Women & Sports: Cristina Alciati, Animal Flow
Cristina lives in the UK and even though she will be 50 by the time we go to print, last Summer she returned to regular exercise after a serious injury sustained while doing Parkour - yup, Parkour
She is currently studying Krav Maga (a military self-defence and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli security forces) with the occasional grappling/wrestling session and in the process of becoming a certified Animal Flow instructor.
Christina has also studied and taught Pole Fitness, as well as a few different styles of martial arts - she's pretty unstoppable!
Have you been able to return to Parkour since you injury?
Not quite. I include some Parkour training in my warm ups but it’s limited to a few small jumps or balance training exercises. I am still finding my boundaries around the permanent damage left from the injury. It’s in the cards though. I have unfinished business which I intend to complete.
There are also some moves borrowed from Parkour in the Animal Flow system so I limit myself to practicing those for the time being.
How did you get involved with Parkour
When I was a teenager I became quite good at vaulting over fences and climbing up drain pipes to sneak into my bedroom through the window on the 3rd story of my parents’ house. They said come back before 2am, I usually walked up the road barefoot at 5. Back then it was called “let’s hope I don’t get caught”, these days it’s called Parkour. (ED: although we don't condone this, we also played "let’s hope I don’t get caught” as a teen - sorry mum)
Seriously though, I was a competitive gymnast when I was a child and that’s always been my biggest love when it comes to sports (as well as fighting). Somehow I always gravitate towards activities that incorporate an element of gymnastics and require both strength and agility while offering room for creative expression. Parkour ticks those boxes for me and when I discovered that one of the best practitioners in the UK was based not far from me I had to have a go.
The Parkour academy is now based in the same town as me so I shall be paying a visit soon.
Were you always interested in sports or was sports something you began as an adult?
I always had bundles of physical energy and playing sports was the ideal outlet for me. I started with skiing when I was about 4 years old. My grandmother lived near some ski slopes on the Italian Alps so my parents would load a whole bunch of my cousins and friends in the boot of the car and leave us to play on the ski slopes for the day.
Then came the gymnastics, then the martial arts, then the dancing, then the equestrianism, then the pole fitness and then the motorsports too at some point. I am still doing different versions of the same things to this day!
Eventually after spending nearly 20 years in corporate, when my role as Company Secretary came to an end during the last recession, I took some time out and made fitness my career by taking over a pole studio and becoming a Personal Trainer. Actually the pole studio was given to me by its previous owner and my mentor at the time who happened to be the reigning UK Champion. But that’s another story… :-)
How do you handle setbacks, such as injuries?
When I injured myself doing Parkour I was devastated as at this age it takes forever to heal. Meanwhile your body commits hara-kiri and starts aging and destroying itself so not only you have to deal with healing from your mishaps, you also have to stop muscle wastage and weight gain at the same time.
After crying inconsolably for days I decided to turn my accident into a learning experience and an opportunity to start building an online presence by blogging and being on social media. I dug deep into the role of nutrition and movement to support my healing and eventually became involved with the Animal Flow community.
Unfortunately I had to take a step back with my Personal Training and Thai Yoga Massage businesses which I only recently started to promote again. But then again, what I learned doing other things has made me wiser and that is helping me set healthy boundaries with version 2.0 of my businesses.
We love that your sporting life is so varied - what sports are on the list that you haven’t yet tried?
There are so many cool sports to choose from but if I were to pick one it would be motorsports and specifically rallying and drifting. I wouldn’t mind a blast in an F1 car either. I had a go at trackdays and drifting a few years back but had to give that up too when I broke my legs as I can’t use the clutch pedal because it hurts.