At 8:15 AM on August the 8th 1995 in the city of Amsterdam, Luciano Balestra was born. As a youngster, Luciano was unstoppable, constantly climbing and jumping over everything as much as possible. After trying ballet and soccer, Luciano started Capoeira at the age of 6. After every class, Luciano had 1 goal: learning a backflip! Despite trying for several years, at the age of 12 Luciano couldn’t do the backflip. Luciano’s determination only grew as he started looking for other possible ways to succeed. Luciano headed over to Snowplanet and was soon snowboarding down the slopes and 1 year later, did his first backflip with a snowboard. After a short celebration Luciano knew he still needed to achieve the ultimate goal: a backflip from the ground. The same year, Luciano found a gym where he could start freerunning every Friday night. With loads of energy there was no stopping Luciano and finally, Luciano succeeded. He did his first backflip! After that moment, Luciano launched his first freerun video in 2012 where he first spoke of his big dream.
“I want to become a professional freerunner.”Luciano Balestra
After Luciano finished high school (VWO), the freerunning started to become a bigger part of his life. At the age of 18, he travelled to South-America, with his best friend Gaetano Carretto. On the roads through the Brazilian mountains, in the rented red Fiat Panda, the ultimate dream of the friends became clear: their own freerunning gym.
“A place where we can constantly train and share our passion with everyone!”Luciano Balestra
Returning to the Netherlands, Gaetano and Luciano started right away with their idea by getting together the Dutch freerun community. Then on May 1st, 2016, it finally happened. Together with the Urban Sport Week Amsterdam, Luciano and Gaetano organised the biggest freerunning event in The Netherlands, Gravity 2016.
After the big success of Gravity 2016, Gaetano found an abandoned discothèque and with some financial aid from family and friends, they opened the Freerun University’s first location in 2017.
“I want to experience as much as possible to broaden my vision every day.”Luciano Balestra
During that same time frame, Luciano started studying Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. Next to the usual subjects, he did some additional courses such as business administration and a minor on entrepreneurship. With this minor, Luciano was selected to join the Global Exchange Program at the National University of Singapore. During his time in Singapore, Luciano wrote a business plan for the Freerun University Franchise with the main goal: To have a Freerun University in every city. When Luciano returned, he opened a second location in Houten, together with Gaetano. At this point they realised they needed professionals help to reach their goal: a Freerun University in every city. After several pitches, Luciano found two partners, Louis Peperzak and Siebe de Haan. With their experience and professional mindset, they could open two new locations, one in Amsterdam and one in Heerenveen in September 2020.
“If you have a dream and you focus, give everything, and you don’t give up, anything is possible.”Luciano Balestra
The dream to open a freerun gym has happened but Luciano still hasn’t forgotten about his bigger vision of becoming a professional freerunner. During his exchange program in Singapore, Luciano was offered an opportunity to participate in a unique freerun concept from Red Bull. This was the start of Luciano’s journey of a freerun career. After participating in this project, Luciano knew without a doubt that he wanted to become a professional freerunner.
Together with Urby Emanuelson and Philip Naessans, Luciano took the first step of his professional career in the winter of 2018. The first step was a sponsor deal with Triple, an IT company, which Luciano represented in 2019 at the World Cups in China, Japan and Montpellier. After winning the first place in Montpellier, Luciano became 7 on the overall World Cup Ranking 2019.
Together with the start of the Freerun University and his study, this was an incredible performance. This made Luciano realise what his odds and opportunities were at the top level. The goal to become a professional freerunner was reached, but still not at the standard Luciano wanted. This made Luciano look around and gather the best trainers in The Netherlands to help set up his plans.
“Together with my incredible team, I am going to do everything I can to become world champion.”Luciano Balestra
After opening the 4th location of the Freerun University, Luciano decided to step down from the management of the Freerun University and let Gaetano run it. Therefore, Luciano could focus on his goal to become a world champion.
At this moment, Luciano has built a team with experts around him who train, guide and advise him on daily bases. Together with this team, they created history by creating a training plan where all the different components are trained separately for example, explosivity, speed, endurance and technique. With his knowledge and experience, Luciano is a great athlete that continuously aims for improvement. He has manifested his dreams step by step and has now put his full focus on his new dream: The next freerunning world champion.
“It’s not a matter of if, but when.”Luciano Balestra
Today, Luciano is training 6 days a week. He eats and lives at Topsport Amsterdam’s facilities, where he can fully focus on his performance.