New York City-based trainer Sam Chew breaks down the lifestyle and thought process behind his gravity-defying style of motion. He approaches the clearing in front of him with his 5’10 frame, built purely out of muscle—and takes a quiet pause. Raising his large arms slowly over his head, he starts a leaping, powerful delivery into mid-air with the precision of a trained gymnast, a full-body unwinding that culminates in a tightly wound somersault thrown right down on the concrete. His body, now on autopilot, slices through the heavy veil of gravity without guidance, ricocheting off the handrails and up the adjacent wall—left, right, left, right—until he disappears out of the frame and the video ends.
Sam Chew is a fitness maven, known locally as a personal trainer at the Equinox gym in SoHo. But when he’s not sculpting the bodies of celebrities, he’s an avid student of parkour, break dancing, martial arts, and gymnastic techniques, tirelessly practicing and applying a blend of these inspirations in short video quips on his Instagram, @samchewfitness. You’ll see him climb, flip, and scurry up walls like a ninja in nondescript parts of New York. It’s like witnessing his body surrender to pure muscular control and precision, with every fiber and axon obeying his command, pushing and breaking through the seemingly impossible.
UNDO: We know it takes a lot of focus and dedication to master the physical dexterity that you’ve achieved—a lot of the moves you accomplish in your videos can’t be pulled off by everyone.
What do you think it is about you and your body that craves the thrill of constantly pushing your physical boundaries?
Sam Chew: Things weren’t always this focused in my life. Growing up, you could’ve easily called me the poster child of ADHD—with the dozen or so car wrecks and multiple motorcycle accidents,
fights, and run-ins with the authorities, where I somehow came out miraculously unscathed. The never-ending search for the next adrenaline rush constantly threw me off course and got me lost.
I didn’t really have a direction in life, but I knew one thing: I always loved pushing the limits—going fast and being reckless without thinking about the physics of everything. I didn’t feel the fear, I just
felt invincible. I loved the thrill back then, and it has been permanently wired into my neurochemistry. I still get those serotonin hits, but just without skirting so close to the edge of death.
UNDO: So how did you go from thrill-seeking to fitness-focused?
Sam Chew: Once I honed in on that chaotic energy and used it for fitness, my life suddenly had an equal and opposite reaction to the recklessness that I lived by when I was younger. It was like I channeled my rebelliousness into the defiance of physics, of gravity, and so I began with mind-numbing years of practice to build a physical competency that permisses me to perform at the physical level I am at today.
UNDO: How do you conceptualize your moves?
Sam Chew: I’ve always been naturally on the hunt for objects to climb, things to jump over or off of. That curious part of me has been there since I was a little kid. So, when I find that opportunity, and this can be anywhere in the city, I’m visualizing the process, about the careful placement of my feet, hands, and head, looking to see where my body will bend or how I can maneuver myself.
UNDO: What’s going on in your mind when you’re executing these
moves in mid-air?
Sam Chew: There’s one thing you have to realize: when I’m actually executing the move, I’m not thinking too much or feeling fear. I’ve practiced that one movement over and over again in a controlled environment, so all the analysis and second-guessing has happened during this
preparation phase. So while it might look simple, I’m practicing to the point that when the actual execution occurs, my body just acts automatically without any systemic guidance. I’m at a point where my brain and my body are working together in a format where every cell and fiber in me knows how to flow through the move as if on cue. A lot of what I do is both preparation and training. It’s also equal parts letting go when the opportunity comes and allowing your practice to take over and move your body. When you do this, you’re not gravity-bound anymore. You’re limitless in a sense.
UNDO:You obviously pull a lot of moves that the average person cannot achieve. Often, you look like you’re a trained stunt man. What does it feel like for your body to move through space like that, defying gravity at every turn?
Sam Chew:It usually happens very quickly. Because of that, I have to clear my head and only keep the visualization of what I want to see in focus. There’s usually the feeling of weightlessness and a surge of exhilaration with the rushing of all the adrenaline pumping through my veins. But, most importantly, it feels purposeful and powerful. This is completely a part of me and what I was meant to do with my life-challenging my mind and body with the preparation it takes to ultimately move mindlessly within the confines of gravity and freeing myself in the process.