This is the signature ending question for the podcast. There is an article describing the question’s origin (and Episode 55). Each guest’s answer is available as an image tagged Guests’ three words and the section of each episode’s transcript is tagged Three words to describe your practice.
Parkour Generations Lehigh Valley – Lehigh Valley Parkour Academy
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania
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Travis Tetting joins Craig for a heartfelt discussion of his coaching journey, community, and building things from the ground up. Along the way he describes his love for his community and the rewards of coaching. Travis explains how his bond to his family and Christian faith have given him the strength to get to where he is today.Continue Reading…
Craig: [00:26] Hello. I’m Craig Constantine.
Travis: [00:32] Hi. I’m Travis.
Craig: [00:33] Travis Tetting is doing everything one can possibly do, and it’s a good thing. He draws his strength from his deep Christian faith and his wife and children. He has a knack for building things from the ground up, family, community, and even parkour obstacles. Welcome, Travis.
Travis: [00:46] Hi, Craig.
This post is part of the “Story Time!” project.
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.Continue Reading…
Craig: [09:07] It almost sounds like … For those listening, this is why I brought up the airport story. It almost sounds like you had a vision or an idea of what ADAPT Two would be like, what any assessment would be like, and this is like the exact worst-case scenario.
Craig: [09:27] Everything else was under your control. You had a year to train. You had six months to train. You chose the flight. You picked where you were staying. You picked that you were going this year, not next year. Then the curve ball that you get is, “So sorry. You’re stuck in the airport for 12 hours. Now deal with it.”
Craig: [09:40] So, in a way, it’s the exactly perfect bit of training to … Your ADAPT assessment happened in that first hour. You got there late. How are you going to emotionally and physically and spiritually react to, “Sorry, you have to be the guy who looks like overslept and missed the run. Go”?
Travis: [10:01] Yeah. My … I’ve been told by people, and I suppose it’s true, that my patience is insurmountable.
Craig: [10:08] I would definitely vote yes on that proposition.
Travis: [10:12] In my younger kids’ classes, the mothers that know me, know personally, they just don’t get it, how I can be with three very young … I have two four-year-old boys and a two-year-old boy, and that I can do that all day and then come teach just a little bit older kids and somehow still have patience and excitement and kindness. They’re like, “We kind of come to this because we’re kind of done for the day. You’re done for the day, and now you’ve begun another day of patience.”
Travis: [10:44] So I don’t know. Sitting in the airport, you realize the two sides of the fence, that the grass is always greener. When you look at it and you desire it and then you’re given it, sometimes, then, you don’t appreciate it. Here I am for how many of … the last four years of my life, not having time to just sit and stare.
Craig: [11:08] Right.
Travis: [11:09] I’m 100% on-duty all the time, and I’ve been wanting to just have time. Not to do anything …
Craig: [11:17] Yeah.
Travis: [11:17] … to do nothing. So I’m sitting at the airport, and I have my options. Right? I have two phones. I’m a phone guy.
Craig: [11:22] Right.
Travis: [11:22] I have my two phones and whatever else, and I just sit, like, “Okay, I’ll put one Instagram post.” Yeah, takes me a couple minutes, but in the scope of 12 hours …
Craig: [11:35] Right.
Travis: [11:35] … sitting at an airport …
Craig: [11:36] “This is so they know they I’m alive. Right? Okay.”
Travis: [11:39] … honestly, I just sat. I just sat and people-watched and made little conversations with people and just was. It was really nice, because I had the choice either to be like, “Wow, what a waste of my time” …
Craig: [11:54] Yeah, you have to go find engagement.
Travis: [11:55] Right, or to say, “This is what I’ve been wanting for four years. Now I have it. Appreciate it, because you don’t know when the next time this is going to be.”
Travis: [12:05] I don’t know. I’m a huge preacher of the half-full, half-empty. Same glass. I could be up here, like mobbing the concierge and being so upset that there was a storm, which is out of anyone’s control.
Craig: [12:17] Right.
Travis: [12:17] The tired pilots don’t want to kill us.
Craig: [12:20] Yeah. They’re not allowed to. I’m sure there are rules.
Travis: [12:23] Right, on a flight, which are unreasonable things to be upset about. There’s much more important things for my energy than …
Craig: [12:31] Yeah.
Travis: [12:34] … complaining to get what …
Craig: [12:35] Yeah, the poor person who happens to be in front of me at this moment.
Travis: [12:38] Right, right. Realizing that that’s a person, also, that I’m yelling at and demanding things from, that they’re not in control of that, either. So, yeah, it’s just a choice.
Travis: [12:47] So, yeah, coming into Level Two, it was a choice. I can either complain about this and use it as an excuse, right? Going into it, that was one of my things in my head, like, “I can either really talk about this with everybody, be like, ‘Yeah, I didn’t have sleep’ or ‘I missed that because I’m a little tired,’ whatnot. Maybe afterwards, I can reflect on it and say, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely, that had a physical effect on me.'”
Travis: [13:09] But to use it as a continual excuse through things, to be like, “Oh, normally I can do this, blah blah blah,” was, definitely, I knew, going to be my tendency, because I like to complain.
Craig: [13:22] I’ll drink to that, right? I’m with you.
Travis: [13:25] But just to not. One of … The image in my head … So I’m fairly old-school, but the image in my head is a story that was shared … I can’t even tell you who shared it with me, but it was a Yamak training event, just the Yamak.
Travis: [13:43] Williams Belle, right? Always strongest, always kind of out in front, doing more, and, for one of the sessions, he wasn’t. He was second, third, fourth, right? In everything, finished a little bit slower and much more gassed, much more sweating and everything.
Travis: [13:56] At the end of the however-many-hour training session, then he takes off his sweatshirt and he takes off his weight vest.
Craig: [14:01] The weight vest, right?
Travis: [14:01] He takes off his ankle weights. Right, right. To be that, to embody that, of, “I have all of this extra stuff that nobody can see. Why make it … Why complain about it? Why boast about it? Just deal with it and help it to make you stronger instead of using it as a crutch.”
Craig: [14:25] I have to say that your parkour gym (Axiom Parkour), there’s something about the way that your gym construction is layered. I don’t know. I always feel like I’m looking at Norwegian or Swedish furniture. I mean, it looks like an Ikea done correctly. I wanna just go there and, like, “Look, it’s a table during the day, and it’s a parkour obstacle at night.”
Craig: [14:43] There’s just something about that, about the aesthetic that you build, and I’m guessing that that just called to you, too, so that’s why you build things. But you seem to have this cavernous space, and you just keep throwing toys into it. So what are you doing with your community there at the gym, and where are you going with that?
Travis: [14:57] So there’s two driving focuses of the gym and the build and the design, really, of it. Unfortunately, one is frugality.
Travis: [15:14] So, for anyone who hasn’t seen, it’s dimensional lumber. Everything is constructed from dimensional lumber, mostly two-by-sixes – stud-grade two by sixes, but if you order enough of them, there’s enough premium that you can …
Craig: [15:27] If you nail enough of them together, they get straight.
Travis: [15:30] Yeah. Yeah, you can face. You can face enough good, solid boards. Right?
Craig: [15:36] Enough square board feet, right.
Travis: [15:38] For all the facing for things. It allows me to build things for the future as well. It’s not perfectly permanent. If I glue and I perfectly round the edges of plywood to this size box, that is the size board that it’s going to be. If I have an untouched – other than a little bit of sanding or whatnot – two-by-six, I can take that two-by-six off and use it as framing. It’s not perfectly permanent. Right? Where it is, it’s not going anywhere. It’s not moving. But I can Lego it.
Craig: [16:15] Repurpose it. Right.
Travis: [16:15] I can deconstruct it to be able to do more. Yes, that’s a tremendous amount of work and probably not even worth it in the time vs. the the money thing, but it’s an option. Through my builds, I’ve kept that as a focus of a universal usability, that, “I can use this, but I can also deconstruct it. I can put it in my car.” More of a versatile design.
Travis: [16:40] So, when given the option to fill a gym space, it was difficult, because I can make up my own rules. If I have to fit things into a closet, now, there’s constraints.
Craig: [16:52] Right.
Travis: [16:52] But without constraints, it’s writing the term paper on anything you want, and it takes you forever to figure it out. But if you have … Right? If you have a tiny, specific thing, you can write 20 pages about it, because you’re confined.
Travis: [17:05] So what I did is I created an anti-object, I call it – one that you see and you don’t know what prescribed movements to do on it. It’s not great for a vault. It’s not a great length for precision. It’s not a great height for things. It’s not great for anything. So it kind of breathes innovation, because you have to re-adapt. You have to re-apply to it.
Craig: [17:33] Yeah, mental flexibility required. Otherwise …
Travis: [17:35] Right. I learned everything outdoors. It’s where parkour is supposed to be. It’s where the heart of it is. It was difficulty, opening an indoor space, ’cause conflicting, ’cause I don’t really want to.
Craig: [17:51] Right.
Travis: [17:52] But there’s a necessity to do it. So how can I embody the sense of exploration, the sense of innovation, that you normally find when you just come to a new spot in the city and say, “Okay, how can I apply the movement to this space?” Right?
Craig: [18:04] That’s a good point.
Travis: [18:06] I wanted to try to bring some of that in. Through the design, I’m finding out now, a year and a half, almost two years in, through the design of the modular equipment has, I think, more to do with it than maybe the actual design, physical design of the equipment, ’cause this current setup that I have at the gym right now, I think we can leave for a little bit more.
Travis: [18:27] Usually, I rotate about every three months, for curriculum- wise, keep things fresh. Once we’ve completed the challenges, “Okay, it’s a limited space.”
Craig: [18:34] “We know this spot. Okay, let’s make this spot” …
Travis: [18:37] Right. Right, right, right. But the thing that I have now was more loosely designed on curriculum and more so just designed to replicate an urban sort of planter setting that we all love.
Craig: [18:49] Oh, planters.
Travis: [18:50] Ooh, planters and stairs.
Craig: [18:52] Something more architecturally recognizable. Right? I just had a flashback to Government Center. There are these really cool stairs and planters in Government Center. Anyway, sorry.
Travis: [19:02] Yes. Oh, yes. But that’s what it’s supposed to be.
Travis: [19:07] But, yeah. While we’re on this topic of conversation, I’m at a bit of a conflict right now, where I’m pouring in so much time and energy to build this community where there was nothing. Okay? The nothing called me to this area to build the gym, except for God, except for through prayers. He says, “This is the direction that you wanna go.” No business sense – okay? – to do what I did.
Craig: [19:38] Right.
Travis: [19:38] Zero. It was a terrible business and entrepreneurial decision, but it all worked.
Craig: [19:45] But you … That’s where your passion is, ’cause if you go the business sense-ical way, you’re not gonna have passion. If you have passion, you can pretty much do anything, if you have the passion to get behind it.
Craig: [19:57] So the gym is, I guess, relatively convenient to where you live, but what you’re saying is there isn’t a huge community of normal, regular people.
Travis: [20:03] Zero, yeah.
Craig: [20:05] Zero.
Travis: [20:05] I mean, not parkour people, just in how many people live nearby.
Craig: [20:07] Right, right. So Walworth County. If you would like to go look it up, Walworth County is like that’s where they export the cornfields from?
Travis: [20:17] Rural. Without exaggeration, in most places, there aren’t curbs. So for what I call interactive architecture, places to jump on that are sturdy enough to jump on or wheelchair ramps or anything like a simple spot completely does not exist. Beautiful kettles and moraines. Beautiful woods. We have a gorgeous ski hill over there. But just … It’s not built up.
Craig: [20:50] Absolutely no space.
Travis: [20:53] No close urban city settings, in the least bit, in Walworth County, and nobody was asking for classes. I did not have a slew of people, like, “Let’s start a class down in Walworth County.” The opportunity came up. The right people came up. The right price came up.
Craig: [21:08] Space was there.
Travis: [21:09] It made no business sense, so I was just like, “Well, I believe in what I’m doing. Like you said, I have the passion to do it. I believe I have a quality product. So if I can get a family in, they will tell a family, and they will tell a family.”
Craig: [21:24] Sure.
Travis: [21:25] “That’ll be that.” Truthfully, that’s how it’s all grown. The people that are with me that were there at the beginning, I mean, I can’t get them to stop talking. They just find people on the street and, like, “Listen. Even if you don’t like parkour” …
Craig: [21:43] They become evangelical about it. Right?
Travis: [21:44] They have.
Travis: [21:45] If I can share one boastful …
Craig: [21:48] You can share as many as you like. It’s our podcast episode.
Travis: [21:51] “This is me, and I am amazing.” At the YMCA that I teach at, there was a complaint … I had talked to a different person from a different class. They weren’t ending on time, which was greatly impacting my setup period. I had 15 minutes to set up.
Craig: [22:09] Right, right.
Travis: [22:09] So if they end five minutes late, they get their people out five minutes …
Craig: [22:13] Yeah.
Travis: [22:13] Now I have a little less than five minutes to set up.
Craig: [22:16] Four minutes and 32 seconds.
Travis: [22:16] Right.
Craig: [22:17] “Go.”
Travis: [22:19] It was quite stressful. I waited 10 class periods to …
Craig: [22:22] Yeah, call the management…
Travis: [22:24] … be forceful. I had talked to them many times. “Listen, this isn’t really working.” Like, “Ah, it’s fine. We’re getting used to the new schedule.” Eventually, I just said, “This … Next week, you’re done. This is the time.”
Travis: [22:35] Another student heard this. Right? Older, adult, and she was livid and complained to the YMCA. But … Now onto the boastful compliment. So the director that took this complaint from this person said, “Listen. People come to Travis even if they don’t like parkour. They hear about him as a teacher, and they will put their kids in his class.”
Travis: [22:56] It was neat to hear somebody say something like that, because, so often with parkour, the most unrewarding part is you get to see them for an hour. You get to see this person for an hour, but the changes that come about through parkour are so transcendent through their life. Sometimes a parent will come back or a student will come back and say, “Listen. This is how you’ve changed me.”
Craig: [23:20] Right.
Travis: [23:20] “This is how” … You’re like, “Oh.”
Craig: [23:23] “Wow. Thank you for sharing that. I hadn’t even noticed that.” Right?
Travis: [23:27] Right, right, because you don’t get to see it. You get an hour out of their … however many hours they get their week.
Craig: [23:32] You only see one asset or one facet of their life.
Travis: [23:35] Correct.
Craig: [23:35] You only see them physically moving, unless something really exceptional happens. You only see them physically moving, and you might see the changes in their body, but you don’t know what their home life is like and what their job is like and all those other parts.
Travis: [23:46] Every once in a while, you get that feedback, and it’s just … It’s an ounce of what you do, but the … How rewarding it feels to just hear that impact. I don’t know. Those are the things that I hold onto when things get difficult, when time is not available to …
Craig: [24:06] Yeah.
Travis: [24:06] You’re just kind of at your end’s wit.
Craig: [24:08] You feel stretched. Right?
Travis: [24:09] Right. You realize, “Remember, this is why I’m doing it.” It’s not about the jump. The jump is important, but the jump is like the method to get what we really …
Craig: [24:18] Yeah, the jump is a piece of your tool set, but it’s not the work.
Travis: [24:20] Right, right. It’s not the point. You come in and can lift the one leg, and, okay, maybe you can’t jump. Maybe you come in with no legs. You can’t jump. It’s not about the jump. It’s what you get through it. We can get caught up in it. We can get caught up in the physical and just the visual spectacle of it and forget that that’s not what it’s about. That’s not originally what the training was for. It’s how we got …
Craig: [24:48] Right.
Travis: [24:49] Right. It’s how we progressed. It’s how we got to where we are now. But it was never the original point, to just be a good jumper.
This post is part of the “Story Time!” project.
Craig: [24:57] Right, right. So I often ask guests if there’s a story you would like to share – if you’ve been listening for a while, you know I say because when people share stories, you get a glimpse into their passions and their inner lives, and it really gives you a good glimpse of who they are. So, Travis, is there a story you’d like to share with us?
Travis: [25:11] Absolutely. Short story. So I have a background in early childhood education, so I went to school for … Did it for three years. Was wonderful. I have a passion for teaching, but I learned that the passion …
Craig: [25:24] Clearly. Right.
Travis: [25:26] … was not in public education. I needed to find my niche, and I chose to do parkour full-time. I believe this is where I’m supposed to be right now. However, I am a teacher. I recognize teaching as a profession, and it’s something that’s very difficult to turn off.Continue Reading…