It's official: American culture is in the midst of a transformation. This year's Fourth of July festivities at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, are the perfect example.
For the past few decades, Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest has been the star sport of the patriotic holiday at Coney Island. But this year, a new challenge has arrived: the Urban Fitness League (UFL). It's a new professional fitness league launching in 2018 that's all about turning the world into your gym with extreme calisthenics (bodyweight movements). Think: American Ninja Warrior meets CrossFit meets gymnastics. (This free movement workout might give you a good taste of what it's like—minus being airborne.) They're hosting the first-ever UFL World Cup on July 4, 2017, right on the Coney Island boardwalk to get people pumped for its official début next year.
So what is UFL, exactly? It's a calisthenics-based sport that began in public parks, playgrounds, and outdoor gyms in Brooklyn. At first, it was just an athletic outlet for dealing with the stress of everyday city living. (Subway delays, crowded gyms, busy sidewalks... Le sigh.) Soon, it evolved into more organized competitions throughout New York City, where a unique pay-it-forward philosophy helped spread the sport. Each participant shares skills and techniques with newcomers in a process called "Each One Teach One." Clearly, it's working; the movement has now spread worldwide. There are teams in China, Brazil, Spain, Australia, Germany, and Russia, and even televised events in Europe. (Who knows—maybe it's a future Olympic sport! After all, cheerleading and Muay Thai might be Olympic sports soon.)
On July 4, the U.S. team takes on the World team in both freestyle and one-on-one competitions. Using only readily available equipment, the sport's events will test strength, endurance, overall body fitness, and creativity with moves such as muscle-ups, levers, typewriters, and the human flagpole. (Got the UFL bug? Try this bodyweight gymnastics-inspired workout and master the pull-up to get a head start on your skills.)
It's not that we don't love a good #treatyoself moment—but if an epic urban fitness competition becomes the new designated sport of the Fourth of July instead of an eating contest, well, we're definitely not mad about it.