On design inspiration and imagining lines

Craig: So, I’m not an expert in construction or especially not an expert in gym design, although I’ve played in a bunch of gyms. And one of the things that strikes me, is your ideas about designing lines, like coming at the design of a space by imagining what people are going to do in that space in those lines.

That’s kind of controversial, some people look at that and say, “No, that’s the wrong … That’s the exact opposite of what parkour or whatever you want to call it, ADD, that’s the exact opposite of what that [00:24:30] is. And, I’m just wondering, why do you believe so strongly that designing lines is something that you should be doing when you’re building these built spaces?

Andy: I think that, whenever you go out to a space, anybody who has scouted out new spaces should be able to relate with … You see this spot and it looks beautiful and it’s got hand rails and it’s got different levels and it looks amazing. And then you get there and you’re like, “I’m going to jump to … Oh, man I can’t really jump to that, because that thing’s there” or “Oh, I’ll go over this way then … No, I can’t [00:25:00] really do that.” You’ll see spots that hit that child-like nature that we were referring to. And though it calls to you, when you get there, there’s not a whole lot that you can do there.

Craig: Yeah, what is that crazy epic thing that we all … We know it when we see it, when you see that epic line, you’re like, “That’s the thing.” Now, why is that only available in some places?

Andy: Yeah, so when that’s not available, that’s a spot that was not designed well [00:25:30] for parkour, right?

Craig: Right.

Andy: If there is a way to design well, then there’s got to be a way to design poorly, this is one of the ways that I think is that. If it’s not … If you have everything that’s four feet apart, then you can jump over it and you go to an eight foot thing, right? But then the next jump, if you want to go bigger than that you’ve got to go … From now, from eight to twelve feet.

So, that’s means that you’ve got to run to do it and maybe there’s no run, right? So, [00:26:00] having … When I sit down to do this, I’ll look at there’s … This thing is four feet away so what can I do with that. And I can think of 15 things that I can do with that. So then I say, “Well, if I put this wall there can I still do that?” And I’m like, “Well, no, but I can do this other 20 things,” right? So, then now because that wall’s there the space is not the same way- It’s not designed the same way, but it’s designed in a way that has more options. [00:26:30] So, then I’ll say, “Well, what if I put this wall here, because that wall was good, this wall is good, let’s put this wall here.”

Craig: Yeah.

Andy: Well, now I just lost about 30 of my options.

Craig: So, you’re saying it’s more about the designing adds to the options rather than takes away from the options. You’re not imagining how the mover has to move through the space, you’re trying to imagine how many different ways they could move through the space.

Andy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, so I don’t want to be constrictive, but I do want to say there is a sweet rail- [00:27:00] pre right over here, right?

Craig: Right, yeah.

Andy: There’s a sweet thing that I can do, I designed that, I put that in there, that was my plan there’s a sweet rail-pre. And now … Because I did this at Beast Coast, the year that I did that, I designed it and I said, “I’m gonna have someone kong this plank and grab this rail”, and I was like, “Yeah, that’s gonna be cool”. And then people did and I was like, “Yeah, that’s cool”. But then-

Craig: Yeah, they saw it, you didn’t tell them, right-

Andy: I didn’t tell them.

Craig: You just built it in, of course they saw it.

Andy: Then after that, [00:27:30] I saw people lining up to do kong fronts to that rail. Right? And then I saw kong fronts to grab the rail right? And then I saw people doing hands and toes dash over that thing, coming out, right? I saw people that were just balancing along the side of it and they were doing all the laché to balance to land on the thing. And I saw a ton of movement, so I’m not going to be able to envision everything, right, and I don’t want to. [00:28:00] I know that there’s more, right?

Craig: Right.

Andy: But you can … if I sit down and say there is easily 30 things that I can do here, then that’s probably a good spot.

Craig: A good line, right?

Andy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, then that just opens up opportunities. In that fashion, I look for very basic lines that I can do, right? So if there is 30 very basic things to do there, then it’s probably a good spot because you can always intricate [00:28:30] your movements.

Craig: Yeah, a lot of times you can … What is one, two, three can kind of become six in one move, you can just go right over it, you can always up the ante.

Andy: But in the other sense, if you design something where you can only … It’s got this weird diagonal log, sticking out right next to a bar with a wall up against it, that becomes something that is more like dead space. So, maybe you can come up with this absolutely beautiful … Maybe there’s four things that you can do there that are [00:29:00] just unreasonably amazing, right?

But that’s it. You just can’t really do more than that, right? So, that becomes something where now all you’re doing is crawling around on the floor under a space, because that’s the fifth thing, right? Because there’s always something else you can do, but it’s not … There’s no lines-

Craig: Nothing really inspiring, it’s not going to call to you, right?

Andy: It’s not going to call to you, it’s not going to be something that you want to show anyone that you’ve done. It’s not truly an accomplishment [00:29:30] to you whenever you train in that spot, because it looks more like a broom closet than it does … right?

Craig: Right. So, what I love most about this other than talking, what I love most about the podcast, is being able to ask people questions and then they open this door and I get a glimpse at a whole nother world and sometimes it’s really scary what goes on in people’s heads. But a lot of times it’s really interesting and I’m sitting here talking to Andy and I’m thinking, “Wait a second, wait a second, the gym is 11,000 square feet …?

Andy: Yes.

Craig: How many lines [00:30:00] are there in there that you’ve actually thought about?

Andy: Oh my gosh. In every spot, I have … In any place that you’re standing in the gym I have envisioned … one, two … Front, back, side to side and every diagonal.

Craig: Oh, yeah, [00:30:19] all the cardinals, right, right.

Andy: Yeah, so I’ve done every … In any place that you can stand-

Craig: Right.

Andy: In the gym I have planned lines for every one of those. Including, you standing and you move [00:30:30] over one foot, you got another set-

Craig: Yeah, some of the spaces are phone booth sized, some of the spaces are card table size and then there’s a couple of … The reason I asked that question is there’s a couple of neat spots where you go up on something and it’s not a 4 x 4, it’s maybe 10 inches by 10 inches and it … You’re like, you get on it and instead of being like, “Oh, what do I do now”? I get on it and I go, “Wow, if I was any good I could do all these things.” And I didn’t really think it, when I first did that, I didn’t think about, “I wonder if Andy thought all of this stuff,” I just thought you threw all this stuff in there and turned the blender on and then hit produce.

Andy: Yeah, [00:31:00] with my gym I had four … So, I was designing while I was building, but I designed four months before I built. And I was just constantly designing and re-iterating-

Craig: Did you do it in your head, did you do it on CAD or how did you do it, what-

Andy: 3-D, I used Google SketchUp – Because it’s free- And it’s easy to draw in. I’m … I have currently used … Now I can use more advanced ones, but I still … Google [00:31:30] SketchUp’s the best place to just-

Craig: Good enough, GE, right?

Andy: Yeah. But, yeah, I have the whole place down to the inch, down to the eighth inch, built in Google SketchUp and every line … I’ll just sit there with a tape measure and lay it out.