#BenchBodyLanguage: Flow Artist Gino Santiago

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Photography by Bardo Wu
Grooming by Anacleta Paredes

Consider the rain the perfect reason to stay in and go with the flow. If there’s anyone you’d want to be stuck indoors with, it would have to be Gino Santiago, a man with many means to entertain himself. As a flow artist, the 33-year-old can gracefully manipulate whatever prop you put in front of him, busting out a poi performance on the fly or the circus-ready juggling of balls and clubs.

Gino’s ease with whatever lands in his hands just comes with the territory of being comfortable with himself. Enough to swing balls around in just underwear—or even wearing nothing at all.

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Is flow arts enough to keep you fit? I imagine that swinging objects around can be quite the workout.

Personally, I think it can keep you fit, depending on what prop you’re using. I find that poi helps strengthen my shoulders since I injured it rock climbing years back. I know some people who have lost around 40 pounds just hula hooping. I am considering making my juggling balls heavy or seeing if I can juggle the dumbbells or kettle bells in the gym. I would love to be able to both work out and juggle or spin poi or meteor oxbows at the same time (laughs).

 

How exhaustive is the training? At least to get to your level of artistry.

Training can be very taxing, both physically and mentally. I am a big fan of drills, which means doing the same thing over and over again to get it just right. So it can be very draining, but always very fun! It’s very difficult to put down a prop and rest for a bit or accept that you’ve reached your limits for that day. I don’t think I’m at any level of artistry yet with my props. I still have a long way to go. But that’s where all the fun is, isn’t it?

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How about a rundown of your injuries from all this prop spinning?

I have hit myself in the balls countless times (laughs). One time, everyone thought the bloody lip I had was because I got into a fight, and it was a bit embarrassing to have to explain to them that it was a plastic ball in a sock that hit me good. I don’t think I’ve injured myself all that much, although getting hit in the balls is very unpleasant, but you kind of get used to it and learn to shrug it off. That’s why I try to remind all the people I teach to spin slowly.

 

You juggle, you’re an avid “gaymer,” and you bake. What would you consider your absolute comfort zone? Naked flow arts, perhaps?

Oh. I think everyone needs to do naked flow arts! It’s so freeing and just lets you really be one with your prop. Although, be careful with certain, er, organs flopping around while moving since you might get hit and trust me, it wont be very pleasant. I used to juggle and do drills in my underwear a lot, too, since juggling and drills made me sweat a lot. Im not a big fan of layering clothes, so I’m always for “the less clothing that is socially acceptable for the given situation, the better.” I think that’s why I think training at the beach is the best!

 

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