Former special forces operator Chris Finn has teamed up with fellow fitness expert Sebastian Morel-Ferreira to present The Pack Outdoor Gym, a series of group exercise classes that combine the best in fitness with the beauty of Manhattan’s parks. We caught up with Finn (pictured)—an Australian ex-pat—to talk workouts, exercise and the joys of transporting 800lbs of gym equipment through the busy streets of New York City.
What is The Pack Outdoor Gym? The Pack Outdoor Gym is a unique and comprehensive small group fitness experience. We are changing the way that outdoor group fitness classes are seen. We combine everything you love about indoor group fitness classes—like kettle bells, weights and a variety of agility and conditioning equipment—with everything you love about the amazing parks of New York City.
How did the idea come about? The idea for the pack came about when I was outside at Rockefeller Plaza on a sunny day. I noticed how everybody from the local area came out of the office to eat lunch in the sunshine. This indicated to me that just like myself, other people living in New York craved sunlight and fresh air. New Yorkers also like fitness, so I started wondering why more people were not combining the two together. I looked into some outdoor fitness classes being run at the time and even took a few and quickly realized what the problem was. Without variety, the class becomes boring very quickly and without equipment it’s difficult to achieve. There is only so much that can be done with bodyweight and park benches.
What’s your fitness background? My background in fitness began when I was living in Australia and serving in the Army. I spent five years as a paratrooper before successfully completing the selection process for special forces. During the process of special forces entry I had the opportunity to learn from some of Australia’s leading fitness experts, and during this time, I found my passion for fitness. Before moving over to the United States, I began studying to become a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. I am now a qualified fitness professional in Australia and The United States, having gained my CPT from NASM. When I first arrived in the United States, I began working at Equinox where I became a Tier 3 qualified trainer. I also am a kettle bell instructor having gained my level two through StrongFirst, the kettle bell industry leaders.
What kind of fitness level is required to join The Pack Outdoor Gym sessions? The Pack is a totally customizable class. Our experience allows us to run a challenging class for anybody of any fitness level, age or gender. Whether you are a first-time client attending, or a veteran athlete you can expect a great work at from our class. We also teach a movement at the beginning of each class with the intention of enhancing the skills of our class progressing everybody towards the sexier activities (if that is their desire) in a safe and efficient manner.
We’re in love with your Pack bike, how did you come up with that idea? The question for the class became how do we get gym equipment to the park? In the metropolitan area, you often cannot drive to a park—and certainly cannot park there for an extended period—which ruled out a motorized vehicle of any kind. The idea for The Pack bike came about from my memory of tricycles being used to transport heavy loads of ammunition around the military bases in Afghanistan. When I teamed up with Sebastian Morel-Ferreira to leverage his years of experience in the fitness industry and help turn this crazy idea into an actual business, we both agreed that if the bikes work in Afghanistan, there should be no reason they wouldn’t work to deliver gym equipment to the New York city parks.
It must be pretty hard to ride, have you met a hill you can’t climb yet? Haha, yeah it is quite difficult to ride. The intention is to leave the bikes fully loaded in various parking garages around New York City as close as possible to the location of the class. I definitely do not want to have to ride 800lbs of gear too far. As for the hills, just getting out of the parking garage is hard enough. It is more a question of Route selection—try to avoid any real inclines.
How can people join The Pack Outdoor Gym? People can sign up for classes through our website at ThePackOutdoor.com and by selecting their preferred location (currently Central Park in Manhattan and Gantry Plaza State Park in LIC). You can also book directly through your Mind Body account, or on our Facebook page “The Pack Outdoor Gym.” To stay up to date with our special events and community activities people can follow our Instagram @thepackoutdoor.