On training the next generation of athletes

Andy: Now, ego aside, I’m not trying to be egotistical and this is sort of the whole mediocre coach, mediocre athlete part of it that I don’t think that I am a particularly good athlete at parkour. There are a lot of kids out there that are much, much better than I am, but I think I’m okay physically. But I was thinking about this metric of out of all of my students, can I actually think of anybody that has gone on and I’ve actually made them better than I am. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about my ability as a coach, and therefore am I failing? Am I failing because therefore there’s going to be this dilution. Because if they then go on to be coaches and they do the same thing to their students and so on and so forth, are we going to be gradually losing what it means, what parkour is about?

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On what’s been lost in the current parkour media

Steve: So, what I would say to that is there has been a sort of counter culture to the hyper-polished runs and only movements that you find perfect with the rise of the dailies like Jamey Davidson when he started those 365 challenge or even just a month-long challenge where he was just his movements. I think originally, the idea behind it was good because it just shows a day in the life of a traceur. It shows not the banger challenges, not the crazy challenges that you put in a compilation video or submit to whatever casting agency to show that you can do these crazy things.

Steve: It shows today I worked on rail flow. Today I did one side flip. Today, I did a handstand. Today, I did conditioning, and I think that stuff’s super cool. To your point, though, I think that what’s happened is people got used to the idea of seeing parkour content every day. What I see from some of my peers, to some of my friends that are high-level athletes is they’ll have one good training session and they’ll film 10 different challenges that are all crazy. Then, they’ll say, “We’ll have content for the next two weeks,” because I have one post every five days or a post every day for five days for two weeks. I don’t know if that’s really what the idea behind that challenge was and I think it’s kind of distorted the way that people consume parkour content. They’re used to seeing more and more content every day. Now, they only want to see the biggest and baddest and best tricks every day.

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I am NOT afraid to talk about suicide

Shame is a powerful thing. It can turn the strongest of us to blubbering wrecks, it can freeze our bodies to the spot, cause us to retreat in on ourselves, to grow small and even act completely in opposition to our nature. Shame silences us. It convinces us that we’re alone and this alienation only drives us deeper into solitude.

Even after years of grappling with my ghosts, my shame still haunts me. It catches my words in my throat and renders me speechless. Why? Because like a bully that doesn’t want you to speak out against the tormentors, this emotion knows that words are the way out. Like a boa-constrictor, it coils its tail around our throats, choking our ability to share and therefore connect; because when we share an emotion we remove its power and make it more manageable to deal with, eventually relinquishing its hold on us. Talking about our feelings enables us to step out of isolation and realise that we’re not so different or alone after all.

My process towards connection continues here. I hope that by sharing the words in text that I couldn’t on the microphone, I’ll manage not only to lessen my own isolation, but perhaps to aid someone else out of theirs too.

Here goes…

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Extraordinary Movement

When we move through the world we can move in an ordinary or an extraordinary way. Ordinary movement is easy; it follows established paths; and it is boring. Extraordinary movement requires excellence, knowledge, and independence. When I talk about movement, I am talking about extraordinary movement because it is much more interesting. Movement—whether that is Parkour, ADD, Freerunning—is a celebration of freedom in the context of an unforgiving reality that cannot be ignored. The philosopher Ayn Rand warned, “We can ignore reality but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” John Locke observed, “The only defense against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.” And Aristotle explained, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.

These ideas form the foundation of movement: pay attention to reality, learn as much as you can and practice. With parkour as with just about everything in this world, the true beauty of the practice can be appreciated fully only by taking a deeper dive into it. This means we have to understand not just the physical aspects of movement but the mental and philosophical basis for movement.

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What are you doing?

(This question is part of the “What are you doing?” project.)

Well, I think I’m playing around. A lot of people call it Parkour. And I don’t know if I feel really comfortable calling what we’re doing Parkour, because people use Parkour in an exclusive sense. When I say an exclusive sense, I mean a sense that excludes certain practices. Some practices are acceptable to characterize under the label Parkour, and some aren’t. I’m not really interested in what I’m doing, as much as how it feels to do it. I think that I’m doing a lot of what other people call Parkour, and that’s great. I love that that label helps me find other people who like doing things that I also really like doing.

But I really feel like I’m playing, and exploring space. I feel like I’m trying to do things that are new, and challenging for me, so that I get more comfortable with all sorts of body movements. Sometimes I want to emphasize certain body movements, and sometimes others. Sometimes I want to imitate a challenge that I’ve seen someone else do. But if I’m not having fun, I’m going to stop doing it. So I think the most important thing for me is to enjoy what it is I’m doing. I think that, if I had to characterize it, I’d call it playing, rather than Parkour.

If, to answer, I guess, a little more rigorously your initial question, if I were to define Parkour, rather than what it is that I’m doing, I would say that we should open the definition of Parkour to be as inclusive as possible. We shouldn’t say, “That’s not Parkour.” We should allow people to use it in any context. I know that some people think that’s politically very dangerous, but I think that it’s more dangerous to run the risk of marginalizing certain people in communities by keeping Parkour an exclusive term.

What are you doing?

(This question is part of the “What are you doing?” project.)

It’s funny the different stages my training has gone through. Sometimes the mindset is consistent but the movements are different other times the movements are the same but the mindset is different. It’s been interesting to reflect on the area of precisions in my training and how drastically the mindset has shifted from when I started till now.

When I first started in parkour I was just trying to learn the technique. I only attempted jumps that had little to no risk around ground level and drilled them over and over again. This seems to be a stage that’s becoming less and less common in people’s training and you can see the negative effects of that. It’s so much more appealing once you can do a movement passably to move on to bigger and cooler movements or then take that movement into more difficult contexts. While increasing challenge is an important element of training I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen succeed on something a few times and then assume they are ready for harder challenges only to then hurt themselves because even if they have the capability to do the challenge once, they are not consistent enough that failure and injury is a remote possibility as opposed to a likely result.

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Is there a story you would like to share?

Craig: I say all the time that one of my favorite parts of the podcast [00:22:00] is asking people to share their stories because when you hear someone tell a story, you learn not just the story, but you also get insight into the person telling the story. So is there a story that you would like to share?

Sandro: Yeah, sure. It’s basically the story of my first class of ParkourONE. We did with Felix and the other guy, Silvio. So Felix was, he was one of the first traceurs in Switzerland, or one of the main ones. And I was [00:22:30] really looking forward to it, to the class. And Silvio was also already an experienced traceur with ParkourONE stuff at that time. And I was a traceur as well at that time, for like two or three years. But I was never, or I wasn’t so much into classes, I was often being training by myself and training with other people.

Craig: But you hadn’t been exposed to like a systematic classroom [00:23:00] setting, right?

Sandro: Exactly, exactly. So there were basically the two of us, and Felix was teaching. And everything was really okay, it was really good, and then we came to the conditioning part, and we did an exercise where somebody holds one leg of the person in front. And the person in front has to jump with the other leg, and the other person in behind resists. [00:23:30] So we were basically, Silvio and I were jumping, and Felix was standing beneath it and watching that everything we did, we did well. So yeah, and we did some other exercise, I don’t remember. But after this class, I was so tired, I was so … I was just finished. I think I never got to this feeling again anymore [00:24:00] than I was after this class. Because I was like, I was going home and there was like shaking of exhausting. Exhaustion. It was so crazy. And after that, I always knew I have to stick to the class because that’s what I want to do, that’s what I want to be able to do without getting this exhaustion afterwards.

Craig: Right saw something there that really drew you.

Sandro: Actually, yes. [00:24:30]

Coaching and Genetics

Sebastien: [13:07] I want to talk about the coaching. I want to talk about do we have more … does anyone come up with a new idea, new game, new stuff for foot eye coordination?

Craig: [13:18] Right.

Sebastien: [13:18] How much we can push the … be more specific. That’s where I am. Okay. That’s why we didn’t talk.

Sebastien: [13:26] This idea of a simple move. Okay. Like cat pass for example, or kong they call it. They shouldn’t call it kong but, anyway. Okay. It is the way it is. Then to cat pass to precision. For those that don’t know it’s like you, I don’t know how to describe that but, cat pass to precision which now is … it bring you two things. Also, when you do cat pass to precision often if it’s not a bar if it’s a wall there is this notion of blind jump. You have to run and jump into this. There is all this stuff that happens with the brain and the visualization and everything. All this stuff is really interesting. Okay. That’s what I’m talking, this is real technique. Now we get into the-

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The Journey to ADAPT Level 2

Craig: [00:48] Tell me about being stuck in the airport on the way to American Rendezvous.

Travis: [00:52] Yes. Yes. So original flight, I’m not gonna give any names. No names. Okay? Not gonna be a flight bias, ’cause …

Craig: [01:01] We only name the guilty.

Travis: [01:02] It was … Yeah, it was almost completely because of the weather in Boston. So we can blame Boston.

Craig: [01:07] Okay.

Travis: [01:07] That’s okay.

Craig: [01:08] Yeah.

Travis: [01:08] Yeah, we’ll point the finger at Boston. So 7:40 PM flight from Chicago, and I live in Wisconsin. So about an hour and half drive, so, I mean, you can’t just adjust and say, “Okay, I’ll stay at home.” Right? I got email when I was at home saying it was going to be delayed 15, 20 minutes. So not a big deal.

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Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share with Us?

Craig: [28:53] Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us?

Travis: [28:57] Yeah, if … A message that no matter what your faith is or if it exists or what your beliefs are, I think something that can be universal is a heart of thankfulness. Yes, it’s resounding and very important in the Christian faith, but changing your heart to just appreciate everything, everything, because it’s shaping you. It’s an opportunity.

Travis: [29:33] I had a terrible college experience. I had a lot of what I called first and last semester college professors, because I was early childhood. So a lot of second-, third-grade teachers heard from a colleague that you can make really good money teaching night classes, I’m assuming. So then you come and you’re like, “You are not a college professor. You are probably a fantastic grade school teacher. You have no idea how to talk to adults.”

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Your Mind, Your Body, and Your Environment

Sebastien: But of course when you starting to train your body-

Craig: Assuming there’s a calling to also work on the mind.

Sebastien: Yes, work with the mind and then after you work on your mind, and later on I started to realize my mind wasn’t strong. In my genes I’ve got some qualities based on say genes [00:12:00] physically, but the mind couldn’t keep up. That’s why I’ve got vertigo. Then there was the beauty with Parkour is got this analogy with obstacles and challenge yourself and everything and make decision and everything. But that’s where I can see I’ve got a lack of.

Craig: Through that you can see that you have a weakness, you have a hole.

Sebastien: I’ve got weakness. I keep practice parkour. Parkour bring me that. I’m getting better by practicing Parkour, but Parkour also give you a clear, [00:12:30] different view on the environment. The way how you see the environment, where you were children, when you do Parkour again, is come back again. Something like sometime I say it’s not about learning, it’s about relearning.

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Waiving the Jump

Craig: Do you have a French phrase for waiving the jump? What do you call that internally?

Sebastien: No, I use it in English.

Craig: You use it in English.

Sebastien: Because it’s universal. As I say with the word, because I come up with the word, so I believe someone is [00:20:00] gonna come up with a French word.

Craig: Can you unpack it a little bit more? Like can I use this technique if I’m only training once a week or like how?

Sebastien: Basically everything is linked with my concept because when I started with everyone, it was pretty organic. Everyone’s got their method and they go outside they practice. For me, I need to find like Bruce Lee say I need to find the cause of my ignorance, so I need to write it down everything. That’s why I started to do the classification within Parkour. Try to really understand what am [00:20:30] I doing and what is my problem. I come up with a lot of concept as you can see. I say talk about the mind, the body, the environment, the three major obstacles, the eight roots, which we need to master or to work on it in order to get to this idea of peace.

In my concept, I say follow the season, I’ve got a grade system, I’ve got [00:21:00] a maturity level. You see, so I keep on working on that and the waving technique is one of them because when I start to getting opportunities and I had some obstacle, some challenge to face, like people will say, okay, I want you to go in this building and doing this jump.

Craig: Jump for some consequence or-

Sebastien: Me say, “Oh my God. How am I going to do that?