#BackFlipChallenge: Meet the Man Behind the Viral Trend

A Maryland Man Has People Flipping Out Over Online Videos

Grant Fox has been getting a lot of requests from his students to teach backflips recently.

The pack of 11-year-old gymnasts think Fox is famous. In a way, they're right. 

Fox, a gymnastics coach from Columbia, Maryland, has become a bit of an internet celebrity recently. He's the man behind a new viral trend: the #BackFlipChallenge. In his videos, Fox performs backflips in front of unsuspecting people on the streets and then carries on as if nothing has occurred.

Fox said people's reactions range from shock to laughter.

"I just wanted people to have fun and kind of make their day," he said.

Fox has created several backflip challenge videos around Maryland and D.C. Settings have included the beach at Ocean City, downtown Annapolis and the Arundel and Columbia malls. The first of the backflip challenges was posted in early July, and the video series has since gone viral. 

The first video got 1.5 million views on Instagram in about a month and has been shared widely on websites and social media.

The challenge began when Fox noticed how much fun people were having watching him tumble on the beach. He thought he'd try performing a stunt in front of an unsuspecting beachgoer to gauge their reaction. 

"The reaction we got with the very first one was priceless," Fox said. "I thought, 'We've got to do more of this.'"

But some people don't react at all, because sometimes they don't even notice the flip happening.

"The flips I do are so tight and so fast," Fox said. "If they turn their head a second late they'll miss it."

As the videos have grown in popularity, more people have been attempting the challenge. Fox has even been one-upped by gymnasts who have been performing more extreme flips as part of the challenge. He welcomes imitators but warns people to be mindful of safety.

Fox has been doing gymnastics since he was a kid and has been coaching for the last 7 years. For him, it's was obvious how much happiness a backflip could bring.

"It totally changes [people's] day," Fox said. "And that's really what it's all about."

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