speaking though, my workout will be about 30 mins warmup, 1-1.5 hours of training, and 30 mins cooldown/stretching/rehab.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
Truthfully, I’ve always had a little bit of a martyr syndrome. I like to make things difficult and I like to push my body further than the average person.
It’s almost like a perverse sense of pride that I get from being able to do things that other people cannot or will not. I am also EXTREMELY competitive.
I’ve found that in my experience those things help motivate me to be better at what I do. I also think because my job relies on my training, that it helps motivate me to train more often. If I don’t train, I don’t work.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Unfortunately, my training is a bit slow at the moment as a result of the coronavirus. I try to keep moving in my apartment.
There’s enough space for me to do body-weight exercises like pushups, reverse dips, planks, etc...However, it’s not exactly super safe to practice flipping.
I have been able to do some boxing and Tae Kwon Do style training in the space I have though. For me, it has been all about finding what can be done in the limited environment I have.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
As an acrobat and stunt performer, we do all we can to recover and avoid injury. Between physical therapy sessions, chiropractor bills, and gym-with-steam-room memberships, a lot of resources go into the avoidance of injury.
I have my own recovery program, for example I try to make sure my cool down at the end of a workout is well thought out and that I get a good stretch in.
I also dedicate Friday’s as a “recovery day”. I will go to the gym to sit in a jacuzzi or steam room and just relax. This helps immensely in alleviating soreness.
However, injury is almost a guarantee in my professions. Managing injuries is one of the more difficult parts of what I do. It is SO HARD to want to train/workout and be physically unable to.
I had a severe disc herniation about two years ago that kept me out of working out for eight months while I was recovering. That injury really changed my mentality on how to deal with injury.
I used to think it was best to essentially ignore pain and train as hard and as long as possible.
With my recent injury, I’ve come to terms that it is impossible to ignore injury/pain. You have to take these things seriously or you will lose the ability to do what you love.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
My diet is arguably the weakest part of my training regiment. I am a BIG comfort eater and have a bad sweet tooth.
In reality, I just try to stay as committed to eating healthy as I can, but I also try not to criminalize myself for having some unhealthy food. As long as my body can do what it needs to, I am not extremely worried about it.
I have never really been into supplements, not because they are bad, just because I’ve never really needed them.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
Other people have always been a large motivating force for me. When I have a training partner around the same skill level as me, I will push myself way harder than I normally would.
Like I said earlier, I’m very competitive so having someone who can motivate me when I’m feeling undermotivated or push me to try skills I wouldn’t normally try through competition helps me a lot.
I also like to listen to angry music (metal) to find adrenaline. I really like channeling adrenaline into motivation and energy.
I also follow a lot of my fellow acrobats on social media (@hingaflips, @dillonjohndean, @trampwall1, @son.moku, etc…) who REALLY inspire me to push myself.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Improving yourself and training is all about doing the next right thing. If you are unhappy phsyically take the car and sign up for a gym membership and take a beginner class.
If you want to learn to flip, go to a gymnastics gym and ask for help. These steps can feel very daunting, but doing just the “next right thing” can help get the ball rolling down the hill to a better you.
What I think people do wrong in the gym from a gymnastics setting is not respecting how difficult what we do is.
A lot of the time people will come to the gym with no understanding of how to do what I do and expect to just learn it right away.
The skills I’ve acquired over my time as an acrobat have taken me twenty+ years to learn. Being good at something is not immediate, it takes time and determination.
If you are interested in learning how to flip, you must be willing to put in the hours learning how to roll and learning the progressions so you can avoid injury.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
I am not the type of person that generally charges for my knowledge. I am always willing to help people on their journey to be a circus performer/acrobat.
My only request is that you take the training seriously and that you respect the diligence it takes to get to where you want to go.
I am available via socials and email. If you have questions about what it takes to do any of these skills, please reach out.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
Please shoot me a follow and tell me you saw me from this interview and I will follow you back! Let’s go on a flipping journey together :).
💬 Alec Kossoff quotes
Alec shares some great, motivating insights in this interview. Feel free to share these quotes on your Instagram, Pinterest and so on 😍